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Corpus Christi – Vilnius ~ 5550 km 2011/04/08

Posted by altsport in Hitchhiking.
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Continuing from Corpus Cristi me and Canadian Sylvian went along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Generally it was a boring trip. Sylvain didn’t hurry to Florida, so sometimes we stayed whole day doing nothing, but walks around some random town along the coast route. It appears so, that having a dog really attracts a lot of attention to you as well. Helped a lot to stike the conversations with some random people. Not that I was interested in that. It was more of a Sylvain’s ground there. From Texas we got to Louisiana and the only more or less special memory of it was oldish Lafayette town with wooden and brick buildings, so unfitting in general majority of US houses. Then it was Mississippi, where we stayed a couple of days on a long man-made beach at Gulfport and surrounding areas. That was second such beach I saw after Romania’s Mamaia one. Not the man-made part, but overall shape and color. One day and night was spent at the harbor parking just beside the beach. While being there I saw a bunch of dead fish washed ashore, as well as a dead stinging ray and a rather big stinking turtle that crawled onto the beach and died. Dolphins (alive) were present in waters around as well. Next morning we had an unpleasant earful from a harbor patrol┬á officer, telling us it was against the law to park there during the night. We didn’t want to ignite any more anger, even though just yesterday another officer we asked about staying overnight okayed it. So we packed up and left the place. One other thing I did in the area immediately that day was finally exchanging pesos I had left from Mexico. Really, it is quite an ordeal just to find a bank doing excange operations overall, but what killed me was the fee. Out of my exchange value in dollars after the talk with a bank worker I thought the fee being 3.71$, but how surprised I was getting just those 3.71$ and bank keeping 20$ as a fee ­čśÇ Stupid mistake, but still when I think about it, there was no place worse anywhere in Latin America or South-East Asia, with such kind of fees. Just for the record to anyone wondering name of the bank was Whitney National.

After getting rid this way of those pesos we went on to Alabama and as I planned I got off in Mobile city to continue on by myself. It took me a considerable amount of time finding my way out on 43’rd state highway going North, but then I was picked up by africanamerican guy Marshal, who treated me to a beer. Since it was late in the day he offered to drop me off back at Mobile to spend the night at Christian Shelter. Thus a new experience. Place was strict enough to feel safe. I had to leave my backpacks in the lobby guard area. After hearing Pastor talk in the Sanctuary, everyone went upstairs where the dorm was. That was also another chance to have a shower. In the morning I phoned Marshal and he brought me back on nr. 43, where I got a lift, which still landed me on I65, I decided not to go against the flow to much and just hitch off that interstate highway ramp. Had a few short rides and then had one long one all the way across to North-Eastern end of Alabama. That day there were quite a few tornados wrecking the state. I did see thunderstorms and showers, but ‘lucked out’ on skipping tornado thing. Originally I was riding in the back of a pickup, but when driver heard about the bad weather coming our direction, he stopped and made some space for me in the cabin. I was treated to a bunch of snacks and even given some stuff like germ-killing lotion and sunglasses, which I badly needed since I lost my half-broken ones somewhere. Shortly we got all the showers and thunders and eventually were stuck in a jam for 3 hours, caused by a 4 car accident with some people killed. It was really different from some jams I’ve seen in other countries. You could see people playing American football over the stopped cars or practicing golf on the shoulder of a highway. After we moved it kind of appeared to wife of the driver that they could have been one of cars in accident if not for those couple of stops. In Fort Payne I was dropped off and spent my first night in probably half a month sleeping in a tent again. It was fine, since all the 50-something mile per hour winds have passed already that area I was dropped off at. And showers with thunders wasn’t anything special.

Since it was Sunday, I rather naturally ended up at Church next day. I was picked up by Gary and Sonya, who where bringing a bunch of kids to a Church in different town, which was Jasper in Tennessee if I’m not mistaken. Didn’t ever expect to see people play guitars and drums while worshiping in a Church. They sure know how to make it fun out here. I got a very nice Bible from the Pastor. Some good stuff to read again – thing is over 1800 pages thick. Overall this part of US has quite strong Christian community or at least this is my impression after being picked up by a considerable number of Christians, which really helped me to go on with my trip without getting off the highway to go walmarting for cheap food. Reminded me a bit of Indonesia, where I was often treated to the meals and went on like that without visiting any town or city on the way. Well, I am going back home and my sightseeing enthusiasm is only good for random places I just naturally end up on my way. So this works out just fine by me. It is really great I am getting to see this part of US, otherwise my impression would be considerably worse. It is veeery different from any other country in the way what you see on the streets. You don’t see people at all, just cars… unless you go to some walmart or what not. You can be in a town having 100-something thousand people population and still think of it as a ghost town.

