Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hitchhiking in Ann Arbor

When Dad and I lived in Ann Arbor, we did some fairly crazy things.  For instance, having no car, we hitchhiked to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Traveling together in this way was an exercise in bonding, mutual support and mutual dependence.  I had confidence in Dad's skills and camping expertise.  I'm not sure I had any skills that made him feel confident, but he let me come along anyway.  Hitchhiking with Dad felt safe.  It felt as though he and I could do anything and go anywhere, as long as we were together.

We had matching backpacks and a destination sign, which Dad felt would surely indicate to drivers that we were respectable people -- not those they needed to be concerned would murder them if they stopped to pick us up. This indeed seemed to be the case.  Not only did we travel this way to the Upper Peninsula, but to several other places including the Trostle Family Reunion in Jewett, Illinois. (We also hitchhiked from Carbondale to Nauvoo, but I'll talk about that in other memories).  People were definitely willing to pick us up. Sometimes we rode in the back of a pickup truck, but most of the time people actually invited us into their cars.  In one instance, a couple drove past us only to turn around and come back. They said they had felt impressed to pick us up.  The man, who had a German accent, was still a bit apprehensive, however.  He asked Dad if he had a gun, or was planning to kill him.  Dad said no, and decided not to tell him about his pocket knife.

We could carry almost every basic item we needed in our frame backpacks -- bedding, personal care, clothing, cooking utensils. That obviously didn't include an unlimited supply of food, however.  On our trip to the Upper Peninsula, we ran aground in Marquette.  We couldn't seem to get a ride at all. We were tired, our feet hurt, and we were very hungry.  At that time, Marquette had about 22,000 people.  It wasn't huge, but as we walked, it seemed endless.  As we walked down one of its streets, we passed a pastie (pronounced PASS-tee) shop.  Pasties are compact, tasty little pastry bundles containing beef, steamed rutabaga, carrot, onion, potato.  Even though we weren't familiar with pasties, the window display made our mouths water.  Unfortunately, our limited resources only covered the price of one. The baker had apparently been watching us eye his wares for several minutes, and had accurately assessed our situation.  When we ordered one pastie at the counter, he invited us to sit down and have two.  I feel I have to say that, in my experience, wonderful interactions like this one far outnumber unpleasant ones.  I am so grateful for that!

1 comment:

  1. I also remember these stories that you've recounted to us, though I don't think I remember the part about the man in the pastie shop giving you two for the price of one. That's neat. I also remember that when we went to the upper peninsula as a family, you and Dad made sure we stopped for some pasties (kind of reminiscent of the pastries during our trip to Europe). This era of your lives also gives me pause as I live in a place where there are plenty of people holding signs up. Not a lot hitchhiking, though. Mostly declaring "Just Travelin'" and asking for money for their continuing adventure. My less than compassionate side feels irked that they expect my responsible family/hardworking husband to fund their spontaneous journey (and perhaps a bit of weed to smoke along the way). But I see that this was a lovely part of your life with Dad early on, and it makes me pause to consider the importance of these journeys for others as well.



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