Hitchhikers travel to Victoria from Oregon

By Caty Hirst -
July 15, 2012 at 2:15 a.m.
Updated July 16, 2012 at 2:16 a.m.

Caroline Folger and Kurt Williams, of Portland, Ore., stand in front of Simply Delicious after their hitchhiking trip landed them in Victoria last week.

Caroline Folger and Kurt Williams, of Portland, Ore., stand in front of Simply Delicious after their hitchhiking trip landed them in Victoria last week.

Many consider hitchhiking as something done only these days by renegades, outcasts or outlaws.

But for two Victoria visitors, it is just another way to travel.

Caroline Folger, 22, has worked in a law office for the past three years. Kurt Williams, 26, works in construction. The two friends left their jobs and hometown of Portland, Ore., in early June to travel America - and experience it as few others do in the 21st century.

"Sometimes when you travel, you can go to the all of the places that you would at home - chain restaurants, chain hotels - and you have the same experience everywhere you go," Folger said. "With hitchhiking, every day is different. We wake up each day and we have no idea where we are going to end up or who we are going to meet."

The two arrived last Monday in Victoria, via Redding, Calif.; Salt Lake City; Denver; Carlsbad, N.M.; El Paso; San Antonio and dozens of towns and cities in between.

To get here, they rode with a couple on their honeymoon, an ex-con who served time for murder, single women, two brothers in their 60s running marijuana and many others.

But the hitchhikers say this isn't their first rodeo. Folger hitchhiked through Europe last summer and Williams traveled from San Diego through Central America to Panama on a bicycle.

"We have met the 'bad guys,' and they are some of the best people we have met. Ex-meth addicts, triple felons, murderers ... and they are listening to Alanis Morissette in their car," he said, laughing.

The most dangerous part of the trip, Folger said, was when they were stranded in the desert in New Mexico without water, after they asked to be dropped off in a poor location. After a few hours and a change in direction, the two caught a ride to El Paso - and water.

While in Victoria, they stayed with Folger's aunt, Lisa Folger, of Victoria.

They went to Cactus Canyon to learn how to two-step, drank coffee at Simply Delicious and toured a local ranch on an ATV.

"I was most nervous when they were in the desert, with the heat," Lisa Folger said. "But, yeah, they have good instincts."

Still, Lisa Folger said, she gets nervous for them, even though she understands they are cautious.

"My older brother did it back in the 60s or the 70s, but it was nothing back then," she said, tearing up, concerned for her niece. "It was a different world then."

Williams, however, said he couldn't disagree more.

"I'm not worried, not scared," Williams said. "Because it is a fear tactic in the cultural media. Like, we are just trained to think hitchhiking is so dangerous along with many other things. But it's just not true. I'm confident in saying that because I've experienced it. I've never had any dangerous things happen to me."

After all their travels, the two agreed that Texans have been the friendliest.

"The people you meet are so dynamic," Williams said. "It really makes you feel like a country is made up of individuals. The same people in the same town are dramatically different."

After leaving Victoria on Friday, the friends safely arrived in New Orleans by Saturday. They plan to then fly to Boston to hitchhike around New England.

"You have to trust your intuition," Folger said. "You have a couple seconds before you get in the car, and you have to take those seconds to trust your feeling. ... Most of the time they are just as scared or nervous as we are."



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