Hitchhiking and Other Travel Poems

Hitchhiking and other travel poems

In Search of America 1975 – Hitchhiking and Other Travel Poems

These are my Hitchhiking and other travel poems, written over the last 45 years. From 1975 to 1979 I hitchhiked a lot as I was young and foolish and a broke college student. I would not do it now that I am 64, rich, retired and comfortable. But I had a blast. in 2016 when I retired we drove across the country hitting 31 states in three months. I reflect upon life growing up in Berkeley. Finally, I have some reflections on life as a rambling man.

wiki on hitchhiking

Hitchiking Tales audio clips

When I was young
And foolish
Broke and stubborn

I hitchhiked across the USA
Started in Salt Lake City
Where my greyhound bus pass
Was stolen

The station manager
Could have helped me
But refused to do so

Threaten to call the cops
When I grabbed my bags
Without the stolen tags

I said
Go ahead
But I am so out of here

Wondered about Salt Lake City
Went to a bar

Found I had to buy my booze
Next door

And they would mix it for me
Had to order food too

After a bloody Mary
And a burger
I walked about town

Saw the Mormon Temple

Finally about 3 pm
It was time to hit the road
Did not look back

Ended up in Cody Wyoming
Got a room shower
Steak beer
Using my rapidly depleted cash

Spent 25 dollars
Money really went far
Back in those days

A band of professional
Communist agitators
Gave me a ride

To Des Moines
Lots of weed booze
And politics later
Got off the road

Slept outside
Next day
A beautiful woman

Drove me to near Chicago
In a red mustang

Might have been
The girl in the song

Took it easy
Digging her vibe

She invited home
But was not sure
If her estranged husband
Would welcome me

So I being foolish
And inexperienced with women
Did not go to her place

And always regretted
That I had lost
My chance that day

Then on to Chicago
Several rides later

Visited friends

Hit the road again
A series of uneventful rides
With truckers

And others
And a week later
I ended in New York City

Slept along the way
In cars

In truck stops
In high way rest stops

Always moving
Always going
None stop talking

And lots of free weed
And beer
And conversation

One more memorable ride
Occurred outside Albany
On my return to Chicago

A middle age creepy looking man
Picked me up
In a brand new Cadillac

He was he said a dynamite deliverer
For the Mafia
Went to various places
To blow up shit

He hated a lot of people
Particularly hippies from California
And Jewish people

Looking at me to confirm
That I was both

I told him that I lived in New York
And had never been to California

And although I might looked Jewish
As I what was called back in the day
A “Jewfro”
I was not Jewish

Many years later I discovered
That I am indeed part Jewish
But then I did not know

And I felt a bit of strategic information
Might keep me alive
Then I realized that he was just jiving with me
And we relaxed

And he pulled out some weed
And beer
And we mellowed out

But I believe that he really was with the mob
Perhaps not a dynamite dealer
A real made Italian made mafia member

By Chicago
I had enough
I called my Dad
Told him what had happened

Wanted a ticket home
And he sent me a ticket
And 500 dollars

And I went home
I told him I would tell him
My tales some day
But never did

I learned so much
About my fellow Americans
And the strange vibe
That was 1975

And now it is too late
But I wanted to finally
Tell the world

Of my hitchhiking tales
In search of America 197

Published in Outlaw Poetry April 2018  See “Outlaw Poetry and Neobeatnik” page for additional “outlaw/neobeatnik” poetry



the Bus – Travels Through America’s Underbelly

Bus Riding Audio Clips

I am a bus rider
That makes me unusual
For a white male
From an upper middle class family

Our people are not bus riders
Though some are subway riders

Bus riders are other people
The poor, minorities, immigrants
People who don’t drive
Because they are blind
Or have a DUI

And in my case
I don’t drive
Because I have bad vision
And bad coordination
Just never got the hang
Of the whole driving thing

Fortunately for me
My wife does the driving
But I still take the bus
From time to time

I rode the AC buses in Berkeley
As a child
Line 67, line 51, line 43 F bus
Rode them long before BART came along
And afterwards as well

