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Accounts From a Hitchhiker, Part I: From New Orleans to Houston

Updated on May 12, 2009

From New Orleans to Hammond

My fiance Brendan and I recently hitchhiked from New Orleans, Louisiana to Seattle, Washington. This is the story of our journey and the people we met while hitchhiking. The names of the people who gave us rides have been changed. Everything else is true.

Our hitchhiking trip began on a lovely Monday in New Orleans in early March. We stuck out our thumbs at an I-10 west entrance, hoping to get to Houston that first day. An hour and a half later, we had a ride. David was headed to Hammond, Louisiana, which is along I-12. We had planned to stay on I-10 all the way to Houston, but David told us a lot of people headed across Lousiana to Houston take I-12 in order to bypass New Orleans. We've learned not to pass up the rides that are offered to us, so we accepted the ride to Hammond with David.

Our political views are opposite David's. We normally don't bring up topics like politics or religion when hitchhiking because those are often sensitive subjects and we don't want to upset someone when they're kind enough to give us a ride. While in the car with David, however, there was a Rush Limbaugh show playing on the radio. Rush Limbaugh said something or other that Brendan disagreed with, and Brendan made a scoffing noise. This initiated a heated discussion about politics. David immigrated to the US from Puerto Rico and has worked hard for everything he has. Because of that, he feels he has the right to drive a big SUV and is resentful of the taxes he has to pay. We hate gas-guzzling cars (though we wouldn't pass up of a ride from someone in an SUV) and think that the more money one makes, the more taxes they should have to pay. David doesn't believe humans have anything to do with global climate change, or even that global climate change is a problem. We think humans have a lot to do with it and that people need to change the way they live in order to curb future environmental problems.

At times David seemed so shocked by our viewpoint that I worried a little he might ask us to get out of the car. I needn't have worried. I think he was ultimately titillated to meet people so different from himself. He thought our political views were crazy, yet he invited us to come over to a barbeque at his house whenever we passed through Hammond again. He dropped us off at a gas station in Hammond near the I-12 entrance and wished us luck on the rest of our journey.

Beatles and president's head statues in Houston

From Hammond to Houston

Since we were at a gas station, we decided to ask around and see if anyone was headed to Houston. We approached a man putting gas in a motor home and asked if he was headed west. He was. We asked if we could catch a ride with him, and he said he'd have to check with his wife. We thanked him and waited by the gas station entrance. A couple minutes later, he came up to us and said that his wife didn't feel comfortable giving us a ride. We were disappointed, but said thanks anyway and gave him our business card, which lists our names and advertises that we do storytelling, singing, stilt-walking and juggling. Our performance name is, in fact, "...And Juggling." Then we walked out to the I-12 west entrance and stuck out our thumbs.

A few minutes later, the man in the motor home was pulling onto the freeway, and he stopped. Apparently our business card helped legitimize us and changed his wife's mind. It turned out this family was going all the way to Houston. We spent the next several hours entertaining their kids with stories and games. They were a wonderful family. The parents were encouraging and kind to their kids, and the kids were intelligent and curious about us. The parents made sure they dropped us off at a safe location where we could wait for our couchsurfing hosts to pick us up. We then spent two delightful days in Houston, seeing things like the statues pictures above.

Stay tuned for Part II: From Houston to San Antonio, coming soon to a Hubpages near you.

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