IT HAPPENS every year. It's Saturday, the ttemperature has reached 80 degrees, your broke ass still doesn't own a car, and your friends are tired of driving you to Sauvie Island. You are sweaty, bored, and desperate. But before you do anything foolhardy, like jumping into the pond at Laurelhurst Park and swimming with the gross ducks, consider another option: hitchhiking! It's fun, free, and you'll be taking part in a timeless American tradition. Best of all, you already have everything you need right there on your hand. Evolution has graciously provided us with opposable thumbs, making humankind superior over all other animals for three reasons: (1) we can hold stuff, (2) texting, and (3) we can bum rides from strangers.
To help you on your journey, you'll need only two basic things. First, a cardboard sign. On one side, write your destination: Sauvie Island. On the other side, write your return destination: Portland. (Don't accidentally hold up the wrong side or you'll look like a crazy person.) Write in large black letters. Don't get funny with your sign.
Second, a small backpack. Fill it with only the most essential river items: beach towel, sunscreen, snacks, and beer. Lots of beer. Not only for yourself when you reach the river, but for the people who pick you up. Beer is acceptable currency for a hitchhiker (ditto weed). Some people might ask for gas money, but they will happily accept a can or two of beer instead. Be generous.
Getting started, you'll first need to find your own way to the onramp. You can walk, take TriMet, or ride your bike, locking it up somewhere nearby. When you approach the onramp, look for a sign that says, "No pedestrians beyond this point." Stand somewhere just before that point.
"But isn't hitchhiking illegal?" you ask, with a trembling voice. ORS 814.080 states, "A person commits the offense of unlawful hitchhiking if the person is on a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride." So, yes, you are technically correct, hitchhiking in Oregon is "illegal." But so are 65 percent of the things you do on the weekend, so why are you being a Boy Scout all of a sudden? Do you want to get to Sauvie Island or not?
"But isn't hitchhiking dangerous?" you ask, now on the verge of tears. As with anything, there are risks involved. According to a 2009 FBI initiative on highway crime, there were 500 known and reported murders near or along interstate highways from 1979 to 2009. That's 30 years. For comparison, 600 people die from falling out of bed, annually. Is that going to keep you from sleeping in beds? I didn't think so. But definitely trust your instincts. Turn down a ride if you don't get a good vibe from the driver.
Now that you're comfortably perched on the highway ramp, hold your sign up high, stick out your thumb, and wait. Don't be in a hurry. It's okay to smile and make eye contact with approaching drivers. Maybe even wave once in a while. Do whatever you have to do not to look like an ax murderer. Remember, you're having fun! And when you do finally get picked up, be appreciative and polite. Thank the driver, be engaging, offer a beer (or a toke), and have a good joke ready (nothing says "I will not murder you and your family" like a good Obama joke).
Congratulations! You've successfully hitchhiked to Sauvie Island! Go swimming! Eat snacks! Look at naked old people! Drink beer! But not too much. You still have to get home.
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