Hikes and StoriesRandom & Wild

Do YOU Talk To Strangers?


Do your adventures sometimes end up taking a turn you didn’t expect?  Do you ALLOW your adventures to do so?  I shared a beach walk that we did in Oregon in December, the hike picked randomly out of Day Hiking The Oregon Coast book.  But I didn’t share the WHOLE story of what happened to us that day.

Denise and I headed out along the shore of the estuary with a goal to walk around to the ocean and waves.  Part way, an outlet channel flowed that we had to cross.  Not a big deal, it came and went with the tide, so we were just going to wait until it flowed back out again.

While we stood on the edge, two weathered gentleman with dogs approached from the other side, both in waders and smiles.   Dressed more appropriately than we were for forging the stream, they began to cross towards us as we waited to time our crossing and when one of them got to the other side, he turned around in front of me and offered me in a European accent a piggy back ride across.

Why not, I thought? Why not be spontaneous and trusting?  So, I accepted a hitch from my knight and I was soon over on the other side (Denise opted to walk herself over…).

This started a conversation between the four of us about not being afraid to talk to strangers and making new friends.  We had thought the two men were together but one, Marcus, was staying at the campground, and the other lived just a short distance away in Wayland.  They themselves had just met walking the beach. Somehow we got to talking about Marcus’ restored Silver Streak Flipper camper and he urged us to stop by on our way out from the beach.  We promised we would and continued on.

After spending some time checking out beach artifacts and debating where to go next on our road trip, we made out way back to the car.  Also being debated was a stop to visit Marcus.  Curiosity won over mistrust and we drive into the campground to find our newly forged friend.

The camper was hard to miss, mostly because there were not a lot of people staying at the campground.  Marcus was out front and smiled deeply when we pulled up.  We hadn’t decided what to do much past this point, but getting out of the truck and wandering over, it wasn’t long before we were offered a tour and a cup of tea (we passed on the offer of bourbon to top it off). 

Maybe it was his friendliness or maybe the accent, but we felt right at ease as Marcus not only showed us his upgrades on the camper but told us tales of his adventuresome life. I wish I had written it down more in detail!


His full name is Marcus Von Skepsgardh and he is originally from Germany.  He left Hamberg at the age of 21 in an old 1958 Mercedes fire truck to travel the world.  He ended up in Africa and Morocco a few years later where he sold the fire truck to some tribal desert people (I am seriously not making this up) and hopped a ship for America in 1984. He talked about being a German paratrooper, owning a restaurant (family business) and visionquesting around the world.

Marcus retired from the wood and veneer industry in the U.S. where he pioneered the use of recycled and non-toxic materials in the wood products industry and is mostly known as an environmental artist and his large woodcarvings of endangered animals in the Whale Forest Garden.  He lives in the Shasta Valley on his 700 acre ranch with views of Mt. Shasta where he has Spanish Colonial horses and now runs a nonprofit agency that works to bring awareness to the environment.  Again, not making this up.

The thing he was most excited to share with us (after hearing earlier that we both worked in schools) was a book that his nonprofit, P.A.L Foundation, is printing called, Tree Star.

The book is about a young girl who goes to sleep worried about the environment and dreams about being in the post-apocalyptic world where she meets friends who want to bring back the earth through conservation principles.  It was really fun to hear his passion when talking about the book and the characters in it and how they hope to sell it to schools as away to encourage conservation in the next generation.  He said they even hope to make a movie some day.

We visited with Marcus for a little longer and promised we would look him up if we were ever in Northern California as we left to go find lunch and our next hike.  He gave me his card and told him I would share about his book on my blog.

Denise and I spent the rest of the day talking about how fun our chance meeting had been and how it goes to show that is pays to be trusting, especially when your senses tell you everything is good.  I think this is something I have gotten much better at from spending so much time in the hiking community where making instant friends is a given.

Okay, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Were we a little crazy to get the camper of a stranger we had just met?  Maybe.  Was it totally worth it?  Absolutely.

How about you?  What would you have done?  Do you have a story similar about not being afraid to trust a stranger and have it make all the difference in your trip?

Editor’s note:  I am not entirely sure he sold the fire truck to tribal people or he had just wanted to because I wasn’t exactly writing it down, but there were definitely tribal people in the Sahara in the story.

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6 thoughts on “Do YOU Talk To Strangers?

  1. I and my then 1 year old son (is now 6 and has a brother who is 4) were downtown one Saturday after THanksgiving poking around local stores. I overheard a lady with a lovely Southern accent talking about a Christmas party with hot cocoa, cookies, and music. I jokingly asked where I signed up. Turns out the lady had moved to our town a month or so before with her husband and the lady she was talking to was her daughter-in-law. She asked for my number so she could invite me. I had originally been joking. Now, 5 years later, they are my neighbors – their grandson is 22 days younger than my oldest. We go camping each summer with them and the grandson’s parents and sister…they are like adoptive grandparents to my boys. Never thought my smart ass comment would turn into livelong friends. Glad I spoke up though and glad the lady was open to meeting new people!

    1. I LOVE this! It’s true you just never know where the tiniest of moments will take you or mean years down the road. It’s hard not to think that there was something on a higher level at work that made the two of you reach out that way, like it was meant to be!

  2. What a wonderful post. I am a firm believer in talking to people I cross paths with. As a natural introvert (and someone born in NY where people don’t talk to strangers) I never sought people out before but a few years ago I began to strike up conversation with just about everyone I came across because I’ve found it so (mutually) rewarding. I have also found that multiple people have approached me and offered me words of wisdom (unintentionally) that I needed to hear in that moment and that if I hadn’t been willing to stop and spend at least a few moments chatting with them I would have missed an opportunity. I have also met someone who is now a good friend just by starting a conversation in passing. That person turned out to be the only person who could help me when I had a medical emergency a few years back and he claims that I have become somewhat of a guide (not sure how he thinks of it) in his life. So I’m a big fan of being open and trusting intuition when it comes to meeting people.

    1. Exactly! I believe that is one of our purposes, to be here for our fellow man. It’s missing so much in our society. You never know what your exchange might mean to someone else or where it might lead. 🙂

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