It was mid afternoon, and ahead of me was possibly the most obscure border crossing. There was no traffic to beg a ride from and walking provided an opportunity to take in the beautiful scenery. About halfway to the border a car pulled over unbidden, One of several youngsters aboard asked, “Are you twenty one?” Quickly, I responded, “Yes, wanna see some ID?” Just as fast, the driver offered, “You’re just the person we wanted. Would you like a case of beer?” Somewhat taken aback by the offer, I replied, “ I am only going to the border just a couple of miles away, and don‘t think I want to be carrying a case of beer.” The driver assured me, “We only want you to take possession until the border. We bought a case in BC where the legal age is nineteen. Washington is a twenty one state and we cannot possess it here. So we want you to tell them it is yours and we will give you a ride to Idaho. We‘ll even let you drink a couple.” Deciding to become complicit in cross border under age drinking, I agreed and hopped in. We got to the checkpoint right away. As we sat there, preparing to answer some questions with outright lies, we met another hitchhiker headed north who was running into complications.
Lloyd had spent the summer in California picking avocadoes. He was headed home with a knapsack full of them. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to transport vegetable material across the border without license or permit. He offered to give all of them to us. I accepted and in return, offered him a beer provided he could take it across the border. The Canadian border official let him carry one back into British Columbia since it had been purchased there. The American official did not seem to care one way or the other which way the beer was traveling. He did not even ask the kids or me our ages. Nor did he ask for ID. It was sufficient that we stated we were US citizens. We were quickly on our way and the kids just as rapidly attacked my case of beer. They were slightly upset, I gave away one of their beers. They were not interested in any of the avocadoes. We worked it out when I told them I had given Lloyd the beer they offered to give to me. That worked and eventually they relented and gave me a cold one.
It was just outside Delkena when we pulled over to empty bladders full from all the beer that had been consumed. Alan, the driver was peeing on the front hubcap when he shouted, “Holy Shit, this is steaming.” Sure enough steam and sizzle was erupting from the hubcap that had been quenched with beer pee. Without touching it, I could sense its warmth and suggested the wheel bearing may be bad and possibly letting go. It was just approaching nightfall when we found a gas station. The attendant did not handle the kind of repair we needed. He did , however, send us up into the hills to someone who could help us. We found a garage/junkyard where the owner agreed to lend us a hand. While I assisted him, the rest of the crew sat in his living room drinking my beers and watching television. There was no possibility of ordering a wheel bearing tonight so the proprietor graciously removed one from his vehicle and put it on ours. For his efforts he charged us twenty. The kids shared with him one of my few remaining brews and we were underway. Soon, I was let off in their hometown of Blanchard, Idaho. I found a nice field to sleep off the effects of not having to consume a whole case of beer.