In July 1947, Sal was prepared to go west, having saved up fifty dollars. An old friend named Remi Boncoeur had invited him to come to San Francisco. Sal left the half-finished manuscript of his book at his aunt’s house and took off.
In order to travel and have interesting experiences, which he might then write about, Sal has to put his book to the side and stop writing for some time.
Sal saw on a map that Route 6 went all the way from Cape Cod to Los Angeles, and so decided to journey north to Bear Mountain, where he could get on this road and stay on it all the way to the west coast. After getting out of New York City, he hitchhiked further north. When he finally got to Bear Mountain Bridge, he was left outside in the pouring rain.
Sal chooses to journey in a somewhat nonconventional way, hitchhiking by himself.
Sal cursed and thought of everyone out west “having a big time,” without him. At last, a car came and took him to a town called Newburgh. The man driving the car informed him that his idea of taking Route 6 the whole way wouldn’t work and told him to go back through New York and head for Pittsburgh. Sal was annoyed with all the money he had wasted, but swore that he’d get to Chicago by the next day.
Sal has an underlying sense of loneliness, of being left out while everyone else has “a big time.” His journey is already off to a less-than-ideal start: his trip will be less about getting to his destination efficiently and more about the interesting path he takes to get there.