Today, we got a lot of free stuff. We began our day saying goodbye to our wonderful Couchsurfing host, Andrew, and then dashing for the DASH bus to take us towards the city limits of Boulder. Our goal was to make it as close to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton in Wyoming by the end of the day. We had barely finished munching on our gluten-free lemon poppyseed loaf when a car full of musical instruments and clutter pulled off to the side and we contorted our bodies to fit in the back seats. He drove us 11 miles to the McDonald’s in Longmont. Hungry and enticed by the many deals on offer, we ordered 2 sausage McMuffins for USD $2 and got 20 chicken nuggets for USD $5. This is what freedom feels (tastes) like.
With our stomachs sufficiently bloated, we sat on the side of the busy city road and waited to be picked up. We sat for about an hour before a kind man and a man decked out with American flags in a wheelchair came by and told us that there was a free bus that would take us to the city limits. They also mused that it passed by where we stood every half an hour. As another hour went by, we didn’t see any bus, but fortunately a man who did a lot of hitchhiking when he was younger pulled over in his white pickup truck. He warned us against illegally camping in Yellowstone, since he got booked for a night when he was 19 when him and his friend got caught lighting a fire at 11pm in the park. He drove us 4 miles to the end of the city and wished us luck.
Not long after, a 1980s old brown Ford Crown Victoria pulled over to the side. We watched confused as it seemed to back up into the ditch, swerve towards the highway and then back far into the shoulder, and wondered if it was a good idea for our own safety if we should get into the car. However, the driver rolled down the window, and a very energetic woman in her 20s apologized for her driving ability and we were reassured enough to load our bags in. She cruised with us about 20 miles towards the Sonic Drive-In in Loveland. We don’t have Sonics in Canada or the Netherlands, and wondered how this worked with individual order screens positioned at each covered parking spots. She bought us slushies, and we raised an eyebrow at the comfort of someone delivering the snacks straight to the car. She drove us another mile towards the edge of the city at a dispensary, and offered us some weed. Since we were heading to Wyoming where marijuana is (very) illegal, we politely declined. As we walked past a gas station, a friendly man in a red scooter pulled over asked if we were hungry and handed us both cheese and berries strudels before driving off.
An accident not far up the road caused some pretty heavy traffic, which made our task of hitchhiking a lot easier. It was not long when a red car with National Rifle Association stickers emblazoned all over the trunk pulled over and offered us a ride to Fort Collins. We accepted, and went with him inside a dispensary. Since it was the Friday before the long weekend, it was quite busy, and we marveled at the wide range of weed options. He, too, offered to buy us a joint, but we also declined on account that we were headed to another state. He drove us approximately 7 miles north, and as we left, gave us USD $12 for food. He then continued asking whether we were carrying a knife, the right answer at that time seemed no. This clearly disappointed him, and he handed us his, and the advise to always carry it as protection. We thanked him for his hospitality and packed away the knife in bemusement.
Our next ride took a little longer. We sat in the afternoon sun a few blocks north of where he dropped us off. Eventually, a white van picked us up, drove us about 46 miles and brought us to the side of the highway just outside of Cheyenne. He told us he picked up hitchhikers all the time (after we told him our age, he also urged us to get a job), and offered us a ride the next morning to Rawlins. Around this time, we got notified that a couple people in Laramie accepted our Couchsurfing request, and decided to head there. As result, going to Cheyenne was not ideal, but at least we were now in Wyoming.
Wyoming’s hitchhiking laws are hitchhiker friendly. Unlike Colorado, we could hitchhike on the Interstate highways, and we were grateful that we could do so given that we were now away from the regional 287 highway. There was a considerable bit of construction on the highway which we were dropped off, and fumbled around on the side of the road as we debated how to cross the bridge. The construction narrowed the traffic so much that we could not walk on the road, and we tried hitchhiking for a few minutes on the undesirable left side of the road. However, one of the construction workers rolled next to us in his little Caterpillar loader and told us we could walk on the construction site. We looked at him apprehensively, but he drove through the site and so we scurried quickly behind it as he cleared the traffic. Once on the other side, we didn’t have to wait long before two young construction workers pulled over and drove us about 50 miles to Laramie.
In total, we traversed 140 miles to get from Boulder to Laramie. It wasn’t very far, but we did cross a state line and we had the opportunity to meet 6 very kind Americans outside of our social sphere and received slushies, strudels, a knife, and some money, and were offered weed twice.