On Hitchwiki, the internet’s extremely useful repository of hitchhiking wisdom to orient non-locals on their trips, the opening sentence for the article on Vermont is: “Vermont is a hitchhiking mecca.” So when my first ride out of Montréal left me at a junction with the highway to Vermont, I decided on the spur of the moment to abandon my plan of hitching all the way to the crossing into Maine several hours away, and took a ride straight down to the Vermont border and walked across carefree, with just some looks askance from the border patrol that I would dare to come without a car. And it was true. The whole time in the state, I didn’t have to wait more than about ten minutes for a ride. Most people were just going a little ways down the road, but that was okay because I still made great time. The only exception to the ten-minutes thing was when I got dropped off on a fast-moving stretch of US-2, standing near a lake. There I waited maybe as much as twenty minutes before Kyle picked me up.
He was headed all the way to Maine, so with him I was in three different states – Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine. What’s more, he was going several hours into Maine, so he gave me a terrific amount of progress. But none of that is the best part.
The best part is that he knows a girl who gives him lots of flak for picking up hitchhikers all the time. This girl’s family was throwing a barbecue that very night, and he considered the fact that it would be hilarious to walk into the barbecue with a hitchhiker in tow. And that’s how I got invited to a family barbecue in the middle of nowhere in Maine. Kyle drove us down an encyclopedically memorized series of zigzagging backroads that would have thrown off any CIA agent, and we pulled up to the girl’s family’s house, and walked on in. He introduced me as a random hitchhiker, and everyone took it completely in stride and thought it was pretty funny and asked me about my trip and found it impressive. Then those of us who were of the younger generation went to the room above the garage and watched a movie (The 2012 version of 21 Jump Street). All the while I ate my fill, and I got to listen in as 21 Jump Street made everyone so nostalgic about high school that they had to pull out their yearbooks and reminisce.
All of which goes to say that when hitchhiking is good, it’s kind of unbeatable. Kyle would’ve even let me stay at his place for the night, but he had a date, so instead he took me to a travel plaza where I was able to set up my tent in the sadly rainy night. In the morning I was able to quickly get to Bar Harbor, where I am now. But that story is still in progress.