I am currently on the road, hitchhiking around the world shooting a documentary, or twelve. I am hoping to inspire those around me through unorthodox, and sometimes extreme methods of living. I have decided that in order to accurately measure and also to enable the best possible footage I will not spend a single dollar on food, shelter, transportation or anything personal for the next full year, and only sustain on what has been generously and spontaneously provided for me.
After witnessing enough negative behaviour in complete strangers to complete strangers to last a lifetime, I have decided to set out to accomplish many things. Prove the world is not such a nasty place full of untrustworthy people, open the minds of society that anything is possible, and that a new friend or opportunity is just a conversation away. When common courtesy seems to have evaded us in 2010, I am setting out in search of the good in the human race. Where have all the good people gone?
I will use my social skills, resourceful thinking and life experiences to accomplish a highly controversial move; travel the globe on less than $500 and breakdown every sterotype and false perception. Its going to be tough sometimes, but I know that what is waiting for me will rock the socks off of everyone reading this. Just wait 'til you see the videos.....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The most interesting day yet. And this is only half.

Well Ive gotten into the lapse again, and missed a few days, but Ill start regurgitating it now...

I had Mannish at the front desk book a wake up call for me at 830am, that way I could come down for the complimentary breakfast before it was done at 9, and return to bed until checkout time. Well of course I ignored the wake up call and had Mannish himself and a cleaning lady staring at me in bed.
It was 12.
I love my habit of pushing checkout times. But it comes with a price. I don't love being woken up by people staring at me half asleep, in my underwear, Bob Dylan hair all over the place, absent mind fresh out of dreamland, on the REM highway.
He reminded me of checkout, and I promised to be out in 15 minutes. I didn't unpack anything, except my computer and camera gear, so it was a quick pack up.
I laced on my super stinky boots(yours would be too) and got my things together. I flicked off the TV that I never let rest and headed out. I took a bar of hand soap, and a facecloth, it was necessary, I promise.
I walked out, right to the highway. The on ramp was a stones throw away, so I got there asap, as it was already past noon. There was a steady flow of traffic on this ramp, as it was stemming from 2 major highways, and a massive shopping centre and hotel row. Several Canadian license plates passed me. I think I would have had one if my sign said something about Canada, but this one didn't. They were the only ones who would wave back, or smile. The backpacks were posted up, and I noticed 2 signs laying on the freshly cut grass beside me from previous hitchers. They were both to the town 20 mins away.
Still wearing my morning face.

It was about another 20 minutes before my ride pulled over.
A large, new model 4-door red truck pulled over. I tossed B1&B2 in the bed, and hopped in.
It was a young family. I was pretty surprised, I knew there was a couple, but when I saw the young lad in the backseat, I was kinda surprised they stopped.
Nontheless, I climbed in, introduced myself, and the chatter began to flow. They all had strong southern accents, included the David, the 8yr old kid. His might have even been the strongest... They were on their way back from visiting their folks, and were able to take me a few exits down, in a town called Brunswick. The hotel I had just stayed in was in Darien GA, and it was a good start.
They were both young, Matt wasn't too much older than me, maybe 30 at most. I never got her name, but she was very nice. David was shy and quiet, and the only one who seemed to think it was weird a hitchhiker was in the car.
I asked him if he played sports, and he said he wanted to play baseball, but his grades had to go up first.
David the trooper!

"Thayats rayght" his mum chimed, adding he wasn't far off from achieving it, but still needed to focus. I told him my grades weren't very good at his age either, and told him that he needed good grades to get cool cars and the cute girls in his class. It was funny, because the way I said it, totally registered with him, and he made this little look like 'huh. Yeah, that is totally true'. I don't know, its probably just me, but it seemed that way.
I asked them if they had been to Canada, they told me no, and I recommended going. Matt just blurted out "heard they got good weed up thurr". I smiled, and he asked me if I had any. I told him no, and he threw a bag at me. "Syours".

He was a good guy, and they were nice people, but I really didn't agree with them being so open about smoking, and the weed. Even if he didn't know, David was too young, and should never be around it. Probably the root of the whole bad grades situation.
I quickly crammed the bag into a pocket, because I knew refusing it would create suspicion for him, and I don't think he even noticed the transaction. I wasn't going to make a fuss over nothing, and just went with it. They asked me a bunch of questions, all related to the trip. They couldnt beleive I had come so far in such short time, as they thought hitching was a lost cause, or a suicide mission.We pulled into town, and they dropped me off in a parking lot next to the on-ramp I would make my next attempt into Florida from.
I thanked them, told them to drive safe, and for David to become a world famous Baseball player. I gave him a high five, shook their hands and she slipped a bill into my pocket. I tried to decline, but they insisted. They were truly great people, I don't know why they trusted me so much, as I sat behind them with their child beside me, but they were brilliant. I didn't agree with all of their methods, mostly concerning their open actions, but I just took it has a 'hearts in the right place, heads kinda backwards' deal.
They were truly nice people, and I was again so fortunate to have received such generosity while on the road. I didn't film it, due to David being there, but it was yet another example of exactly what I was after; complete strangers breaking down stereotypes.

They drove off, and I immediately resumed hitching. This spot wasn't as great. Same amount of traffic, but only a small space for people to pull over. I hitched for what I would say felt like half an hour before I got frustrated and hungry.
Just as I was folding my sign, preparing to walk to the plaza across the street to barter a meal, a car pulled over.
It was an orange Honda Element, and I could see the driver was a big bearded man. I laughed to myself how I was just about to pack it in, and then the ride comes. I asked him where he was off to, and he told me Jacksonville. Finally, I would be entering Florida today. It was roughly 9 days of hitching from Ottawa, and I would be getting into Florida. I accepted his ride.
Despite the man's image, which most would have declined immediately, I could see he was no threat. Despite everyone having a gun tucked into their lunchbox in this area, and he probably did too, I was never worried. I climbed in, and off we went, Florida bound.

