Wednesday, October 6, 2010

4 States, 1 day

Tallahassee, FL

Nathan (my couch surf in Tallahassee) arranged for his roommate Ian to drop me off on the interstate on his way to work, this one was lucky enough to have a barrier for me to sit on! I was there for maybe 90 minutes before Rex picked me up in his silver Toyota Camry. We were headed west, and he could take me as far as Pensacola, right on the Florida / Alabama state border, which suited me just fine.

Turns out that Rex is a retired drug smuggler who has in recent years turned to selling different metal compounds to various military divisions across 7 states to keep his income legitimate and the feds happy. Apparently driving across the Mexican border with tens of thousands of Valium and similar pills annoys the border control somewhat, who knew? We go on to discuss the recent developments in US drug laws, more specifically the recent ruling that decriminalizes Cannabis for recreational use in California, literally passed the day before. We both express our hope that such a movement continues across the states much like the medical legalization did before! As we cruise along the I10 at about 90mph Rex pulls out his glass pipe and some amazing homegrown which he tells me comes from a buddy of his who grows it in Georgia. Gets me buzzed for the 3 hour trip to Pensacola, so suits me just fine.

As Rex has an extra hour to go before his next appointment he agrees to drive me to the first exit out the west side of Pensacola, just inside the Alabama border, before he turns around and heads back for his meetings, gives me his card and tells me to call him if I am still stuck that evening, as he will be going to Mobil.


After having spent my last 4 dollars on some MTN Dew, batteries for the camera, and some candy for breakfast I set myself up on the on ramp and hope I get a ride pretty quick, the wind is blowing up some heavy dust. Trey picks me up after about an hour, hes only going as far as Mobil, but I'm desperate to get off this ramp and the dust storm I am sat in, so take the offer. Fairly uneventful ride, Trey tells me he is a Christian, who feels the need to pick up hitchhikers and help them out as part of gods work - despite the fact that his Mothers first husband was killed by a hitchhiker in the 40's! He gives me a kick down of $20 as he drops me off on the west side of Mobil; I might be in the middle of nowhere, but at least I can eat tonight.


At this point I was stood on the side of the interstate, somewhere in either Alabama or Mississippi with no real place to catch a ride out from (it is illegal to hitch on the interstate, you have to be on an on-ramp). I consult my map and come to the conclusion that the 4 miles to the next exit shouldn't take me to long, and it only being 3pm I should still be able to make New Orleans before it gets dark. BAD MOVE. Number one - walking/skating on the hard shoulder of the interstate SUCKS. Huge lorries racing past at 80mph cause huge waves of wind/air pressure to constantly buffet you, making skating a really bad idea, as it feels like you are going to get either pulled into the road, or pushed off it constantly. Small stones are frequently kicked up by the vehicles and get thrown into you at stupid speeds. 

Then come bridges. I encountered one, it had no hard shoulder, and was to long to try and leg it during a traffic gap, plus it was over a river, so not like there was a way I could go around it. So as a result I ended up walking nearly a mile down the river and then a mile back again. Through overgrown thorns and all kinds of other shitty plants that hacked my legs to shit. I was of course wearing shorts and vans, its still hot here. Oh and I had run out of water by this point. 

After the debacle with the bridge (and cutting my hand jumping a fence to get back on the interstate) I could see a sign for the next exit, it was only a mile away! I got to the exit at around 5.45, figuring there to be an hour or so of daylight left, I knew I had to get a ride fast. 

After 45 minutes or so I had just about given up on New Orleans, it was about to get dark and I was committed to the idea of sleeping by the side of the interstate and trying again tomorrow. At that very point Chris (I have actually forgotten his name, oops) picks me up. And thank god - he is headed to New Orleans! The drive to New Orleans (or New Orlins to the locals) takes about 2 hours, during the time Chris tells me about his 2 kids, a daughter (6) and his son (3) and his apparently beautiful wife. this ride lands me another $20 kick down, and Chris shows me around the French Quarter of New Orleans, buying me my first Hurricane; its a kind of fruit punch - rum - cocktail thing sold by the litre, and its awesome, and generally giving me a feel for the city before he heads off to meet his business partner. I think I have a tendency to meet drug smugglers, who meets a business partner at 10pm? 


I call my couch surf in New Orleans to let them know I made it, and whilst waiting for them to pick me up I meet Joseph the Hobo outside the casino. He sings me a song he wrote about Katrina, someone should find this guy and give him a record deal. Seriously.