Friday, March 22, 2013- Denver to Colorado Springs
Time: About 3pm
Wait: About 15 minutes from Castle Rock, zero from Denver to Castle Rock
Hitch: from Kathy ( repeat hitch), man in late twenties/ early thirties
If you have been following the blog, Kathy is a lady I met while hitchhiking a few weeks back, and she once again gave me a ride to as far as Castle Rock today, in order to get a better chance at an immediate ride and avoid the annoyance of the Lone Tree Police. She tells me that she is getting her hair done, and I meet her just off Colorado Boulevard and I-25 and hop in. Her hair is now bleached blonde as she gets ready for a weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada; she looks like a new woman with her swaggish red sunglasses. “I haven’t been to Vegas in awhile”, she says. “I’m kind of nervous, cause I don’t want to lose all of my money.” She laughs, she is only half-joking I think.
She tells me how she hasn’t been to Vegas in a few years, and how she used to go all of the time years ago. “I used to have a friend that was an expert craps player”, she says. “Which is kind of strange, because it’s hard to be so good at a game that appears completely random… but he used to actually get kicked out of the casinos for winning so big, casino after casino. So he’d just hop from casino to casino winning until he had been kicked out of every single one.” Casinos have the right to kick you out of their establishment for whichever reason they please, often if you are bringing home more earnings than the casino would like you to bring home.
Apparently, there is a casino in Denver called Black Hawk, that Kathy says is known by some as The Downhill, for some obvious reasons for anyone that has walked out of a casino with lighter pockets.
Kathy drops me off at the same spot in Castle Rock, and I trek off to gamble my way at a ride to Colorado Springs. I wish her luck on her Vegas trip, she gives me a Mountain Dew for the road as I set out. She zips off in her little red car.
I wait no more than ten to fifteen minutes when a black car pulls over, and the guy introduces himself as Adam. He tells me that he is heading back to Colorado Springs after work, where he has to pick up his wife and then head home. I get the impression that he would rather his wife not know that he picked up a hitchhiker, and this goes as kind of an unspoken, secretive humor.
Adam is a positive guy with a good sense of humor at first impression, as most of the people that have been picking me up often tend to be. Adam tells me that he is originally from Toledo, Ohio. We have in common that we are both from the Midwest; I ask him what brought him out to Colorado. ” One day, I was just sitting at my comfortable and shitty office job, looking out the window at the rain and gloom, and something in me just snapped”, he said. “I had an uncle that lived in Colorado Springs, and after googling the place with the most sun in the US, I found that it was Colorado Springs, and after that my uncle agreed that I could stay with him for two weeks until I found a job and a place to live.” He laughs, as we pass the dense mountains of the Palmer Divide. ” It was then that I packed all of my stuff into my car, quit my job, and drove out to Colorado”, he says. “All in one day.”
His story seems to be something that all Americans, or most, have in common, or maybe used to have a common; a sense of exploration and freedom and a love-affair with a westward movement.
Something in our conversation changes us into talking philosophical, and we talk about the current state of complacency that the United States seems to be stuck in. ” My wife and I tend to be a little different when it comes to outlook”, he tells me. “Not that she is conservative, but she tends to stick to the majority left and… maybe sometimes I’m a bit more of an outlier.”
I tell him that it’s funny that he happens to be from Toledo, Ohio. Just last night I rented the movie Kill the Irishman, about the mob and mafia influence with the unions during the 1960s to late 1970s, until it was finally busted up and led to arrests across the country, linking mob ties all the way to California. In the movie, it follows an Irish man who is pursued by the Italian mobsters, as the Irishman has too much pride and will not be persuaded on business deals because of his Irish heritage and pride.
I ask him how accurate the movie was, in his opinion, and if he noticed any of this going on growing up.
“Oh yeah, it was definitely all over the news”, he says. ” I grew up in Toledo, and most of that took place in Cleveland, although some of it spilled over to Toledo. I wouldn’t say that it was so much as the movie portrayed it though, that the mafia was actually part of the union. It was more like, the mafia helped out the union, and the union was helping out the mafia.”
A “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of thing?, I ask.
He nods. “Yeah, more like that.”
Growing up in Ohio, he says that he had a season pass to Cedar Point, and now when he goes to places like Elitch’s, the amusement park in Denver, the rollercoasters appear weak after going on world class coasters.
We go back to talking mildly philosophical and political, and the state of complacency and acceptance of authority our nation is in, the lack of thinking that goes on with over-saturation of media through gadgets and Iphones, through Group think and lack of individual thinking. “Think about the Bill of Rights itself”, he says. ” A lot of people look at it as rights to freedom, but I don’t look at it like that. The very act of writing something out for society is imposing what the people in positions of power want from you and how you should live. It has nothing to do with freedom, or being free.”
He tells me that his wife and him have no kids yet, but the other day he was with his nieces at a gas station, when a local police officer tried to give them a sticker. ” I told my nieces to get away from that man”, he says, ” because he’s a stranger… a lot of people might give me a weird look for saying that to them, but think about it… since when did we start trusting somebody that carries a gun, mace, and handcuffs more than we trust the average citizen? Am I the only one that thinks about this?”
Adam works at an advertising business, and he says he has one of the better paying jobs and works at a highly accredited establishment, but still, he says, the work “often isn’t challenging enough.”
“I try not to complain, but it’s so tedious sometimes”, he tells me. “I want something more.” He says that his solution to this is working on formulating his own business, yet these things take patience and time, that is, unless they are handed down to you by friends or family. This is not the case with Adam; I see him as an independent thinker and innovator.
He offers at first to give me a ride all the way to Uintah, but then we see that traffic on the opposing Northbound side of the highway is congested with rush hour traffic, so he drops me off about seven miles out along the trailhead off of Corporate Avenue. He tells me that his wife is playing at a bar (piano with a violinist accompanying her) this Monday, and invites me to come out. I tell him that I would like that, and just might do that. Who can turn down live music and beer.
I walk about five miles along the trailhead that follows the river, with my backpack and duffel bag that weighs literally as much as about two bowling balls with all the textbooks and clothes that are packed tightly inside.
My brother’s girlfriend Amy calls me and asks if I need a ride. I modestly tell her that I’ve hiked more than half the distance, and that I’ll be fine, thanks anyways.
“Shut up”, she says. “Where are you? I’ll come pick you up.”
So she comes and picks me up, gives me a ride the rest of the way.