He was an immensely obese man, with 2 feet of white hair, and over a foot of white beard. He looked like Santa after a bender. Most people would have been deathly afraid, but he was a soft spoken, genuine man. I will say my guard was up initially, but it was down after a few short minutes. He was returning from a business call, as he is a custom car and bike parts distributor. He was on his way home to Jacksonville, but not before picking up some Girl Guide cookies for his daughter. We talked about all kinds of stuff, he was a pretty easy person to talk to, never an awkward silence. We stopped for gas, and as I was so hungry, I went to the Subway inside.
I asked for the manager, and despite me not having B1 for some credibility, I told her about my trip, and she was more than happy to be a part of it. It added some more great footage. (I now have over 45hrs of video of amazing managers willing to be a part of this trip, and donate food without reciprocation, in terms of compassion.)
She was genuinely interested, as she feels people have lost all common courtesy. I talked briefly on camera about her disdain for negativity towards people in the service industry. She told me she had just lost an employee, because 'too many rude a**holes were giving them heck'. I can just picture so many of the smug Americans Ive seen along the way, standing there in their Bermuda shorts and Polos, barking orders at some teen behind the counter.
I grabbed my ol' favourite, the Cold Cut combo on Italian Herbs bread. Lettuce, tomato, green peppers and cucumber. Light mayo and Chipotle sauce to give it that kick in the pants. I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life and never get sick of it.
I went back to the car, and realized after the several minutes of driving, we had not yet introduced ourselves. We had been together for over 30 mins, and since the conversation never took a lull, never realized.
His name was Danny, but not many people knew that. Everyone he knew called him Santa, for obvious reasons.
I offered him half of my sub, but he declined, as he was now making a conscious effort to maintain some healthy regiments. I then noticed the abundance of orange in the car. His t shirt, blackberry, Honda, and several small knickknacks were orange. I commented, and asked him, as I have a strong love affair with orange myself.
He told me it was Harley Orange. It all made total sense.
His educated perspectives, soft spoken, polite manner had me totally looking past his image and I didn't even think about him being a biker. I then noticed a patch in the backseat that was biker influenced. I did notice his abundance of tattoos, but thought he was past it. I started to ask him some vague, typical questions about bikes, and bike culture. He was surprisingly open and honest, and took the conversation where I didn't think it would ever go.
It turned straight down Ross Kemp lane, and I started to prod at what I had always wondered about biker life. I told him what I knew, (which impressed him) and what I thought I knew. He was very blunt and honest with me the whole time.
Then, out of nowhere, he looked at the clock, and said "yea I bet some of the boys are there now", and he slowly accelerated, almost in anxious pursuit.
He told me a few more details and stories about biker culture. He was ex-head of a local chapter of a massive world-wide gang, (they hate that word) Basically he used to run the local scene of bikers in Jacksonville. The strip bars, rough bars and several restaurants where in his control, and for a long time, he was untouchable. He described some of the craziness that comes with the lifestyle of a biker gang member.
While pointing out what seemed every 5th or so establishment, and declaring it 'biker-controlled' he pulled into a small plaza, with an old pub on one end, and a garage on the other. I immediately noticed the units above, which looked like a run down 80s motel. It looked more or less vacated, until we swung around back. About a dozen bikes and maybe 2 cars were lined up near the door. We pulled into a spot opposite, and he shut the car off. He knew I had cameras, and I was a writer.
Santa looked me dead in the eye(only time I may ever say that in my lifetime) and got very serious with me. My heart began beating rapidly. It wasn't a fear rush, more of an excited anticipation.
"When we go in there, dont look at anyone. Dont think of speaking until someone speaks to you. If you mention camera, or anything you do, they will kill you". He paused and looked right into my eyes. I knew he wasnt kidding, but I wasnt fazed, as I knew I could compose myself. Again my youth and naive approach had me unaware of the situation ahead of me.
He told me he trusted me, knew I was a good person, and that I wasnt sticking around, so he could entrust me with a bit more. He said he had already told me more than he tells his close friends. Even knowing his name was something the people in his daily life didnt know. I knew of his dark past, and new future. He trusted me, and this was my chance to repay his trust. Although I wouldnt be collecting footage(priceless in this context) I would be able to experience something seldom do in a lifetime, and I couldn't find with years of searching. It was so Ross Kemp on Gangs.
As we approached the doors, he reminded me they would not hesitate to kill me, and beat him to within an inch of his life should they realize Im not reliable. I was nervous, but again knew I would handle myself. I still wasnt fully prepared, as the uncertain future moments were looming larger than my confidence.
He swung open the heavy door. I wasn't able to see a thing, as it was dark and smokey, and the transition from the bright Florida sunshine to the dark cave-like pub had me momentarily blinded. We walked in, past the empty tables. Two were playing pool, and didnt look up. The rest just sat and stared. Stared hard. I could hear their thoughts; "Who the f*ck is that kid?"
He led me into a backroom, through the kitchen. Two loud knocks provoked a small hatch in the door to open. It was like a Guy Ritchie movie.
When it opened, the massive man behind recognized Santa, and smiled. I dont think he saw me.
When the door entered, I immediately noticed 3 guys sitting at a small table, doing cocaine. They were all massive, heavily tattooed, and menacing looking. All but Santa had their sunglasses on. After he slapped hands and fists with everyone, he pointed to me, whom they were already staring at.
"This is Nate, hes a hitchhiked from Canada, and he's hella cool, treat him as us."
They eyed me up and down. Despite my best attempts at playing it cool, I could feel the sweat forming, and not from the thick air of the room. I did my best to relax, forced a small corner smile out, and nodded.
"A hitchhiker?" the bald one asked in a thick southern accent, clearly not impressed wit my presence.
"Yea, I picked him up in Georgia, hes hitchhiking to Africa. Hes one crazy kid, I thought Id bring him down here, hes been on the road a while, and said he'd like a little rest before I took him to the Landing" Santa replied. I could tell he was pitching it in the way they would be receptive, but it wasnt enough.
With that, the pony tailed man I could tell was higher on the respect pole swung out of his chair, grabbed my shoulder and told me to sit in the seat he was just in. He had a gun to my head.
I had never had a gun pointed to my head. It wasnt like in the movies. It was faster. I honestly wasnt scared, as I wasnt worried about anything, I almost knew something like this might happen. Well Im lying, 3 seconds passed and I was scared. I knew he wasnt going to kill me, but I had no idea how these guys rolled.
"How long have you known Santa?" he asked what I assumed was his dont-fuck-with-me, you-have-one-chance-to-answer voice.
I calmly replied only about an hour or two.
He moved the gun from the back of my head to my mouth. I was now officially shitting me pants scared.
He gave me a strong look, but it wasnt as tough as I think he thought, as he had cheap sunglasses on covering his eyes. I quickly looked at him, and looked away, trying my best not to show what was the short circuit of my brain.
Santa pulled his hand down and he didnt fight it. It was over.
It was a test. It all happened so fast, they wanted to see only if I was the type to throw my hands up and start crying-which is instinct for most, including me. They wanted to see if I was some little b*tch and couldn't handle myself, because its those ones who squeal.
He pulled a chair down, and Santa nodded at him. He slapped me on the back, and apologized. He then asked me to tell him about my hitchhiking.
I altered the story. I embellished the cold weather, to make it seem like I was a little off. I told him I had hitched about 10days from Canada to Florida, and I was going to hitchhike a boat from Miami across the ocean.
"Damn boi!" the ponytail exclaimed. They all had dumbfounded looks, and commented on how crazy I was to do this. I'M the crazy one?
I now had their approval. I told them I don't have any money, and played up the hitching like it was forced, not choice. They were cool with me. It took a few minutes of yapping, but earned their trust. I could see peripherally Santa was happy. They cracked me a beer, and we cheersed. I said 'cheers to cold beer in warm sun'. It reiterated my hippie vibes, and they all smiled. I accepted. It was much easier than I thought. Five minutes ago I had the cold metal of his .45 pressed to my skull, now it was like we were old friends. I liked it. I understand gang mentalities, and the loyal bonds which they are built on. I dont agree with some of their behaviours and perspectives, but the loyalty and friendship bond was prevalent. Mind you it would take the snap of a twig to turn it over.
They continued railing lines of cocaine, and rolling joints, while chain smoking cigarettes and sipping cheap beer, joking with vulgar comments about women in one of the strip clubs they own.
They asked about how Santa picked me up, and I told them, and they loved it. Many of them hitched back in their day, and I asked them if they see alot.
"Not this time of year, you crazy sonofabitch" one laughed. We all laughed.
It was kinda weird. No, it was really weird. I had very little I could relate to these guys, and although I wasnt faking my feelings, I was faking my feelings if you know what Im trying to say. I was genuinely happy, but a happy to be alive, and I was genuinely friendly, but in a friendly so they dont kill me way.
We didnt stay long, Santa just wanted to introduce me, show me around. I got their names, but wont repeat them. They were surprisingly open to what they were relaying to me, and I got enough that if they knew who I really was, would kill me no doubt.
As much as they were what they were; high ranking veteran bikers, the ones you dont ever get to meet, or know, they were friends. They had taken me in, trusted me, and made sure I was content. Like I said, Im aware of the activities within biker culture, and dont agree with most, but their loyalties and respect are prevalent and a balance.
They shook hands, and we walked out. The rest of the bikers who weren't high up enough to enter the backroom we just emerged from looked on. I had a rush of adrenaline. I just walked out of the private room of one of the worst chapters of the worst biker gangs, with the 3 highest ranking members. I was the shit. Or so it felt.
We stepped outside, again blinded by the bright Florida sunshine. They didnt flinch behind their shades, I was like Ray Charles.
We quickly smoked a joint, Santa didnt as he undergoes drug testing as part of his medical perscription. It was the weirdest joint Ive shared. They were all easily over 220lbs, tattoed, bearded or moustached, leather vests and Gang patches.(I wont say which one) I stood there, 150lbs soaking wet, shaggy hair blowing in the wind, and I reeked of 'eau de out-of-town'. It was cool though, they told me to get to one of their strip joints, where I was promised to be looked after.
Santa hollered for us to leave, and I shook all their hands. They all shook my hand with genuine interest, and I could feel the sense of comaradery, a long shot from the gun at teeth introductionI was handed. They were genuine guys. I wont mention names, as they have my respect and trust, but that day will sit with me for as long as I live. It didnt change persay how I perceive bikers, as it was mostly just a reiteration of my initial thoughts and feelings, but it did change how I saw other things. We have no idea what is out there, only an imaginative guess. Im not saying go hang out with Biker Lords, but dont be so quick to judge, they promised if I ever needed, they would have a guy there for me to help me out, as they had members in every small town across the country. I was handed a card with only a name and number, and told to call if ever in need, and refer his name. I thanked him, and gave them all the handshake-bro-hug made famous by rappers everywhere. As I walked away, I heard one say 'cool kid'. I had played up the hitching role, and left alot to the imagination. They probably thought I was some kid from a broken home, hitching to freedom. I had their respect, and they had mine. I counted my blessings as I got in the car, and when the door shut, Santa said "you done good boi". He told me how impressed he was at keeping my cool, and said he was never worried about his decision to bring me in there. That gave me the best feeling of all, as it was the only way I was able to repay his trust and kindness.
As we drove away, he started to tell me stories about the people I had just met. I cant go into detail, but lets just say I was just buddy-buddy with some very dark people.
I felt like Ross Kemp had nothing on me, and even though I didnt get footage, I was now full of life expereince. I had just squeaked my way-(with help from an ex-lord) into a very secret society. Somewhere no journalist, unless it was Hunter S. himslef going gonzo, could go.
We drove past rows of car dealerships and back onto the highway. Santa had his errand he needed to run, and asked if I could help him, as he has a bad back. I was so deep in thought I almost ignored him, but told him I would be more than happy to.
We pulled into a church parking lot a few minutes later, and I saw a troop of Girl Guides unloading a U-Haul. It was quite the left turn from our previous stop.
Santa gave me a list, and I went and collected the boxes of 'do-si-dos', Samoas, 'thank you berry muchs' and trefoils, and loaded them in the back.
I caught myslef staring, mesmerized by the squeals of girls running about, excited in the warm sun, wearing their uniforms,and innocently playing around the truck while Moms and Dads handed out boxes of cookies to fund thier next adventures. I couldnt beleive 10 minutes ago I was in what could literally be the polar opposite of where I was standing. I will never get used to the rollercoaster of hitchhike travel.
I thanked them, hoping I didnt reek of cigarettes and joint smoke, and climbed back into Santas Harley Orange SUV.
As we drove off, I suddenly asked him if I could take his picture, to which he quickly replied, 'fraid not'. He told me he couldnt, for a number of reasons. I wasnt surprised, and just carried on the easy going conversation we had going all day.
We drove across the main bridge into Jacksonville, and it was a really beautiful day, and the skyline was nice. I was snapping away on the small camera, and decided to very sneakily snap a candid of Santa, as proof. I know I shouldnt have, but I needed to.
Jacksonville FL!!

