AUTHOR: linda TITLE: DATE: 3:42:00 PM ----- BODY:
"Are you guys by chance heading to the San Francisco area tomorrow? I need a ride and I have a flight out of SFO to catch... it'd just be me, and two small bags."

Uhhhh... ?

We blinked at each other quizzically, mid chicken-soup bite, slumped on the picnic table at our cold campsite, in the complete blackness of 9 o'clock at night.

Completely wiped from a six-hour excursion that day, we'd trekked up the Four-Mile Trail with a nearly 4,000 foot elevation gain, stopping along the way to take dozens of photos, dragged ourselves through a public showers-ordeal at Curry Village, then, relieved to be off our feet and warm and clean, started in on the tedious process of food preparation, and not in any frame of mind to think -- let alone deal with a hitchhiker.

The young man looked at us with polite expectancy. He was dressed in a forest green sweatshirt and khakis -- at first glance I thought he was a park ranger -- and he'd walked straight to us with a determined stride. He placed one foot on the bench across from us and leaned into our camp light to speak to us. He had very blond hair, and a long, groomed goatee.

I leaned back to see where he came from -- a short station wagon idled on the dirt road. He must be a passenger since I could see a driver at the wheel. The story didn't make sense. Why couldn't that driver take him? Why did he have a flight arranged from SFO when he was here camping in Yosemite without a ride? And what was it that he wanted again -- a ride? How would that work for us? We hadn't discussed what our plan would be for tomorrow.

I nodded vaguely, unsure of what to say. I looked at Rex. This was for him.

He spoke haltingly, "We're, uh, not sure of our schedule tomorrow." He turned to the guy, "So -- uh -- can't help you..."

"OK," said the guy. He must have gotten a lot of that response. He must have made a lot of inquiries.

He took his foot off the bench and turned to leave just as abruptly as he came. We watched him walk to the car, and enter the passenger side. It drove a few yards down the road to stop in front of the neighboring campsite, where he approached with the same determination. A few words were exchanged; we could see the family hudled around their campfire shake their heads no to the polite inquiry. Soon, both the guy and station wagon were out of sight.

What was that all about? He wanted a ride. A free ride. Why didn't he offer to pay for gas? Or breakfast? Something. That's how you ask for something. That woulda gotten us to consider it.

And why us? Cus we have a car. And there's just two of us.

WAITAMINUTE. How does this guy has the means to camp in Yosemite, and the mula to have a flight to wherever, but no ride? What's that all about? Does he just expect that because this is a capitalist society that some fat fool will float his needs?

And, he's hedging his bets -- don't offer compensation when someone will do it for free.

Well not me, no siree. I pay taxes, I got a car, I pay for gas, I make reservations, I'm a nine-to-fiver. Guess I just don't get the hippie mentality.