As an adult seldom rode the bus
But when I did so
I was always impressed
By the sheer diversity
Of the bus riding property

Hundreds of languages
All sorts of sexual orientation
Some were white
Most were not

Most of my fellow passengers
Were nice enough
Some were friendly
And some were lost
In their own thoughts

And a few
Were scary looking dudes
With the look
Of someone who had done time
And were capable of more violence

I also rode the bus
In Seattle as a graduate student
A lot of fellow UW students
And the usual immigrants
Minorities etc

And some white people

And in DC
Over the years
I rode a lot of buses

Mostly to and from the metro
But I got to know
And love the DC buses as well

I also took the greyhound bus
Across the country
Several times over the years
All over the U.S.

From Bay Area to Stockton
From Bay Area to Clear Lake
From Bay area to NYC
All over the USA

Taking the Greyhound
Was always an adventure
Met a lot of interesting people
As people on long-distance bus rides
Tend to open up and talk
To pass the time away

Overseas I took the bus
All over
In India, in Barbados
In Spain and in Korea

The Korean buses
For many years
Were difficult for foreign visitors
As the signs were all in Korean

Most have signs
Now in English, Chinese and Korean
And are much more foreigner friendly

Riding the bus
In America
Allows one access
To the underbelly of American society
The poor, the marginalized
The immigrant communities

That many middle-class white people
Just never see

And for that reason
I am glad
That I am a bus rider

Reflections on Riding the bus

Americans are not bus riders
Americans are drivers

Americans would prefer to walk
Or take the train
Never the bus

The public bus is for losers
And for the low life

And for scary brown and black people
Not for normal people

Epic Bus Ride

I once took the Greyhound bus
Across the entire United States

Had a greyhound pass
And took the damn bus

It was the summer of 1979
Just graduated from college

About to join the Peace corps
And wanted to see the country

It took ten days to get to DC
From SF

And ten days back to SF
After a week in DC

I slept on the bus
Read a lot

Chatted with passengers
All along the way

Flirted with some woman
But nothing amounted to anything

And ate in Greyhound cafeterias
Endless rounds of acidic food

And burned out coffee
And countless burgers

But I made the trip
In one piece

Metric Time

white lady getting off a bus

One time in the 70’s
I took the Greyhound bus
To Reno

As part of what became
My epic hitchhiking trip

My seat mate was interesting
Probably insane

He started telling me
About his theory of time

He said that time as we know
it is all wrong

and he knew time
the only person who really did

he had invented a new way
to tell time

metric time
the day divided into two ten hour blocks

each 100 minutes long
the week ten days long

the month three weeks
ten months per year

all very scientific
part of the unfinished

the metric revolution
that would soon

transform the world
Just as Knights Templar had intended

Rambling Man, Where is your Home?

Where is my home? Where do I belong?
I really don’t know, always moving on to another place

Moved every other year it seems the last 45 years
Traveled to 49 states, 45 countries, drove across the U.S. six times
Lived in Berkeley, Yakima, Stockton, Seattle, Alexandria, DC, Oregon, Korea, Thailand, India, The Eastern Caribbean, and Spain

Where do I belong? Where is my home?
Neither here nor there, nowhere and everywhere

And so is that my rambling man’s fate
Never to really belong anywhere at all

Jake Aller, An American in South Korea

Incheon 2016

Incheon, Korea
incheon Korea

I live in Incheon
Part of the 3 million people who live here
Mostly Koreans
90,000 foreigners though live here too

My apartment is next to a park
And I walk almost daily in the mountains
Losing myself in the hills
Overlooking the airport

The town has lots of restaurants
Places too go
Things to do

And the airport is next door

Soon there will be a casino complex opening up
As they turn this quiet suburban village
Into a Mini-Las Vegas
Complete with a strip

Can’t wait

Going to Seoul is a snap
50 minutes on the train
And I am there
Wherever I want to be

Korea is turning out to be
A good place too live

So much better
Then it was when I first arrived in 1979
And it was grim back then

