Published: September 17th 2008July 7th 2008
Dumpster, from a distance
This is the same one from before
When we got dropped off at the truck stop, we were a little concerned that we might be waiting for some time. Not so, as it turned out. We went out to the entrance ramp and got a ride into Denver within 5 minutes. The people who picked us up were still in high school, I'm pretty sure. A guy named Ben and a couple of girls whose names we never got. Ben was a pretty terrible driver, so I was glad when we got out of the car. They dropped us off in a suburb east of Denver and we waited at a bus stop to catch a bus into town. When we got to Denver proper, we took care of a few errands and tried to get in contact with Sarah again. We were hoping to go to Elitch Gardens (an amusement park) the next day and then head out of town. By the time we got a hold of her it was about 8 pm, and she turned out to be in Fargo, with her family, so we nixed the park idea and headed out to Aurora to the Flying J's and camped out behind our
the Dumpster, close up
While lacking the usual amenities of a bed, four walls, and a ceiling, the price of free on this one wall no frills room was simply unbeatable.
The next morning we stood on the edge of the property near the exit with the sign, hoping to head west. There was another hitchhiker who was standing immediately outside the entrance to the building with a sign, looking to go to Oakley. After an hour or so we got kicked out of the Flying J's, for which I blame Oakley (as we came to call the other guy). We decided to just head out to the on ramp for I - 70 instead. We waited there for a few hours before we got a ride to... Denver. We got dropped off in what seemed to be a pretty rundown area. We saw at least five police cars drive by in the span of about ten minutes. Fortunately, we were able to get a ride out of there relatively quickly.
The guy who picked us up this time was headed about a hundred miles out along I-70 to a place called Frisco but said that he would drop us off in a place called Silverthorne. This was just fine with us, as he was taking us much farther than the last guy who picked
Looking back at Steamboat Springs
On the west end of town, that's Ryan in white in the distance
us up. We talked casually about things; he had won an all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas off the radio and was going to take his wife down there on the honeymoon they never got, his life as an oil rigger in Alaska for several years, and his misfortune in a motorcycle sale.
We were dropped off in Silverthorne on the I-70 exit ramp into the town, and before we could finish gathering up our stuff and decide what to do next (we were thinking about lunch) a car pulls over and a man leans out the passenger side window and asks if we want a ride. Turned out, he was headed up to a town called Steamboat Springs via a smaller highway near Silverthorne. From there, we could take highway 40 across Colorado and into Salt Lake City. So, we got in and we stopped at a gas station for lunch (and fuel) before heading out.
The driver was a Freshman in college whose name was Preston, the passenger was his grandfather, Pete. Pete had done some hitch hiking in his earlier days and thought that it was good that people (especially young men like ourselves)
Same spot as the previous picture, there's our stuff
were still able to go out and have an adventure and travel in this manner. Preston was moving to Steamboat Springs to continue going to college to be an engineer (for sports equipment). They were very nice people and offered us a place to stay if we couldn't make it out of Steamboat that night. If we did catch a ride, Pete recommended that we make it at least 50 miles over to a town called Craig, as they would be more likely than the towns in-between to have an all night restaurant and/or motel.
We did manage to get a ride into Craig, from a woman named Maria, who was seven months pregnant, and by herself. I was pretty surprised, to say the least, considering that only a small portion of our rides had been from women at this point, let alone seven months pregnant and alone. Apparently she picked up hitchhikers all the time though, and didn't really seem too concerned about us. She did construction work, and had been doing administrative stuff more recently due to her pregnancy. She dropped us off on the western edge of Craig. It was 6 or 7 pm
In Temple Square, this was a small part of one of the sides of the massive conference center. Nice place.
and we were considering a motel for the night, since we hadn't had showers, clean clothes, etc for a couple days. Turns out, motels are ridiculously expensive outside of tourist trap towns as well as in. We decided that we'd try to continue on instead, and see how far we could get by the end of the night.
Just when it was starting to get late and we were pretty sure that we weren't going to get a ride out of town, we got one, from a guy who didn't give us his name. He was heading up into Wyoming to go to work. He worked as an oil rigger, and only worked about 2/3rds of the year and managed to make more money at it than I'm sure he needed. He was a pretty quiet guy but he seemed alright, to me anyway. He took an old dirt road through the middle of nowhere Colorado, which turned into a paved road through the middle of nowhere Wyoming before getting to Rock Springs, Wyoming. I counted a grand total of 7 cars on the hundred mile stretch. Every fifteen miles or so, there might be a building.
