Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ruthie On The Road: Up Late

I left the Clampett Cabins and Redneck Cabana, behind me, yesterday and rode on a bus to Bend, Oregon. Then I boarded another bus and reached Ontario, Oregon last evening.

That's when the real fun, began.

I walked miles...yes, I did...from the bus station, past the Pilot truck stop, the motels, Walmart and past the "Welcome To Idaho" sign. I walked into Idaho and into the night.

You would think that someone would have picked me up...that someone would have intervened...but sometimes the negligence of humanity reaches a new low. It did last night.

I walked into the city of Fruitland (I have corrected the name) and then made a left turn. I walked down a road that grew darker and darker by the step. The road opened up to a major construction project which included an overpass, its outline floating like a ghost in the otherwise inky blackness.

A dog kept up its raspy barking, as I slowly made my way through the first quarter- mile of road construction. Signs, set on barricades, declared that the "Road Is Closed: Local Traffic Only." The signs didn't say anything at all about foot traffic.

I stepped through a mine field, filled with barrels, cones, flashing lights, tall cranes, dirt graders and dump trucks. Pavement changed to earth under my feet and it became difficult to tell where the dirt ended and the road began.

I tracked the path of the occasional vehicle to gauge the path of the road. I walked on the "construction" side, behind the barrels. I was relieved when I saw a guardrail, standing under a light pole, in the distance.

It was after 11pm when I finally reached that point and sat down on the guardrail.

I was between a rural highway and some sort of a trailer park. A few vehicles drove in-and-out of the park's driveway and right by me...several times that night. And even though I was a stranger, sitting where I did not belong, in the middle of the night...nobody intervened, nobody asked if I was alright, nobody did anything.

I was locked-in. When I looked down the road, I saw only a torn-up road and barrels, silently marching off into total darkness. I was about a mile from the city of  Payette, Idaho. I didn't think it would be a wise idea to walk that last mile. So I hunkered-down on the inside of the guardrail and sat on my backpack. Then I took out my phone and started leaving messages on Facebook.

After awhile, a cop cruiser pulled up and parked across the road. The cop trained his car lights on me and I looked around, facing directly into the lights. Then the cop turned off the lights and just sat there for a few minutes.

"Whatever", I thought.

A minute later, the cop gunned his car's engine and quickly drove away.

"Gee, thank you, officer", I thought, "that was so helpful."

The cop circled around a few more times that night but never approached me. I was, from that point on, left to my own devices.

Finally, at 3:30 in the morning, I was disgusted, bored and tired of sitting on that uncomfortable guard rail. I was also COLD. Accuweather, on my phone, told me that the temperature had dropped to 41 degrees. So I got up, drew a bead on the distant lights of Payette and started walking, again.

Walking down that last stretch of road seemed to take forever. Halfway across a bridge, I lost sight of the edges of the road, entirely,

My only source of light, by that time, was the moon. And it was too late to turn around and go back to the guardrail. Like a blind person, I used my cane as a guide and carefully made my way toward the light...step-by-step.

It would have been so simple for that cop to have transported me to Payette.

I finally walked into Payette and sat down on the base of a light pole that was wide enough for me to sit on. I sat there for about two hours. During that time, vehicles drove past me but nobody stopped. And when a local cop drove by, he stared through me like I was invisible.

As daylight opened up the morning sky, I walked over to the highway and put out my thumb. A short time later, a young man, who had just finished working an overtime shift at a local factory, stopped his "beater" car and picked me up. He drove me to the nearby town of
Weiser, Idaho.

I got some breakfast at a local convenience store and then washed my clothes and took a shower at a local RV park.

Then, with no sleep behind me, I walked right back out onto the road and started hitchhiking, again.


Anonymous said...

I live about 5 and half hours north of Weiser. If you are traveling this way and looking for a place to stay for a couple of nights let me know.

Ruthie Rader said...

So does this mean that the next time you call me, you won't hang up?

You can't expect me to take you seriously.
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Jun 7 2012 9:42:12 pm