Risk and Reward

Risk-0530Cowboy Stuck in Time(Right of Cave)

Heading to Boise, this time I call the hostel early in the day, I want a bed to sleep in. I make a reservation and confirm my late arrival time. The drive through Idaho was windy and filled with potato farms. At the Boise Hostel I meet the owner, a nice lively woman. We talk for a while and she gives me a tour, the hostel is beautiful and surrounded by The Garden of Eden. There is a garden pond in the front and a stream, with ducks swimming, running along the back side of the property. Before she retired to the other house for the night she introduces me to Paul, the only other guest that night. Paul is a twenty-one year old hitchhiker, hitching from Chicago to Portland, Oregon. He had decided to take some time off college, I think he aspires to be a writer. Since I planned on going through Portland, the next day, I offer to take him the rest of his way. This was only after thirty minutes of hanging out, right after I spoke I second guessed myself. Too late to rescind my offer, he accepts. I thought it would be nice to have company, which it was, and he paid for my fuel from Boise to Portland.
Risk-0388The next morning we set out. While Paul was fueling up my car I called the skipper I was on my way to meet in Vancouver, Washington. He says that he found someone else, because hadn’t heard from me in a while. It was still a month before the season started, so I asked if he had wanted me to call him every day and chit chat like a middle school couple. I tell Paul when he gets in the car. He said I seemed calm for just losing my job. I told him I lost a job I never really had and something would work out. Plus I already drove across the country, it was too late to turn back. We decide to take the Journey Through Time Scenic Route to Portland, which is about the same mileage but twice the time. We stop for food, then coffee, and set out on our Journey. We stop at what appears to be a Ghost Town, and then into a National Forrest. We go on a short hike across a fallen tree over a stream, and then up a steep mountain side. I am hiking in some cheap flip flops with my feet all taped up to protect my blisters. We were on a search for Mountain Lions, with no luck, just a few tracks here and there. We make other small pit stops: scenic overlooks, small parks, and then a road proven to be impassable by my tanked down Camry. We turn around and find an alternate route. I stopped for a woman standing by her vehicle on the side of the road, had to make sure she wasn’t stranded. She just didn’t smoke in her car. Then we see nothing till 9:30 pm.

Risk-0465We come along a small Oregon town, population around 100. Nothing is open this late and I am out of smokes, disappointed we drive on. A mile down the highway there is a roaring bonfire next to an old, small camper. A desperate addict I pull over on the shoulder and ask Paul his thoughts. With no objections we walk to the other side of the road and I yell down the fifteen foot embankment. The man comes closer and I humbly ask if he has any cigarettes I can buy off him. He hands me the pack and says take as many as you want. Introducing himself as Ed, he asked if we are thirsty and offers us some beers. Paul says “That sounds great!”
Ed hands us each a beer and asks “Are you hungry? I have a London Broil and some Oregon Baked Potatoes.”
Hungrily I reply “That sounds amazing, but I would hate to impose.” Thankfully he was more than happy to share.
Ed lived in a small camper with no electricity and his only “running water” was a fast moving stream behind his camper. We sat around the fire swapping stories, and we three strangers become friends in the night.
Ed: Half Navajo, Lumberjack, and Good Samaritan
Paul: Hitchhiker, Young, and Adventurous
Me: Traveler, Fisherman to be, and a Stray
Ed wrapped the London broil and bakers in aluminum foil and lay them in the coals. While the food cooked we drink, shoot the shit, and occasionally one of us would pick up the guitar and strum what little we knew. None played well but it was good enough for the moment. Dinner was served, Ed didn’t plan on company and said he had no clean dishes. He brought out the days paper and we each took a section. The news was great that night, the front page was dripping in blood. No different from any other day except this blood was from a delicious medium rare cow and not some inhumane act. Ed was proud of his food being all locally sourced, and informed us that Idaho actually grows their potatoes from Oregon potatoes. This was one of my best meals on the road.
Risk-0542Ed then asked where we planned on sleeping and we said just camping somewhere. He offered his home and land. Paul slept on his couch, and I decide it would be better to just sleep in my tent by the stream. In the morning we go to the town’s lone restaurant and I treat Ed to some breakfast to repay his kindness and hospitality. I ordered two pancakes and the waitress tells me I only want one. My single pancake comes out, it is the size of the plate and three times as thick as a normal pancake. Amazingly this giant pancake is cooked to perfection. After breakfast we say goodbye and me and Paul head on our way.
Paul and I stop at The Painted Hills. They really do look painted and my photos looked surreal. Our next pit stop was an Indian Casino. I only had seven dollars in cash, and I was willing to lose in the slots. Paul had four or five. He lost his quickly and I just hovered around seven dollars for a while. I then found a machine with two cents left in it. I was never so happy to have someone else’s two cents. I play that machine and quickly hit a bonus. I get ten free spins, in those free spins I get another twenty free spins. I turned my seven into fifty-eight dollars and some change, so I decided to play till an even fifty-eight. I win a little more and then play down to an even fifty-nine. It is now time to leave, while my pockets are a little heavier. We make it to Portland in the afternoon and eat at a food truck gathering. I decide to eat Ethiopian food for the first time and my taste buds dance on my tongue. Then I dropped him off at a hostel and called an old friend who lived in Portland. All the risks in the past two days decided to pay off with handsome rewards.

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