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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Johnny Jitters and the Yellow Tarp that Could…

Meth in Maui

“This is a throwback story from our time hitchhiking around the island of Maui. When the wife and I were bummin’ it on the Hawaiian Islands for our honeymoon.  I’ve added dialogue based on memory.  I will continue to post stories as I get around to writing them from my recent travels.  Please comment if you enjoy it or have any suggestions on how to improve my writing.  Thanks and enjoy!”

After a two and a half month long stint of roughin’ it near the sandy loams of the North Shore, packing chutes, and landscaping, our gypsy blood took us on another transience, Maui.

My wife never thumbed it before, and I spent my first time hitchhiking with a woman, so it made a first for both of us. After booking a luxurious flight in coach, at about $3.00 per mile, courtesy of the immaculate godsend, Hawaiian Air, I set my expectations high for this sought out paradise.

We stepped off the plane, our packs strung high around our backs, with no particular destination in mind.  I looked up at the sinister sky cackling down upon us.  Her thunderous cries reflected in the copious puddles beneath our squishy tracks.

“Damnnit, we just left Kauai cuz of this shit,” I yammered to Kelly in a hissy fit.

“We’ll figure it out honey…I’m sure there’s a pavilion somewhere to stay outta the rain.”

We watched as taxis and shuttles picked up a limitless amount of tourists dressed for vacationing.  They sported ridiculous straw hats, Hawaiian t-shirts, sandals, scandalous skirts, and high-end name brand attire.  The lot of them squished into the shuttles, stuffing their enormous suitcases on-board as they stood, shoulder-to-shoulder, to get to their rental cars not even a mile away.

We walked; our boots squeaking through the pools of water on the sidewalk, following the wails of the ocean.  The soft pitter-patter of drops splashing against us slowly stopped. But once you’re wet, you’re wet.  We poked along, tramping past an industrial parking lot, jam-packed with rental cars and antsy taxi drivers, waiting to make buck.

A campground lay ahead beyond the coastal dunes and wetlands of Kanaha Beach Park.  The sandy shoreline birthed life to a plethora of flora.  Between the swollen, green, leaves of Bacopa and Pickleweed, lay a diverse co-existence of native jungle plants thriving amongst Hibicus, and Ironweed trees.  With over 30 species of native plants, each mile spawned new eye-candy for our wanderlust.

I plopped my ass in the sand, digging a pit to start a fire, while Kelly gathered tinder.  The Stratus clouds parted like the Red Sea, opening up a clear picture of West Maui.  Its lush rugged mountains and dense rainforest twinkled yonder calling my name with a soothing lust.

I fumbled around in my pack for the instant coffee and a couple ramen, while we stoked the fire amidst the humid bits of rage.  The sky calmed to a misty dark hue.  Sprawling out on the sand we sipped cowboy coffee, so dark, so strong, so dissatisfyingly tasteful, without an ounce of clothing drier than hours prior.

Meth in Maui

Meth in Maui near Kanaha Beach Park right next to all the homebum paddies in the woods.

“We should probly find a spot to lay it down for the night, as old Brisk would say,” I mumbled.
“Lay it down,” Kelly muttered?

“Ya know…camp…home bum it…find a spot to sleep for the night,” I snickered with a childish grin.

“Oh, you don’t have to be a meanie pants.”

“Yeah…yeah…well it’s gettin’ dark…alotta meth heads camped up around here.  I saw all their tents and shit scattered in the woods.  Not sleepin’ near those homebum paddies. Let’s get at it…”

“Okkkkay, five more minutes, I wanna enjoy more coffee first, pweaseee.”

I shook my head with a bit of smirk curling up my face…”Yeah…yeah…,” I muttered.

The serenity of the waves splashed against the shore like a tranquil lullaby as we squabbled between the jetties seeking shelter.  I peered off between the brush, Tree Heliotrope and Naupaka clustered together like a forest of lillypads, rustling followed, by a grueling shadow.

Meth in Maui

Nothin’ like instant coffee to make the body feel good

“We’re bein’ followed,” I whispered under my breath.

I reached down in my pocket concealing my knife in the palm of my hand as we walked gingerly along the coastline.

“How can you tell?”

“That shady dude over there…see em…he keeps stoppin’ behind the bushes whenever I look over there…looks spun out or somethin’…just sit here here…wait for em to leave…”

Just as I unstrapped my pack I heard footsteps approaching, getting closer and closer.  I turned around with a fierce stare of anger dwindling in my eye and remained silent.

“Hiii, uh…uh…uh…you guys…you guys didn’t see…see a yellow tarp…did ja…did ja…you didn’t…you didn’t…take it?…see I set it down…down over there…or well…maybe it was over there…well iunno…but it’s around hurr, somewhere,” he stuttered while his eyes flickered like a dead man twitching.

“No, we didn’t see it.  I don’t have a tarp…threw ours out a few days ago cuz of holes…gotta get a new one.  Sorry bud, hope ya find it,” I said.

“Ohhhh….okkk…,” he mumbled as his teeth grinded against one another.  He moseyed off, his head bobbing from side-to-side, as he wandered back through the trash infested homebum camps, spun out on dope.

“Seee…not stayin’ anywhere near here…fuck that guy, Johnny Jitters…accusin’ me of stealin’ his shit…people like him ya wanna stay far away from at night…last thing I want is this ass-hat stealin’ my shit at night cuz he thinks I got his tarp.  Damn junkies. Let’s head out the other way towards the campground.”

Kelly nodded and we wandered along the shoreline retracing our footprints in the sand.  The rain held up despite the hellbent tears of Mother Nature following our every footstep.  We wandered towards a dense section of Ironweed as the sun whimpered behind the clouds, finding a camp near the base of the shore.  With no tarp or waterproof shelter I prayed for one night out of the rain, just one.

Sacred Falls Takes Some Balls

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

Travel Maui on a Cheap Budget

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
Travel Maui on a cheap budget

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.

The road to Hana

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.

The road to hana

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.

Travel Maui on a Cheap Budget

The Road to Hana Nearly Killed Me

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.

The Road to Hana

Welcome to the jungle – A bamboo forest on the Road to Hana near Twin Falls

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.

The road to Hana

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.

The road to hana

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.

Hitchhiking kauai

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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