Archives for January 2017
The inclement weather followed me as it always does on the road. Getting wet is apart of travel, but the key is staying dry. Roseville did not change that and although I never encountered Sergeant Flood, I certainly dealt with my fair share of rain.
I felt too lazy to walk, too lazy to find a cozy spot in the woods to setup camp and honestly too damn sick to step another inch. I plopped my ass and laid it down under a bridge by the railroad tracks. Railcops, UP service trucks and police all drove past sporadically throughout the night. They saw me most definitely, but the fierce howling moans and torrential splattering sweltering throughout the night, worked to my advantage in that sense. They did not fuck with me. To them I looked like an ordinary home bum shootin’ up under a bridge.
I felt safe and more comfortable traveling despite exposing myself to the open world. With my knife in my pocket, clenched between my sweaty, aching palm and fingers I dozed in and out of sleep almost like a hallucinogenic trance. My body ached from a cold and my bones squirmed at the touch of the roaring winds. I shivered and curled up into the fetal position, nestled into my bag and my feverish state eventually subsided after much rest.
I woke up late. Much later than normal as the sky still sprinkled, laughing at my vulnerable state, as I packed up my gear. The soles of my boots squeaked with each damp, squishy step and I only sustained feeling in my arches and heels. I lingered around town for a bit and felt like a bum with nothing but time to kill. Somewhere between all the chaos a window of sun shined through illuminating my reflection in the ripples of each puddle I unsuccessfully avoided.
Walking south I tramped past the yard and Roseville Market towards a vacant industrial field, the usual catch out spot for train riders. Tags scrawled across a lone tree with graffiti lining the stone walls near a drainage culvert, a sign of other riders. I explored the area carefully with an incognito sway about my step. Sergeant Flood did not fuck around when it came to riders and I heard quite many stories about citations for trespassing in this adjacent field. So I maintained a low-profile and set up a lean-to near the back of the stone retaining wall. My fever lashed back at me with an unrelenting force so instead of fighting it I felt safe enough to rest during the daytime.
As my eyes fluttered I heard drops sprinkle from above, gently thumping against nylon, quickly progressing to an abomination. Layered in all my clothes I lay there dry and warm free from the demon above as Hell pounded its sins down upon me. The blocks of ice attached to my ankles no longer felt like anything, but a numb existence, detached and barren. I awoke hours later to nothing but a dark misty sky, the only light peering out from the security vehicles patrolling the yard beyond the mesh fencing.
I scrutinized the yard for hours looking for an opportunity to hop out, but nothing looked promising other than getting caught from this location. Dancing with the Devil I took a prowl three miles further south in pitch darkness down desolate back-country roads to find another spot to watch the yard operations. I took “Rob Nothing’s” suggestion and hid by the overpass in the shadows of what seemed like perpetual gloom.
What are these? Please tell me…
Encumbered by sickness I instantly fell asleep shielding myself from Mother Nature’s spontaneous, unpredictable outbursts, resting peacefully under yet another bridge. That night she mellowed out to a calm, cloudless sky, breezeless and stunning through her twinkles. I awoke on separate occasions to silhouettes scampering down the trashed, adjacent road. Garbage cans, pallets, trash bags and a speedboat scattered across the ground like a wasteland portraying greed.
I eavesdropped on two normies talking about their materialistic lives and a mirage of problems. But in the distance I saw a lone man. He looked like a blurring shadow of darkness as he stealthily tiptoed through the east side of the yard, hopping the fence as he disappeared into a boxcar on an arriving train. Perplexed, I wondered what he was doing? He moseyed across two stopped trains and vanished like a cloud of smoke. A train rolling through on the main line looked hoppable as it crawled slowly along two bands of steel at a turtles pace. Maybe he caught on the fly. It would have been much easier to do so on the west…I never found out as I drifted off to sleep.
The following morning I awoke to radiant rays of sunshine seeping through my sleeping bag scorching my eyes. Finally it looked promising out, a great day to catch out if the opportunity presented itself. One train sat on the arrival tracks while another lingered in the classification area. I quickly packed up my gear and moved to a less obvious location, west of the tracks, hidden in tall brush by a lone shrub.
Beneath the hill lay the tracks and a tent propped up out in the open, completely blowing up my chance to catch out. Out hobbled a black man, reaching for his zipper to take a morning piss. He aimed straight towards the tracks as I shook my head, “what the fuck was he doin…”
In this moment I studied the train on the main line really quickly to figure out if it was headed southbound. All the tracks pointed geographical southbound, but I knew trains from here headed either east, north or south so with a 66.6% chance of going the direction I wanted to, why not, right? Then I studied the train more closely. Loaded lumber mixed with boxcars meant a lower priority train compared to an IM, but I remembered riding a similar train south from Eugene. So my deductive reasoning told me if that train headed southbound through Roseville with a similar load then maybe this train went south too.
