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United States: Los Angeles – Diamond Mountain ~ 1010 miles 2010/12/31

Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.

Once I hitchhiked to Auckland’s airport I was warned by some workers there that I would need an onward ticket from USA. I actually planned to buy one to Mexico anyway, but there was no counter of the airlines I wanted to go with at the airport. I tried finding United Airlines office in Auckland later, but had no luck as the person representing them wasn’t able to sell them and only ever did was to make changes to already bought tickets. Anyway, I decided to leave it to the luck. Flight was a dreadful 12 hours long. At US immigration I was asked a bunch of questions about my visit purpose, but nothing about onward ticket. So it seems I just got worried over nothing. Overall getting through the customs was quite a simple thing. After that came the question of getting out of Los Angeles. I got on a bus going to Santa Monica beach and walked from there to the junction before Malibu beach. Got a lift there in a pickup with 7 dogs in the back xD With another lift I got to Woodland Hills and walked up North to the number 118 freeway. That was for the first day in US. Next one was a hitchhike to Santa Clarita, where I stayed 4 years ago, while working at the Six Flags theme park.

Ride there came with a good treat of fishburgers 🙂 Stayed at that town a few days while getting some stuff together for traveling further – gas canister, new compass, map of California, etc. Problem was that the towns in US are even more spread out than Australia or New Zealand, so getting around takes a lot of time. When I was about to leave Santa Clarita on a dark rainy evening I was picked up from a supermarket by a bulgarian Zdravec, who later invited me over to his place to spend the night. Thus I avoided the rain problem. At his place I got to eat traditional Bulgarian meal with cheese – Banica, to play some chess and talk about the travels.

Next day I hitchhiked to Vasquez Rocks National Park, where I’ve been 4 years ago as well. While continuing from there I was warned by a cop not to hitchhike while he sees me… By this time I sort of got the hang of hitchhiking in California acording to the law, but cops seem to have their own opinion on this. I just walked further a mile and got a lift. With several rides I got to Inyokern and was picked up by Kyle and Ryan, who brought me to their friend’s place, where they were doing their jamm session that evening. I ended up staying the night there. It was a fun evening with some dart games, wii, etc. Next day I hitchhiked to Death Valley. The ride through the park was with Italian Lorenzo. A bit annoying and overly sociable dude, thinking too much of himself. In Death Valley I planned to see the Sailing Stones, but roads there had some nonexistent traffic. Lorenzo tried milking me for money for the gas, once I told him I might be going in his travel direction, which was Flagstaff in Arizona. I planned first to go for Yosemite, but roads there were closed because of the recent snowfall. Anyway I declined.

At the park fee collecting kiosk some cops again began the story about hitchhiking being prohibited, but it seemed like it really was so on the National Park territory. Because of that I was in a dodgy situation, unable to hitch to see those Sailing Rocks. Lorenzo then used it to ask for 10$ to drop me off out of the National Park. I still ended up withough giving that to him, but overall experience was sort of disgusting. From Death Valley junction I went up North to number 95 highway with old guy Denis. Stopped there at the rest area for the night and next day hitched a ride to Las Vegas, where I got stuck trying to get further to Henderson. But after 3 hours of hitching from the ramp I finally got a lift.

I spent a few days in Henderson and when was hitchhiking further to Kingman in Arizona a driver gave me 20$ 🙂 With another ride in a back of a pickup I finally got to Kingman, where a historic 66 route was passing through the town. This also was the very first place I saw those giant tall cactus, which are so famous in Arizona. I spent almost a week in Kingman and then hitched a ride on a No. 40 interstate in a truck to Flagstaff, where there was finally some snow. One night I went to sleep in a tent and in the morning woke up in an igloo. Everything was totally covered in snow, so it was a proper White Cristmass for me. And it wasn’t in the middle of desert as most of the places I was passing through.