He told me about Jacksonville, what the people are like, and where to stay away from. I knew before coming it has one of the highest crime rates in America, and I woudl be a sitting duck in some places. He gave me his number, and when I showed him the card ponytail gave me, dropped his jaw. It was the top contact in the gang, the head honcho, numero uno. He said hide it, and use it only in dire need. He gave me his card, and told me if I ever needed.....
To look at Santa on the street would have you scared. He was probably too big to ever catch a blowing leaf, but I could bet my bottom dollar he could shoot it out of the air in no time. People were afriad of him, I could see it wherever we went. It was really just a big front, a genrous, compassionate man under layers of biker affiliation and hard stories. But dont get it twisted, he was what he is, and would do what he needed if cornered.
The man himself. I snapped this without his consent, and Im going to take this photo down tomorrow, just posting it as proof.

He dropped me off at Jacksonville Landing, the heart and tourist hotspot in town. He gave me a bottle of water, and wished me luck. I thanked him for everything, and for trusting me. He told me he only did it becuase he knew I wasnt sticking around, and Id have to be half crazy to be doing what Im doing. He said most of his boys wouldnt even do it in todays time, as south USA is full of crazy people. I told him Ill be alright, and with that, we shook a strong handshake and parted ways. I stood on the sunsoaked sidewalk, and watched him drive around the corner. I couldnt beleive what had just taken place. I immediatley gathered my things and headed into the Landing, it was about 3pm.
B1 and B2 getting their tan on....

Officially the whitest kid in the state.
Not including my extended stays in Toronto, Philly and DC, I had succesfully hitched from Ottawa to Florida in just over a week. Several state troopers later, and dozens of amazing people which made it all possible, I was in the sunshine state, where I will catch my boat through the Caribbean, and around the world!

Im going to end this post there, even thought it was only a half day. It was quite the day, but as eventful as it was, the remainder trumps it. Lets just say a week later, Im still with the people I met that day at the Landing.

