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.....

Monday, March 29, 2010

The last few days I spent in Miami were pretty relaxed, knowing that I was leaving. I still kept with the same perspective, and although I hadn't been interviewing too many, or getting some good footage, I was still out and about, wandering around, meeting people and relying on their generosity to sustain. Even in the 'coldest' city Id been to in a while, I was still able to find amazing people who were capable of genuinely caring for a complete stranger.
I had talked to so many about these concepts, and asking possible scenarios. Things like; "Say for example you witnessed a fight, or mugging, what would you do?" Or "if someone, like me for instance, knocked at your door, said they were in need of a meal and a phone, would you provide it?" I would word it in a way that was slightly more approachable, but you get the point.
The answers differed, but it was almost split down the middle. Half would shut the door and lock it, the other half(some with hesitation) would welcome. A very small percentage said 'yes' immediately, and I believed them. Another small percentage looked at me like I had just started preaching a Hitler speech, and told me "f*ck no, I wouldn't let you on my front lawn".
If I ever saw a Canadian, or a backpacker (I did end up seeing about 4 more before I left) I would approach them and ask them a few questions. "Have you noticed a difference between the way Americans and Canadians treat you?" "How have people responded to you, as a backpacker?"
These are just some quick snippets. I promise this film is going to drop jaws, and not only because of the crazy crap I would do!

Anyways, I wont be filming quite as much while I hitch to Alaska, but I will be when the scenes are right. I'm undecided as to whether or not I want to continue with the same motive, and rely on others, but the idea of contrasting my experiences with America vs a cross-Canada hitch would be pretty interesting...
I WILL however be relying on others for places to sleep. Hotels suck. Its only fun when its on a card the owner doesn't care about, so you get to throw the mattress out the 10th floor window, empty the mini-fridge and put at least 2 holes into the wall. No, I'm kidding, but hotels do suck. They are more of a false promise than the Bush campaign. Continental breakfasts are NEVER worth waking up before 10am. Hostels are better in my opinion-more fun, but their services and cleanliness are like a smile from a drive thru employee; possible, but more or less non existent.
So the trip north will be pretty exciting, Ill be doing lots, and seeing lots, meeting tons of new characters, and hopefully having them let me roll out my sleeping bag in their guest bedroom.
Now Ill get some pics and words sorted so you can see what Ive been up to!

Why I had to return, even if only for a bit....

So how much do you all hate me?
I promise posts, and disappear for days on end. Well, there's a number of reasons this time, but still just excuses.
I arrived in NYC the 18th, and spent the day wandering around. There will be a post for it...
I then bussed to Toronto that evening, and despite another nervy border crossing, safely made it back to the land of the true north, strong and free.
I made it back to the little apartment on College st that I had missed so much, and after 48 hectic hours of Greyhounds, security checks, new cities, old cities, the all time heavy B1 and B2, almost no sleep(literally, maybe 3 hrs) I took a quick shower and finally crawled into a warm, familiar bed. It hadn't even been two of a planned twelve months, but boy was I happy!
It was then a bounce back from Toronto, to visit the boys back in Ottawa for a few... Again, posts for that..
I am back in Toronto, ( I know you lot were scratching your heads) and I'm enjoying my last few days here before I head north to Sudbury, then a hitch from nickel city to BC/Alaska!
Ive been offered an un-refusable contract, treeplanting up north. It pays well, and due to the lifestyle I live, cannot decline for a number of reasons.
I'm not the 9to5 type, happy with a mundane lifestyle of mediocracy and stale routine. So no, I don't have a job 'back home' where I can return to anytime. I have a decent resume, but it doesn't matter, as I'm not looking to go whore myself out for jobs, find some lame entry level position, spend a fortune on renting some dodgy apartment and get invested into unhappiness. No sir.
Instead, I want to pursue what I like, while I can. I'm still a young(and albeit naive at times) pup, and since I'm not in school, no commitments, I can do what I want, which is travel the planet, meeting cool faces in amazing spaces!
Now that being said, I also need to be a bit more realistic. What I do, DOES cost money, even with my 'skills' and frugal views.
The original plan; to hitch the globe on less than a few hundred dollars, is feasible, but it isn't.
I don't have a proper sponsor, or financial aid. I don't have a backup bank account. I don't have parents to call and ask to be bailed out of the Thai prison I found myself in for wearing socks with sandals(or some other ridiculous law). I don't have financial stability. And to do what I'm doing, you need it.
"Nate, who cares man, I know you can do it" or "dude if anyone can pull that off, its you" Ive been told this several times over the last few weeks, while I was contemplating my future.
Well many things happened and my eyes are constantly being opened to new and more. Meeting Jeremy, the French hitcher with much more experience than I...was one.
He has a bank account. With alot of money in it. If he gets into trouble(robbed, lost, mugged, kidnapped, hurt, sick or just plain tired of it all) he can ensure the steps necessary to recovery, or a quick return home.
I could not.
When I posted before entering NY state my funds, that was it. The $350 I entered with(and left with !) was all I had. No savings acct with emergency airfare, or a lifeline I could call up and bail me out. Oh and I haven't had a credit card since I maxed it out on eBay in high school.
I stopped the trip before the next step would have taken me too far. To hitch Africa, and the rest of the world (the same plan once I'm done up north) requires a safety plan. I was legitimately embarking with a pinch of hope, a splash of experience and a dash of luck. And no money. It would only take one incident(could have easily happened in America) and I would have been screwed. Royally.
"But Nathan, you're the type of person who could pull it off, noone else could" Thanks guys, but just imagine; the car pulls up. Its a hot Colombian day. I really want the ride. The guy looks cool enough, so I jump in. The conversation is fine, despite the language barrier. Then he pulls it out. A knife the size of my forearm. He demands all that I have, and kicks me out, threatening to chop me up like hes done so many times before.
I am now happy to be alive on the side of the dusty road. But I am now without my money, ID, passport, phone cards, clothes, equipment and everything else I had with me.
Oh, and I'm in the heart of the rural Colombian countryside......I get another ride into town. No way to call home, and ask for money to be wired. No Visa, no nothing. I am as useless as a Russian guidebook in Nigeria. No wait. I'm like a sitting duck on the last day of the shoot. No wait, I'm a recently robbed kid with no Spanish and no hope in hell of fixing his situation. That's it.
So maybe now you guys can understand my point of view. I am very ambitious, hopeful, and down right lucky. (Today I found two $5 on the sidewalk in Toronto) But its time for me to be realistic. The money that I get from a rare submitted article does not cover costs. I'm going to put the project on hold for a few weeks, and obtain me some financial stability, so that I can bank it knowing that when shit hits the metaphoric fan, Ill be alright.
Don't worry, I'm still HITCHHIKING to Alaska, and Ill be blogging it all, just a bit closer to home.
Then I can resume the trip, and keep you guys living vicariously.
Doing this will ensure I can continue for at least a full year, knowing should anything go suddenly awry, I will be OK, as I can replace my gear, check into a hostel, fly home, bribe border guards, or pay the local Mongolian goat herder to sew up that massive gash in my back.

