Monday, 11 May 2015

The End of the Open Road: The Inside Story of How Hitchhiking Died

quote [ The hitchhiker has been transformed in the public imagination from an unencumbered youth finding adventure across our vast nation to a crazed and dangerous maniac with a homicidal sneer. To pick one up is to meet a death of grotesque proportions?to hitch as a woman, an invitation to be brutally violated. ]

What kind of adventures have you had while thumbing a ride?
[SFW] [travel] [+3 Interesting]
[by RokDragon @8:20pmGMT]


OutdoorRudy said[1] @ 11:34pm GMT on 11th May [Score:5 Good]
The summers from 2003 to 2006 I use to hitchhike around BC & Alberta for two months every summer when I was done tree planting. I got picked up by all kinds, kids who needed someone to roll joints, hippies who took me to festivals and a divorcy who wanted a quick fling (I said no). It was some of the best times in my life. I got back stage passes to a festival in BC called Shambhala before I even knew what the crazy festival scene was about.

In 2008 I started two years of traveling by hitchhiking around New Zealand for two months. I met all kinds of people. Helped a lady dig her garden for a 2hr drive, went hiking with an old guy who's wife couldn't make the trek with him and camped on random farms and places. More amazing adventure.

I use to write home every week or so to my mom and family telling them of the adventures. It was amazing!!!

Just thinking about it makes me smile a big smile.... I only every had one scary adventure where a guy tried to take me down a road I knew was wrong (I use to memorize the maps in the gas stations). I convinced him I had to get out and would wait for him while he got gas. I bolted across a 4 lane highway and a trucker saw me and told me to jump in. The trucker drove me 4hrs telling me all about a fight he got in with his son and asked what I thought he should do. Even the worst experience had a good ending.

To prepare I use to pack enough food for 3 days and bring all my camping gear so I could survive if I got dropped between towns or cities. That came in handy a lot because if I ever felt worried about a ride I could get out anywhere and be just fine.

I could go on for hours..... such an amazing experience!
HoZay said @ 12:55am GMT on 12th May
+1 Amazing
Bob Denver said @ 1:55am GMT on 12th May
I was never very good at hitchhiking...ended up walking a lot. In 1974, I walked from Port Alberni to Tofino (around 126KM). I was passed by a lot of vehicles but never picked up. On the other hand, I saw some amazing things while walking like when water is supercooled and a slight puff of wind sets the crystallisation happening and ice jets across the surface of a pond.
OutdoorRudy said @ 2:23am GMT on 12th May
That's amazing. Sometimes just the walking along the road looking into the ditch or over a bridge amazed me, thinking how no one had ever considered to stop and look at the hill beside a bridge and the way the grass grows on it.

That would have been an epic trek. That's a windy road through some amazing mountains.
cb361 said[1] @ 9:27am GMT on 12th May
I would love to have exciting bohemian traveler adventures, but I'm an unfriendly, asocial guy who gets uncomfortable around people. So I'm not a natural hitchhiker.

Now, a natural murderer-rapist on the other hand...
ENZ said @ 8:56pm GMT on 11th May [Score:2 Good]
I wonder if smartphone apps could see a resurgence of hitchhiking. You activate it to signal that you're looking to be picked up, and anyone who's driving around with the app will be pinged if there's someone hitching in their vicinity. Feedback scores could help in knowing if someone is legit or not.
foobar said @ 11:12pm GMT on 11th May
That exists. It's called Uber and Lyft.
ENZ said @ 11:35pm GMT on 11th May
Yeah, I know. But those are more akin to taxis than hitchhiking. Would an Uber driver cross state lines?
HoZay said @ 12:49am GMT on 12th May
Taxi drivers cross state lines all the time. Lots of cities are located on state lines: St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, New York City.
foobar said @ 2:18am GMT on 12th May
How many people would run a hitchhiking app for free?
ENZ said @ 3:05am GMT on 12th May
I dunno, someone like steele? He runs SE out of generosity, I'm sure there would be some people out there willing to run a hitchhiking app for free, with the costs of which supplemented by donations from satisfied users, of course.