I will post more later, now Im off to the pool in the south Florida sunshine!
Dont hate, participate!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Well my apologies for the lack of update over the past few days.

Since Ive arrived in Florida, life has been pretty hectic. I was taken by a high ranking biker to a secret HQ, had a gun in my mouth to see if I'm trustworthy, met some of the craziest/most elusive bikers in the country(sooo Ross Kemp on Gangs) was then taken to Jacksonville Landing, and there met some amazing people. Then I met D and B.
D and B have taken me under their wing while I'm here and have helped me out beyond anything I could have imagined. I'm staying with them while sorting out my future. Ive been notified by my NGO of a possible flight to Rwanda to resume my original project in a few weeks, or continue this docu. project. My computer is being refurbished. Shooting guns(everyone and their mother has one here) and enjoying the lifestyle of the not-so-typical Floridan. Ive been so busy, I haven't been to my computer as often as Id like-or should be. Florida isn't exactly the compassionate state, more just a reiteration of where everyone comes to die. Seriously. Everyone here is 65+ and driving a gas guzzling shiny SUV with mean glares. Seriously. Especially with my image, they stare at me like I hitchhiked there or something...

I wanted to let everyone know I'm alright, and better yet, things are amazing. I never would have thought hitchhiking would take me to the palace of OC houses, and a luxury life with 2 of the coolest kids around. One day I'm asking to clean a floor for a slice of pizza, hitching unknowingly into dangerous rural areas, the next I'm on a yacht drinking fine wine chilling with execs. This life is beyond unpredictable.

I also wanted to thank everyone for their support, and interest in this project. This trip isn't easy sometimes, and when I receive emails of support from people, it appreciated more than you will ever know! I'm receiving emails as far as Europe and Asia, of followers supporting the project.
Greg and Karen in Ottawa, I cant thank you enough for the email, I'm sorry I haven't responded yet, but know I write with you guys in mind(I hope its not too blunt, and still somewhat entertaining!!!) To know you guys are reading it makes this a reality!
Joao in Portugal! You're the man!
AL. Hope you made it to the land of FSU alright, and enjoy yourself. I got an email from JR Crush, (Sten Ones) and it was tres cool.
The boys at TKE. I continue to tell people of your epicly wild antics. My time there was a friggen show.
And of course Hope, in British Columbia. My experiences working with the dogs and you at the BCSPCA this summer register with me everyday. I am ecstatic to know you continue to follow it, I only hope at times its not too vulgar or infused with silly behaviours!! Please keep reading, Ill be trying to include more adventures into the wild, and not wild adventures!

And last but certainly not least, to the people along the way I have met, or know, and have helped me out in any way, shape or form. From generously donating any sort of funds, to simply giving me directions, I am forever in your debt. There are too many people to include here, but I promise I keep a list. A list I refer to in times of doubt or despair. Although it hasn't been as often as I initially planned, there are times of frustration and desperation. It is you, and your compassion which push me further, despite my own doubts.

And of course AK. It is you who pushes me and reminds me of whats possible, and my capabilities. You are my inspiration, and I am constantly missing you.

I'm about 3 days behind in the blog updates, but it will be good, I promise. Its been 3 days of hectic-ness.
As much as I was rushing to Miami as fast as possible, my time in Naples is just as valuable, and there may even be a possibility of cutting some time off thanks to the boys here. Not sure what the future has in store, but I promise you guys will be hearing about it, in typical, unpredictable, sarcastic Nate fashion.

Thanks again, and some class distracting, non-work related reading material will be up tonight.!! Oh and with a bajillion photos!


Friday, February 19, 2010

The best day of the trip, so far.

I once again awoke this morning to a knock at the door.
"Housekeeping" came a woman's voice in a strong southern accent.
I didn't reply right away and as I crawled out of bed in my boxers, she called out twice more. I opened the door, and my Mr Universe body had her a little startled. I figured she should be used to it, as she wakes people up for a living. I told her Id be ready in 10, and packed my crap up. Last night I was absolutely starving, and as much as I was tempted to go and try my hand at finding a meal, it was late, and I didn't just want to go ask for free food, and it was far too late to speak with a manager in hopes of maybe mopping or washing dishes to earn the meal. I just went to bed starving and woke up famished. I checked out and walked to the highway. I hitched for about 20 minutes, but got dizzy in hunger.
I walked down the street to the Cracker Barrel. I asked for the manager, and offered to do dishes for a few hours for breakfast. He told me he would be more than happy to be part of the production, and that I coudl have whatever I wanted free of charge.
Walking in and sitting down was kind of weird. Everyone was staring at me and my packs. I sat down and a lovely waitress named Brenda served me. I ordered the sampler. While I was waiting, another waitress, Deanna talked to me in curiosity. I can tell they don't get many backpackers, and most people didnt stop staring. Deanna was super nice, and promised to pray for me. The women I chatted with were amazed I was hitching, and thought it was too dangerous to comprehend. I assured them its not as bad as they think. My meal was brought to me, and I couldn't believe what I saw. A massive plate of eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, ham, sausage, with another plate of biscuits, bacon puree soup, a bowl of apple cinnamon slices, toast and OJ. I was so hungry and it was the best thing Id ever seen. I had no problem putting it all down. While I was consulting my map, a woman came up and told me she knows how hard life on the road can me and slipped a bill into my hand. I was shocked and said I cant take it but she insisted. People in North Carolina are unbelievably friendly. Deanna gave me a gift card to Cracker Barrel, and Brenda made sure I wasn't paying. I was blown away at the generosity of the people in the diner. It was the best breakfast I can remember, and I thanked James for making it happen.
I walked out and headed further down the road, to another ramp. I pulled the bill out of my pocket and realized she had given me two twenties. I couldn't believe it. I wish I had filmed it, because it was the epitome of compassion. I continued further down the road and had to shed layers. Just 24hrs ago I was in the thigh deep snows of Washington, and I was now in the warm sunshine of Carolina. Lumbarton NC was a warm, open place. I walked to my ramp, and posted up.
B1 and B2 evening out the tan lines.

It was a much better spot, and I knew it wouldnt be long before Id get my ride. I was ambitious, and hoped to get good distance. It was early, warm and sunny. I pulled out the book Davy had given me and started to read it. It was so nice out I was only in the Army T-shirt the Marines had given me.
A small pickup driving slowly down the ramp pulled over in front of me.
I opened the door and a strong smell of beer hit me. The driver was a fat, sweaty man with prison tattoos all over. He had 2 empty cans on his floor, and one in his hand. He asked where I was headed and I said Florida. He said he could take me to South Carolina.
He was sweating profusely and looked like Gacy, the serial killer. I could tell right away he was bad news. He asked how much the bus was to Florida, and I guessed about $50.
"Wanna work something out?"he asked.
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"Wanna work something out?" he repeated. He was driving, and I would be the one needing the ticket, so if he was implying that I would need to do something to get ticket money.....
It was the weirdest thing of all time. I could tell he was a total fucking psycho.
Drunk, lonely, stinky and weirder than old man with the whistles from Family Guy, I could tell if I was to get in this car, I would be dealing with some serious shit. The thought had honestly never crossed my mind from the minute I opened my door, but the way he was talking to me, trying to get me to go into his car was straight up f*cked. I thanked him, but told him I was going to try for that ride all the way through, and told him to drive safely.
He kept trying to persuade me to get in. It was now beyond twisted, and I just said drive safe, and slammed the door shut.
He didnt leave right away, and I ignored him, just sticking the thumb out hitching. He rolled down his window, and said he can handle driving, he only had one beer. I told him no thanks, but he kept on trying.
I walked to his door and said if he didnt drive away, I was going to call the cops.
"Y'all dont need to do that, Im juss tryin' ta have some fun"
I told him go buy a porno, and to take a shower. I gave him the finger and told him to fuck off, the cops were on the way. He drove away slowly, and swerved into oncoming traffic.
It was the weirdest thing that Ive come across on the road to date, not just this trip(the only on this trip)
I pictured for a second being in his truck, having to pull my knife on him.
He was the nightmare of any hitcher.