As much as I wanted to just say 'to heck with it' and continue on, I needed to be realistic. The way I travel and do things, having an 'incident' was more or less imminent. I have seen enough NatGeo documentaries and Robert Young Pelton articles to know I do not want to be "that guy" stranded in some tiny town without anything more than a skyward prayer to help my safety. Ive heard some horror stories, and most of them were involving some white man with a nice bag and no idea of where he was. Well I'm a white man with a nice bag and somewhat of an idea as to what I'm doing, but remember, I hitchhike, and sleep on strangers' living room floors. This sets me up for a new standard of vulnerability. Also, my Spanish and Mandarin are abysmal, and flashing a smile doesn't work as currency at the Cambodian border.

So I'm going to continue what I was doing, just with a brief pause to make it all possible!
I can promise the writing and photos from this trip will be equally as addicting!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Well if you guys can remember the trucker who took me from snow to spring in a day, Kenny, from North Carolina. At the time I couldn't find the accompanying photo with the post, but I just came across it, and thought you guys would like to see the man himself!

Here's the original post.

And here's Kenny!

This was a few hours later, in North Carolina. I have clearly been bitten by the Southern influence bug.
I am in the worst mood I have been in since leaving on this trip.

I cannot believe at how incompetent some people can be. People who work in the service industry and make decent wages who cannot perform simple tasks, use a sense of efficiency, or even common sense for that matter. Oh and their inability to smile or exert simple courtesy astounds me.
I have dealt with what seems hundreds of people today and not a single one has stood out as even mediocre in terms of the lowest, basic standard of service.
It may be the fact I have just spent the last 36 hours without sleep, or that I haven't eaten in 24 hours, but I am not just being Mr Grouchypants.

I am writing away, as I am in NYC for the next few hours until the next chapter begins. I have much coming up.(as always my false blog promises.)

Woo-sah, deep breaths Nafin.
Well Ive been about as successful at updating my blog as an American customs guard is at smiling. Non existent.
I know this because I flew from Ft Lauderdale to New York City this morning. I am currently sitting in Times Square, at an Applebee's that Manager Eric has graciously made possible.

I know, I know, what the heck Nathan!?

Ill explain. Give me a minute. Its epic and worth it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My new tattoo!

Well here's a pic of my new ink job. BIIIIG shout outs to Jason, owner of Rock Star Tattoos on Washington @9th in South Beach Miami. Mark did a fantastic job on the ink, although the thin needle hurt like heck! Its a pretty painful spot to get one done, but I love it. I have another on the other side of my ribs, my tribute to the worlds best football club.
In exchange for the tattoo, I passed out flyers for a few hours promoting the store. Jason had no problem hooking it up, and again, BIG thanks to the crew down there. Oh, p.s. its where alot of the Miami Heat players get their ink done, and while I was there TWO players were in the shop, and I got my picture with them and their massive dogs. Ill post those too.

I saw the alpine explorer on an old book about Everest, which I found in an little book shoppe in Ottawa, and freehanded onto a piece of paper. I loved the outline as soon as I saw it. Its an Amundsen-esque alpine climber, with his ice axe on the summit. It reminds me to never stop exploring, and always push your boundaries.
Its not the best picture, Ill upload another when I get the chance.

Hope you all ryke it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I wanted to post a long description about the negative aspect I endure on this trip. So many(if not all) say how jealous they are, and that they live vicariously, but they aren't aware of the downside.
I will post it, once I get the chance.
I am constantly alone, hungry and searching for food and shelter, transportation when I'm moving.
I don't have a cell phone or expendable funds I can just satisfy needs with.

I write this now, as I am famished, and like so much on this trip, have no idea when or where I will eat next. Yes Ive posted lots of stories about me getting free pizza, but its alot fewer and far-er between than you think.
At the end of the day it is worth it, and I love what I'm doing, but its really, really hard sometimes.
That being said I also know not everyone could do this. I do believe it does take a certain type of person to be able to do what I'm doing, and I'm using my skills and willingness to open up the minds of others.
Now that being said, I'm choosing. Billions of people on this planet(and not just 'poor' people in Bangladesh we will never meet; people you brush shoulders with everyday) are forced to live this way.
Its sobering when you see things in this light.
The next time you sit down and have a lovely meal in front of you, don't think of me, think of the hundreds of millions of children worldwide, and in your neighbourhood(they're there) who do not have the same fortune and opportunities you do.

What are YOU thankful for?
As my A.D.D. mind permits only so much writing before it begs to wander to random sites, I wanted to show you one in particular.

My secret weapon AK has introduced me to a brilliant photographer name Lori. Her photos are amazing, and the lighting she uses you could set your watch to.

Check it out!
her blog

Into the Wild.

It doesn't bother me when people say I'm like this guy.
They usually say it as their initial reaction when Ive just told them I'm hitching the world. Well Chris McCandless-who I have read extensively on- was slightly different. Like I said, it doesn't bother me, and I usually correct them, and let them know the slight difference between the young man who ditched everything to live simply in the Alaskan wilderness to find himself, and separate from society. I am also an adventurous minded young man, however completing several projects while trying to propel myself into a career path using this as an initial platform.
In fact, I'm being very realistic, and you will see in a few posts what I'm referring to....
It differs between the people who say it, some are being interested, some curious, some believe I am just like the kid, some think I'm crazy, some are just ignorant.
Ive had a spring breaker yell "Yo, into the wild!!" from a passing car while his Kanye West CD blared over the speakers of his Mother's Nissan Altima. Fuck. You.
Way handsomer too, oui?
Actually, don't answer that.
I think its funny. I write in two styles. The no nonsense, as-it-is account of my thoughts and actions you read on the blog, and a proper, formal version for whenever I'm writing for something higher than this platform.(ie I don't write like I talk and think when I'm submitting an article.) And I can proudly say the latter style is just as entertaining, even when in a formal presentation.

However! I think its much more effective, and captivating for the reader when I tell it like it is.
The best part of this is when after my posts, I go to do a spellcheck, and the suggestions for when I use words such as 'buttload' or 'shitton' or 'that friggen spliff got me so high'(fragment consider revising) Always gets me laughing when I re-read some of my vocabulary choices. Its not that its a new term, its that I'm actually posting them on the blog.

To Tweet or not to Tweet?

So Ive been suggested, recommended and now debating to set up a Twitter account, so I can let people know random thoughts, and track where I am and what I'm doing instantly.
If the verb of posting on Twitter is to Tweet, is the past tense Twat?
Some of you may not know that my posts are usually two days behind....

And plus then I could be totally cool like Ashton Kutcher and the rest of Hollywood and let people know how much cooler I am than everyone by using Twitter.

Anyways, I'm trying to have it updated tonight, but Ive been saying this for how long now.. so don't hold your breath,

As I write this, I am HERE overlooking the Port of Miami. I'm right above those tennis courts. That story, and a buttload of others are on the way!
Still unable to upload photos. Its not the cords, cards or camera, rather my laptop. It will now not even recognize USB drives.