I looked back over at the home bum and he waved at me after putting his unit away.
“Can’t stay there dawg, workers gon report you if they see you, they ain’t here tho. Where you goin’…”
“South dude…tryin’ to kick the cold.”
“Well hop on…think it’s goin’ Fresno.”
With that confirmation I made up my mind and ran from under the bridge to the first open boxcar. Ssssssssiiisssssisss…the sound of the air released from the brakes. I flung my pack in first and hopped in as stealthily and quickly as possible. Just as I drug my leg in she started rolling along the steel picking up speed fast like a jaguar. I rushed, squabbling in the car to push the door further open to keep from getting locked inside. “Shit I never grabbed a loose railroad spike,” I thought…
I held the door tightly clenching the cold metal in a death grip between my fingers and sweaty palms. Fuck…I needed something to jam it, but what? I thought quickly and reached for my spoon jamming it in the groove under the door tract, but it shimmied loose still. I looked around the rusty boxcar floor, scanning it for anything. At first glance it appeared empty, but ahah, a few stray pieces of lumber. I sprinted over to two pieces grabbing them like batons and ran back to the door prying them in the loose space near the spoon. I gave it some extra oomff whilst kicking it with the bud end of my boot. The door wiggled back and forth, but she stayed jammed, completely open to the scenery as I rode that one-eyed bandit towards Bakersfield.
Ridin’ the Rails SBD to Bakersfield
She bellowed from the inside, yelling, squeaking, screeching, and moaning at every turn along every wye and change of track. It sounded worse than chalk scrawling against a blackboard, but I just lay there on the cold metal floor, shaking back and forth, watching the scenery fly by around me. The freight car jiggled and gyrated ferociously to the point of nauseousness, and sure enough I threw up yet again. She wiggled, bounced and threw my body around that empty box like a rag doll. It looked like a boxing match in there or a scene from Fight Club. I could not tell.
My eyes just glued to the scenery of open green pastures with cattle grazing, and orchards popping up in each adjacent plot of land. Almonds, Pistachios and a great deal of other natural resources reflected the huge industry of farming along the railroad tracks following the I-5, a multi-billion dollar industry. Though sparse with residential development, the land boomed with ranches over the 200 mile stint to an unfathomable degree.
We blazed through Stockton and shortly after came Fresno, I only knew because of the GPS on my phone. With only the one door open, I never saw the yards, but the bright orange and yellow vests gave away the workers from miles away. I stood close to the corner walls of the boxcar to avoid getting pulled off the train. As she cruised along, the smooth steel guided her along the tracks like a ‘pas de deux.’ The night sky quickly approached as the sun crept away through the fluffy clouds and in the distance I saw the silhouettes of palm trees. I used the big green highway sign propped on the side of I-5 to determine my location, Bakersfield 24 miles.
“Ahhh,” I sat back and waited unsure of what to do next…Get off in Bakersfield or head to LA? She slowly screeched into the yard. I hopped off with my feet running, tripping over a large piece of ballast as I smashed into the ground rolling head first towards the fence. Damn that hurt, but now where would I sleep?
Train Hopping Roseville from Eugene
After working and bumming around Hawaii for the past few months my world changed as I entered Seattle as if leaving a dream. Going from a tropical, beach, paradise walking around in shorts and maybe a t-shirt while the cool ocean breeze tickled my chest, well that was long gone. Now my pack strapped to my shoulders felt ten pounds lighter because I wore every damn article of clothing in it.
My buddy picked me up from the airport and for the first time in months I slept peacefully in a comfy bed. We kicked it for a few days, but I already felt antsy to move freely again and hit the road. His truck route took him near Portland, OR so on my last night I hitched a ride with him to Kalama, WA where he dropped me off at the side of I-5.
The brisk night air taunted my exposed skin turning my cheeks and nose a rosey red. I started sniffling. “Ahhhh, it felt good to be back on the road again.” I looked out at the railroad tracks near a siding, waiting for a train to halt. Slowly my feet numbed from the cold, snow swallowed my worn boots ponding water in the open holes of my soles. Fuck I thought…this was gonna be a long journey south. Standing there like a jitterbug I wiggled around to maintain my circulation, but shortly capitulated. So I trampled nowhere fast, sloshing through the moist snow down the tracks and along a steep, snowy, slant of ballast near the highway. I walked and walked some more until I reached a road where I laid it down under a patch of pine. My feet felt cold as stone as if a chilling spectre encroached my body slowly gnawing away at my comfort, darkness followed and I dozed off.
Next I knew the morning sky surfaced through a dense layer of fog. I trudged to a convenience store for warmth stomping the sledgehammers where my feet once were.