Not 2 minutes later, I hear a car behind me, and didn't even know it had pulled over. It was a silver Kia with Florida plates.
As it reversed towards me, I could see the driver was an older woman, and she looked like a friends mother. She rolled down her window and told me she could take me to mid Florida.

Although I never would have gotten into the car with the drunken, gay creep machine, I just thought how funny life is. Now I have a ride with a very sweet woman, Cindy and shes going to take me almost all the way.
I climbed in, and she gave me a water, some pecans and cookies. She was around the young grandmother age, and a total sweetheart. We got talking, and I told her what had just happened. About 15 minutes down the road, we passed the man in the truck. There was 2 police cruisers, an ambulance and a fire truck. He had swerved off the highway and the truck was flipped over on the grass. I didn't tell her that was him, I was into much shock. I don't even want to think about it another second.

We talked about life, and she told me stories of her growing up. She was coming back from visiting her sister in NC, and was on her way home to Melbourne, FL. She was a lovely woman, full of life. She told me how she was a recovered alcoholic, and had met her husband at an AA meeting. They were enjoying life and she enjoys kayaking, swimming and surfing. She was such a great person to be around, with an infectious laugh. We drove on, talking about anything and everything. The 57 year young Cindy was my favourite ride so far, and it was great, because I could just relax, without any worries, unlike some of my previous rides. Even though they were all good people, Ive always got a small cloud in the back of my mind of hesitation. With her I was completely relaxed, and just enjoyed the company, and she did the same. Her daughter was a hitcher, and she told me she did back in the day too, and confided she was a hippie during the 60s and 70s. Now dressed in a typical grandmas sweater and orthopaedic shoes, I couldn't believe it when she told me she used to do all kinds of drugs. She was such a sweet little lady and looked like every grandmother Ive ever met. We drove through South Carolina and she asked if I would join her for dinner. I said OK, and she took me to this amazing seafood buffet place. I stuffed my face with crap, salmon, popcorn shrimp, butterfly shrimp, fried shrimp(have you picked up on my Bubba impression; Forrest Gump...duh) It was the best dinner in a long time, and with the breakfast I had earlier, was such a good day. Yesterday I had eaten a yogurt, bag of M&Ms and today I ate like a total king. I will never adjust to the mentally and physically draining rollercoaster on this trip.
Georgian palms! 24hours after snowy snow snow.

The sun set, and we pulled into a posh hotel in Darien GA. She told me to sit tight, and came back a few minutes later. She handed me a keycard, and told me she had gotten me my own room. I couldn't believe it. She told me she will be heading to mid Florida at about 6am, and I'm more than welcome to join. As much as I wanted to do so, it was too early, and I knew Id be up late. Its 3:44am as I write this.
The room is amazing, a King bed suite, complete with plasma TV, free breakfast and whirlpool. Its more than I could have ever dreamed of. It exceeded any definition of compassion. I'm laying here now, sprawled on the massive bed, happy to be caught up on the blog.

I had an amazing breakfast donated, a woman so kind to a complete stranger, she tossed me $40 without thinking, survived a possibly fatal accident, certainly an attempt at something worse(he would have tried something so twisted, beyond any doubt in my mind) and had the amazing Cindy feed me an amazing meal, take me to within a stones throw of the FL border and put me up in a swanky hotel.
I don't know how I'm going to repay it down the road, but I need to figure out something.....

Winter to Summer in one day.

I awoke at Davy's around 9ish. I gathered my things, and he me made me breakfast, He also tossed me some Vitamins, and cold medicine, as I have recently come down with an annoying cold.we chatted a bit more and headed to his campus to get B1. Along the way, he gave me a brief nutshell of American history, and we walked past a group of Tibetan protesters in front of the White House, under heavy watch from the Secret Service.
He brought my pack down, and I thanked him for his unbelievable hospitality. He had bought me a terrific Thai lunch, let me stay at his apartment, and fed me breaky along with sharing a few pints. He also tossed me a book; The Art of Travel, a book I had scanned in stores before, and was excited to read.
I thanked him, and we exchanged contact information. Davy was a great host, and it might have been due to the fact he wasn't American, as DC in general was not a very welcoming place. It was a government town, and reminded me alot of Ottawa. I hated that aspect.
I walked from his campus to the metro, and along the way ran into an older black couple who had apparently seen me a the day before, and stopped me to chat. We got talking, and they were very inspired to hear what I was doing. Gregory and Eileen were very nice people and again, they type that I'm hoping to meet along this trip.
Washington DC metro system.