Well I'm officially pissed.

On a lighter note, the footy match I posted earlier...eh, eh, *elbow nudge*

Yea it was quite the feat. 4-0, 7-2 on aggregate. United are the greatest club in world football history. Called it.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Its either my laptop(a crappy Acer aspire one netbook) or my memory card adapter(I'm on Sony Memory Duo) but either one is crapping our hard, and wont let me upload photos.
One day its all kosher, the next its popping up error prompts.
SO until I figure it out...no photos ladies and gents. I know I know, noone ever reads books, we all want the photos. I'm working on it! Gosh!

Well I'm bursting blood vessels sorting it out, you have no idea how frustrating it is...
Why I oughta....(fist shaking angrily)
Just so everybody knows, (I know you all do already) Manchester United is playing AC Milan tmrw at 1945GMT(2PM for us) Beckhams prodigal return to Old Trafford in 7 years and 3 clubs, and its going to be a massive match. If you dont like soccer/football/futbol/the worlds greatest friggen thing ever, I dont care. It will be 1000x better than that crap they call football in america.
Oh and Wayne Rooney has been named in the lineup.

I suggest if you arent doing anything to watch the match.
If you are doing something, forget it, cancel it, postpone and ditch it.
Its more important that YOUR wedding date.

United are winning 3-2 on aggregate, also leading with away goals. Come on you legends!

I went down to Cafe Blue Fish, where I caught some Champions League action today, and spoke with the manager who is more than happy to have me grab a meal and watch the fun!

I suggest you do the same, just in another venue.

Red or Dead.
Glory Glory Man United!

Kero is my Hero

This is for you A.L.
Gotta rep the FSU, you know!
Hope all is well, hold it down in the Nether-Netherlands. Crush the city, and get the flicks. Be safe, protect ya neck.
« nature has given us two ears and one mouth so that we can listen to twice as much as we say »

a quote I got from Ludovic Hubler, who hitchhiked around the world continuously for 5 years, beginning in France.

Something to think about...
Wow, already 100 posts.
If I got $1 for every post, I would have $100. That would be 100x the money I have now. Not that I need it persay, but I need it, if you know what I mean.

Monday, March 8, 2010

@#$%^&* you cannot rely on technology

my laptop is crapping out. the cable to my iPod is no longer reading it. the adapter for my memory cards is no longer reading. the cable to my camera is not picking it up.

i have a pen and paper, maybe ill just kick it ol school like biz markie.

Ft Lauderdale.

So I awoke after yet another rested sleep, and went down to have breakfast with the family.
They boys, Seth and AJ were super cool. AJ and his girlfriend were on break, but due to the demanding lifestyle of a law student, headed off to the library before getting ready for their cruise. Seth was more my age, and went out with his girlfriend for most of the day. Steve had to go teach a flying lesson, and was out for the day, so I took advantage, and spent the afternoon placing phone calls to local crew agencies and marinas, and Googled the crap out of my computer.
Steve saved my life, and gave me a power cord adapter that fit my computer, as mine had completely crapped out. I dont know what I would have done otherwise.
I got some good starts in the hunt, but nothing cemented. I found a guy in Ft Lauderdale who was going to do everything he could to find me a ride.
I Internet-ed it up for the majority of the day, and when dinner came around, Ellen had made a wonderful feast. Steaks by Steve, Crab stuffed Salmon, grilled asparagus, roasted potatoes and garden salad was the menu. Of course dark imported beers, Seth's contribution.
We were all together, a full table of laughter, and great convo. AJ and I discussed law, Seth reminisced some boyhood trouble stories, and we talked well past the dinner digestion.
Since it was spring break, Seth had a few buddies come by to head out with us for drinks. Todd and AF were on break from UCF in Orlando, and came by before we went down to Atlantic Ave. The boys were cooler than cool, and thought the idea of my trip was bananas. We hung out in the living room for a bit, and after I shared a few stories of life on the road, we headed out for a night on the town, DelRay Beach.
We went in two cars, and met at a busy sports bar on the strip. AJ ordered up some pitchers and the seven of us hung out for hours. It was great, as there are times I miss hanging out with the boys back home, and I'm always alone, not knowing anyone. Its nice to just 'be a kid' again. I know I'm off doing my thing, and most people tell me I'm 'living the dream', or that they're jealous and live vicariously through me, but they forget about the downside. I miss hanging out with friends, and I miss stability. Although its funny, because whenever I'm at home, hanging out, I want to be on the road, somewhere else. We always want what we cant have.
So anyways, we shared a bunch of beers, and Seth being the bevvy connoisseur he is ordered me a frosty Guinness. Yum. It got pretty late, and they were all leaving for a Spring Break cruise the next day, so we packed it in just past midnight.
It was perfect timing, as the minute I laid my head down, the spins kicked in, and I needed sleep.

I awoke once again well past what I should have woken up at, and went downstairs for breakfast and the United match. It was pretty nervy, as they only squeaked past Wolverhampton on a smart Paul Scholes finish.Seth invited me to hangout on the beach for the afternoon. We drove down in his souped up Mustang and found ourselves a spot on the crowded beach. Todd and AF came to join, and we kicked it for the afternoon. I commented numerous times how cool it must have been for them to jet to the beach right after high school. Very jealous of the kids who grew up on the beach.
As sunny as it was, and it was sunny, the wind was pretty lively, and kind of put a damper on the beach day. We stayed until it was just too cold, and went down to Atlantic Ave. Seth got us a slice of pizza, and we sat on the patio, watching the beach goers and tourists stroll by. After he attempted suicide by table(he didnt, just cut his foot really bad on the table stand) we headed back to the house.
AF, Cindy and Seth watched Tropic Thunder while I was upstairs on the Internet.
I got digging in a book I picked up when I went to the marina with Steve, which is the boat hitchers Bible. Its a yachting directory, and had a list of crew agencies. I gave a few a ring, some were promising, nothing positive.
Then I gave a ring to Crews4yachts, and got redirected to Mitchell. Mitchell was Aussie, and a booker/recruiter and immediately took interest in the project, particularly the not-spending-a-dollar-for-a-year bit, and searching for human compassion. We joked when he asked 'hows that going?'
Mitchell promised to do everything in his power to secure me a boat, and that he would get back to me. He then told me he should be able to get me a boat directly to Africa, which would change my plans, for the better.
-The original plan was to hitch with the current(very hard finding one across the Atlantic during this season) and go across the Pacific, through the Panama canal to southeast Asia. I would then hitch land from Asia to Africa. Yes. Yes I am crazy.

So after a few positive phone calls and leads, I headed downstairs to have din din.Ellen had just cooked for what seemed an army after a week long war while on a serious case of the munchies. She took the night off, and ordered us some Chinese, as Steve wasn't home for dinner. We watched the the end of the Green Mile and the beginning of Forrest Gump(one of my favs) as it was Tom Hanks week on some channel.
I again spent the evening computering.
Steve hooked up DirectTV in the room, and I got to watch soccer for hours and hours. And I did just that, as I didn't get to bed until about 5am, writing and uploading photos.

