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.