I got onto the subway, and while waiting, had a very attractive blonde student offer to help me with my map. We got talking, and she was the beauty and brains type. She was an accountant who audits non profit organizations, and she was very cool. She was very put together, and possibly the prettiest Id seen in DC, even better than the Wizards dancer girls. We talked about all sorts of things while the subway barreled past the Pentagon, and Reagan Airport. When it was her stop, she offered to take me for lunch. I said no thanks, and we said a quick goodbye. As the metro pulled away, I was thinking I had made a mistake, as the conversation was great, and she wasnt too bad too look at either. I kinda kicked myself, but just carried on. No such thing as regrets, as at one time, it was exactly what you wanted. The subway pulled into the last station on the line, and it was across the river, Franconia-Springfield in Virginia.
I got off and walked up to ground level. I forgot to mention, when I entered the station, there was no attendant, and of course I didn't intend to pay, only to ask my way on, so I just walked through. DC's subway works on a pay as you exit system, and when I did, the attendant gave me some serious shit for hopping the gate. When I told him what had happened, he radioed to the other station and told them what was up. He was cussing me out, about how I cant do that, and I could be fined and too many kids just eff with the system blah blah. I apologized and told him I wont do it again. No pun intended. I walked to the bus stop, and while figuring out the map to get me to the I95, a driver who reminded me of Bernie Mac(rip) offered to help me out. When I told him I needed to get to the highway to hitch, he said hop on, and escorted me privately on his empty bus, as he was on break, and liked to smoke on the bus when noone was around. He tossed me a Marlboro, and we broke just about every infringement in the books. He took me to a bridge I could walk around and get on the ramp. I gave him the 'thanks brovva pound' and headed out.
Once I got there, the spot SUCKED. No cars were passing, and I couldn't even edge closer to the interstate. After 30 mins of not a chance in hell hitching, a Ministry of Transpo cop pulled up. The guy looked like Carl Winslow from Family Matters(the Urkel show, remember that cake?) and he was cooler than cool. James was a very chilled out cop, and said I was a crazy kid to be hitching. He just wanted to make sure I wasn't going onto the highway. I told him the spot sucked, and since he was being really cool, asked him if he could take me to another spot. He (and I quote) told me to 'get in n*gga'. He was a REAL cop. He was also the man. I'm not saying a good cop means racial slurs and not caring, but he saw I wasn't a threat, and didn't feel compelled to hassle me. He knew I was just hitching, safely at that, and just thought I was crazy. He told me to be careful, as he'd heard of a few stories. He took me to a busy truck hub, dropped me off, and we slapped fives. Maybe he didn't hassle me because he was off at 1, and it was 1 when he dropped me off. I asked him his afternoon plans and he said 'git me some fry chickan, and relax man'. He enjoyed life, enjoyed what he did, and he had my respect. I'm not saying to be a good cop you need to be a homie, but you don't need to be a prick. He didn't take life too seriously, and I urged him to get to Canada. Thanks James, you saved my ass.
I got out, and munched on some of the M&Ms Davy had given me. I immediately started looking for a ride, and had some promising attempts, but they were off the other way. One pulled in, and I approached his door.
He rolled down the window, and a thick cloud of cigarette smoke billowed out. I asked him if he was going south.
"Yessum" he replied in a low, gravelly voice.
"Got room for a rider?" I asked him.
"Wurr y'all tryin ta git?" he asked, taking a long haul of a king sized cigarette.
I told him Miami, but as far south as he was going. He told me into N Carolina, and I said Ill take it.
He was kind of a scruffy looking man, and the truck wasn't the cleanest, but I didn't care, I was just keen on getting out of the state, out of the cold, and out of this truck stop.
Kenny was a long hauler from North Carolina, and didn't pick up hitchers often. He was taking pickles from NYC to a small town in the Carolinas. He wasn't the most talkative man, clearly a man of the road. He inhaled long hauls on his strong cigarettes, and we didn't talk a whole lot, just random blips. He was a hunter, had a daughter upstate, and a house in Rocky Mountain, just south of the Virginia border. During the two hour drive, we drove from 3ft of snow, cold winds, to warm, grassy, sunny Carolina. It was really weird. In one trip, we saw the transition of entire seasons. I actually fell asleep as we were rounding Raleigh, N.C.
I woke up in a sweat, as the heat through the windows on my face was warm, and I was still in my winter jacket.
Rested, I was kind of chatty, and we started talking abit more. I told him what I was up to, and although he thought I was a damn fool for doing it, he thought it was pretty cool. He ended up offering to let me crash at his place, but I still had tons of sunlight, and was going to continue hitching. We pulled into the North Carolina visitors' centre, and parted ways. I thanked him, and he snapped a pic of me, the interesting kid he picked up. I thanked him, and jumped out of the truck. I snapped a pic of him, but cant find it in my memory cards.

I walked into the centre, and was greeted by three charming elder women with strong southern accents. They were extremely maternal, and gasped when I said I was hitching. They told me they would pray for me and that God will take care of me on the road. I bumped into a couple on holidays from Quebec, but they were going West, or would have gladly taken me, despite my trez terreeblay attempt at parlezing franceais. (Im embellishing it, its not that bad, I dont think)
As I was outside, about to walk to the truck lot, I asked a man in a Vneck and polo if he was going south. He was. I asked if he could take me on, and he said he didn't see a problem with it. It was less than 5 minutes, and I had found a ride.
He and his buddy, another neatly dressed man took me to their shiny new Cadillac they were taking from upstate New York to Florida, with stops along the way. They shuffled some things and we piled in. John was a contractor of his own practice and Basil a retired banker. They were clearly quite affluent, and hilarious company. They asked about beer and girls in Canada, and cracked jokes the whole way. The car was much more comfortable than the rig I was just in, and they drove well above the posted limit, which was kinda nice. We got further into the state, and stopped in a town for John to get some cigarettes, Basil to stretch his legs, and me to go potty. They took me to J&Rs.
J&Rs is f*cked. Its a massive discount store the size of 20 shopping malls. Its like a zoo. Nothing is over $5. That includes name brand clothing. Food, no matter what it was, was $1-$2. It was great. They bought me and ice cream, and we all enjoyed a cone. I had butter pecan and it was a party in my mouth. I hadn't eaten much that day, and the ice cream subsided for me.
Only at JRs would I find the most G hand puppet ever. Note the Tshirt and doo-rag.
Bin Laden TP. Too many jokes, I wont even bother.

We wandered around the western clothes, creepy dolls and mega cheap pretzels. After growing bored of overweight yanks stocking up on soda and candy, we headed to the car and kept on. John was a great guy, but Basil was kind of a prick. He was obviously wealthy, and super racist. I just let it go in one ear out the other, but his jabs at black people started to piss me off. The sun set, and we pulled into a small town called Lumberton, in N.C. They pulled into a hotel, and I thanked them for everything. John shook my hand, Basil told me to watch out for you-know-whats. I hate the N word.
John on the left, and Basil.
John the jokester and I.

I walked down the row of hotels, hoping to try my luck at getting let in for the night. If not, it was plenty warm out to sleep in the hammock, and I was totally cool with the idea, as I miss camping. I picked the crummiest looking hotel on the block, and tried my luck.
I walked in, and didn't have to try too hard. Manny was a truly compassionate man, and didn't have a problem putting me up for the night. He handed me the room key, and told me not to make a mess. I promised no troubles and went to my free, warm bed for the night.
The room wasn't exactly quality, despite it being a Quality Inn. Carpet burns, a broken shower head and it was a smoking room. Beggars cannot be choosers, and I was just chuffed to have been put up. I couldn't believe it was my first attempt. You are the man, Manny.
North Carolina has been by far my most hospitable stay so far, and it only got better.
I blogged, watched some Olympics and passed the hell out.

Penis shaped statues and my first NBA experience.