I woke up past noon, and said bye to Seth. Seth was THE man, and did alot for me. I told him we'll be in touch, and said goodbye to him and Cindy.
I was so knackered, I almost wanted to go back to bed, but had already slept in, so I started to pack the bags, as I was leaving shortly.
I got everything together, and went down to load the bags into the car. I'm pretty good for not collecting things(despite how much cool stuff I come across and want to keep) but my golly B1 is getting fat. I know things expand in the heat, but no way. My bags weigh well over 80lbs, and its pretty bananas carrying them around, but I promise, I only have exactly what I need, and nothing I don't.
I said my goodbyes and thanked Ellen for everything. For the past few days, she had done so much to accommodate, and make sure I was always full, and that every need was met. She had treated me like one of her own, and told me that my company and conversation was reciprocal thanks enough, but I know that what they did for me couldn't be balanced. Steve and Ellen were amazing, and its people like them that make this trip a success. I cannot begin to describe how much they helped me. If its any indication, just before we left, Steve gave me a GPS he doesn't have use for.
We got in the car, and backed out of the house I was calling home for the past few days. We had been joking about how well they had fed me, and how I had adjusted to the warm beds, and how difficult it will be for me to re-enter the reality of this project. I can tell you in 20/20 hindsight how accurate this is.
Steve had told me about the park he helped build in Boca Raton, and wanted to take me to see it before I left.
I had kind of just pictured a climber-esque park where kids play 'Grounders' and stuff. Hardly. It was a massive, public science park, with the coolest things Ive ever seen in a park and more. It was several years ago, and they had to overcome alot of adversaries to finish production, but when it was complete, it was a success, and still is today. When we were there, dozens of families were watching hundreds of kids running around screaming. There were tunnels, zip lines, towers, moving parts the whole works. It doesn't sound like much, but I was blown away by Steve's contribution to the massive project, and how much it affected the population. So many families were able to spend the day and allow their kids to engage, free of charge.
We continued down the I95, and he took me into downtown Ft Lauderdale, as I didn't want to return to the hostile war zone of Miami. Not at all hospitable, it wasn't even the best bet in finding a boat; FtL is a much busier harbour, more boats, and more opportunities. It was also a better beach, and cooler people.
He dropped me off on Los Olas, a main street in town. There was an art fair going on, and lots of people were out and about.
It was time to leave Steve. Never when I stood there in the airport a few days ago did I think it would have turned out like this. Mind you the entire trip has been this way. Steve had gone so far beyond compassion and generosity. He always ensured everything was perfect, and gave me some very necessary items for this trip. Even at the last minute, he hid a Swiss army knife in my kit.
I shook his hand, and tried to let him know how much I was affected by his unparalleled kindness. Truth be told, they will never know how far their gestures went. I wasn't in the best of moods and mindset when I met him in Miami, and left with a totally new lease on this trip. Every time I thanked him for whatever he had done at the time, it was always a 'don't worry about it' or 'no big deal', but it was. A very big deal. Hitching the Eastern Seaboard, filming a project on human compassion, I saw alot of things, but I know their degree of kindness was a rarity.
He let me know his contact information, and told me if I ever needed....
I think even if I was laying on the side of the roads with vultures pecking at my eyeballs, I would still refuse to call, as he had already done so much for me.

I watched Steves bimmer drive away, and turned back and stared at B1 laying on the road. Such a lazy butthead, B1 is getting to be too fat. I'm worried how long before the straps bust out. The bag I have; North Face's Prophet 65 is one of the top packs they offer, and is often on the equipment list for teams heading to Everest. I remember sitting in a waiting room a while back in Vancouver, opening the pages of National Geographic Adventurer and seeing the TNF team all rocking the exact one I have, and looked into it. Its the Team bag, and Im stoked to have it, despite its weight problem.
Well the bag is holding up great, but I have yet to put it through some real tests. B2 is good stuff, a super padded, expandable day pack,(also TNF) but its mostly camera equipment, and its awkward sometimes. After about an hour my shoulders are screaming, after several hours I'm screaming.
I loaded up much to the curiosity/disapproval of the evening dinner crowd, wondering A) what I am doing and B) how many guns are in those bags. I'm sure those weren't the actual thoughts, but the looks on their faces certainly seemed to say so.

I wandered down Los Olas, and even tried hitching as I walked. Every other car was a brand new Mercedes, and the ones in between were 2 seater sports cars. Lets just say my thumb was out for 2 minutes, as an attempt at self-entertainment.
I walked past the numerous yachts, massive terra cota houses and over the port bridges to A1A, the street stretching Florida's entire east coast. You can drive along the beach for hundreds of miles, and it takes you right into the West Keys.
The sun was setting, and I was getting pretty hungry. Tons of spring breakers were out and about, and the bars were packed with people. I ambled down the sidewalk, collecting curious stares, and found an outside mall, with a few restaurants. I headed up to Fat Tuesdays, and got myself some din din. Ed the manager had to take some convincing, and proof of credibility before helping me out. Nonetheless, he was happy to do so, and tossed me a club sandwich meal. I thanked him(thanks Eddy!) and walked across the street to the beach. I slumped the bags onto the sand, and dived in to the tray full of food. The seagulls are tres awful, but at night they cannot see, so I was in luck, otherwise the sight of me with a box of food would have had them on me like white on rice, and I know they would have added their special seagull ranch dressing to my sammich.
I walked around the beach a bit, past couples making whoopie in the sand, groups of kids huddled around a funny smelling cigarette, and bums downing the last beers for the night.
I walked back to the main strip, and stopped at the live Reggae show. 4th Dimension is a local favourite, playing free live shows weekly. They had a pretty good crowd formed, and although most of them were sun-burnt kids with beers stains on their Abercrombie shirts, there were some cool people hanging out. I met a super hippie dude name Brad, who told me of some of his hitching travels. We went over to the beach, and he rolled up a you-know-what in the blink of an eye. We sat there watching the reggae and dancing street crowd, and it was a pretty relaxing scene. The sound of the waves crashing behind us, and Bob Marley renditions made for a pretty cool moment.
I thanked him and after about 20mins of chilling out, had to carry on, as I still needed to find a place for the night.
I walked down the strip, and saw a girl on a bike taxi, waiting for some customers. I went over and asked her what she thought of spring breakers, and she felt the same way I did. She told me some stories, and it only reiterated my feelings.
I told her my gig, and she was really into it. She slipped me a $20, and as much as I tried to refuse, stuck it into my pocket, and told me to keep it. I said rather than that, how about letting my couch surf for the night. Her boyfriend Boris was also a bike-taxi and was a super cool dude from the Ukraine with massive dreadlocks.
They were both really cool with letting me couchsurf, and told me to meet them later at midnight. I thanked them, let them carry on carting around the verbally abusive College crowd and promised to be back at 12.
I went to the beach, laid the packs down and flopped on top of them. My shoulders were screaming in pain, but I didn't have to carry them any more. I had found a place for the night, and it was relatively easier than the last few places I searched to do so.
I laid on the beach for a few hours, staring at the sky. The stars were out in full, and I just laid there thinking about all kinds of stuff. It was a really peaceful moment, and I reflected alot about the trip, thought heavily about some stuff, and some one, and had an overwhelming rush of mixed feelings.
I wandered down to the Westin hotel, got the boot after a few minutes on the lobby computer-B1 isn't very inconspicuous.
I went further down the strip, and saw a young guy my age behind the desk at a budget hotel. Most hotel night staff are visible minorities, and that being said, have (thanks to the American system) an immense fear in doing anything they think their boss wouldnt do. Free hotels are always a long shot, but I have had a few, so I thought Id try this one. Despite knowing I had a place, I wanted to see if I was right in my theory.
The Russian guy behind the desk was super cool. He had no problem, as he 'likes people like this' as in carefree backpackers. He handed me a key to room 201, but told me I had to be out before housekeeping at 6am. Realizing this, I said that wasnt doable, as my habit for meeting the housekeepers at 12 is imminent, 6am would just be a bar brawl.
I asked him if I came the next night, and he said if the 'Indian guy is verrkinguh' do not come. He shook his head and gave me this look, and I smiled. "Dey are verdy tieght'. I just nodded. His name was too hard to prounounce, much less attempt to spell, but he was a very cool guy, liked rugby, and helping others out. I shook his hand, thanked him, and told him to have a good night.
It was time to meet Jessie, and I walked down the strip, following her directions. I went over the bridge, and around the 7eleven and waited at the planned water fountain.
A couple of minutes later, and a few wished pennies tossed in, she whizzed around the corner on a shiny blue Vespa.
We joked about how much we were exceeding max capacity, but managed to make it work. The Vespa took off, whirring past the palms. It was actually pretty difficult to round corners, I had to counter balance with all the heavy weight on my back. She held it together, cut a few sidewalks and pulled into their beach home.
They warned me about the mess, but when we got in, there was no mess at all. Three massive couches, a ginormous TV, longboards and snowboards lining the wall, and the smell of incense put me immediately at home. It was a very cool pad, clearly indicating the beach lifestyle. Boris was still at work, and Jessie had picked up a 6pack, so we cracked our Heinekens and cheers-ed to new friends. We chatted about a bunch of stuff, the American life, travel and everything in between.
Boris came home not long after, and we all shared a few pops. They, like myslef, were pretty tired. It was well past 1am, and time for bed. I took my pick of couches, they grabbed me blankets and pillows, and once the head went lateral, was out like a washed up boyband.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The most American day ever. EVER.

