Jan Burres and her boyfriend, Bob, are a couple who reached out to McCandless after they found him picking berries on the side of the road in California, about 60 miles south of the border with Oregon.
According to Jan, he looked hungry, so they asked if he needed help or a ride. She described him as "hungry, hungry, hungry" but also "happy." He was surviving on edible plants and said he didn't need money. He then camped with them for a week at Orick Beach. They got along well, and McCandless kept in touch with them by postcard and letter. His communication with them helps Krakauer locate where Chris was at different times during his wanderings.
About a year and half after their first encounter, Chris reunited with Jan and Bob, staying with them at a place called the Slabs. The Slabs, in the desert, consisted of the concrete slabs that were left over when the army razed an old base. People congregated there, a
culture comprising the retired, the exiled, the destitute, the perpetually unemployed.
There, Chris helped Jan organize and sell her used paperback books. They had a playful relationship, and Jan discovered Chris's musical talents. He told her about his ambitions to go to Alaska, and while she did not think that it a good idea, he was excited. She tried to find out about his family, but he was not forthcoming. Finally, he left.
Bob, and especially Jan, were part of the counter-cultural community that McCandless drew around him. He that felt their values were more congruent with his own than the materialism of his family was. Through them, we are provided with a window into some of the ways Chris spent his time on the road.