With a warm coffee in hand and my socks plastered to the tiled floor, my toes started to come back to life in a warm, tingly sensation. I looked out the window and pondered, “Guess it’s time to start hitchhiking…” I dreaded leaving, going back out into that ravage beast, feeling the brutality of her breath drown my skin to a chilling, miserable state. But fuck the cold I was going south! I threw a thumb out by the on-ramp decked out in all black like a ninja and to my surprise a shuttle bus stopped and gave me a lift after only 5 minutes, dropping me in Vancouver, OR.
De-icer or sand does not exist in Oregon as I quickly found out. The hipster environmentalists boycotted its usage making tramping even more difficult for me, but I managed. I slipped and slid, fell on my ass on more than one occasion and my feet fell into a deep hibernation. At points it felt like I hovered along the sidewalk as I lost all feeling and just when I thought the weather could not get any worse…it did. Dark clouds fizzled above with frozen tears bouncing off the ground, ricocheting like pellets in every direction. I scrambled for a bridge, but I was so far out in the middle of fuck meandering through back roads following the I-5 that by the time I reached one I stood there shivering, and drenched in a downtrodden state of self-destruction. I changed out of my wet clothes into dry gear as I lingered under a siding beneath a bridge. With tweekers and home bums infested nearby I decided to hit the road once it calmed and I ended up getting clobbered again for round two.
My hitchhiking efforts remained futile with shoulders covered in mounds of ice and the sky erupting its fury like an active volcano. So I walked. I couldn’t get any more wet or could I? With some money saved up from a few days of work packing parachutes I decided to give in to a Motel 6.
Just a few miles over the bridge it sat off the highway calling my name. The pedestrian walkway over the bridge covered in a thick crust of black ice. I slid. I fell. I reached and grabbed onto the railings and slipped some more. It sucked. My shoes squished with each step as freezing water stalked my toes to a mesmerized state of numbness. I felt sick and feverish, but a bed was within reach, a look of relief crossed my brow. Halfway across the bridge the sky dumped more chilling cries and I about lost it. I cursed, moaned, and pleaded, but it did nothing. It amplified to a torrential rainfall, but I reached the motel by this point. My face beamed with joy. The rain halted as I stood in freezing puddles of water. I looked up at the sign and in big bold red letters it said, “No Vacancy…” Wait…what in the flying fuck…no vacancy…
Infuriated I grabbed fast food just to get indoors, to warm up for the long, dreadful night ahead of me. I sought refuge under a bush shaking and wiggling in my sleeping bag with my tarp shadowed above me. It did no use. I lay there cold, my teeth chattering like firecrackers and my body just aching from the neglect I put it through. The freezing rain intermittently showered throughout the night and as soon as 5 AM rolled around I hit the McDonalds for a place to warm my body.
It took hours to regain feeling in my extremities and even still, though warm, they felt numb and distant like an out-of-body experience. The ice storm continued with a fierce vengeance. I barely kept my eyes opened as my head bobbed, nodding in and out in the restaurant. I noticed a bus across the way and took the opportunity to free myself of Portland’s flooded roadways. With useless attempts of hitching I freed myself from the outdoors, getting some Zzzzzz’s on the same bus route multiple times before getting off at the Greyhound.
Eugene – Train Hopping Roseville
I grabbed a cheap ticket for Eugene and figured I’d catch out once I was there, spending the next 12 hours indoors while I dried my gear, stayed warm and caught up on sleep. But you know that sly Dog that’s never late, always has WiFi, outlets and the classiest people, well it did not go as planned…it never does. They cancelled my bus. So I spent the night on the floor at the Greyhound station with a free food voucher, and cable TV dozing off for some much needed sleep.
I awoke early morning to the bitchiest, most racist front desk clerk. “Cuse me sirrr, ur bus left las night at 12 forty five. Why u still here?”
I was told my bus was cancelled for 11:30 PM and I could go to sleep.
“But I seen u all day yestaday. All day. Why were u here all day.”
Because my bus didn’t leave until 11:30 PM and I’m travelin’…and you guys cancelled my bus…can I get a new ticket?
“But why u didn’t get on an earlier bus?”
Why do I feel like I’m being interrogated? My ride couldn’t pick me up until then, ok?
“Damn that’s all u had to say boy…”
After what felt like a police interrogation of 30 minutes I left on a bus to Eugene arriving in the early morning. With nothing but time on my hands I walked to Skinner Butte and followed a trail that ran along the river. Home bum paddies scattered along the banks of the river with trash and human waste near the walking path. It reminded me of Portland, a place where public bathrooms did not exist, and locked dumpsters became more and more common. I wandered through the adjacent neighborhood that ran parallel to NW Expressway where I could hear the deafening sound of train horns and the thunderous jolts of freight cars getting humped together in the distance. A free little food pantry stood at one of the street corners and I grabbed a loaf of rye bread while I watched the trains arrive, depart and change crews right by the highway, all headed northbound. But with daylight shining through the scattered clouds I did not want to expose myself to any workers or the bull so I just waited and the hours slowly drifted away into a dark oblivion. The once busy roadway steadily shifted to a faint purring of noise as cars seldom drove by giving me the opportunity to roam about.
