Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: The Hitchhiker July 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Portrait #31: Hitchhiker in southwestern Minnesota


Hitchhiker at Sanborn Corners on the Fourth of July


For a hitchhiker, he wasn’t traveling light. A pile of bags, rather than a single backpack, rested at his feet along a rural highway.

Years ago, I would have thought nothing of a person thumbing a ride. But today and in the middle of southwestern Minnesota farm country? Yeah, I wondered.

I wondered about his story, about what and whom he’d left behind to hit the road, westward ho along U.S. Highway 14, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway.

Where was he headed on the afternoon of July Fourth as he waited near the intersection of U.S. Highways 14 and 71, known to locals as Sanborn Corners?


Minnesota Faces is featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “Minnesota Faces: The Hitchhiker”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Yes…..years ago, such was a common sight. More “innocent” days when the words trustworthy, ethical, honest and “what you see is what IS” were a ‘given’/not even questioned. My heart breaks for a generation that has no memory of a time.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    There is definitely a story there and I wonder if he was not too happy that you were taking his picture. His expression makes me wonder if he spied you and your camera and was not too happy to be the subject.

  3. I love the sign on the building in the background “Brake Away” – this man is going away and hitting the road. I wonder about these people too or the ones I have seen on a mission – running or biking across America (have seen a few). People probably wondered what two people from Out West loaded down like the Clampetts were doing heading across country a few months back (we got a few stares along the way) – ha! By the way we are official now – have our new drivers licenses and license plates – no turning back now.

    Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

    • What an astute observation about the “Brake Away” sign. I noticed it, but did not connect it to this man. I like that connection. A lot.

      So was it jobs or the desire to live in a different part of the U.S. that prompted you to move?

    • It was time for a good change for our health, happiness and well being 🙂 Jobs and economy played a factor into the move too. We did not make the decision lightly and it took us two years to decide where we wanted to live. We were set to move in March and it did not feel right, so we waited until May and it has been a great decision.

  4. Marneymae Says:

    I always wonder about a person’s story when I see a hitchhiker.
    Reading your post I wonder what his story is… How he came to be standing there & where he wants to go… What dream does he hold in his heart…?
    After listening yesterday to the (excellent & riveting) July 4th podcast from This American Life, about a Somali refugee, the wondering in me swirls through another layer – with the awareness of having no idea where this man actually hails from.

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    Hitchhiking was once the Great American Walkabout. It is what many of us boomers did. I hitchhiked through most of the 48 states and much of Europe and in all that time, my favorite scene came on I-35 a little north of Des Moines.

    It was just before I-35, which continues to the Gulf of Mexico, meets I-80 which splits east toward the Atlantic and west toward the Pacific. By the side of the road, a Minnesota farm boy held up a cardboard sign that read, “The Ocean”.

  6. This guy sure looks out of place there with his bags on the side of a rural road. Makes me wonder if someone else threw him out of their vehicle. Or if he just finished up a job on some nearby farm. And who will eventually stop for him? Someone who doesn’t worry about their safety the way I would if I stopped for some guy on the side of the road. His expression does looked a little peeved.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Was he actually hitch hiking? I wonder if he was waiting for a ride, a planned “pick-up”?

  8. Sue Ready Says:

    Isn’t it interesting how few hitchhikers we see today compared to several decades ago. The “fear factor” makes us reluctant to give someone a ride. And yes one does wonder what is the backstory to those we see along the side of the road.

  9. Gunny N Says:

    Ah, the days of yesteryear – so very long ago! I have some REALLY BAD experiences with either giving someone a lift or not giving someone a lift. Some bad experiences just driving down the road (without a hitchhiker). Lucky for all there were no fatalities or required trips to the ER!

    Ladies ALWAYS KEEP YOUR CAR DOORS LOCKED once inside your vehicle or even if you are walking away. DO NOT PICK UP STRANGERs if you can help it! In all cases, stay very aware of your surroundings, where you are at, where you are going and what is around you. This is called situational awareness! You lose situational awareness with the radio on, the kids crying/fighting or yelling or while you are on the cell phone, texting – anything that distracts you from driving on the road! I want you all to be able to go home to loved ones, safe and secure. Semper Fi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.