I woke up in an empty hotel room in St. Louis around 10 a.m.. I was feeling hungover but not from anything I had drank, but from shear exhaustion. The days fell like dominoes back then, one continuously pushing me into the next without any direction or reason. I was traveling with two other guys. We left Georgia the week before and were making our way to Detroit where we were going to hook up with one of their brothers who had a business opportunity for us.  We met a couple of people who were leaving for the military the following day and were being put up in a hotel near the airport free of charge. They invited us to crash on the floor of their room in exchange for some beer. These guys were really nieve. If they had known who these two guys were traveling with me they would have never even spoken to us. When I woke up the next day the guys we met were gone and so were my two traveling companions. As well as all my money and personal belongings. I had one set of clothes and a pair of alligator cowboy boots which I was sleeping with. I slipped out of the hotel room and remembered something about meeting one of their brother’s friends at the big arch in the middle of the city. He was going to give us a ride up to Michigan. So I made my way there, where tourist visited all day while I sat on a patch of grass not even knowing what I would do if I ran into these two guys who had ripped me off. But I never thought that far ahead. I sat there for hours, until the sun started setting. I knew I would soon be shuffled off the park area near the monument. So with no money, no I.D. no family to call for help. I had few options. I knew I didn’t want to stay in that city for much longer. I remembered a girl I once knew who lived in New Mexico, she lived in a very small town and if I could find her she might put me up for a few days. So as the sun went down I started out once again on another trip across the states. This would be my second of three. Thumb out, boots on. Holding an old army laundry bag I had found in an alleyway stuffed with paper. It was impossible getting rides without a bag, people were scared of hikers without baggage. No food, no map, just heading east. I was 19.  And this trip would be the longest of all of them. I wouldn’t reach New Mexico for almost 8 months, and when I did finally get there. I would be a completely different man. A the events that would take place in that small little town of Quemado would change me even further.

About paulsdahlman

Born in Southern California, raised on the road and now growing roots in New England. I am on the journey of my lifetime. May the footprints I leave behind form the words to my story.
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