Entering a snowstorm near K Falls while Train Hopping Roseville
But my sluggish state succumbed to sleep in the very bush I staked out the yard from. The rain whimpered in the night sky and the pitter patter of its drops against my tarp lulled me to sleep. I slept in that morning, too late perhaps and found myself just watching the yard operations and reminiscing on my last hop out which happened almost 4 months prior as a 40-miler in WNY, catching the same line a few times while I visited the trestle bridge in Letchworth State Park. The benevolent freedom associated with the wind swaying my hair, and my face erupting in a deep smile as tons of freight clanked against mere inches of steel made me look past the harsh prior days on the road. I smirked in anticipation of my future ride waiting for the perfect moment to catch a lift to nowhere in particular.
I decided to find a new spot though. Roaming around I bumped into a home bum under one of the grossest overpasses I ever set foot under. Human feces lay frozen and scattered between empty soup cans, cardboard and plastic among other festering debris and a plethora of needles showered the ground like a new sequel for a Saw movie. Yet this bum lingered here for two years as he told me. We chit chatted while I waited for my train to cc on the main line. But eventually I found myself scurrying to a locked dugout by a corner church. I finagled my way through a small gap in the doorway for a few hours of secure sleep.
Over the river and through the woods to Dunsmuir while train hopping Roseville
Nightfall loomed above and for the first time in days I cast my eyes up at a few twinkling stars. Just as I decided to hit a local mart I heard a faint sound, a sound that came back to me almost instantly. Slowly inching forward as each bolt became visible in the moonlight an IM loaded with piggies, 48’s and 53’s screeched to a stop. I ran back to a bush near the road and waited for the right moment to cross and jump on a freight car. My heart thumped with blood pumping faster from the adrenaline. Where was the bull? Did someone notice me? It’s still kinda light out…all these thoughts raced through my mind. But fuck it, I made a run for it. My dark silhouette camouflaged in the night sky behind a blanket of massive freight headed southbound. I picked a 53’ to ride fearing I might get caught in a piggy. The first one I scrambled to had no porch, second one, no porch, third one, wasn’t a T-Well, fuck…fuck…fuck…I’m wasting time. Cars are passing in both directions now. I need to find something fast. So I gunned it for the next car, a piggy. I used every last bit of energy, every last bit of breath as my lungs gasped for air, wheezing like smoker’s cough as I squeezed myself into the wheel well of a semi truck.
Snow not cocaine
I sat there soaked in a myriad of sweat, catching my breath, keeping my eyes peeled for the bull. But I guess he just didn’t give a shit, after all, it was 30 degrees outside, who’s gonna be hoppin’ trains in this shit, me I guess. Minutes passed, my stomach settled and body cooled down, I began to relax then the sound of air hissed near the couplers and I became wrenched in multiple emotions.
Slowly we rolled along picking up speed quite quickly. I sat there still as a scarecrow scrunched on my backpack as we left Eugene, OR headed southbound. Holy shit…that feeling of adventure came back suddenly and my droopy tired eyes became mesmerized through the blurry street lights of the city. Railroad crossing after railroad crossing dinged as everyone stopped to let the train pass and I felt like a king in my castle waiting to lay down on my throne once outside of the city.
I nestled into my sleeping bag on the floor underneath the semi and drifted to sleep while the wind whispered into my ears. We cruised. We cruised fast and when we stopped I awoke to a film of snowflakes cuddling up against my bag. We made it into the mountain range near Klamath Falls and she dumped inches of fresh powder, decorating the evergreen trees in a blanket of white beauty surrounding me. Wow. Just wow what a beautiful sight. The train did not sideout for long, maybe a few minutes, but once she picked back up speed, I fled back to my sleeping bag and threw my tarp over me to stay warm. The temperature dropped. It dropped well below freezing and with the wind shield I thought how crazy I was to leave a tropical paradise for this. But I loved every minute of it, even if my toes disowned me.
Cruising along I awoke early morning just past sunrise, upset that I overslept, and I missed seeing the peak of Mount Shasta. But honestly, I focused more on staying warm than the scenery, which meant staying bundled. I shifted back to the small space between the wheel wells as the cold made my fingers and toes squeal like little piggies while I rode towards Roseville on a piggy.
