Tag Archives: hitchhiking

Cat Hitchhikes for 10 Months

25 Jun

Hipsters love cats. But apparently cats don’t love the hipsterfied city of PDX.

A cat by the name of Mata Hairi hitchhiked its way out of Portland, Oregon, in September after her owner, Ron Buss, let him out. Michael King, a homeless man, found Mata Hairi and rescued her, taking the cat on his hitchhiking travels to California and Montana. Mata Hairi would ride on top of his rucksack.

As soon as he was able to take her to the vet and a microchip revealed her owner, King was able to get in touch with Buss about Mata Hairi’s safe return.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see Mata Hairi get her own meme, a la LOLCats and Grumpy Cats.

You know who loved hitchhiking and cats? Jack Kerouac. Jerry Bauer took this photograph around 1965.

Here’s another photograph of Kerouac with a cat, plus a 1959 poem about his cat.

 

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Road Trip: Hitchhiking to the Mission

24 Nov

 

By the time my poor bus rolled into Carmel, the day was fading and the shops had closed their adorable doors.  Music from a live concert rose up out of the heart of the main shopping plaza, and the moon made his appearance even though the sun hadn’t quite set yet.  I was a little disappointed not to be able to stop into the cheese shop that the wine guide back at the winery had recommended, but I was intent on getting a little culture out of the trip.  Man cannot live on cheese alone.  I set off to visit the Carmel mission.

I was a little annoyed that I’d paid all this money for a tour that basically amounted to the driver talking over the intercom as he drove the bus and then sleeping while we wandered off on our own into the unknown.  That was the point when I actually needed a tour guide.  I didn’t need someone to tell me to look out the window because by golly there’s a strawberry field.  I needed someone to physically walk me to locations because I’m for someone who loves to travel I’m notoriously bad with directions, and I hate wasting time getting lost when there are things I want to see!  I asked the driver to point me in the direction of the Carmel mission, and he told me the twosome up ahead of me were also headed there and honked the bus horn at them so they’d wait for me.

I awkwardly approached, not knowing if I was encroaching on some romantic rendezvous.  As it turned out, they were ex-brother and sister-in-law.  The woman had married and divorced the guy’s brother.  They couple had been divorced for many, many years now, but the woman and the brother had remained good friends and travel companions.  Hm… was there maybe something more there?  No.  He’s gay and in a committed relationship, and she is currently in a serious relationship.  They just like to travel together.

Alrighty then!  Onward ho!  (Actually, I found the relationship backstory out on the return trip.)

The woman once been given a beautiful painting of the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo and always wanted to visit it.  We set off down the road, the driver having told us it was only about a ten-minute walk.  That was a lie.  As we were trying to figure out which way to head, a woman in an SUV pulled up and asked us if we wanted a ride.  Now, if you’ve read my “Nightmare of a Trip” post, you know that I’m well versed in the dangers of hitchhiking, but I figured I was with two other people.  Plus you had to have seen the woman in the SUV.  She was skinny with bleached blonde hair and wore these ginormous heels and what may have been a dalmatian-fur coat.  I couldn’t tell if she was actually old or if her skin was damaged from too much suntanning.  We were grateful to her, though, as she took time out to give us strangers a ride.

The San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, like all the shops, had already closed, so we could only peer in over the fence.  It was a beauty!  Established in 1771, the Community of the Carmel Mission is a working church.   The Basilica Church is a registered National Historic Landmark and there are five museums on the grounds.

Of course, the bus also made a stop at the Carmel mission when we left the area, but we didn’t have time to get off the bus at that point, so I’m glad I ventured off to enjoy its peaceful presence.

