On that score and with respect to the focus of this website, even though I’ve had to prove to many folks that, yes, there are still thumbers out there flagging down rides and that this wasn’t just a ‘60s and ‘70s hippie/trendy thing—as witnessed by the many inscriptions I have logged which are dated throughout the 2000s—I’m going to surmise that with a pandemic raging, there won’t be many thumbers thumbing right now. And, if even if there are, that not many drivers who might otherwise consider it, will be taking the extra-added risk of picking up someone who might be a covid carrier--on top of all the other risks involved in the act of hitchhiking for each party involved. There’s just something extraordinarily odd about voluntarily inviting a stranger with or without donning a mask to share your indoor, confined airspace for some yet-to-be-determined length of time and road miles.
And, with the virus in full force, I’ve also taken some time off from cruising random stretches of random freeways to check on-ramp lamppost for graffiti until this whole thing abates. But, I am confident that there is still a wealth of fascinating graffiti out there on freeway on-ramp light poles across North America just waiting to be found—at least before the elements fade them or the respective state DOTs replace those poles or revamp the interchanges on which they stand.
However, since my last posting in May 2016, and my last uploading of logs and photos of them in 2015, I have made many trips in search of messages, mostly throughout the western US, but even a bit into Canada. Since then, I’ve taken hitchhiker-graffiti-hunting excursions on stretches of I-5 in central Oregon, east and west on I-90 out of Spokane, WA in 2018, and on I-80 and I-5 out from Sacramento, CA in 2019, southeastern AZ, and a bit in Nova Scotia and around Vancouver, BC. So, there are many more messages to transcribe from the photos taken and post on this site.
As far as making contact with one-time hitchhikers who left inscriptions--or in some cases their relatives--at the risk of being redundant from my last post, I thus far been successful in contacting a bluegrass musician from Vancouver, BC; poet from San Francisco; carpenter from Gabriola Island, BC; insurance agent from Warsaw, IN; brother of a deceased trading post owner from Taos, NM; ski resort manager from Vail, CO; family of a deceased awning shop owner from Long Beach, CA; widow of a radio host from Eureka, CA; home remodeler from Barrington, RI; interior decorator from Sunnyvale, CA; middle school math teacher from Duvall, WA; commercial real estate broker from SoCal; saguaro cactus walking-stick carver from the Tohono O'odham Nation in Sells, AZ; painter/sculptor from Santa Cruz, CA; retired USPS letter carrier from Locust Grove, VA; a guy from Keokuk, IA: woman from Lawton, OK and lives in Boise, ID; male nurse working with developmentally disabled adults in Ohio; cousin of a deceased Viet Nam War Veteran from Texas; bandmate of a deceased musician/painter from Slovenia; nurse from Wolf Creek, OR; SoCal gal now living in Americus, GA; member of the Cheyenne-Arapahoe Nation; blue-collar worker from Great Falls, MT; professional photographer from northern Montana; and retired B&O Railroad worker from central Ohio.
And, of these, I have had face-to-face contact with the brother of the trading post owner, where I stopped into the shop and had a brief chat; the carpenter from Gabriola Island, who I had burgers and beers with in downtown Vancouver; the bluegrass musician from Vancouver, who invited me to a Monday night jam session with his band and an array of other musicians in a private club; and the B&O railroad worker who lives in Las Vegas like I do, and who I bought breakfast for as we talked of life.
Essays for all are either done or in the works.
An interesting inscription from each trip is posted above; one, “the smell of freedom,” near Kellogg, ID, the other about being stuck in Lodi—in Lodi, CA. Experiences from these and other trips are in early stages of being documented in essays; including one with the working title of “Ghost Hitchhiker Graffiti Writer,” about a member of the Cheyenne/Arapahoe Nation whose friend would “ghost” write his name in all sorts of places, including once on a lamppost at an I-40 on-ramp in Grants, NM, in 1977; which is where I would find it decades later. His friend, a Native American activist, passed away (actually has been listed a missing person since) in 1986. Thus, the multiple entendres of the essay's title.
Enough for now. And what I text to my kids:
BBBBaiphe, 1/2un (Be safe, have fun).