We Are the Mad Ones
I hitchhiked to Flagstaff when I was nineteen, then turned around, then kept going, started with a dollar-eighty-five in my pocket, went for four good months, wrote it all down in a big black book. Professors, friends, a man called Padre, they all said Do it while you're young. Do it now. I've done it. You should too. Go do it. I got a tattoo in Tucson. Watched the sun dip into the desert from the cabin of an eighteen-wheeler. Driver said it wasn't fat, it was muscle, punched him in the gut 'cause he dared me to. Got checkpoint-spooked, gave me dinner and twenty bucks. Slept under a freeway sign outside of Blythe, semis tussling my hair inside the sleeping bag. Woke up to California dawn. Met a man moving to L.A. for love. She didn't know he was coming. Napped in the autumn sun and leaves at a city park. Stumbled across Ventura Blvd in the dark. Spent nine hours in a Denny's making friends with the servers, eating all the chicken and cake. Woke up in the back seat of a car on the Bay Bridge at daybreak with the fog rolling in. Meditated on a beach in San Francisco, got a grip on the Tao for just a second, for just one second. Got a job there, learned to sell art, stayed with the manager, Scott, he always wore bowling shoes. Spent Thanksgiving with some Jews, New Years at a rap party. Read Jack Kerouac all the way through. Hitched the long road from Reno to Las Vegas, watched that city's glow get closer and brighter, stopped for getters-on and getters-off in every two-bit one-billboard town there was, stopped for the dirty and the scary and the wandering and weird. The people, they were strange, they were strangers, they were good and kind and wild and they steered their wheels and took me where I went and I went with them and I am with them and it wasn’t fat, it was muscle.

Robert Hoekman Jr is an American writer and editor and the host of the Spillers podcast and event series. His work has been featured by Fast Company, WIRED, Huckberry, Bike Exif, and many others. He has won awards for both writing and podcasting. He's currently writing the great American novel.