 

 

I’m not sure which mission he’s referring to, but in Big Sur Jack Kerouac writes of Cody, the character based on Neal Cassady, saying:

“Now dont walk too fast, it’s time to stroll along like we used to do remember sometimes on our daysoff on the railroad, or walkin across that Third and Townsend tar like you said and the time we watched the sun go down so perfect holy purple over that Mission cross–Yessir, slow and easy, lookin at this gone valley…”

Road Trip: Nightmare of a Trip

31 Oct

Happy Halloween!  I’ve been recounting some rather nightmarish road trip tales for you — the tour I booked not going all the way to Big Sur, the bus breaking down, not being able to stop and pick up 7 avocados for a dollar in Salinas, my road trip essentially going awry.  Oh, the horror!  I know, I know.  White girl problems.  But really it all just added up to be one semi-disastrous trip.  Here’s what I didn’t tell you:

  • my friend and I spoke on the phone about getting tix together, she sent me an email confirming the arrival time was okay, I booked my flight … and then she told me she wasn’t coming after all
  • my other friends had planned their trip in reverse of mine, arriving the day before the wedding and then staying a few days after I left, so I didn’t get to hang out with them apart from the wedding
  • the person who’s place I was supposed to crash at was sick so I had to book a last-minute hotel, which would’ve been fine except apparently there were several conferences going on that week so every hotel in the city of San Francisco was at least $400
  • my connecting flight was delayed, so then the shuttle I prebooked said it would only take me if I paid more money
  • the shuttle dropped me off at the hotel, sped away, and then I was left with the realization that the hotel had shut down for the night.  What kind of hotel shuts down??
  • I decided to take the BART on my way back to the airport at the end of my trip, drag all my luggage the 20 minutes from the hotel to the train, only to discuss mass transport doesn’t start running til 8am in SF.  I will miss my flight if I wait an hour for the BART to run.  I call the shuttle company; it won’t pick me up because I don’t have a reservation.
  • I get a cab.  The driver tells me it will cost $120 to get to the airport.  It’s that or miss my flight.
  • We get to the airport and can’t find my airline.  For some reason, it’s in the international flight section of the airport, even though I’m flying SFO to LGA.
  • I’m waiting for my flight to leave, when I get a call from my bank that they’re shutting my card down due to strange charges.

Okay, so my trip wasn’t the stuff of B horror movies.  It wasn’t the opening of I Know What You Did Last Summer, when a driver hits someone on the road and dumps their body in the ocean.  It wasn’t The Hitcher, where a young couple gives a ride to a hitchhiker and horror ensues.  It wasn’t The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where a group picks up a stranger on their way to gravesite and then are stalked by, well, a guy with a chainsaw and his cannibal family.  And it wasn’t Urban Legends, where a college coed is driving along and suddenly a guy pops up in the back seat!

See, back when Jack Kerouac was taking road trips in the 1940s and ’50s, hitchhiking was pretty commonplace.  It was never really the ideal or safest way to travel, but it wasn’t as scary as it is today.  Today, horror movies are moral tales that warn drivers to always  check the perimeter and interior of their car before getting in and to not pick up strangers.  Parents not only forbid kids to hitchhike but also have to warn them about getting too close to cars in general.  Currently in the area in which I grew up in New Jersey, there’s a man who’s been trying to lure kids into his car.  There have been at least 17 luring attempts in Bergen County recently, and some New Jersey towns are considering a Halloween curfew.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!  What’s your favorite horror movie road trip?

10 Things You May Not Know about Jack Kerouac

27 Sep

Here are ten things you may not know about Jack Kerouac.

  1. His parents were French-Canadian immigrants, and he didn’t learn to speak English until he went to school.  It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he began feeling comfortable conversing in English.
  2. He was the baby of the family.  He had an older sister named Caroline (nicknamed “Nin”) and an older brother named Gerard, who died when he was just a boy.
  3. He was a Classicist.  He used to skip school just to go read the Classics in the library.
  4. He attended prep school.  Graduating a year early from high school, he had a scholarship lined up to attend Columbia University, but they required him to attend Horace Mann Preparatory School first.
  5. While in school, he wrote music reviews.  He also had a job as a sports writer for his hometown paper.
  6. He joined the US Navy and the US Merchant Marine.
  7. His go-to food while hitchhiking across the country was apple pie.
  8. His first book, The Town and the City, was published under the name John Kerouac.  When he drew the cover he envisioned for On the Road, he also wrote his name as John Kerouac.  His parents had given him the name Jean-Louis, and John was the closest Americanization of his name.
  9. His first marriage took place in prison.  He had been arrested as a material witness after his friend murdered a man who had been stalking him.  Kerouac’s girlfriend agreed to post bail if he married her.
  10. In addition to writing, he also was a painter.