Steve and I had talked about what time to start the day, so I awoke around 1030, with him letting me know breakfast was downstairs.
I got the crazy hair under control, and threw on some clothes to head downstairs.
Since he is a pilot, he travels. A perk of this is having absolutely mind blowingly delicious French pastries brought fresh from Paris. He poured me a glass of juice in a coffee mug of the worlds greatest football club(another souvenir from Europe), and I had a couple of yummy treats for breaky. After, he gave me a full tour of the beautiful house.
As he opened the trailer in the front driveway, he proudly unveiled his baby, and his passion. A Nascar. It was the legit stuff, complete with sponsor stickers, and although I know diddly-squat about cars, when he lifted the hood, I could tell it was not your average car. He explained how the cars differ from regular ones, and believe me, they differ. It takes like an hour to start them formally, and the process to run them is extremely intricate. He had me suit up and have a seat. I had sat in something kind of similar before, but couldn't believe the restriction in the thing.
Climbing in.

You have no mobility, no vision, no control, and no chance should something go wrong. He even mock timed me in getting out should there be a fire. Detaching the steering wheel, popping off the helmet, removing the massive harness, window cage and getting out Dukes of Hazzard style had me out in over 10 seconds, and basically a fried chicken. I never liked Nascar, I never liked cars(I dont even have my G1) and although I still dont, I now have a massive appreciation for them. I always thought of Nascar as hick, lame and so American you could wash your Levis with it. People say watching soccer is like watching grass grow, well in my opinion, watching Nascar is like watching grass grow. At night. With sunglasses on. It would be more painful than a rectal exam from a robot with grappling hooks for hands. Although you'll never catch me in an Earnhardt jacket, I can appreciate what it takes for a driver to do what they do. In 120F heat, unparalleled skill, and Cajones the size of beach balls are must haves to drive those things. I never realized just what it takes to get those cars around the track.
His trailer was outfitted with all the things necessary to have a day at the races, and all the tools to make the beast move. Top speed 230m/h. Um last time I checked, that was fast. It makes the Autobahn look like the a retirement community.
Nathan Proulx. Esquire.

He took me inside and showed a video on his computer of him clocking 180, and the noise from the engine was like a jet.
I will still never get the obsession Americans have with Nascar. It is truly American, and American only.
I made some phone calls, did some Googling and got some rough stuff together to find my boat, but nothing cemented.
Steve offered to take me down to one of the marinas, so off we went, into Ft Lauderdale. I didn't realize it initially, but FtL is actually a better spot than Miami to search for a yacht, as its actually a much busier port, and more accessible. We went to Bayside Marina, and right when we got there, I asked the first chap on the docks. He told me its doable, but tough. Nothing is tough for me(insert Ahhhnold voiceclip) He told me to go into the marina office and grab a few magazines and boating newspapers, as they often have ads in the back looking for crew members. I went in, and asked Connie behind the desk for some further advice. She put in a few calls, but again nothing from her resources were going to Africa, or the Caribbean. I grabbed all of the literature in the place, and thanked her and Steve and I left. I actually had a handful of stuff, including local directories, yacht magazines and papers, and a very, VERY useful guidebook. It had listings for everything yacht essential, and it will actually be my guidebook for this search.
I told him we didn't need to go across town to another Marina, as I had enough for one day, and we headed back to DelRay.
We got back to his place, and Ellen wasn't preparing dinner for a bit.
Steve and I got talking, and somehow the topic turned to the 2nd Amendment. He said he'll be right back, and returned with a small black bag. He asked if I had held a firearm before. I told him nay, and allowed me to.
I had shot guns before, but never a Glock. Never a handgun. Shotguns and rifles, in the bush. I had even hunted, and shot a bunch of birds this summer, but never a handgun. It is totally different.
Hollow point vs regular lead.

