As will happen when you run blogs and work for a nationally recognizable magazine, Kim I lead a fairly public life. For the past two and a half years, we have basically put our names and faces out to the world in the hopes that sharing our adventures will help you have your own. We’ve been stopped on the streets, noticed while standing in line for tourist attractions, and even called out when we were ordering food from one of our favorite restaurants in Portland.
And those are just from our blogs (ok, those are all from Kim’s blog – no one is reckless enough to mention they recognize me, knowing they will more than likely set off a two-hour diatribe on the communication habits of Sasquatches). Now that we drive around the Backpackermobile, our house (what I call our camper) is something few people have ever seen before and they’re curious. Plus our picture is in a nationally-distributed magazine every month, so our interactions with people have dramatically increased. It’s like we’re Beyoncé and Jay-Z, minus all the money, hit songs, and basketball team ownership.
If someone created a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous-style show that we would be featured on, it would probably be called something like Hobos Who Don’t Live Under Bridges, only the host wouldn’t have an elegant, British accent voice like Robin Leach. It would be more like a skeezy south-bronx guy named Vinnie. Our segment on the show would go something like this (in the most stereotypical New York/mobster accent you can think of):
Here? Here we have two hobos: Kim and Brian. They’re freakin’ homeless – but you already know that ‘cause you’re watchin this show. You wanna know what they do? They drive around this huge-freakin country of ours doing good work – think Lorenzo Lamas in Renegade, only without the chest and with more hair, but in all the wrong places. Now, they live pretty good for bein’ hobos – they live out of this weird thing that looks like the moon-lander and your grandpas tent got drunk and had a baby together. And you wanna know where these hobo’s live? In the freakin woods, like animals. You know what else lives in the woods? Bears and big-ass cats that eat people. I guess no one told these hobos that out there in the woods, with all the squirrels and deer, we ain’t at the top of the food chain. Anyways, if you’re crazy enough to be in the woods with all them man eating bears and cats and you run into these hobos, ask for a tour of their moon landin’ tent – tell ‘em Vinnie sent ya.
Being a recognizable hobo isn’t so bad – in fact, it has lots of benefits. We have met tons of nice and interesting people who we otherwise never would have met. There’s Jamie, who took time out of her day to show us just how impressive Omaha can be. There’s Gary, who we bicycled around Vietnam with, who doesn’t do any backpacking, but came to our presentation and took us out to dinner afterwards. There’s Joel, the Mayor of the Village of Mount Morris who we shared a drink with while watching a World Cup match.
We’ve been invited to stay in countless strangers houses and have had many drinks and meals with people all over the country. These are the kinds of interactions that restore ones faith in humanity. As Kim would say, these are the people who fill you up.
And while I wouldn’t mind the money of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, I’m glad we don’t have any of their fame. Being a hobo means we’re more approachable than Jay-B (or is it Beyon-J?) which means more real interactions with people. I always walk away from those meals/drinks knowing new people on a level that just doesn’t happen every day – and for that I am extremely grateful. And besides, I’ll never be famous – I’ll never look good in a leotard.