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Brian Cray - Budget Travel

Hitchhiking, Train Hopping, & Wandering

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Hitchhiking Kauai…Garden Island Style


Hitchhiking Kauai

Hitchhiking Kauai really surprised me with its diverse scenery from tropical jungle flora to arid desert canyons similar to the Grand Canyon. The Garden Island lived up to its name. Originally we started this neck of the trip with no expectations or destinations, wandering wherever our thumbs and feet took us. That’s what we did until the end. We hitched the whole island from the Kalalau Trailhead to the Kalalau Lookout in Waimea Canyon. We cast our footprints on Hideaways Beach, Kealia Beach, and Glass Beach among others which remain unnamed solely because we never knew their names.

Hitchhiking Kauai

Hitchhiking Kauai, the random cemetery we stumbled upon…

We wandered in the sun and rain. I found hitchhiking Kauai on the North Shore far easier than the west side, but we managed either way. The last night of hitchhiking in Kauai really came as a surprise.

We awoke early morning in our camping spot cuddling one another in our bivy sacks. Fire ants marched around in a frenzy of rage as they devoured any crumbs leftover on the loose dirt beneath us. They attacked with ruthlessness leaving us with itchy bite marks on our backs and chest. The fire still glowed with an orange hue from remnants of embers from the night before. We made breakfast. Oatmeal and Ramen sufficed.

Then I fell back asleep feeling the sickness of the past few days crucify me to the ground. My nose dripped. My head throbbed. I felt less than ideal for wild camping, but rest was rest.

Kelly woke me up as the soft pitter-patter of raindrops plummeted from the sky. We rushed to cram our shit together as we scampered along the glass beach full of coral, and slippery rock to our nearest safe haven, a pavilion. Salt Pond Park had a ton of them along the coastline.

Another dismal day of rain, and angry clouds shadowed us above bringing back daunting memories of our time along the Na Pali Coast. Frankly, I did not want to relive it. The mud puddles, wet boots, and miserable chilling feeling of Mother Nature’s fury made me want to leave the island.

Thumbin’ It…Garden Island Style

So that’s what we did. We left or at least we tried to leave. From the Salt Ponds we started our trek down Route 56 towards Lihue. We walked and walked some more hoping a kind soul might pick us up by the side of the road. The rain sprinkled gingerly goading us to keep walking closer to the airport for our next adventure, Maui. The scenic overlooks along the road gave us the perfect eye candy to keep us moving forward. We flashed our thumbs, with no luck. But, kept trucking forward. Slowly 21 miles became 16 miles and 16 miles became 12 miles, taking us through small villages to nowhere.

The sun crept away taking daylight hostage with a brief glimpse of its blood scattered across the night sky in a Starburst red. It felt like Arizona, a home away from home. Still we walked into the night with less than ideal spots to camp and shield us from the cries of the sky.

I held hope. I held a feeling of optimism deep in my gut. We would find a spot to camp. As we inched closer to Lihue Airport it felt light years away without wheels.

Our flashlight emitted a faint ray of light striking the ground beneath us. We hobbled with achy feet and damp socks, almost losing any hope we once held onto. It sucked. I felt a numbness drown my feet and walking became less than pleasurable almost deplorable. I capitulated and decided to lay it down anywhere off the road way, like a true homebum.

But then it happened and our situation changed entirely. A car stopped on the opposite side of the road like any other parking on the shoulder. The beams flashed briefly. The window rolled down and out yelled a Hawaiian man. His voice full of joy, merrier than Santa Claus himself. I never caught a glimpse of his face or of the passenger’s, but they gave us a lift.

In that moment, we hitched a ride from the middle of nowhere right past Koloa all the way to Lihue Airport. My jaw dropped and spirit lifted. The gift of hitchhiking comes with its price, but somewhere, somehow, the universe finds a way to help you out. And that’s how we spent our last day hitchhiking Kauai, hitchhiking to the airport with the kindest locals, on a night to remember.

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