Two thumbs up

Does anyone hitch hike anymore? Yesterday I was late coming home from work and ended up taking a bus that leaves me about 3 km from my house. As I was running down Kilborn (trying to get home so Suzy could get to aerobics), it occurred to me to turn toward the traffic and stick out my thumb.

I was immediately swept back to 1987 on the French Riveria. My cousin’s cousin Tyler Aspin was passing through Nice on a solo backpacking trek through Europe. I was studying in Villefranche, a small town between Nice and Monaco. After hanging out for a few days, Tyler suggested we ditch the Riveria and hitch hike to Africa. The night before we left, my school chums held a Bon Voyage party for us. The next day Tyler and I set out. Six hours of fruitless thumbing along the Promenade des Anglais got us nowhere. Nobody stopped. We’d spelled Marseilles wrong. Snotty French!

When we dragged ourselves, defeated, back to the student residence, our friends threw another party — this time a Welcome Home bash.

That was a great day by the highway. We spent a lot of time talking and gnawing on stale baguette. Tyler soon left Nice, and I didn’t see him again for a decade, except on the news as he travelled the country with his Canada Tree. A few of years ago we exchanged e-mails and planned to meet up at his cabin in the Gatineau Hills. We never did. Tyler died suddenly in 2001 near his cabin. He was 32. The latest theory is that he was struck by lightning.

Back on Kilborn, all I got were smiles and the odd perplexed look. But I didn’t really mind. I enjoyed the sunny walk, and was glad to be home.

Learn about the Canada Tree.

Tyler’s Canada Tree, in Quicktime VR.

Another Canada Tree link.

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