I doubt we'd see anything like that anytime soon, though. Purely utilitarian apps purely made for the convenience of the user, I mean. I downloaded a flashlight app for my new phone and I noticed it was sipping data whenever I used it. To run the adds, you see. I later found out there was already a built-in flashlight app that I could create an icon for. It's only like half as bright, but I can use it no strings attached.

It makes me wonder though, why would something like that need adds? Is it the person who made it wanting to monetize it? Is it the phone carrier only wanting adds they can make money off of? The internet is cock full of shit you can get for free, made or modified by people who just want to put neat and useful stuff out there for people to use. I've only had a smart phone for like two weeks but as far as I can tell that kind of thing just doesn't exist. Not yet, anyway.

Or perhaps it does and I'm just a scrub for not knowing how to do it. Of course the apps I download off Google Play would be monetized. I managed to download Adblock for my phone , but to do that I had to scan a QR code to get the download link. So there could be a wide range of neat and useful stuff people have made for smartphones no strings attached, I just need to know where to look.
foobar said @ 4:55am GMT on 12th May
It's more that it's so easy to add monetization, that you may as well and almost everyone does.
steele said @ 4:20pm GMT on 12th May
I like the idea and might play around with it one day. The difficulty isn't really from building the app or maintaining it, it's from getting people using it and with such a small niche that becomes even more difficult. The amount of time to put into building the app and server and then waiting for it to gain enough users to become useful to anyone is hard to rationalize.
captainstubing said @ 9:09pm GMT on 12th May [Score:1 Interesting]
If you base it on the idea of folks taking people along on their (fairly) regular longer drives it might make more sense. Also, I think there are people who will get behind something like this on the basis that it is a good thing in and of itself.

Warm Showers (no, not like that) is one example. Places to stay for traveling cyclists. Good stuff.
steele said @ 9:38pm GMT on 12th May
Yeah, that's about how I'd go about it. Basically a geolocalized list board type thing that gives you access to people looking for rides in your area. But reputation systems and all that and having the boards populated makes things a bit difficult. It's not a situation that works well for populating with paid entries so you're stuck almost entirely by grassroots word of mouth and that shit can take forever. On a system like that you'd be looking at about 1 signup out of 1000 views type numbers. If you get the site going viral it's a shot, but in the meantime...
captainstubing said @ 12:41pm GMT on 16th May
A point system or something? A swapsies sort of deal?

I dont know. I think you are fundamentally right that for the most part these things are lots of work, small chance of getting traction, and even then only a marginal proposition in terms of being useful.

But you should totally do it man!! :)
steele said @ 6:13pm GMT on 18th May
It's still about having the high user numbers to make any of that work.

Maybe one day if i ever have a large viral reach to work with. :)
HoZay said @ 2:45pm GMT on 16th May
Seems like something better left to craigslist.
steele said @ 6:11pm GMT on 18th May
Thing is it could be done so much better than Craigslist if it had the user numbers to support it. We're really talking less about an app and more about a movement.
RokDragon said @ 11:09pm GMT on 12th May
I could definitely see myself using something like that. I like the idea of having some sort of "free" ride service where people could throw in a few bucks if they can. I once lived in a college town that had something similar for taking people home from the bars. I always thought it would be great to expand it for rides around town, take you to the store, movies etc.
XregnaR said @ 8:27pm GMT on 11th May
Funny, I grew up hitchhiking as a primary form of transportation to work. Rural environment, where I knew 90% of the folks who picked me up. Out in The Big Wide World, I was wary of it for opposite reasons - concern about getting picked up by a weirdo rather than being the weirdo picked up.

