Ray and Patty dropped me at the on-ramp to Route 20 east in Alexander, NY, just north of Attica. Once up on the main route I had to heave-ho my pack and duffel bag a few hundred yards to get a decent location from which to hitch, where there was space for vehicles to actually pull over.
Time went by, and I began to look towards the countryside for places to pitch tent, and to thank the Heavens that I had even BROUGHT my tent. You never know when you might need it. And just then, of course, when I was thinking I might have to camp for the night off the side of the road, a car pulled over. A wonderful woman, so friendly and kind, took me a few miles to the next major crossing where she turned south, and once again I stuck out my thumb. I began to wonder if this is how it would be on this rural road – short leg hops of 5 to 10 miles each, with half-hour waits in between each ride.
I turned down several more rides before accepting the next lift, and enjoyed another woman’s kindness and help. One thing I started to notice is that each person who was picking me up said that I was the first hitchhiker they had ever given a ride to. They expressed their fears about the possibility of the unknown hiker pulling a gun on them, or something equally terrorizing. Each person had their fears, yet each had overcome them to give me a lift. It was quite extraordinary, and I felt blessed by each of them. Of course, several of them mentioned that my big smile at them as they approached and my hands pressed together as if praying to them helped them feel swayed into picking me up 🙂
Once I arrived in the town of Avon, I received a lift from Steve, a retired policeman! I couldn’t believe it! I told him I was surprised he picked up hitchhikers and he laughed and said I didn’t look very threatening. When he dropped me off in Lima he offered to come back later that afternoon to take me the rest of my days’ journey to Waterloo. He was on his way to attend a meeting south of Lima, but would be free later in the afternoon. What a kind offer! I was amazed at the goodness of these wonderful up-state New Yorkers!
Standing just a couple blocks beyond the main cross streets in Lima with my thumb out and my giant backpack resting against the pale bark of a birch tree, a tall white-haired woman walked out of an old colonial-style restaurant and came over to me. She asked me what direction I was traveling, as she and her luncheon group would be happy to give me a lift if I was going south. I was astounded! In all my hitching history, I’d never had that happen before! I told her I greatly appreciated her offer, but that I was heading east. She returned to the restaurant with my many “thank you’s” trailing behind her.
A couple minutes later another, shorter white-haired woman from the same group stepped out of the same restaurant and came over to me. Connie, it turned out, was quite unapproving of me being out there hitchhiking, and chastised me soundly but caringly for jeopardizing my life because there were so many horror stories of people killing other people in New York. Then she whipped out a business card for George and Ellen in Waterloo, just 20 miles further east, and pressed it into my hand. She told me they were most welcoming to strangers and would be happy to put me up over night. She told me to call them if I got there, and tell them she had sent me. I blessed her kindness and she went back to the restaurant. I stood on the street in an aura of awe at the outpouring of concern and goodness of all the amazing people who had stepped up to helping me on my journey.
The next vehicle that passed stopped, turned around and picked me up. I enjoyed yet another great ride with Linda and Becky(?) to Canadaigua, where they pulled into a shopping center and I started hitching along the busy 4 lane road with in-town vehicles whizzing by. I called the ex-cop Steve and told him it looked like I would make it to Waterloo that evening, and not to drive all the way back to get me. I was still feeling greatly comforted by the thought that he would have delivered me to my destination if I hadn’t caught a ride out of Lima.
My last ride of the day to Waterloo was with a man who had a nice new Lexus. He seemed like a decent man, and though he took me off the main road by three miles south to his house to collect his cell phone which unnerved me a bit, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and indeed he came back to the car and drove me back up to Route 20 and onward to Waterloo. I gave George and Ellen a call and they welcomed me to come to their home and stay there for the night. Just before we arrived in Waterloo my driver started pleading with me to give him a massage, and talked of a “happy ending.” I was feeling slightly stressed but stood firm in my resolute answers to him about not practicing massage anymore, I’m not licensed, etc., etc., and kept it all from a professional standpoint, instead of the “profession” I was sure he was referring to.
Just then we pulled into George and Ellen’s home in Waterloo. They stepped out of their home and started talking with us, and as the Godliness of their spirits flowed from them my driver retreated, realizing he had driven into a situation that was Holy while he was being otherwise. It was quite revealing to stand there and watch his behavior as he quickly got into his vehicle and drove away, and I fell into a warm embrace with Ellen and George. They are Ministers in a Worship community, and feelings of love flow from them like a river.
Their home was completely dressed in antiques up and down all walls in every room. It was reminiscent of walking into a warm, comforting home from ages past. They gave me my own private bedroom and a bathroom with the largest, deepest claw-footed tub I’d ever seen. That night I enjoyed the amazing company of the kindest, most generous hosts I’d ever experienced. Ellen cooked up a delicious dinner of Spanish rice in her beautiful antique kitchen, and later we sat in their ornately decorated living room and visited late into the evening while drinking tea. We said good-night and I retreated to the claw-footed tub for a stupendously relaxing hot soak before retiring into my deliciously comfortable bed.
The next morning we visited, breakfasted, and drove to Auburn where we hugged good-bye and blessed each other on our ways. Within just a few feet of walking on Route 20 where they dropped me off, and with their car still in view watching me, the next ride stopped and picked me up, and I was off with Wendy (?) for another amazing day of hitchhiking.