Love on and of the Road

Author: Bernd Wechner
Published on: February 1, 2000

I was invited to write a short piece for Valentines Day recently, on love, romance, and of course the road. Love and the road are bed partners in my book. How many road movies have you seen celebrating the relationship after all? Reveling in that beautiful sense of adventure and motion that has so captivated young an old alike from for most of the 20th century. It's easy enough for the hitch-hiker to speak of a love of the road - Jed Mahoney probably outdid us all when he wrote in 1981:

I recently caught up with Jed. Settled now, with a family and business to tend to, not hitching anymore, not even enjoying it anymore, he still stands by those sentiments, though he might express them differently today. Jacob Holdt before him wrote of American culture in the '70s, when he had no car:

Jacob, too, is now settled with a family and no longer hitches either, though, when we spoke last September it struck me rather poignantly that he misses it many ways. We had so many tales to share and were both clearly enamoured of the experience the road had lent us. He still picks up hitchers religiously, mostly in the States, and prefers the criminals to the groupies (or dead-heads as they were labelled when they followed The Grateful Dead around) - in his experience the two most common classes of hitcher today. The groupies generally stink, for lack of a shower. The criminals he generally likes. Jacob once wrote:

with which he expressed his profound love of people. That criminals are people, and generally behave like people, when treated like people, or like criminals when treated like criminals. And if that's not love, I don't know what is. But, I'll confess, that's the love of Jesus and not St. Valentine. There's little romance in it. But the road is a happy courting ground as good as any other. I've enjoyed the odd amorous encounter myself centered around my travels by thumb. But Tony Horwitz captured it best when he spoke of his friend Rich and his love on the road:

And I'm sure Rich wasn't alone! I'd love to hear some more tales of romance on the road. If you have one to share, please do! I urge you.

Material cited from:

Eye of the Spud: Hitching and freedom etc in Australia, Gerard Mahoney, Rotten Rock Publications, Sydney, 1981, ISBN: 0 9593892 0 2

American Pictures, Jacob Holdt, American Pictures Foundation, Copenhagen, 1985, ISBN: 87-981702-0-1

One for the Road: Hitch-hiking through the Australian Outback, Tony Horwitz, Vintage Departures, New York, 1987, ISBN: 0-394-75817-X

I caught up with Gerard Mahoney near Melbourne in January 2000, Jacob Holdt in Copenhagen in September 1999 and am still looking for Tony Horwitz.