Dunsmuir veered right in the distance and the train meandered through the forest green mountainside along a turquoise flowing river. Mini waterfalls sprung along the sides of cliffs rushing water into the river and the train began to dart through a series of small, dark, tunnels as I covered my face from the carbon monoxide fumes. The snow ceased and as we declined in elevation it turned to freezing rain. I chuckled as I thought about riding on the porch of a 53’. The train swiftly approached Roseville as the brakes screeched around a sharp bend by a home bum infested golf course. Tents, tarps and filthy camps scattered near the fencing as the train rolled into town. I took this opportunity to jump off, seeking refuge under a bridge for that night, hoping the days ahead of me would not involve any conversations with Sergeant Flood.
Roseville slowly approaches…
Hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls Trail
So after bumming around Kauai and Maui for a month with my wife I found myself back in Oahu for a few days of work along with sunshine and a thirst for more exploration. Now I did not do much research about hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail. I knew it was illegal and moderately patrolled, but nothing compared to the Stairway to Heaven hike. From hitchhiking around the east side and taking Bus 55 I knew the trailhead started somewhere near Punalu’u Beach Park. I won’t give exact directions, but if you take the #55 bus and use common sense you will be able to find the hike. Please, I do not recommend hiking this trail. This is why I did not provide directions, just my personal experiences hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail. In my personal opinion, if you pick a sunny day after a few days of sunshine then your hiking experience should be fine. Nothing is certain 100%, but please do not be the dumb ass who hikes it in torrential rainfall or high winds. You are just asking to get clobbered in the head with falling rocks, experience potential land slides or even rock slides. Once you are at the Sacred Falls waterfall the only way out is back through the valley you hiked in through. So pick a great weather day to do the hike, bring high ankle support boots to get you through the squishy, slippery, jungle mud and cross the streams with much caution as you will hike through a series of flash flood areas. Do not hike this trail in December during the worst month of rainy season. The trail is surprisingly easy to follow and is pretty well maintained despite being illegal. I thought hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail was an easy to moderate, 4-mile, round trip hike (2 miles in, 2 miles out) and definitely worth the trip. Keep in mind if you get caught you will get fined $2,500 for your first offense. Know your limits. Know your skill level. And most importantly if you choose to break the law criminal trespassing, hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail, use common sense and be safe. Don’t run, yell or go out in inclement weather. People have died here. That’s why it’s illegal. So keep that in mind.
Hiking Sacred Falls All Trails
Travel Maui on a Cheap Budget
Travel Maui on a Cheap Budget to Hana and swim in Venus Pool. Sleep in a cave by the ocean for free.
If you’re a backpacker or a hitchhiker you can travel Maui on a cheap budget and live large. Large enough to see the whole island and the little nooks and crannies in between away from the main stream tourism.
You should come well equipped with camping gear to sleep in all types of inclement weather. Important items to bring to Hawaii are:
- Rope for tying down your tarp shelter
- Stakes for making lean-tos
- A big enough tarp to cover both you and your stuff
- Waterproof jacket, pants, and boots…it rains a lot…you will get caught in it eventually
- A 50 liter garbage bag to act as a dry bag liner for your clothes and other gear in your backpack
- Ziploc bags to cover smaller items from getting wet
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Two empty 1.5 liter bottles for water
- Flip flops
- Smartwool socks or anything that isn’t made of cotton of takes too long to dry
- Preferably a synthetic 0 or 20 degree sleeping bag
- A bivy sack or mosquito netting if the bugs like your blood
- A pot and a pan to cook
- A lighter or flint and steel to start a fire
Hitchhike to the top of Haleakala Crater and hike down it through Kaupo Gap for FREE. Travel Maui on a Cheap Budget and see Nene and a beautiful dormant volcanic crater that looks like you’re walking on Mars.
In order to travel Maui on a cheap budget you should set a total budget of what you want to spend and separate budgets on the following, transportation (possible bus fare), food, camping gear, and laundry. Whatever categories you spend less in you can splurge a bit in other areas as your trip comes to an end.
Your transportation budget should be near 0 dollars since hitchhiking and walking are FREE.
Walk and hitchhike to Lahaina while you travel Maui on a cheap budget and see these breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean…
Set your food budget to an amount you can afford for the time you want to travel Maui on a cheap budget and adjust from there. We lived off a $10.00 a day food budget per person for the whole month we traveled. How did we do this you ask? Eat cheap, filling food, manager’s specials and fast food and do not eat out at restaurants and blow all your money on booze and cigarettes (though we indulged a little). For our food list we stuck to tortillas, refried beans, peanut butter sandwiches, tortilla chips and cheese, spam, rice, ramen noodles, pasta, hotdogs and other items on sale. We also signed up for any free supermarket cards to save money. Avoid buying fruit from grocery stores. It is overpriced. Local stands are better, but keep in mind you’re on a tropical island with plentiful fruit….FORAGE IT. It’s FREE!
See Nene only in the crater. They aren’t found anywhere else in the world?
