Why I Travel (Lessons From a Hitchhiker: Part 2)

Long trips and options

A few years ago I landed in Calgary from Greece. I had left my car in long term parking. Like a big girl, I took the shuttle to the parking lot, paid the car-sitting fee, greeted my little beast and pulled away. I had a seven hour drive in front of me. That’s a long drive after a long flight. I called Dave for an opinion on if I should drive straight home or not. He said “You’ve been gone a month. Just come home. You can call if you get tired or you can pull over.” That made sense. I began my drive.

Not all hitchhikers are psychos

Only minutes outside of Calgary I heard the little voice inside my head. It said you needed someone to talk to girl. And instantly (I mean instantly) I saw someone holding a sign at the side of the road. They were headed east. I pulled over. A young woman ran over to the car. “Where are you headed?” I asked. “Montreal!” she said smiling. “Well, I’m not going to Montreal but I can get you to Regina.” Excitedly she ran away from the car to tell her partner but returned quickly. “Do you like dogs?” I smiled. “Better than humans.” Turns out they had a dog with them. And just like that I found someone to talk to—Hanna, Gabe and Juno, their puppy.

As I got to know them I learned that Hanna was heading to nursing school that fall. Gabe just finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and Juno was the puppy they found in Alaska. They were from Virginia and made their way west and then north all the way to Alaska by train-car and other means.

They were a sweet couple. The dog slept most of the ride. In close quarters for seven hours we shared driving and stories about our lives. I asked why they chose such an adventure. This was Gabe’s answer:

I’m a writer but as young as I am I don’t think I would be taken seriously. I need more life experience behind me. Hitchhiking to Alaska, meeting people and getting by with so little was one of those experiences. I couldn’t help but grow from it. You need some life behind you before you start writing about life—some experiences and challenges.

I agree.

Travel enhances us humans

So wise! Although I never said I need to travel to be taken seriously as a writer my desire to travel has definitely given me more stories. I’ve met characters and been in situations that caused me to grow, be empathetic, problem solving and sometimes toughen up in challenging circumstances. Gabe is right. Travel is necessary for our character and our credibility.

Hanna, Gabe and Juno spent the night at my place. The next morning they went for a walk in the neighborhood and hung out for a bit. I gave them a gift card for Tim’s and drove them to the east end of town to carry on their journey. Another part of travel is extending the kindness I have been given so many times when I journey. And seriously the generosity has been over the top. Helping this sweet team was a perfect opportunity. Oh, and they weren’t psycho. Neither was I.

Wishing them all the best.
(I wonder where they are now?)

On a side note Dave found it strangely coincidental that Dave’s daughter is named Anna (Hanna), that Dave has a Masters Degree in Writing and that Dave’s wife is a nurse. The little team was a strange embodiment of his immediate life.

*Originally posted August 16 2017

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