Introducing: Colorado (chocolate factory dumpster diving, armed drug dealers, strange encounters and the unlikely)

The time: mid April, I’m hitching from Texas to Chicago to meet my Czech friend, Roman. We’ll be hitchhiking together through the Midwest to the west coast, San Francisco to be specific, where we’ll split.

A week later.
Morning, Roman and I are trying to get to Colorado. We’ve spent last night camping under a bridge, in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming. Now we’re trying to get the hell out of there.
It has been a fairly long wait that morning. We got bored, waiting at the on-ramp and experimented with alternative appealing techniques - Roman drew a huge sign saying “Go green, pick up a hitchhiker”, but it merely made people smile, not stop.
Finally, we got a ride with an American soldier, who was going to the Wyoming – Colorado border. There, after being kicked out of one premises, we got a ride with a truck driver, his lovely drunken wife and their little dog Ozzy. The 3 of them live together in the truck and on the road.

They dropped us off at the outskirts of Boulder, CO - the city we were headed to. We started walking in, minutes later it began raining and just kept raining harder.
We kept walking and started discussing how badly it sucks that you can’t hitch inside a city. At that precise moment, a lady stopped her car and offered us a lift. She was present inside the store where I asked for directions earlier and was driving our way, such a nice unexpected surprise.

In Boulder we met our couchsurfing host, Sandy. Sandy is super chilled and a free spirit. She took a year off college and went wandering around Nepal. She always smiles, walks barefoot, even when it’s raining and reminded me a bit of a British girl you may know.
We hung around Boulder a couple days more. Boulder is an upscale, expensive, pretentious and pretty looking college town, nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It was immensely hard to find non-organic / overpriced stores to buy on a budget, but it made dumpster diving incredible.

Sandy’s friend, Alex, dives dumpsters on a regular basis. Sandy and I joined him late one night.
First stop was Boulder’s organic chocolate factory. Dumpster diving a chocolate factory intrigued me, I know people whose dream is doing exactly that. Alex surely knows his dumpsters, he led us directly to the right one. Under a few layers of plywood laid on top, we found a bag containing 8lb of Chocolate. 8lb of Chocolate! That’s almost 4kg! Alex didn’t seem too impressed though, the previous week he got a 20lb bag.
Next stop was one of those overpriced organic stores. We hopped a fence, hid from passing cars and filled cart boxes with pounds and pounds of organic fruit, veggies, some bags of chips, ect. Alex also found a box containing several pounds of hamburgers, steaks and salmon - organic and still frozen.
Then we headed back to Alex’s place to divide the finds, eat unhealthy amount of Chocolate and discuss god and life.

It was time for me and Roman to leave Boulder and make our way out of Colorado, Utah was up next. We decided to try and avoid using public transport, just walk our way out of town. It was quite a walk though.
There’s a hitchhiking technique I’ve been using lately that evolves trying to get a ride with minimum effort, while walking to a better spot: I strap a cart board sign indicating my destination or the direction I’m headed to the back of my backpack and walk on the right side of the road towards the edge of town/on-ramp/gas station. It works surprisingly well.
Roman and I were walking for 15 minutes when we hardly noticed through our conversation that a car spotted the sign and stopped.

We got into it and the driver introduced himself. His name is Adrian, he’s in his late 40’s, and he used to be an attorney until sold his practice, divorced his wife (who didn’t seem to appreciate his dating his secretary) and moved to Guatemala. In Guatemala he bought a house, married a 24 years old local girl, still, he also has 2 girlfriends – her 19 and 17 years old sisters.
For some reason, he was deported from Guatemala lately. He made his way back to the US, bought a warehouse in Colorado where he currently resides and grows Marijuana plants and reptiles.
He offered us a ride a bit further on than where he was going, but he had to stop by his house, get his wallet and fill up gas first. He invited us over but warned us about the presence of huge snakes, lizards and guns.
We got to his warehouse. First we noticed the huge growing boxes where he had a hundred Marijuana plants. Next, we saw an army of around 10 snakes, one big lizard and a few mice – his pets (all but the mice, who are his pets’ dinner).
Then, on the back of the room, he showed us his guns. He had a few pistols and a huge M-16 with intense accessories I’ve never seen before (yes, not even in Israel). He let us goof around with the guns a bit, but warned us that they’re loaded.
We hung around there for a bit, then he grabbed his wallet and off we went. He dropped us off in a gas station further down. On the way there it started snowing, heavily.

That day was a cold day. People around seemed paranoid and some genuinely scared of us, so very reluctant to stop. We had long waiting times in the snow. There’s something about most parts of America - people just seem too paranoid, scared of everything, more so than in other countries. We’ve had a series of short rides with long waits between them that day.
None of us expected this snowy weather and we didn’t have any warm gear. Long day it was.

In the evening, we found ourselves at the edge of a small town, not far from the Colorado-Utah border. It was starting to get late when we had a few interesting encounters.

First, arrived a hippy kid in his 20’s. He told us that he’s a traveler too and was worried that we might be out of weed. He knows how much that sucks, so he offered us some. Roman said no, but thanked him. I questioned him about local hitchhiking/dumpster-diving/good-spots-to-camp-that-night tips and he walked away.
Second, stopped a pickup truck. The driver’s first words were “You’re screwed”. That was a bit freaky and Roman recognized seeing his car passing by earlier. Then he said “It seems like you’re stuck here for the night…” and invited us to his hotel room. He said that he always used to hitch too and in fact this was the first time he drives a car. He drove away after giving us directions to his hotel room. He was quite dodgy looking and Roman seemed terrified, which I found funny.

It was almost dark now and getting colder. We were about to go camp somewhere for the night, unless the unlikely happens and someone going further than the next small town stops. The creepy man’s hotel room was voted out.
Then the unlikely happened. Minutes before we were to take off for the night we got every hitchhiker’s dream ride. A large, old motor-home swung by us, slowed down as a women was waving out of the window and inviting us in. It stopped and we got inside.
Inside, was a lower class couple driving across country, right in our direction. They gave us a ride all the way to the Utah border that night and invited us to spend the night in the 2 extra beds they had in the motor-home (and did I mention it was cold outside?).
They were extremely nice and fascinated by our foreign accents, they’ve never met anyone from overseas before. The following day they had to park for the entire day, waiting for a check to arrive so they could buy fuel. They invited us to stick around for the day and ride with them the day after that, but we had to go. In the morning, we said our goodbyes to them, their 2 dogs, 3 cats and headed to the Arches national park in Utah.


robino's picture

that's a great story indeed,

that's a great story indeed, great how the unlikely happened :)

I am always surprised to hear how easy it is to get in touch with guns in the US. I heard already from many people stories like that. It does prevent me from putting up my thumb in the US though. I just can't imagine me being in a car & someone offers me to hold a gun. How would a gun-advocate deal with someone who is completely against holding one, ever? I think they might get pushy but I am also sure there are many ways of dealing with this, without it getting tough.

tallpawl's picture

That's awesome

I used to live in Boulder, I know the chocolate dumpster you speak of! 20lbs is the usual find. Must have been a good day for the chocolate factory.

Glad you made it to Arches.
I was just there a few weeks ago.

atopia's picture

great story!

great story!