It wound up turning into around 5 miles to the next exit, and as I neared the off ramp I saw the sign for a lounge. All of a sudden I remembered how thirsty hitchhiking can make a man. I stashed my gear behind an electrical box in the jug handle of the on ramp and went to get myself a refreshing beverage. One of the best tasting cheap beers I've ever had.
I immediately started bull shitting with locals on the smoking deck. These were some cool folks. And friends were made in short order. A few hours later as they were closing the watering hole, a wonderful young lady invited me back to her pad. How could a boy say no?
Shortly after arriving, another guy from the bar showed up as well, and she gave me a shower, soup and fed me red wine until 6 in the morning. It really was a hoot. Hoot and a half even. We got up and about around 1 in the afternoon and I made my way out to the Road to try my luck. It was a great town and I would have been disappointed if I'd had trouble getting out, even after showing up so late. Ashland delivered.
A rad cat named Chai grabbed me up. And aside from our views on eating meat, we saw the world in remarkably similar lights. We made stops along Shasta to get water and check out some views. Northern CA and the Sierra's have been his home since he left Philly as a young age, and his love for it was obvious with every word he spoke about it. He had found the place for himself early in life, and there was no question he belonged there. I was a little jealous.
He was awesome enough to take me all the way South to Redding CA so I could meet up with my old friend Nick to pay him and his family a visit. It was one of those rides I was kinda sorry was over. Chilling with Chai was pretty legit.
And so now I'm in Redding with good friends I've known for nearly half my life. There's more history there than I have room for here, but needless to say it's a relief to see them again. Nick and myself are forging a knife from scrap for the South America expedition, and I'll be posting pictures as it progresses. It's damn good to see him again.