Now it is the toast of Asia
And for that I am glad

Rapid City Nowhere

devils tower SD
devil towers SD

in the summer 0f 2016
We drove across the country
Just the wife and me

to celebrate my retirement
from the State Department
we decided to see the whole USA
from coast to coast

10,000 miles
31 states
Three months on the road

I now know why people don’t live
In South Dakota

Hot, dry dusty
Windy as hell

The Black Hills are nice
But after seeing Mt. Rushmore
There is not much left to do

Rapid City did not impress me
Nor did Sioux Falls

And wall drugs
Well the free water was nice

But it is a nothing town
In a nothing state
On the edge of the badlands

And the Sioux reservation

There is a reason the Indians live there
No one else wanted the land
And they are warehoused there

So I drove through Rapid City
And thought that it is the heart of Trump Land
The land of the forgotten
The left behind

Just another nothing burger
of a State
In the middle of nowhere
Truly flyover country

Where am I going to?

Rambling man
Where are you going to?
When will you settle down

Last summer I drove across the country
31 States
Ten national parks
10,000 miles

Saw flyover country
Virginia spent the night at Ft Lee
North Carolina
South Carolina
Georgia Spent the night at a naval base
Florida spent five days at AFB in Tampa
Florida Tallahassee spend the night
Alabama Spent the night in Birmingham
Arkansas Spent the night in Hot Springs lost money
Oklahoma spent the night in Midwest city
Texas spent the night in Amarillo
New Mexico spend the night
in Albuquerque
land of breaking bad fame
lost money

Arizona Stopped by the side of the road in Winslow
Drove part of route 66
Nevada Las Vegas lost money
Nevada Reno lost money
Nevada Topanah lost money
Northern California
Oregon Ashland stayed a month
Oregon spent a night in a small town
Drove down highway 395 loneliness highway in the US
Idaho spent the night in Burl
Wyoming Spent five days in Grand Tetons
South Dakota Rapid City
Minnesota spent the night in the twin city’s saw the Mall of America
Illinois Chicago Yeah
Indiana nowhere villa
Wisconsin Madison nice town
Ohio spent the night outside Columbus
Pennsylvania Pittsburgh
West Virginia
Then back to Korea

Growing up in Berkeley


I grew up in Berkeley, California
A child during the ’60s
Grew up in the early ’70s

Crazy times
Berkeley was a crazy city back then
Still is to some extent
But then it was the craziest place
In the whole U.S.

And it made an impact
I will always be a Berkeley child

Always have that Berkeley feel
In my soul

No matter where I travel
I remain at heart
A child of Berkeley

Tilden Park

Tilden Regional Park is a regional park in the East Bay of California. It is between the Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge.

I have been hiking these woods
Since I was a child
Over 50 years ago

Inspiration point was my favorite
And the haunted forest
That crowns the hill

And where I went just before
Attending my Mother’s funeral

It is a special place
Filled with memories

And great views
Of the ever-changing bay area

Lithia Springs

hot springs
hot springs

Staying at Lithia Springs
Soaking in the healing waters
Soaking my pains away

Renewing my life
Renewing my love
As we both soak away
As the pain of life go away

And our love grows
With each soaking session

Life is good
At the hot springs water
Soothes us and smooth us

And we fall in love
Again and again

Berkeley California

BERKELEY, CA – SEPTEMBER 24: Protesters shout during a free speech rally with right wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at U.C. Berkeley on September 24, 2017 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of protesters came out to support and demonstrate against Milo Yiannopoulos as he held a free speech rally at U.C. Berkeley. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Growing up in the ’60s
In Berkeley almost 50 years ago

I think back
At those turbulent times
Those crazy wonderful times

Berkeley is a wonderful place
In many ways

Stuck forever in 1967
A true time travel experience

Every time I go back
And relive the memories
Of the ’60s

The 60’s never died
They continue

In college towns
Across the world

And Berkeley
Remains the mecca
Of the countercultural revolution

Many things have changed
But the organic food revolution
Became mainstream

Marijuana spread out
The sexual revolution
Became mainstream

So much of the world
Is but a reflection
Of the revolution of the ’60s

And the conservative counter-revolution
That we are still fighting

So I salute
My homeland