Holding a gun is something I do feel everyone should do. We have become so desensitized by guns through Hollywood films, video games, and CNN. We don't realize the impact they have, and the power that comes with them. Guns are no joke kids. FOR FUCKING CEREAL, they are no joke. Steve allowed me to handle an, obviously unloaded, 9mm. Even knowing it was disarmed and incapable of firing, the weight, and feeling of holding it was still nerve racking. I'm no stranger to stupid, crazy and wild antics, and have done lots of shit I know YOU wouldn't do in several lifetimes, but holding a gun had my bollocks shrink.
He taught me how to properly load and unload, and aim with ease. he gave me tips and pointers. He then asked if I had ever fired one. Nay.
"Grab your coat".
He told me what we were doing, and I instantly grew nervous/excited/AMPED/scared/ghiahitjgafgg[h.
My heart started to beat in anticipation. Steve was taking me to the firing range.
When I confided to Ellen I was slightly nervous, she smiled, and told me not to worry.
He got his things together, and I mine, and we got in the car and headed out.
On the way, I was so excited/nervous I was zoning in and out to what he was saying.
We pulled into the parking lot, and it really hit me what we were doing. I was down like a clown, Charlie Brown.
We walked in, and the gun cases were full of revolvers, firearms, laser sight attachments, cases and holsters. There were Pink guns for women, and massive semi-automatic rifles and machine guns hanging on the wall for the trigger hungry marksmen.
Small handguns went for as low was $150, Smith and Wesson's over $800. The big boys on the wall were over a grand, and capable of some serious damage. Florida's gun laws are the most lenient in the country, and if you can provide ID, pay the cost, and pass a background check which only determines if you have been convicted of a felony, you are the proud owner of a people-killing weapon. If you can pass the easy as pie test to get your concealed weapons license, you are allowed to have the bad-boy on you whenever wherever.
We went in, and all I had to do was sign my name on a piece of paper, no ID required, and voila, I was allowed to walk through the doors, and fire away. One of their few rules is that you purchase the ammunition at the range, and Steve bought 3 boxes. Ear plugs and safety goggles on, we were good to go.
We walked through the double doors to the 5 or so men already in there, enjoying themselves. Some were serious business, some were cracking smiles after every few rounds. We got in, and I took of my jacket. Heart was beating, but the nervousness actually left and I was now just pretty excited.
Steve handed me a pack of bullets, 2 clips and a 9mm. I loaded the clips, 16 rounds in each. We pinned our targets up, and sent them down the line.
Now I was pretty excited. I couldn't believe I had a loaded gun in my hand.
To me, the open concept of the range boggles my mind. At any time, I could have turned around and ended everyone's life, and I don't know how we don't hear of some looney bins doing it more often. It was an indescribable feeling of control.
I remembered everything Steve had said about aiming properly, took a deep breath, pulled back the hammer, and charged the gun. It was now loaded, and only needed a tap of the trigger to send a bullet flying out, capable of anything.
I aimed at the target, and pulled the trigger.
It didn't pack as much of a recoil as I had imagined, and was actually surprisingly easy.
I must say, I enjoyed it. Come on, I have to be honest. It was pretty cool.
I fired 3 more.
I looked down at the gun, realizing what I was doing.
I fired 4 more.
I smiled, and re-aimed.
I emptied the clip.
I looked back at Steve who was supervising my shooting, and smiled. He smiled back.
I could feel *doing* a few *doing* chest hairs poke through. It was like a Bar mitzvah or something. I felt like a new man.
I changed clips, and did the same.
Having a blast.

I returned the target, and had a look at my first ever handgun target shooting.
Steve was more than impressed, and happy with his new student. I was beaming. At 20ft, (the average handgun distance) did very well. Only one was out of the inner circle.
I was very happy with my shooting, ans Steve commended my steady hand.
My first target. Not to shabby.
I loaded up 2 more clips, and he drew a mock person on my target.
We fired away many. Many, many.
It was 7 o'glock.

We even put one bullet in, and tried to see who had the better shot. Steve was quite the dead eye, and had me beat easily. I did well, but Steve was a great shot.
We were there about an hour, and with each one could feel my John Henry grow. Its quite the experience shooting a firearm. Its not like the movies. Its REAL. Action stars 'poppin' caps' isnt as easy as it seems. You get an immense feeling of power and control, and it made very clear as to the appeal of shooting for sport. Hunting is one thing, a 9mm in a range is totally different. No wonder gangsters in the ghetto have guns, and find it so appealing to shoot off a few rounds. Ive written a lengthy article on my take on the gun laws, especially in Florida, and will post it in time.
After we emptied the bullet boxes, we packed up, and I shook Steves hand. It was a feeling I will never forget. I cant say I will be running back and returning to chase it again, but who knows. We joked about how much I enjoyed it and I'm now an American, and will be buying a gun next week. Not quite. But the feeling is definitely going to be rekindled.
I thanked the man behind the desk, and asked him a few questions on his perception of owning a gun, and his views on gun laws in Canada. Like most Americans, they feel they need the right to bear arms for safety, and that its necessary.
Awww yeah.

I walked out of that place with mixed feelings. I truly enjoyed myself, I must say, but I also have a strong resentment towards the American mentality towards carrying a gun. It is completely unnecessary.
We drove home, and told Ellen all about the experience, and we looked over the targets we had riddled holes into.
The proud marksman.

Ellen had cooked up a big dish of pasta and salad, and I was hungry from all the manliness activities. The delicious Penne filled me up along with some dark beer.
I was on the Internet for most of the night, doing my boat hunting thing. It was quite the rush.
Their sons were returning home for a few days, as Spring Break had just begun for College kids nationwide. The eldest is 7 years deep into his law degree, and the younger, 21, is just beginning his. They were due in later that evening.
I got to meet AJ and his girlfriend Jessica. AJ was an incredibly intelligent and well-mannered young man, and his girlfriend was equally as smart and polite. We talked about all kinds of stuff, alot regarding law issues, as I am so intrigued at the difference from the Canadian to American systems.
Seth and his girlfriend Cindy didnt arrive until much later, and I got to meet him just as I was about to call it a night. We talked briefly, and decided to continue in the morning, as we were all yawning.
It was getting late, and we went our separate ways, I went upstairs to continue writing and Googling. I was still buzzing from all the excitement, and the smell of gun powder was still lingering as I fell asleep.
Quite the day. I did some new things; my favourite, and really enjoyed myself. It wasn't hard to fall asleep, and I was out when the lights went out.

"Honey, Ive picked up a stray"

So I awoke with very little sleep. The hostel was absolutely crap. The beds were tiny, staff were awful, no wi-fi and no blankets. Oh and the tiny prison beds had those plastic sheet covers on the mattress, you know the ones for public beds so when Mr Pees-the-bed cant hold it doesnt cost them any money on replacements.
I awoke just before 11, and as I was strapping B1 on my back, the cleaning ladies were at the door. I was bummed, I wanted to make it 6/6.
I went to the desk, dropped the sheets off(their lame policy) and headed back onto Washington St, Miami.
I was famished, and went to get some nourishment into me belly. I wandered around, and found some Italian spot I thought I'd try first. I was so tired, and I hadnt showered, so my hair was still making up its own rules, and the bags under my eyes screamed of drug abuse, so I wasnt surprised when they said no.
I had run out of business cards, and one of the priorities was finding a print shop willing to print some cards, and maybe even a flyer or two...
I found 2 print shops on the strip, and when I approached them, one said yes, but their printer busted in the process. I felt extra bad, as they were now out of commission for the day, and they were doing me a favour. After apologizing a million times(it wasnt my fault, but I still felt so guilty) I left to try the other. They said no way, they dont print anything less than 1000 units. Bummer, but I knew it was a long shot, and was never expecting anything. I continued on in my search for food. I found a pizza joint, and they said not a problem. Hugo behind the desk was super cool, and when we got chatting about soccer, we were interrupted by a young dude who looked exactly like everything your mother warned you about. He offered to buy me a milkshake, and I accepted. He was real cool, and told me (despite his Wutang-ified) image how much he hated the way people treated eachother. I always tell people you can never judge how people are based on appearances. He was better spoken than most of the affluent individuals cruising in their Jags' that I had met.