One of many in Temple Square
we got to Rock Springs the sun had just about set, and we were all pretty hungry, Andrew and I hadn't eaten since Silverthorne, where we had grabbed a couple sandwiches at a gas station really quickly and apparently this guy hadn't eaten in a while either. He wanted to go to a strip club to get some food, but found out that there weren't any strip clubs in town that served food anymore. Apparently there had been before when he had come through here. We went to Applebee's instead, which was significantly less awkward than I'm sure the strip club would have been. Also, he picked up the bill at the end, so we got some pretty good free food out of the deal too. He dropped us off in Evanston, Wyoming after another couple hours of driving at 11 or 12 pm. Evanston is right on the edge of Wyoming and Utah.
We had gone quite a good distance, gotten five rides, and I owed Andrew for the motel that he paid for outside of the Rockies so we decided to treat ourselves to a room at the economy inn, which sounded like it was closer to
In Temple Square, of course
our price range than the rest of the motels in the area.
Yeah, the guy who gave us a ride into Evanston had been quiet in a way that I felt was a little unsettling, but after buying us dinner and arriving in a place that wasn't the middle of nowhere I relaxed a little bit. I was not eager to spend the night in another motel, but it was really late, and we were both really tired, so I wasn't going to fight it.
The next morning we woke up and left for the interstate entrance ramp. Evanston was small enough to the point where I was doubting our odds of being picked up in a short amount of time, but it wasn't long before a family pulled over and told us that they were headed towards Salt Lake City (actually a suburb called Ogden). We jumped in and took a ride. They were pretty friendly and nice, and bought us lunch at Quizno's before the mother had to go shopping at a party supply store for decorations, etc. for her 40th birthday party which was coming up.
At lunch we talked casually, although
The two of us by a waterfall
In cottonwood canyon, Andrew is in the black shirt, Ryan is in the white.
there was a brief moment where the conversation turned to religion and our Christian friends asked us what we believed. Not wanting to unintentionally offend, I stayed silent as Ryan handled the matter (very tactfully I might add). After the lunch and the shopping, they dropped us off near an entrance ramp to the interstate leading into Salt Lake City proper. We were very quickly picked up by a man named Spencer.
Spencer was a nurse/nurse technician and was part of the LDS church in Salt Lake. The ride was short, so our conversation was as well, but he dropped us off downtown in temple square and told us that (if we were interested) the square held a lot of history and information about the church. We thanked him for the ride and he drove off.
We had made our stop in the city because Ryan had a friend in the area we were planning to visit. He tried calling him, but there was no answer (expected) because Ryan was pretty sure he was at work. Since we had hours to kill, we decided to play tourist and toured the square, admiring the architecture and the gardens. Eventually, we were stopped by a woman who was a tour-guide type person. She asked us about our visit and then informed us about some of the church's history and what we could do in the square to learn more.
We spent most of the afternoon and evening hanging out around Temple Square. We watched a movie about Joseph Smith to take a break in an air conditioned building for a while, because it was pretty hot out. It took us until 9 pm before I was finally able to get in touch with Jake. Turns out my phone was rolling straight over to voicemail instead of ringing, even though it was on and I had signal. Weird. We stayed with Jake and his wife Susan for the next couple of days. We got to meet their kids in the morning, and went out for a hike into Cottonwood Canyon the next day where Jake's 6 year old son managed to catch some sort of lizard, which got away from him after a minute. It was nice getting to catch up with Jake and to meet Susan, who I had not met previously.
They were headed up to a family reunion the next morning, so they dropped us off a little ways north of SLC after getting stuck in what had to have been the worst traffic jam I had ever seen. There was evidently some sort of horrific accident or something, because they rerouted all traffic from the interstate to a nearby highway which ran through a small town, complete with stop signs, stop lights, and road construction partway through that brought traffic down to a single lane. I think it took us about 2 hours to go about 2 miles. The entire time I kept waiting to see an old man with a walker come cruising past us on the sidewalk.