Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Country

Tomorrow promises to be mostly another ordinary day. Outside of the fact that Friday is many people’s favourite day of the week, there’s really not much to get excited about. I plan to wake up, go through my normal morning routine, and walk to the bus. Many people will be taking the bus to work tomorrow. I will take the bus to Kanata. When I get to Kanata I’m going to get off the bus. I plan to stand by the side of the road. I will hold up a small cardboard sign with the word “Vancouver” scrawled on it. Yes, tomorrow I hitchhike to Vancouver.

Pretty well everyone that I’ve shared this plan with has expressed some sort of disappointment in me. Most think I’m weird; a few are envious of my spirit of adventure; just about everyone thinks I’m going to get abducted. Let them think what they want.

Sure, I could fly there. I’m flying home, so why not make it a round trip? It would probably end up costing the same amount. I’m certain it would be a more comfortable way to travel. I’d probably encounter less conspiracy theorist crack pot types dying to spill the beans to an innocent hitchhiker on why Apple and Google are responsible for everything from the famine in East Africa to the fly in my soup at lunch (“It’s all connected man!”). It would certainly give me more time at my destination. What it wouldn’t provide is ridiculous situations and, by extension, things to write about. (The fat lad with the nose whistle sitting next to you on the plane doesn’t count – try to get out of the house more).

You see, dear reader, I like to write. That is – in part – why Latch Out Loud exists. And I find that the best time to write is when you travel. And the best fodder for travel writing is the ridiculous and the inane. Sometimes the smallest, most inconsequential things make for a funny or memorable read. Often the things that don’t make for a great image on your digital camera do play out nicely on the pages of a pocket-sized notebook.

And so I shall hitchhike to the west coast of our sprawling, expansive country. And I’ll write as I go. I’ll write about the people who pick me up. I’ll write about the strange places I sleep. I’ll write about getting stranded in Wawa for two days. I’ll write about the vastness of the Great Lakes, the never-ending plains of the Prairies, and the daunting peaks of the western mountains. Given access to the Internet, I might even post some of my thoughts here; just maybe.

In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with an excerpt of a travel diary that I wrote this past spring on a trip through the USA and Europe. I scrawled nearly 400 (small) pages of largely incomprehensible, occasionally twisted, often funny, and always bizarre thoughts over the course of six weeks. I called it the Ron Diary. This particular passage was inspired by an experience that I had on an overnight Greyhound bus from Washington to Nashville. I hope you enjoy it.

May 4th, 2011

The Loud Talker

The loud talker is brash and inconsiderate, unreserved and unapologetic. The loud talker speaks at volumes and in tones reserved for the great orators of our time, though the loud talker speaks nothing of importance, merely of trifle. The loud talker knows not of her intrusion, for she lacks the clairvoyance to understand even the most basic plight of those around her. The loud talker is ignorant and unrepentant, lowly and contemptible.

The loud talker is your father or sister, classmate or colleague, enemy or best friend. The loud talker is in line at the grocery store or waiting at the bus stop. She roams the hallways of hospitals and university campuses. She is seated in restaurants and rides the elevators of skyscrapers. The loud talker walks among us.

The loud talker is seated across from you on the southbound Greyhound bus. The loud talker can -- absolutely and without haste -- go fuck herself.