After I left, I continued on, heading to the library to pickup my boots, and try to meet with Jeremy. I wandered down Collins Ave and stopped in a fancy hotel to use thier courtesy lobby computer(I often do this instead of pulling out my laptop. Note: most expensive hotels have a free internet access computer for guests. I am never a guest.)
I made my way down towards the library and found my boots. Despite my attempts to hide them, in a city that never sleeps, someone had found them. More like 20 people had found them and used them as an ashtray. They smelled like a pirate hooker after a shift in a logging camp. I just ended up walking across the street, and tossed them over a fence in a construction site. I didnt plan on losing them, I will to return and get them, hopefully they will still be there. When Im not wearing them, theyre super awkward to carry, so I normally ditch them in a hiding spot. I guess I need to find better hiding spots.
I went into the library to ask for directions and since the lineup was massive, just decided to ask a girl in line. She was on her way to a job interview, and was super friendly.She told me where I needed to go. Good luck on the interview Eva!
I had a woman contact me from my blog offering a couch to stay on. It was in Ft Lauderdale, and even though it was out of the city, it was a place to stay from someone very generous, and would get me out of the streets, not having to worry about finding a place, or safety.
Im burning approximately 3300 calories a day, and intaking only about 1200, if Im lucky.
I went to find some more grub, and stopped at a very cool pizza place. Dont think its like Im a pizza-monster, its just that theyre usually one of those places that are easier to approach, as theyre often independant, cheap, and steady. Pizza Bar on Collins Ave was a super cool spot, with old fashioned brick interior, and large plasma TVs playing Superbad. Zack, the manager, was superbad, ass that is, and had no problem, in fact, wanted to chat about the trip, and thought it was pretty wild. He like many before, thought the concept of hitchhiking was extremely dasngerous, and couldnt believe how far I had come. The slices were bigger than the guy from the Green Mile, and he tossed me 2.
Super mega jumbo slices! They were $4 a pop, and you got to watch the dudes flipping the dough up Italian styles, and it was super cool. Thanks again Zack, youre the man!

I wolfed them down while watching Superbad, which is such a funny flick.
While I was eating, minding my Ps and Qs, a family entered, and sat down beside me. They were of obvious wealth, as the Louis Vuitton bags, matching Polo shirts and Gucci shoes told me so. I looked over my shoulder as they sat down, and they had obviously seen me before I them, because when she spun around, she scoffed at the sight of me.
She blankly stared at me, and in a hiss, asked me to move my bags. They were not remotely close to her. I knew it was just a BITCH move, and totally unnecessary. She was only doing it to be nothing more than a complete wench.
I asked her 'what for' and she looked at me with a twisted, pursed lips look that told me she had no real reason, only to be nasty. I knew this, and wasnt in the mood to give in to a person like that. I felt like telling her my project, and informing her she was more or less the Anti Christ, and that she should change the way she thinks. (although I really just wanted to cuss her out knowing her feminine husband would sit there with the same sour faced look). Then I looked over her shoulder, saw her immensely overweight kid whining about his soda, which I bet intruded her perfect image lifestyle, and looked back at her Botox injected face. I knew she had enough problems, and was one of those surface wives; intent on keeping up with the Jones'. Instead, I only moved B1 closer to her designer shoes, and knowing it bothered the crap out of her, winked like a smug arse I try not to be, but sometimes... you have to. I had no problem in this case. She was a woman probably worth millions, judging by her husband's fake tan and Rolex, and her designer wardrobe. who has probably spent her entire life in and out of first class planes into resorts. She has no concept of humanity, reality or compassion for other people. These people sicken me. I dont care how much money you have, some of the most genuine people are worth quite a bit, but she was a total slag.
ANYWAYS after turning back to the movie, with a fantastic feeling of satisfaction knowing she didnt get her way, and I know she always does, I continued munching the yummy pizza, and thanked Zack, the owner. I almost wanted to stay and watch the rest of the hilarious movie(McLovin is a friggen G.) but I had to carry on.
I bet when I left she Purell-ed the shit out of her hands to rid the diseases I gave her.
I was going to meet Jeremy, who was downtown at a Marina on the Miami side of the port, also looking for a boat. When I found out he was in the opposite direction, I just decided to head to the airport, where I would catch my Tri-Rail train to Ft Lauderdale.
On the bus, I noticed a couple with a bunch of bags similar to mine, and since I had not met anyone cool enough to go backpacking in a long time, sparked conversation. They were from Norway, and were returning from an 8 month tour of South America. They were on their way to a flight to Colorado to meet with family before heading to California. Lars and Julia were super cool, and we talked about how lame the people in Miami are, places we've been and a bunch of other stuff. As we got to the airport, they tossed me $20. I was totally shocked, and refused, as they too were backpackers, and I knew were on a similar budget to me(well noone is on my budget, as I dont have a budget) As much as I tried to refuse, Lars insisted, and I pocketed the bill. Even though I tried telling them it was ok, I needed that money as I had tapped into funds at the hostel. They balanced it out, and I was again even in the money that I had been donated. [for the record; I have not spent a SINGLE dollar out of pocket, only what has been generously given to me by the amazing people I have met along the way. I entered with $350, and still have it. I have been given over $300 by kind, generous, people on the way. I cant explain the feeling of having a complete stranger beleive in something you are sacrificing so much for, and aide in the project]
They had to rush off to catch a flight, and we exchanged emails. Hi Lars and Julia, I hope you made it OK, Takk deg og safereisinger !