You can make private fires on the beach to cook your food in a secluded area or use one of the grills at the public park. No one ever bothered us. We made fires practically everywhere to cook our food.
All the while you can charge your electronic devices at said park depending if they have the electricity on or off.
For kindle you can use toilet paper from the rest room, paper towels or the free brochures and local newspapers they give out. The newspapers also make for good insulation to absorb damp boots or clothing if caught in the rain.
Check out their red sand beach in Hana…
The best/most inconspicuous place to charge your electronics is at Kahului Airport. Go to baggage claim and just act like you’re traveling, about to board a flight. Kanaha Beach Park sometimes has an outlet under the Canoe Hale among other parks throughout Maui like Kalama Park in Kihei, etc. You will find the parks with less home bums tenting up near the beach, the more readily available outlets that work. Just test them out or get a small solar panel and an external battery charger for cheap on eBay.
Check out their black sand beach as well…
Water is FREE, fill up your empty 1.5 liter bottles at water fountains.
Showers are FREE. Just use the public beach showers to bathe. It is a bit chilly but free.
Hitchhiking and walking are FREE modes of transportation. We made it around the the whole island of Maui on a Cheap budget of just $10.00 a person. It’s possible. The less you spend the more time you have to visit other islands with inter island flights or lengthen your stay in Maui. Also sign up to become a mileage member for whatever airline you choose to reduce costs for checked baggage.
Camping? Figure that out on your own. Camping is only expensive if you choose to camp legally and pay for permits. There are plenty of safe places to camp off of private land that are away from the tourists, and home bums alike. Some involve walking, some involve bending the rules, some involve sleeping in the rain. It’s all a matter of how extreme you want to travel. Travel Maui on a Cheap budget and you can travel anywhere cheaply using these same principles. You just need patience for hitchhiking, stamina, determination and perseverance for walking long distances and enough food and water to get you through the rough times. After all, it is worth it for the beauty. You see the world for practically no money while others are spending my yearly salary to stay there for a few weeks in a luxurious hotel.
The Road to Hana
And there I was with tears drowning my cheeks, gushing out of my eyes uncontrollably, as Kelly drifted away up the stairwell behind TSA. Her flight left early that morning for Phoenix to see family before her job starts up at Space Camp in Alabama. Our 30 days of blissful camping under the stars made it an interesting honeymoon, hitchhiking the Hawaiian Islands. But, my flight did not leave from Oahu until January 12th giving me more than two more weeks to explore with my own two feet, only this time, solo.
The solitude never bothered me much. I spent a few years working seasonally and wandering between the gaps of my resume as a solo hitchhiker. This felt different though. The love hit me like a mist as I left the airport for yonder, the Road to Hana, which Kelly and I did not have the time to fully explore.
As I stomped down the road the splashes of puddles beneath my decrepit boots seeped between my toes, wrinkling them into knub-like prunes. My scowl followed as I marched towards the bus stop. The night prior I drifted off on an airport bench for a brief period of sleep, nothing adequately comfortable or refreshing. So I used all my energy to keep from falling asleep as to not miss the bus.
Normally, I preferred hitchhiking, but for 2 bucks I just wanted out of the constant drizzle of sorrow, weeping away from the dismal clouds. It was rainy season in Hawaii and somehow after leaving Kauai I found myself in an even wetter jungle fever, Maui’s Den, as I soon called it.
The bus chugged along as my eyelids drooped forming deep craggy creases. When I came to, I realized the bus made its last stop at the mall in Kahului. Far from anywhere I wanted to start my trek for the Road to Hana. What the hell I thought…I missed my stop.
I tried to scrounge enough change together to catch the next route explaining my dilemma to the bus driver, but she bashed her eyes at me and thrust out her hip with a condescending, monotone voice, “Driver doednt carry no change hun. Ask someone around. No stores are open…”
I looked to my left and asked an old black man if he could spare change for my $5. And golly, he muttered a whole spiel about Jesus shouting verses from the Bible before handing me a one dollar bill, leaving me one short. My attempts remained futile, but then as the bus opened its door and revved its engine an act of kindness acclimated as I entered up the steps. The bus driver waved me on for free saying, “ohhh huney, well least you tried…” I felt like a lost puppy without any sleep.
Not long after fading away she dropped me off at the Haiku Community Center leaving me 50 miles short of Hana. I took about ten steps, roughly reaching the shoulder of the Road to Hana before a vehicle pulled off from the community center.
A red sand beach on the road to Hana
Plumes of skunky smoke exited the vehicle as I set my eyes on an old Rastafarian with a Jamaican beanie, and a joint in hand. His glazed eyes tunneled past me as he said, “Hop in kid…where to?”
“Hana,” I said with a stern look on my face.
“Pfff…cough…cough…man why you headed there…with all this rain son?”
“I just wanna see it before I head out of Maui. Heard it’s some pretty country down there.”
