16.4.11

A friend's just a stranger you keep on meeting.

A few weeks ago, I told my friends at work I was taking a day off to go to the Seattle area.

"How come?"

"Oh, I've got some friends I've never seen down there, and I'm overdue to correct that."

There was a brief pause.

"So, do you mean you haven't seen them since they moved there, or..."

"No, I've literally never seen them before."

There was another brief pause, a shrug of acceptance, and the conversation carried on. Such is life in the 21st century. Isn't it grand? And so, here I am, writing this from a guest room in Washington, while a cat makes weird squeaky-chirpy noises next to me.

I had taken a route through the B.C. interior to get here, and the roads were in fairly good condition for April. Coming around one corner, I saw two hitchhikers on the shoulder, next to a large puddle of slush. I didn't have time to debate with myself whether or not to pick them up, but I did have time to get out into the center of the road to avoid drenching them in icy water. Of course, being anywhere other than in your lane is a bad idea on turning mountain roads, so I hurried up to get out of there.

A few minutes later, I'd pulled over to the side of the road to tweet something profound about the landscape, and a truck stopped right next to me, dropped off those same two hitchhikers, and proceeded down a side road. It's always a different matter to refuse someone a favour when you're looking eye to eye, and not traveling 100 km/hr faster than the other party. So, I rolled down my window and invited Shauna and Ed a ride to Cranbrook.

They were an interesting couple. Shauna had only been outside B.C. once in her whole life, and that was a trip to Calgary. As we drove, she commented on the people who owned the passing farms, explained the differences in the river this spring, and pointed out the remnants of long-forgotten highways, abandoned after they were replaced with alternate routes that didn't cause multiple deaths every winter.

Ed was much more of a traveling man, having crossed the country doing all sorts of odd jobs, then heading down to Mexico where he looked for buried treasure before settling in B.C. They were hay farmers now, just picking up supplies in Cranbrook. It was fairly obvious to me that Shauna was the only one of them who knew anything about farming, even if Ed did most of the talking. Well, if that works for them, so be it. I did also wonder how two people from such different walks would meet, but they both made passing references to Mormonism... perhaps they had some mutual friends that way.

The story of their relationship was such an interesting puzzle for me, it wasn't until after I'd dropped them off that I realised that the story of their occupation may have had some holes. Hay farming in the mountains? I suppose there might be enough clearing for a field, but certainly nothing on a scale one usually sees for hay farms. And what sort of farming supplies are you able to transport between town while hitchhiking? There's a reason farmers need trucks, you know.

Oh, and on top of that, there were also Ed's comments on which areas were ideal for getting into the States illegally.

It occurs to me now that those two were either very humble hay farmers indeed, or else marijuana growers.

Huh.

Well, it's not like I'm surprised to run into such people in B.C.

Honestly, the only real surprise was that they might be Mormons as well. Although, I guess there's probably nothing mentioned about it one way or the other in the religious texts...

Like I said before, that's life in the 21st century.

That's also how a half-hour conversation can make a 15-hour drive much more interesting.

Thanks, Shauna and Ed!

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About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.