As I wandered to the Tri-Rail stop, I asked a rail attendant about tickets, and tried to schnoop from her answers if there was anyway around it. (I usually ask if fare is machine paid or driver discretional, ie: do I pay on the bus or pre-purchase the ticket beforehand)
It was machine based, and I couldnt get around it. They also have special constables that monitor the train and do regular checks, with massive fines for free-riders. That even means young lads working their way from North America to Africa for free nineynine.
While I was asking the woman, who by the way, like so many people in Miami had gold-fronts. -In case you dont know what gold fronts are, they are ri-god-damn-diculous plated caps permanently crusted onto your chompers. Yes, thats right. Rappers, pimps, wannabe gangsters and several bus drivers in Miami have gold fronts. It looks awful, and I have no idea how the hell they got a job doing what they do with those things. Every time I see them, I want to purchase a Russian Submarine and fire heat seeking missiles to Lil' Johns place of residence, as he is the reason hip hop is dead. Seriously, he should be strung to a post and shot Old Yeller styles. ODB made 'em cool, rappers today are just fools. (golly,wheres my record deal?)
Ok sorry, so while I was getting nowhere with Lil Kim, I was approached by an airline pilot who offered to point me in the right direction. He told me what I needed to do and where. We got chatting, as it was still another 30mins until the bus came, and I told him about my project. He was pretty interested in it, and actually offered to buy my $5 ticket to get to Ft Lauderdale. He has just returned on a flight from Haiti, and we got talking about all things related to my project, and people like that woman who was as useless as a belt on an emo kid. When the shuttle came to take us to the train station, our conversation grew deeper, as he was a veteran pilot for a major airline, and had a grasp of societal behaviours that exceeded almost anyone I had met on this project. As we got on the train, he asked me my plans, and when I told him, offered to let me stay at his house, in DelRay beach. I didnt want to retract the offer from the kind woman who reached out to me, but when he offered a few pints and some of his wife's home cooking, I couldnt refuse. I called the woman to thank her(thanks Tina!) and let her know I wasnt going to be in FtL. I have a plan to thank her for her generosity.
While on the train, I was explaining my strategies for the next step, and the man beside me overheard, and was a yacht master himself, and offered some great tips on finding a boat.
There was a flight attendant with us, and when it was her stop, Steve being the gent he is went to help her with her baggage off the train. Cue rail cop entrance.
I noticed his gun right away, which initially surprised me. Then I realized I was in Florida, and eveyrone and their Gran has one. He noticed me immeditaly. I wasnt sure if it was the Afghani around my neck, the massive bags, or the fact that I fit the profile of freerider. D, all of the above.
He came rigth over, asked for my ticket. I wasnt worried, as Steve had bought one for me, so I thought I was ok. Mmmmnope.
The tickets have the stop printed on, and my original stop was called Cypress Creek, but I was convinced to go to DelRay beach afterwards, one stop further North. A big no-no for the moustache clad, rule enforcing patroller. I told him the situation; that I switched stops in mind while on the train, Steve had even handed me his pass while he went downtairs, but I didnt clue in. The guy was actually reasonable and understanding, and only wrote me a written warning. Still a waste of resources, but I could have been fined. Even though I was never going to ride the system again, he still wrote me up and asked me for ID, as oppose to just doing the same with a verbal warning. Whatever.
Steve returned, we had a laugh at the luck and not 20 seconds later were off the train at our stop.

We climbed into his SUV, and headed to his place.
Driving through the beach town of DelRay was funny. There were train tracks that literally divided the town. The expression 'wrong side of the tracks' was literal here. One side was massive houses with a Benz in the laneway, the other a run down bungalow with a crowd of homies rolling dice and cooking chicken on the porch. Im not stereotyping, I saw it. It was sad to see. I hate stereotypes, but Florida meets everyone in textbook fashion. The old and rich couldnt give a shit as they cruise around in an $80k car with the A/C on, while there are lineups of African-Americans outside Popeyes chicken, slapping fives and combing their afro's.
We pulled into his house, a large, 3 car on a private drive, on a private lake. He proudly informed me he had designed it and oversaw the building from the ground up. Two beautiful BMWS, a boat, a charged Mustang and a trailer with a Nascar in the driveway, Steve knew how to have fun, and he told me aside from flying commercial planes, he was a racecar driving instructor. Life in the fast lane, which maybe explained his easy going manner in picking up a scraggly hitchhiking journo.
He took me inside, and introduced me to his beautful and lovely wife Ellen. When she asked about my travels, and how I had gotten to the house, she was quite intrigued. Steve informed her of how we met, and she was very cool with it, in fact found it quite funny.
Steve and Ellen!!
P.S. They have seats in their living room from Fenway Park!! -Jealous Coop?
Steve brought me upstairs to the suite styled rooms his boys vacated, as they were upstate in law school. I had my pick, and after a quick flop-comfort test, chose where I would be staying for the night. After lugging the heavy packs up the stairs, I came down and continued chatting about anything and everything. They were beyond hospitable, and welcommed the idea of a new mouth to eat. Ellen is an absolute genius in the kitchen, and cooked us kebabs, rice and caesar salad. Like a typical Jewish mother, she made sure I was full. And full I was. It was delicious, and I ate every last grain of rice, as I had been on a pizza and greasy burger diet. Breakfast of champions.
After a dinner full of conversation, I was informed we were going to be going out for a few pints in DelRay.
As the food digested, we climbed into the car, and headed down Atlantic Ave, the main strip in town. We went to a lovely British pub, the Blue Anchor, which was an authentic Brit styled pub whose entire street front was imported from a pub in England. As usual, football on the tele, and English barmaids. We sat down, and I recommended one of my weapons of choice, Strongbow. They both had never had it, and loved it. I dont know how anyone could not. After a tall pint and some conversation with the cute minder behind the taps, Lee, we left for a different flavour; a New York styled drinking hole. We drove a few blocks further to the Sail Away and it was quite a bit different. Although equally as quaint and dingy, the bar was smokey and full of basball paraphanelia while loud rock music played. We sat at a table, ordered a few Bud's and joked about the difference. They had a quirky ring toss game, with a metal ring attached to a string and the object was to throw it onto a hook hanging on the wall. Sounds easy. I couldnt do it sober, let alone a few beers deep. There were a few locals doing it everyother time and it had us wondering just how much practice they had. Glug glug.
Thats when Ellen noticed a man she though was familiar, and mentioned she thought it was an old friend. Steve said not a chance, and after some convincing, realized it was. Steve went and approached the man, and he didnt recognize, so he toyed with him until he did.
David was an old friend of the couple, of whom they had lost contact for over eight years, and had been searching extensively to reacquaint. They couldnt beleive the luck of running into him randomly. They said it was thanks to me, and that no other way would they have been reunited. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON, my friends. Had Steve not helped me out, offered me a place, and gone drinking at the precise time we did, they never would have met.
It also turns out, David was a ship captain. A possible ship captain who could take me or know of someone who could, we will find out.
It was actually an amazing feeling that I had something to do with their reunion.
After several coldies, it was time to pack it in, and we drove the short distance back down to their home, and after we chatted a bit more, headed our separate ways to bed. I went up and laid in bed, and still couldnt fathom the rollercoaster. Just that day, I was hungry, wandering, dealing with many 'No's', and here I was, in a massive bed, in a massive home, with two wonderful parents ensuring all of my needs were met.
I went to bed with once again a strenghtened faith in humanity. Although I have, and today had seen polar opposites of the spectrum, experiencing it is something totally unadjustable.
I couldnt sleep, buzzing from the thoughts of this trip, remembering all of those who I had met, and helped me along the way. I often review footage at night and log it, but didnt feel like it, so I went into the hallway and scoured the bookshelf for a night read.
I found a book I had been wanting to read for quite some time; Three cups of tea, about a mountain climber who stumbles across a mountain town in Pakistan and returns to build a school. Then he builds fiftty-five for rural children who otherwise wouldnt have the chance to learn. So far a great read, I recommend it. F*ck Oprah, its in Nathan's book club.
Reading helps me sleep, and I dozed off an hour later.
Where in the world is Nate?
There I am!