“True. True. Well I can take ya a few miles son. Drop you off at mile marker 13.5…good spot to hitch from. Good luck to ya…”
I scampered off down the road waiting diligently with my thumb flick out in the most limp-like, depressing mood ever. 10 minutes went by. Then 20. Then the dreary swirls of gray above turned darker and darker and I decided to walk. I walked up the road and down the road, following a series of bends and bridges, with signs saying, “No pedestrians behind guardrails.”
I walked on cautious of the potential land slides and rock slides. The clouds always taunted me no matter where I tramped, laughing at me from above, bellowing between the soft whispers of the wind. Somehow I made it to a small pull off for Twin Falls. With a small pull off for parking I locked this in the back of my mind when continuing my journey further, down the Road to Hana.
For now I took a break, smoked any of the last remnants of tobacco that dwindled in my pouch, as I mustered up a filling peanut butter sandwich. I watched people flock to the snack stand spending the outrageous prices on coconuts and other fruits easily foraged on the island. Disgust likened their faces as their feet squished through the jungle mud. I laughed rhetorically. Their thick Nikon Cameras dangled from their necks as they bitched and moaned about the slippery dirt road to the overlook of the falls. After all, it was jungle. I understood their dismay and wondered why not stick to the pool or spa or confines of a luxury suite?
Blasphemy I tell you. The lack of a moving sidewalk put my mood in the toilet too, but really I just snickered. As I reached the overlook, the river water screamed, thick and rapid like a suffocating cascade of chocolate mud. It ripped up anything in its path taking much of the rocks, mud and debris of the canopy floor with it.
I scooted out of there, walking the wide shoulder in hopes of a straight-cut ride to Hana. But, it never ended up an easy task. Tourists halted traffic, stopping their cars in the road as they perused the perfect parking spot, angering drivers behind them, who in turn, did not pick me up either.
I sat and waited, standing, sitting, and eventually just smoking one last cigarette before a pickup truck flashed his beams at me. And just like that he revved up into 3rd gear headed straight for Hana. Despite only 40+ miles down the Road to Hana, it felt nauseating with all the bends, turns, one-way bridges, endless yield signs and slick, steep, curving roads.
A black sand beach on the road to Hana
The driver plowed through traffic, passing vehicles over the double line when legally possible, cutting corners, and straight-lining through both lanes. My stomach felt queasy as we rallied down the Road to Hana like derby racecar drivers, but the adrenaline subsided and I focused more on our intellectual conversation.
The old surfer hippie rubbed his chin as he talked to me about the Polynesian culture. He yanked on his gray, scruffy beard as he plunged into history about Hawaii. Apparently the Polynesians traveled thousands of miles by canoes bringing just 40 species of plants with them when they discovered the breathtaking Hawaiian Islands. They managed to transform these 40 species of plants into 200+ with their immense horticultural knowledge making Hawaii a thriving milieu for fruits, and vegetables with its perfect atmosphere. Each year about 160 new species are brought in by plane to the islands and sadly commercialism is slowly taking away the countryside that the locals and myself included love so much. But, that’s America for you…
The Hawaiians currently have a legal battle with the United States to reclaim their land.
We talked and talked some more. Before I even took the opportunity to gaze out the window at the beauty hanging over the cliffs on the mountainside, we reached Hana. The Road to Hana immersed a terrifying beauty of jungle flora and landscape, which I’d soon find out…
Hana felt like any old country town with a few local mom and pop shops and a lack of industry. It gave it that local vibe. The vibe where you walk down the street and everyone waves and says, “Hey Braddah.” The kind where people help the elderly with their groceries. A sense of anarchy within government. Signs plastered everywhere along the town saying, “More commercialism = No More Hana…”
It felt different out there in the thick of it all with mango plantations sprouting up all over and cattle grazing openly in the fields. Hana Ranch filled much of the land past the town and all that stood out yonder was only beach, country, small villages or hotel vistas by the coastline.
I simmered in paradise exploring the town stumbling first upon Hana Bay. It looked ordinary, like any other beach with black sand and too much rock to enjoy. Tourists flocked the Barefoot Cafe and I found myself wandering away down another path, a path down a dead-end road which lead to the infamous Red Sand Beach. Of course, tourists crowded this beach as well but the beauty surpassed the disturbance of other beings. So naturally I stuck around and slowly, one by one, people faded away, back to their luxurious hotels, and bungalows, while I sat there in solitude looking for a place to camp. The trail meandered around the coastline with washouts in certain sections that trickled rock and other debris down the mountainside. This spiked my interest as I searched for a way to the top of the ridge, nestling myself between Red Sand Beach and another cove with the endless Pacific. I wrestled my way up the red rock with multiple points of attachment as my fingers clenched tree limbs and roots, steadily scaling the mountainside. Surely enough, a flat ridge worthy of camping lay 50 feet ahead. I set up camp securing my tarp to the pine trees around me and settled into my bivy sack as my eyes drifted away in unison with the sunshine.
