Hitchhiking: Past, Present and Future

Nick Wolochatiuk
Hitchhiking: Past, Present and Future
Nick Wolochatiuk

Encore is a local discussion forum that explores things ranging from Ancient History, bird-watching, cameras…all the way to perhaps zebras some day.

Hitchhiking was the topic on Thursday April 11, 2024.That’s the day I led a two-hour discussion about hitching rides. I introduced the topic by describing personal events of April 10, April 8…back to the days the Avro CF-105 Arrow was flying in the late 1950s, and all the way back to 1954, when my career as a hitchhiker started.

April 10: I was enroute to YOW (Ottawa’s airport) to pick up my wife who was coming back from her visit with her daughter in B.C. On highway 31, north of Winchester, I saw a hitchhiker trudging his way northward. That’s his regular way of getting to and from work; he lost his driving licence to epilepsy. I drove him to his home in Metcalfe.

At the end of that day, I was exploring a far corner of the airport. I offered a ride to a solitary individual who was waiting for a bus that would eventually take him back where he was rooming. He was from Iran, apprenticing in an aviation field. “You Canadians are so welcoming and helpful!”

April 7, Eclipse Day Eve. I had the VW camper ready to witness the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon from a deep in the wilderness of the Adirondacks. I turned the ignition: “Click, click, unnh, unnh…”. Then silence!

Plan B: find an isolated camping place that had at least one occupant who would be willing to give me a booster start the next day. Success. No cell phone reception in that corner of the boonies. My plan was to trek out to the highway, booster cables slung over my shoulder. If nobody obliged, I’d hitchhike to the nearest town to contact a mechanic.

When we paddle the St. Lawrence, we always go downstream and with a following wind. at the end of the day, I hitchhike back to our starting point to get my truck. That routine has worked several times a year for more than a decade – all the way from Kingston to Cornwall, putting in from both the Canadian and American sides of the river.

Then, I turned it over to my audience. Almost everyone, both men and women, had their own thumbing tales to share. Commuting between college and home, summer or winter work times in B.C., adventurous wanderings throughout Europe.in Cuba and times when the car just died at the side of the road.

Hitchhiking is legal, except on controlled access highways. Armed with prudence, it has been proven to be a successful way of getting from A to B, meeting all sorts of good people en route. Bon chance!

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