With a few short ones and one truck lift I ended up in Statesville, Tennessee. It got quite cold after I crossed Apalachian Mountains. While trying to get a lift from the ramp for some hours I got treated to a coffee by some guy working at the gas station nearby. Then I decided to drop the hitching thing for a day and go to a library. While checking flight prices I decided to skip going to UK, since it appeared to be much cheaper and easier to fly directly to Germany, than do an indirect flight via Iceland or that same Germany. So my trip time got shorter once again. For now… Getting out of Statesville proved to be difficult. I had to walk a few miles to another exit and try my luck again. There I met an old guy trying for a third day to get a lift. After an hour I tried another highway just nearby, but seeing it was only people driving localy back and forth I went back. Eventually we both got a lift in a pickup to some exit 40 miles to the North and were both treated to a meal at the Subway. That was my second time having quite a tasty salad out there, which I was tought how to order in my previous ride to Fort Payne in Alabama. Then there was a long 4 hour wait for a ride, which I got once that old guy went to get some water. Probably because the majority of the traffic was truckers naturally with only one seat available. Driver was a Mongolian speaking Russian, so we had an active conversation going. Guy actually have been to Lithuania in the past. After being dropped off at another interstate, this time nr. 81 I got another lift in a truck, which brought me to Winchester. Had to spend a night in the inside area of a circle ramp.

Winchester had a very unusual for US old town area, which reminded me a lot of some old towns I’ve seen in Australia. At least place had people, even though a small amount. When I went back to the highway it started to rain and snow a bit. Drivers pitying me were picking me up much faster than usually, treating to a meal or a coffee, giving a few bucks for the road… Nice going bad weather ­čÖé Still it was really miserable to stand by the road, truth to be told, so when I again ended up at a truck stop place I stayed at McDonalds there, using their free wi-fi all night. Didn’t bother to look for a camping spot around since it was drizling non-stop. Feeling like a zombie I went outside at around 7:30 am. Didn’t even have to walk to the ramp, as a guy on the parking asked me where was I going. I got a short ride. And really I should have just stayed at that area near truck stop. This way I had to hitchhike a lot from many other locations, having only some short rides. Some people had very little idea about they themselves were going, so there came some moments when I again had to serve as a navigator for a driver. At least apart from the cold it wasn’t really raining today. Half asleep I finally got a lift from the edge of Pennsylvania straight to New York with africanamerican guy Edie. Luckily it was that only decent ride that I so badly needed to cross New Jersey state without stopping, as it had very strict law against hitching. New York was obviously huge and full of traffic jams as it was the end of working day. I didn’t have any plans for sightseeing and just went to airport. Unluckily counters of AirBerlin airline, which I planned to use, were closed for the day. Luckily I found free wireless in another terminal. Next day I got my ticket for Dusseldorf. And after two more days of living in airport I left North America. Flight was nothing special and customs went uneventfully.

In Germany I found out that I was missing my thermos from the backpack. Baggage handling apparently can cause some items to disappear ­čśÉ After a walk out of airport and Dusseldorf city limit I got a lift with a Russian guy Victor, who got me around 100 km further on my way back home. Then I was stuck hitching from gas stations. Had another lift with a driver from Tunis giving me 20 Euros for the meal at one of those gas stations. Then I had a longer lift in a truck to a gas station near Erfurt and got a lift with a guy going 200 km/h to Chemnitz. After getting another short lift to another gas station I camped near it. Next day I had another truck ride to truck terminal at the border with Poland. There I was stuck trying to get a lift. Was worried a bit because yesterday I run out of my last food supplies with just a jar of jam remaining. Just as I decided to leave and walk to the nearest town town to shop, after 4 hours of wait I scored a lift. Driver was English speaking and eventually even invited me over to his parents place, where I had a dinner and showed pictures from my travel to his family. Ended up staying there for the night and had a chance to wash my head thanks to this. Next day I was brought to the road onto Poznan. That day I got quite far, almost to Olsztyn. And on next day I reached Lithuania. Had to camp out near Alytus though as it got dark by that time. And in the morning I completed my world trip ­čÖé YAY! Took me just 406 days, 60150 km and 884 different vehicles. That’s that for now. Sometime later I will update that other page about the trip. For now I have other stuff to do… Thanks for following me during these 406 days, of which 404 days I was not found in Lithuania, lol.

Photo: click