Morning came and I managed to evade the rain yet again and the persistent, blood sucking vampires of the night, whose buzzing I heard through my mosquito netting. It pitter-pattered during the night with intermittent showers trickling off my shelter, but I felt dry and refreshed, ready for a new day of adventures. So I set off for a pavilion to eat the normal breakfast, the breakfast of any train kid or extreme hitchhiker, good ole spam.
I sliced into its block-like sausage lining with my spoon taking off small slivers nibbling on them like a caveman and from a distance I heard a loud, “Morning dudeeee!”
Two bike-packers pedaled up to my picnic table. The one looked like a Norwegian skeleton and the other a red-head Jesus. I saw their inner-hippie illuminating off the surface of the table. They pointed me in the direction towards Venus Pool. “It’s a must see dude…my three favorite places in Hana gotta be, Venus Pool, Red Sand Beach and Black Sand Beach…”
So I took him up on his suggestion and moseyed my two little feet on over there. 3.5 miles never phased me before, but the constant change in grade made my legs throb slightly right where the quad met the knee. I tramped along fearing the inevitable change in Mother Nature’s mood like a manic episode of lows, but she stayed calm and overcast.
My feet trudged along through the many pot holes of muddy sludge along the non-existent shoulder. The Road to Hana took me beyond to a blissful, refreshing teal pool of tranquility. A pool next to God’s Eye where a fire pit and shelter deemed for a night of comfortable sleep out of the Jungle’s whimpering and tears.
And that night indeed it rained. It rained hard as I stoked the fire with a plethora of logs and driftwood engulfed in a starburst of colors. I cooked up the rest of my beans and tortillas and indulged in a festive dinner over a campfire.
That morning I planned on walking or hitchhiking to Seven Sacred Pools, but instead I turned around back towards Hana. My gut told me otherwise as the rain echoed its tumultuous pelting from inside the cave. I waited it out, walked and hitched back to town to replenish my water supply and see where the day would take me.
Black Sand Beach maybe and then back to civilization, perhaps? I wasn’t sure or too worried to say the least. I managed to avoid the inclement weather this long. What stopped me now?
With a few thumbs and the thud of my two feet clanking against the rough pavement I found myself at the Black Sand Beach. But my mind wandered along with my body and I moseyed away from the tourist infested pit of open sewage and the aroma of foul smelling trash. The clouds sniffled and let out a sneeze, warning me of what was to come.
I pranced up the hill with my thumb firm and hope on my side and I managed to pull off a short lift a few miles down the road. Then chaos broke loose and she struck down from above the most torrential fury I ever before walked through, a jungle flash flood on one of the most dangerous highways. I was stuck walking in it. My boots slowly filled with brown, bacteria infested, water, chilling my feet, up my legs and to my spine. I plodded forward as if marching through a sea or trying to part the sea before me. I did not know which. I just walked and prayed for it to end. The foot deep water turned into knee deep water, gushing off the slippery mountainside, taking rocks, mud, trees and any other debris with it. Trucks, cars and tour vans cautiously drove by spraying me with showers of diarrhea-like mud. I shivered and lost all hope as I walked for the nearest town down the Road to Hana, retracing my footsteps back to Hell. Just 40 miles I thought. If I’m lucky the rain will stop and I’ll get a lift tomorrow. No one ever picked me up in the rain before. Their car interior was more important.
It felt like an endless surge of spray desecrating my body as each passing vehicle sped by faster than the last. I shuffled over countless one-way bridges, which now looked like rapids seen in the Colorado River, trying gracefully to maintain my balance.
I gave up. I wanted to stop and just lay by the side of the road with my tarp over my head, but instead I heard the engine of a pickup in the distant and threw out a limp, pruned thumb. To my surprise the vehicle stopped and down rolled a window of three locals headed all the way to Paia. With no room in the truck I needed to lay in the bed on a long, cold, hour drive back to civilization. The wind roared. The rain bellowed. Goosebumps filled my body and a fear covered me like the aura of a spectre as if the grim reaper tried to suck the life out of me. We cruised around bends, bumping and thudding over fallen rocks like an off-roading course. Water rushed over the mountainside like roaring rivers forming new tributaries and with it came trees and rocks. Fallen rock lay scattered making lanes impassable and then it happened. A rock fell off a cliff smashing against the backside tire just inches from my dome.
I chugged my beer and smoked the rest of the joint they gave me trying to forget the realization that my life almost ended if I shifted just a few inches outside the bed. If that wasn’t extreme hitchhiking…well fuck…I don’t know what is…
All I know is I’m safe and soaked in the Kahului Airport awaiting my departure for Oahu.