I once again awoke to the cleaning ladies at the hostel vacuuming my dreams away. I was on the top bunk, and my foot was dangling. One of them actually pinched my toes to wake me up. I thought it only happened in movies... I went down and caught the end of the free breakfast. OJ, Fruit Loops, blueberry muffins and cantaloupe went down the hatch and it was scrumptious. I then saw an Asian dude walk in with a U of T(Toronto) hoodie. Such a small world, and I introduced him, and told him I had friends there, and was on the campus not 3 weeks ago. We got talking, and he asked if I wanted to go to the NBA game that was in town that night. I thought about it for a second, and realized this would be a good opportunity for me to see if I could continue my search for generosity on a corporate level, despite me not being able to reciprocate the gesture. I googled the Washington Wizards, got the names of the people I would need to speak with and placed a few phone calls. They were very cool with it. They told me to come down an hour before tip off. I told Victor, the student visiting from Canada to meet me then, and I left to meet Davy, the Irish bloke I met the night before for lunch.
Davy is a political science student studying at George Washington University, what was once and still is one of the most expensive universities in the world. He is a TA obtaining his PhD in PoliSci. He was immediately welcoming, and led me to a nearby Thai restaurant for lunch, which he kindly offered to pay for me. I grabbed the Pad Thai, and it was easily the best Pad plate Ive ever had, and not because I was hungry and it was donated. Davy was easily the most intellectual man I had met in the country, and we had a brilliant conversation that drifted from politics to society, culture to travel. He was a top man, and I know hes one of those that will reach his potential, as his incredible knowledge and concept grasps were prevalent. He offered to let me crash at his flat that night, and took B1 to his office on campus. He had to return to school, and I was to go be a tourist until the game, and meet him afterwards. He was a great person to be around, as his ideas and perceptions were in line with mine, and beyond. He taught me quite a bit about basic American history and politics, as well as discussing global issues and how they pertain to our lives.
After thanking him, and arranging to meet later, I walked to the famous Watergate hotel, site of the famous Nixon scandal, snapped some pics and carried on over the bridge to the Lincoln Memorial.
What an impressive, amazing structure, but the statue was slightly creepy in my eyes, as its almost cultish how Americans idolize their Presidents. Its like they think they are immortal, and elected due to super-powers. Davy has an impressive wealth of knowledge on these topics, and gave me some great insight to it.
Tallest President ever.

In front of the Lincoln Memorial is the famous reflecting pool, and Washington Monument. The entire time I just kept picturing the scene from Forrest Gump where hes giving the speech and sees his 'Jennaay' and runs to hug her in front of the thousands of protesters. I loved it, and in front of the bus loads of onlooking Asian tourists, re-enacted the scene for my own entertainment. The pool was frozen solid, and I walked across it, just to say I did.
Oh Nathan, youre so silly.

I headed to the falic shaped Washington Monument, and snapped a few photos.
Playing just the tip.
In the middle of the boys from Missouri Military Academy. They were funny kids, and you could see the effect of military discipline on them, as they listened to every word barked by their leader, and swarmed around me in this fashion in less than two seconds.
One of me behaving badly.
I continued wandering around, snapping away on the ol' picture maker,and bummed a cigarette in hopes of a meal replacement off a dude. We got talking, and he told me he was a busser at Hooters. He told me he could get me a free meal, as the manager was his uncle. I accepted (for the food, you dirty mind). I grabbed a buffalo chicken wrap.
They're lucky they work there, I heard its a rigorous IQ test during hiring.

Hooters is beyond cliche, and it was funny to see the patrons. Almost entirely older obese men with wedding rings. I thanked Jermaine, and his uncle Rudy, and made my way up to the Verizon Centre, home of Ovechkin's Caps, and Arenas' Wizards. I was pretty excited for the game, despite their best player being suspended indefinitely for bringing a gun into the stadium. I guess he's just another of those 'can take the man outta the hood, but cant take the hood outta the man' types. I cant believe how dumb some pro athletes can be and jeopardize their entire careers. Like Mike Vick for example. Tiger is still a legend.(I just saw his apology in the hotel now)
In the Verizon Centre. Thank you to Brian at the Washington Wizards for hooking it all up!

I went into the arena, passed security and went to the services desk to see what they had in store for me. I picked up my package. It contained 2 tickets to the game($125 each), (unfortunately vs the Minnesota Timberwolves) a free t-shirt, and food vouchers for $25. I was shocked with the hospitality they offered me. I threw on my T shirt, and wandered around the stadium. I found a US Marine recruiting booth, and asked to pose for a photo. They tossed me a t-shirt, and tried to get me to enlist. I told them I'm not American, and with the flip of a switch, stopped talking to me. I still got the t-shirt and the pride of knowing I will never sell my soul to the military, American or wherever.
It was totally his idea.

It was getting close to tip-off, and I called Victor, 5 times, and he didn't pick up his phone. I had a free ticket to surprise him with, but he never showed. I thought about going and giving it to someone, but was told I cannot leave the stadium once I was in. So it was time to go in and I made my way inside the stadium. The Wizards aren't exactly the Lakers, if you know what I mean in terms of fan base, so the place was busy, but only about half full. I found my seat, and it a great spot, right behind the TV camera gantry. I still had time, so I made my way down to the court and snapped some pics. The teams started to come out to warm up and I made my way to my seat.
I dont know why I look so glum.

It didn't take long for the game to get under way. It was my first NBA experience, and I was well chuffed. It was pretty cool, but still the stereotypical American sport, full of flames, cheerleaders, commercials and stoppages. I still prefer my futebol.

They game was sweet, the Wizards got off to a shit start, but started to get their act together.
At half time, I left during the trampoline act to get some food. I grabbed the biggest 8oz burger ever, and a Coke. The drink sizes are bladder crippling, bladder bursting and forget-about-the-game-have-fun-peeing-for-a-week. Not really, but they might as well have been. I of course opted for the latter, and figured if I ever needed, could MacGyver it into a 3rd backpack. The burger and fries were super filling, although the chips were like eating cardboard.

The second half was enjoyable, but I got warned for having a video camera out. I just took still photos, and sat back for the 4th quarter. It was a close finish, with both teams leading at times. Some white dude hit two 3 pointers, and it sent the crowd into a frenzy. I even got caught up in it, and near the end, was jumping out of my seat, slapping hands with the people around me. I sat in front of a noisy group of gangsters, and the shit they were yelling was better than the game itself. The final ended up 108-99 and it snapped a losing streak the Wizards had. It was a pretty cool experience, and I was truly grateful for the kind people who made it possible. I made my way out of the stadium, and back onto the frosty DC streets. I walked down 7th, a very trendy, busy street filled with affluent people enjoying themselves, and hustla's hustlin' drugs. It was quite the polar mix. I walked down the few blocks to Davy's apartment, and met him at the door. He brought me in, passed me a beer, and we chatted well into the night. Again, after spending so much time alone, and repeating the same conversations to people, it was lovely to have chatted with someone with more than half a brain, and he had like 6.4 brains. It was getting late, and he prepared a bed for me. It was so great, and I even got to take a warm shower. I thanked him, and blogged til I passed out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Washington DC, a lovely United win, and many new friends.

I awoke to the soothing sound a cheap vacuum and the voice of a Spanish woman barking me out of bed, as I had once again slept past checkout. I quickly got my things together, said goodbye to my Korean roommate and headed out into the fresh DC air. The plan was to do the tourist thing, check out Obama's crib and the rest of the sights and scenes of the nation's capital. Washington is a beautiful city, and the architecture is a mixture of modern and Gothic and the city is laid out tourist friendly. I wandered around, and made my way to the House that is White. It was pretty cool. To have seen it so much, then finally see it in real life, totally different. The place was crawling with Secret Service and only a few visitors, all of whom were Asian. I got my pics, and kept marching through the city.
In front of the Treasury.