Nevertheless on 24’th I decided  to hitch south. After a ride and a treat of pancakes while on the scenic way to Sedona I got called from a driver in a car and offered a ride even further. That was U.J or Uncle John. We stopped by in Cottonwood for a tea and agreed for him to pick me up in the morning on the further trip down to Tucson. While on our way next day I was offered to go to this buddhist community far away from the big cities in the mountains, where they were volunteering in building a retreat for some people to stay in silence there for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days. I eagerly decided to go there and help with that. Even more so, as they had free food, wi-fi and showers there. The very first evening I had one of the most fantastic Christmas celebrations in my life among 60 to 70 of interesting people out there. The food they had prepared was all vegetarian and super delicious. Next few days I was volunteering at retreat cabins and domes construction work. Almost each evening there would be some sort of event and an awesome vegetarian dinner. Even without an event, there would be some good stuff prepared for volunteers in the yurt kitchen. One night there was a tripple wedding at the temple too. Although because of some retreatant meetings it was postponed to 3 a.m. It was a hilarious event in a way, since one guy has fallen asleep just beside the flower road prepared for the bride and groom. Inbetween speeches one could hear his snoring too x] On the 30th of December the retreat was supposed to start late in the evening, so there was another banquet, after which there was a walk to the gate with all the retreatants and their friends, families and those who was volunteering here. 40 or so retreatants will now separate from the rest of the world in the mountain cabins for more than 3 years to meditate and try to find a way for world peace through their inner self. For more info one can check the website of this project – http://retreat4peace.org/

I will stay here to help for a bit longer. At least as long as my permit to stay in US is valid. Provided I’ll like it here that much. So far I’m satisfied though. I get to rest from my travel, contribute to something meaningful and do some Hatha Yoga, which I’ve been practicing in the past. In nearly a month of hitchhiking in US I didn’t cover all that much of a distance as I could have if not for staying at some spots for a longer time. Even though it wasn’t all that active, people, whom I met on my way here and experiences I had, left a very good impression on me. I have to admit I was prejudiced about hitchhiking in US. But as always those doubts are soon shatered by the kind people you manage to meet traveling this way. The only thing I probably didn’t like was metric system here x] Oh, well, and overzealous cops, who aren’t even sure about their own laws on hitchhiking :]

This will be a last post this year, which has been the most exceptional I ever had. I don’t remember now what I wished for before it began, but I have little doubt that it didn’t come true. As far as I’m concerned I am living my wishes and dreams out. I wish the same to all of you, who has been following me on the pages of my blog this year. Have a good and happy New 2011 Year.

Photo: click


1. Irmantas - 2011/01/03

Su Kalėdom ir naujais metais 😉 Laukiam tolimesnių tavo nuotykių!

2. Sable - 2011/01/03

Palaukt tai tikrai reiks, nes vis dar pas budistus apsistojes neapibreztam kol kas laikotarpiui 🙂

3. Vilius - 2011/01/12

Kai grįši būsi įžymus!

4. Sable - 2011/01/30
5. Benas Vincevicius - 2011/02/04

sveikas, rašau pirmą kartą, bet smagu jog viskas sekasi gerai. mano svajonė taipogi apkeliauti pasaulį – ir ją pradėsiu įgyvendint 2012 metais, o gal net ankščiau, pažiūrėsim. tavo pasakojimai, padeda ruoštis, pasisemti teorinės informacijos. nes turbūt žinai, kad vistiek nervo prieš pradedant yra nemažai – taigi man truputi sveikos įtampos dabar, o tau nepakartojamų įspūdžiu gyvenant ir pildant savo svajonę ! 🙂

6. Sable - 2011/02/06

labas Benai,
taip, apsiskaitymas ir pasiruošimas iš anksto padeda kažkiek perdaug nesijaudint vėliau pradedant pačią kelionę. su laiku man asmeniškai planavimas tiesa jau įgrįso. atsirado daugiau siurprizų troškimo.

sėkmės su sumanymu 🙂

7. Sable - 2011/02/18

On the road again. Gonna cross to Mexico in an hour or two.

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