Friday, July 05, 2013

Hitchhiker's Guide to the West

As of July 1, hitchhiking is legal in Wyoming.

And just in time for the summer travel season.

This new law came out of a need for skiers and kayakers and backpackers to hitch rides back to the place they've left their vehicles. This is especially true in Teton County where people are recreating all over the place. Skiers often park their Subarus at the top of Teton Pass and, when they reach the bottom, hitch a ride back to the pass.They then drive down to Jackson and spend good money shoring up the Wyoming economy.

Rep. Keith Gingery of Teton County was behind the bill. He told the Casper Star-Tribune:
“That was a fun bill because so many people do it and now it’s legal,” he said. “A kayaker is just trying to get back to their kayak.”
Not sure exactly what Rep. Gingery means by this. If a kayaker is trying to get back to his kayak, that means he got to the end of the run without it. Now he's in trouble, and no amount of ticket-free hitchhiking is going to find his kayak for him.

My hitchhiking days were in the 1970s. I did a fair amount of hitchhiking as a backpacker, although a usually planned a long loop into the wilderness and then back along the trail to my car.  It was easier that way.

Most of my hitching was to get from Point A to Point B. I hitchhiked to work. I hitched rides to college classes. I hitched to the beach and to the mountains. I hitched rides from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Storrs, Conn. I hitched from Houston to Denver. I hitched from San Francisco to Boston. I hitched all over the West in the glory days of the hitchhiker, the late '60s into the 1970s.

It was a young person's pursuit. It was a necessity, as often I didn't have my own car. It was also an adventure.

This takes us back to Colorado. In the summer of 1972, everyone seemed bound for the Centennial State. The mountains beckoned. The Rainbow Gathering was on in Granby. It was the home of Coors which, for some mysterious reason, had attained mythic status on the coasts. It wasn't unusual for a friend to make a pot run from Florida to Boulder just to snag a couple cases of Coors. Even more puzzling is the fact that there was always some pretty amazing marijuana on hand in Florida. And cold beer.

I was on the road that summer along with about a million of my closest friends. This was before I started keeping a journal so I have only my imperfect memory to remember it. I don't have any slides but, if I did, I could bore the heck out of you with a series of scenes.

Instead, I'll do it with words...

--To be continued--

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