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At the end of my first year of college in the summer of 1970, I decided to embark upon a personal odyssey to understand something about my past and how I had gotten to where I was in my life. Attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville had been a liberation in some ways, though still living at home discouraged me from being a part of any social scene at.the university.
I felt detached in many ways--an observer of life. Like I had felt when I was in high school. The concept of hitchhiking throughout the United States was daunting and yet I didn't give much thought to anything beyond the adventure of the journey. A transient's life held a certain assurance of staying detached, but it would also force me to be more confrontational when I needed to be. At nineteen I was an adult and needed to acquire a greater mindset of independence.
With my well-prepared backpack and brand new Coleman sleeping bag, I met up in the evening of the last day of classes another student who had a car. The student, whose name I don't recall, was going to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio where he would be working for the summer at the amusement park. He had posted for a rider to help him with gas expenses. Since I was going to Cleveland, I took this guy up on the offer since that was the closest ride I could find to my destination.
Summer weather had come to town. The warm day had become a warm evening. It was a good night for driving. I don't recall what kind of car it was--a late 60s model Datsun maybe. It was a stick shift and I'd never driven a stick. He was expecting me to help him drive. We would be on Interstate 75 most of the way.
The student drove for the first few hours until we needed gas. We were somewhere in Kentucky. He turned the driving over to me. It was a bit of a rough start, but once we were moving on the freeway he seemed satisfied that I probably wouldn't have to change gears for awhile and he could sleep for a bit.
It was the wee hours and I started to get sleepy. I rolled down my window but after awhile my driving companion indicated he was cold. He seemed kind of grouchy about it, but I could see he was pretty tired. I pressed on without the outside air and was fine.
By daylight we were in Northern Ohio. It was about 9 AM when we reached Sandusky. I unloaded myself, my backpack, and my new Coleman sleeping bag by the roadside across from the entrance road to the Cedar Point Amusement Park. I stood there and watched the student's car disappear up the roadway that led into the park.
It was sunny and starting to get hot. There I was at the side of the road on the outskirts of Sandusky, Ohio. I stuck out my thumb for the first hitchhiking ride of my odyssey. I was going to Cleveland.
As the mother of a 19 year old who is finishing his first year of college in a couple of weeks - this terrifies me! Yet my husband did something similar, and you are telling the story so obviously you survived. Can't wait (I think) to hear the rest!ReplyDelete
My brother hitched to Colorado to see a Grateful Dead concert.ReplyDelete
My sister-in-law lives in Granville, near Columbus. I've been there to visit, and also attended the Origins game convention during my stint as an employee for a Role Playing Game company (my "R" post)
I've worked creating Halloween decor for Kings Dominion theme park, which went through several ownership changes and is now owned by Cedar Fair.
Took a sales trip to Knott's Berry Farm to check out their behind-the-scenes Halloween decor.
S is for Shepherdstown, WV at Main Street Arts
Following this blog now, too!ReplyDelete
Oh to be 19 and blissfully courageous again!:)ReplyDelete
We alll need an odessy. Sounds like you found yours.ReplyDelete
I remember being nineteen.....I got marriedReplyDelete
Enjoyed reading more about your life. Having met you I can imagine all the things you have written.
Sheila -- I think this is a rite of passage for many a young man. The conclusion to this story won't be in this A to Z series, but hopefully one day as part of a memoir.ReplyDelete
Arthur -- If you come to Knott's again let me know. I'm about 15 minute away from there.
Shelly -- Thank you!
Pam -- I don't think I'd be out there doing stuff like this again at my age.
Sandra -- I hope my odyssey hasn't ended yet and goes on for many more years.
Yvonne -- I waited until I was 25 before I got married, but prior to that I was afraid I might never find a wife.
Back in the early 1970s I wound up in Sandusky overnight (long story) and had a great time with some great people. I've never been back but I remember it with a smile.ReplyDelete
Experiences like this one, craft who we are. I enjoyed the visit into your creation.ReplyDelete
The start of a great adventure, no doubt.ReplyDelete
The closest I've been to Sandusky is Tiffin, but if memory serves me, my Ma who was a Cincinnati gal spent some time in Sandusky during her youth.
I hope you don't have to stand at the side of that road too long before the next ride comes along, Boidman.
'Loyal American Underground'
i would never recommend hitch-hiking--but one time i feel, my son was picked up by an angelReplyDelete
Kathleen -- I had a few experiences like you describe in the 70s and 80s. Some I remember and some not so well.ReplyDelete
November Rain --Life can be rich so we should invest what experiences we can into making life worth as much as it can be.
StMc - What were you doing in Tiffin? Our show used to play Tiffin every year. We performed in a grand old vaudeville era theater. I recall going to visit the glass factory there, probably right before it closed down.
Lynn -- Hitchhiking can be hazardous on either end of the arrangement. I've gotten some strangely scary rides and some rides from some very nice people.
Never had any problems though.
Holy smokes! That's sounds scary. And, what a great hook to start a memoir!ReplyDelete
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I never hitched-hike before and hope that I will never have to. This is some story!! I must admit...that was some crazy stuff. Thanks for sharing.
I'm from Michigan and have been to Ohio many, many times for many reasons but I have very fond memories of Sandusky and Cedar Point!ReplyDelete
A to Z Challenger
Sounds like you had an incredible adventure, Arlee!ReplyDelete
Why do males get to do all the fun things -haha!
Fascinating story! You really know how to put a story together,Arlee!
Mary -- Hope to eventually finish this story in print.ReplyDelete
Andy -- Back in that time hitchhiking was common. I hitched many a ride and picked up many a hitchhiker. I'd probably not do either these days.
Michelle -- I'm sure Cedar Point is a fun place to go, but I've never been any further than the entrance.
Betty -- Thank you for the kind compliment. It's sad that the dangers exist for women in being able to be as adventuresome as men. It can be an evil world out there.
I was so hoping to read the rest of this story in the next few days/weeks. However, I can wait. Some things are defnitely worth waiting for and this sounds like one of those things.ReplyDelete
My cousin hitchhiked from Washington DC to San Francisco at 14 (I think) and she survived ... I would have been terrified at 14 or 19 and even now.
Thea -- Too much to write and so little time. I probably will need to cut back on blogging.ReplyDelete
A girl of 14 hitchhiking sounds like a particularly risky venture. She's fortunate nothing bad happened.
I been there a few times, and Sandusky too, but it just doesn't have that kind of call for me.
Hithc-hiking was too dangerous by the time I was a teenager, even if I had been prone to adventures, which I wasn't.
Great start to your adventure! I think it's interesting that you were on a mission to reach Cleveland... for a minute I thought you might end up working at Cedar Point. I've been to that amusement park many times in the 80s and 90s. Living in SW Michigan it was a thrill ride mecca!ReplyDelete
How scary and thrilling! I hope eventually you made it back to Cedar Point - it's a lot of fun :)ReplyDelete
Carol -- There was a logic here. My "Odyssey" was to retrace my life from where it started. I was born in Cleveland. The student who gave me the ride was going to work at the Cedar Point amusement park for the summer and that was the closest I could get to Cleveland on a free ride.ReplyDelete
Sara -- My mission to Cleveland is explained in my comment to Carol. I'm sure my life would have been vastly different today if I had taken a summer job at Cedar Point.
Rebecca -- Never made it back to Sandusky other than passing through in 1981. When I was working my last job, Cedar Point was one of our customers and I used to speak to the folks in the purchasing department now and then.