I was forced to try my thumb at hitchhiking across Vancouver Island due to a technical difficulty with the Greyhound bus (it left me at a gas station), and at first I was a little concerned.
I had never hitchhiked before, I was thousands of kilometres from my hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and I had somewhere to be (namely Tofino, on the other side of Van. Island from where I was living at the time, Victoria), and things were starting to look tense for this Newfie. Not to mention my travel bag was still on the Greyhound (I got it back in Nanaimo).
The good news was, I had taken a few extra days off work and I had some money in my bank account.. so I said “what the heck!!”. I then found myself; standing on the side of the highway just outside of Duncan BC, wearing a stupid grey sweater in the hot sun, thumb out, feeling foolish.
But the figurative clouds had parted and I got my first ride. Onwards!
The people I met on my hitchhiking adventure were some of the best this planet has to offer. They included people of all walks of life, but if they all had one thing in common, it would have certainly been their good nature.
These people ranged from a traveling map salesman (I know, right?); to a hard working union man, who expressed sheer outrage at the “1%” (his words) for leaving me at a gas station; to a grandmother who works at a resort just outside of Tofino.
I’ll never forget these people, and their stories, and maybe they’ll remember the young lost Newfoundlander standing on the side of the highway with his big stupid grin and a beat up sign (that the guys at Home Hardware outside of Ladysmith made me- bless them), hoping for someone to stop.
I’ll never forget the feeling of being lost, but being happy at the same time. Never in my life had such a seemingly nightmarish situation turned into a day that I’ll tell my grandchildren. The road behind you and ahead of you, and nothing but time.
I made it to Tofino in less than 8 hours (I had some fast drivers pick me up), and never at any point did I feel in danger (though everyone gave me stern warnings about hitchhiking at night, and one young couple even offered me their couch if I had no luck getting out of Port Alberni). Tofino in itself is a wonderland, with amazing surfing and nature, all surrounding an adorable little town with a killer local brewery (ever try kale beer? yum!).
My point is, I could have just turned around at any time. Sometimes throughout the day I did have doubts as to wether I was doing the right thing, and maybe it would be safer for me to just get my bag sent to me and buy a ticket back to Victoria (usually after the 100th car went by with no luck); but I didn’t, and I have some amazing memories that I cherish. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and sometimes things go drastically wrong, but just keep your chin up and make the best of a situation. I find half the battle is all in your head!
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