I left my temporary campground around 10:30 in the morning. I hadn’t made it even a mile out of the gate when I saw two people standing on the opposite side of the road. I thought they were just waiting to cross, but then I saw they had their thumbs out.
I stopped next to them. A guy and a gal were standing there. Both were probably in their 20s (the guy a little older than the gal, perhaps), and both looked outdoorsy and totally wholesome.
My driver’s side window doesn’t roll down, so I had to talk to them through the little triangle window.
I asked if they were ok.
The gal began explaining that they worked at a camp and the battery in their car was dead. They seemed to be going the way I was going. I said I didn’t have much room, but I’d try to squeeze them in. I said I had to unlock the door and was about to climb out of the driver’s seat when I realized I was stopped in the middle of the road. I saw a turn-out ahead, so I said I’d pull off the road up there, and we could figure it out.
When I opened the side door, my stove and the tub with my cookware, and a random hat came spilling out. I’d forgotten to strap my tubs together, and things had shifted and fallen. The tub with the cookware only latches on one side (the latch on the other side broke off and has disappeared in the van vortex), so knives and forks fell halfway out the door. I’m sure the hitchhiking couple were wondering about my sanity (or at least my packing skills), but I guess they figured dealing with me was better than being stranded.
As I repacked and shifted my belongings to make room for them to sit on the floor (with my bicycle and the folding table I had just tossed in and not actually put away), they explained their situation more clearly.
They were working at a camp for kids, not at a campground as I’d assumed. They’d discovered the battery in their car (which was actually a small truck) was dead moments after co-workers had driven away.
They wanted me to bring them to where the people they worked with were, but I offered to give them a ride to their vehicle and give them a jump start. The gal was like, Oh no. We couldn’t ask you to do that. It’s three miles down a dirt road. I asked if she thought the van wouldn’t make it, and she said she thought the van could easily make it. The guy added that it was a really nice dirt road.
I realized they didn’t want to inconvenience me, but I didn’t have to be anywhere at any certain time. Heaven knows I owe a lot of hitchhike Karma and a lot of jump start Karma. I told them I would be happy to drive them to their vehicle and give them a jump start. Once they realized I was really glad to help them, they seemed really glad to accept.
They climbed in the back of the van and sat among my belongings, and I climbed into the driver’s seat and opened the curtains between the front and the back. That’s when I realized what a stereotype I am. I was driving this big ol’ conversion van, and (I’m not kidding!) burning incense and listening to the Grateful Dead. (I was not wearing a long hippie skirt, only because I was wearing my work uniform, which, perhaps gave me a bit of respectability.)
The drive to their camp (not campground) was down a road I’d passed several times in the last three weeks. I would have never taken the van on that road without knowing something about it. (It’s kind of sketchy to take the van down a dirt road in the mountains without having some idea of the condition of the road. I absolutely do not want to get stuck somewhere.)
The view was gorgeous! A couple of times I shouted Wow! A couple of times I stopped the van so I could get a good look at the trees and the mountains and the sky. I think my passengers were a bit amused by my outbursts.
They told me that at the end of the road, if one hikes about three miles, one arrives at the ruins of a fire lookout tower that burned down (is that irony?) and a cool rock formation. It sounds awesome, and I would like to go, although I’m not much of a hiker (and understand arithmetic sufficiently to know that 3 miles there means a 6 miles round trip). Maybe when my friend comes to visit we can go together.
The jump start of their truck was anticlimactic. Once the cables were connected and I started the van, their truck vroomed to life. There were hugs and thanks and we parted ways.
Their misfortune was my lucky day because I got to meet a couple of cool folks, see a gorgeous view, and learn about a cool place to visit.