Ha. Thumbs up.
Obama's crib! This shot has appeared in so many.
B2 being all touristy!

The Secret Service were eyeing me pretty hard. Probably a good thing, I was loaded to the teeth with explosives....

After I did the Japanese tourist thing and filled a memory card, it was Tuesday, and that was matchday. I headed to a coffee shop nearby, and googled a nearby pub. I asked the manager for a free coffee, and he was more than happy to help me out. "I am very happy to help travellers" he said in broken English. That's where I met Brianna. She was on her computer, busy working, when my bigass bags distracted her. She asked where I was from/going and was really interested in my concept. She offered to buy me a meal at the shoppe, and the strawberry yogurt granola was so delicious. I referred her to my blog and she promised to stay in tune. Again, such sincere kindness.
As soon as she left, she was replaced by a man in a power suit and a blackberry. He was a total asshole, and kicked one of my bags out of the way. When I said it belonged to me, and it contained cameras, he said 'so?' Well my friend, two can play at that game. Maybe I should have just carried on the gestures of good-hearted people and left it, but this clown needed to be put in his place. I walked over to his Burberry trenchcoat, and kicked it aside and plunked B1 on top of it. He was not happy and cussed me out. I informed him my bag was twice the price of his coat, and he should really be more polite to people he doesn't know. He looked at me for a second, grabbed his coat, and as he spun around, spilled coffee on his pinstripes. Karma homeslice.
I sorted I was going to go to the Elephant and Castle to catch the match, and made my way there.
I asked for the manager, and told him I wont be able to buy a meal or drink, and asked if it would be OK to sit and watch the match. He said no problem, and was a United fan himself.
It was a massive game, and I was very keen on it. A kind waitress brought me a Coke and chatted with me for a bit.
The match kicked off, and it wasn't a very good start. The bucktoothed Ronaldinho scored a deflected goal in the 3' minute, and it sucked. In true United fashion, we pulled one back 30 mins later thanks to a similar Scholesy goal. I jumped up screaming and fist pumping, and the Yanks sitting at the bar looked at me like I was a nutter. Well they can take their American football and suck it. They dont understand passion. United; the religion.It was also a lucky deflection, but cancelled out the previous crap Milan put in. 1-1, all squared.
Another Coke was kindly brought to me, and a few Brits came in. We got chatting, and in typical English fashion, starting pouring me pints. They were hilarious, and thought it was awesome I was hitchhiking. They kept making sure I was drinking. It reminded me just how low my tolerance was, and I was buzzing after 2 pints.

Imagine we didnt stuff them, 3-2, AWAY. A vital result. Such a rush.
This one pissed off the cops, and they came over and told me never to do that again.
The Washington Monument. I need to cool it with the thumbs.

The free garlic cheese bread from Mo at Domino's. Cheers brother.

After I mowed that down, I wandered around and bumped into a woman. She was curious about a backpacker in DC, in February. She was the bartender at the iconic Stan's bar in DC, and told me to come down for a beer and the famous wings. I did, and was the only white person in the place, aside from her. Not to mention the only person in the city with the image I have; Nat Geographic or something. She told a few people my gig, and a drunk middle aged man told me to sit. He introduced himself as Tyrone, and wanted to hear my story from me. He was blown away. As a plate of wings was brought to me, we shared pints(I was well hammed) and he was very into me and my gig. We ended up chatting for hours, and long story short, he promised that if I get to Africa, he'll get me on Oprah. He was a close personal friend, and loved my story.
He was more interested in the fact I was breaking all kinds of security barriers and told me I could make alot of money telling my story exposing the loopholes in the American system. He was a very successful man, handed me his CEO card and told me to call him when I get to S.A. He said he wanted to be the one who get me famous. I don't know if it was the Sangria, but he said he saw too much potential in me. It had me inspired. I had made a few friends. They were all older black folks celebrating Mardi Gras, and confessed I was their favourite whiteboy. Black people are too fun, and know how to have a good time. I had a few older ladies hugging me, calling me 'shhugah'. I loved it. Feeling pretty buzzed, I didn't want to embarrass myself, and took off. I thanked everyone, and told them to enjoy themselves. They will, no doubt about that.
I walked around, tipsy on the ice. I ran into a woman who asked if I was a climber. We chatted about climbing for a minute, and an Irishman walked by, overhearing my conversation, asked about the hitching gig. We then got chatting, and he offered to meet with me the next day for lunch, on him. We exchanged emails, and told each other we would talk soon. He said he would have allowed me to crash with him at his pad, but was going to his girlfriends' and that I could stay the next night.
After we parted, I heard a noise, spun around and noticed I had dropped one of my shoes strapped to B1. I then noticed the other was long gone.
Super bummer. A small thing, but my only pair of shoes aside from my boots, and a nice change as the boots have cut up my feet(Ill post pics later). I threw the shoe aside, and just carried on.
It was then I walked past a homeless man laying a blanket down for the night. I sat down beside him, pounded fists and offered him a cigarette. I sat down and chatted with him for a bit. I asked him about life on the DC streets. He said hes lucky to get $2 a day, and that people don't acknowledge his existence. He lost his job and never bounced back. He wasn't the crackhead sort, rather the hard luck, then turn to the bottle type. He had my deepest sympathies. One of the Brits from the pub had tossed me the rest of their Marlboro's, and I tossed them to him. Then I asked if he was hungry. He said always, and it was worse at bed time.
This was my time to use my resources to repay the incomprehensible gestures I have had thrown at me daily by complete strangers. I told him I would be right back.
I walked down to a pizza shoppe, and it was almost closing time; the best time to try and plead a free meal. My man threw me a full sausage bacon pizza and a Snapple. A million thanks, I ran down to Popeye's chicken. The manager, Jim hooked it up, after I only asked him for a meal that wasn't going to be sold. I offered to take out their garbages, and he said not necessary. He filled a bag with 4 chicken and fry meals, 3 apple pies and 2 chicken wraps. It was well over $40 of food, plus the pizza. I thanked him, and on the way back, found my other shoe, the one I thought was long gone. Everything happens for a reason, and that was my repayment. I retrieved the one I tossed, and had my trusty Salomons back. I went back and surprised Cliff. He couldn't believe it. He had about $60 worth of food, and it would easily be breakfast and lunch the next day. I was thrilled to help such a man worthy of the help, and to use my skills and resources(if you will) to repay the previous gestures. He didn't know how to thank me, and I told him he need not worry. I didn't want to stay with him, and have him feel he needed to thank me or share or something. I let him enjoy his meal, and walked away, chuffed to have my shoes back.
After an hour of wandering, and a few bummed cigarettes in attempt of finding a place to stay, I resorted to returning to the hostel, something I did not at all want.
I checked in and went to bed right away. I was half tipsy, and passed out without a chance. Even with the dude snoring like a fireworks show, I was out.
All in all, a good day in DC.