Every summer since I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to try hitch-hiking, at least once! Needless to say, three summers came and went before I found the guts to actually do it. The summer before I turned 21, I packed a bag, found a ride and took off!
I wasn’t originally planing to hitch a ride to San Francisco. I wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge that summer. It was on my bucket list since junior high school. I always make plans for these kind of trips, which is what I usually dedicated my summers for. Summer time was always filled with camping trips around northern and central Utah, and one or two big trips which were always budgeted for in advance. This summer, I knew I wasn’t going to make in the San Fran if I tried to sit down and make the budget. I just couldn’t afford it.
So I didn’t. That week, I put an add on craigslist for a ride to San Francisco. It only took a couple days before somebody called me and offered a ride. He was a gentleman, commuting to and from Utah and California for work. He needed to return for work on the weekend, and only needed a driving companion to split the drive time so that he didn’t have to stop at a motel for the night. That was easier than I thought. I fully expected for the driver to want to split gas money just like the rest of the ride-sharing commuters on craigslist. All he needed was somebody to help with the drive.
Despite my commonsense telling me no, I said yes. The next Saturday morning, he picked me up and we were off. Nothing creepy or strange about the guy. I didn’t get raped, robbed and dumped in the middle of the desert. I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t in the background of my mind a few times. He was a decent old man who had retired from pipe fitting, decided he wasn’t fit for retirement life, and went back to work near Sacramento, CA.
Long was the drive, and picturesque were the views. Well, except for Nevada, which was looked like hell for flat-landers. My generous driver dropped me of in Sacramento where I hitched a few rides untill I reached the Oakland BART station.
Although it’s laughable now, it wasn’t at the moment; my first vivid memory of San Fran was was seeing a drunk woman vomit all over the platform next to me.
I spend the next two days in the bay area, walking from here to there, sleeping next to a fire on the beach, watching the hustle of the people in the city. The bridge was more impressive looking than I expected it to be. The piers were filled with tourists, all of which seemed to be more concerned with visiting every souvenir shop rather than looking out over the bay and breathing the fresh ocean air.
I walked through through San Francisco, stopping anywhere that caught my eye. China-town, Pier 14, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Field, and the Palace of Fine Arts.
Sunday night, I made my way to Oakland Airport, where I slept for the night until I caught a plane back to Provo Municipal Airport. I bought that plane ticket from Allegiant for dirt cheap. I talking like fifty bucks tops.
That trip to San Francisco was one of the first of many decisions which were made by weighing the risks. Unlike my parents, I’m a risk taker. I couldn’t live a life of choices made by carefully calculated plans down to the details. That sounds so boring! Don’t get me wrong, I strike a balance between risky decision making and calculated decision making. I have to for God’s sake, I’m a college student. But often times, when I spot and opportunity for adventure, I take it!