And this was in the mid-80s, so it's not like it happened recently.
Resurrected Morris said @ 8:39pm GMT on 11th May
Never thought twice about hitch hiking...travelled all over europe that way...most of eastern Canada and parts of the US... but that was in the 70s...

The daughter of a friend recently wrote a book about her adventure travelling across North America,,, sometimes by faire de pouce ..
Bruceski said @ 10:47pm GMT on 11th May
I drive a route fairly often that passes a lot of ski areas before winding up on the other side of the mountains, and I've passed a decent number of hitchers. I keep meaning to help 'em out but at highway speeds I'm usually well past them before I realize they were hitching.
Dienes said @ 11:02pm GMT on 11th May
Never have. Count me as one of those people with the irrational fear that I'd be picked up by a murder-rapist.
HoZay said @ 12:59am GMT on 12th May
Just a few murder-rapists ruin it for everybody.
cb361 said @ 9:20am GMT on 12th May
The murder-rapists ruin it for all the regular rapists. And regular murderers.
wangcan0 said @ 2:02pm GMT on 12th May
A friend of mine used to pick up hitchhikers.

Then one stabbed him. While the car was moving. The knife hit a rib, and Mike won the fight -- but the overall impression that the cops gave afterwards was "you shouldn't have picked him up."

One attempted murder-rapist ruined him for everybody.
ubie said[1] @ 1:42am GMT on 12th May
I've never hitched, never had the need. I did pick up a hitch hiker once through in Washington State. Within 2 minutes he tried to sell me weed and asked me to smuggle him across the border in to Canada. I politely declined both.
LurkerAtTheGate said[1] @ 4:30am GMT on 12th May
Never hitched, guess I missed that era. Closest experience I have is picking up the friend of a friend of a friend from the ATL airport on thanksgiving and driving her 3 hours to the town I was living in, only to find her friends had abandoned her for the holiday leaving her no place to stay. I offered her my bedroom and I'd crash on the couch or at my girlfriend's. I ran some errands and she made herself at home and took a shower.

She apparently walked out of my bathroom with just a towel around her waist and came face-to-face with my roommate - a nice but sheltered guy who panicked and hid in his room and wouldn't come out.
robotroadkill said @ 12:28pm GMT on 12th May
Wow, that's pretty sheltered!
blacksun said @ 5:53pm GMT on 12th May
Rides I've gotten,

- Punk rockers, fed us macaroni and cheese at their house
- Guy who had just stolen the car we were in (we found the owners ID in the car). He stopped to "see somebody", probably pick up some speed or meth in Cottage Grove Oregon, then to the store to pick up a case of beer "for the drive". We bailed at that point.
- rastafarian types who smoked weed the entire time
- A couple in a VW van who had a "travel cat"
- A guy with a hook for a hand

I don't think hitching is dead, but it certainly is for single women, or anyone not willing to get in to dangerous and weird situations.

I actually picked up a kid just a couple days ago. He was a little rough on the edges but clearly just one of those semi-homeless weed smoking drifer types. Lots of those in Oregon.
HoZay said @ 9:00pm GMT on 12th May
A friend and I had a flat tire on the interstate, 2:00 AM. Got a ride with two guys who turned out to be high as fuck, super friendly, giving us weed, offering us crystal, talking 90 miles an hour, also driving 90 miles an hour. Both of them, in the front seat, yacking at us in the back, and looking back at us instead of at the road and other cars, just a blur outside the windows.
They took us 20 miles to a truck stop, telling us how fucking great this crystal was. It didn't take long, but to us, it seemed endless. We judged it a pretty good ride, after it was over.
RokDragon said @ 11:03pm GMT on 12th May
I've always been intrigued by it, but I'm too lazy to use hitchhiking as a method of travel. I may be wrong, but it seems like a lot of work. The closest I've gotten is catching a ride after a breakdown, but it was someone I knew.

I'm not opposed to picking up someone I thought looked reputable, but I've never actually done it. I had a family member robbed by a hitchhiker, so I've always been a little leary.

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