Alex and Ana were the first known friends I met since I left Morocco long months ago. It was good to see familiar faces and share memories.
It was just like holidays through my trip that enabled me to recover and chill a little as I was finally back on land… I mean not for long, Alex as a pilot decided to show me a bit of what Florida looks like from the air.
The landscape changed dramatically from Cuba…
Back to the week, while they would go to work, I would just enjoy internet and reconnect with friends, familly and the news from the world.
On the weekend we would just go out doing anything that would pop in our mind.
But after two weekds, it was time to be back on the road. On the last day, we celebrated Alex’s birthday in friend’s house.
And enjoyed a last jam before we would split.
On my last night, I was a little bit anxious about hitchiking in USA after this whole sailing trip. I had no idea what it would be like to hit the road here.
Well at least I knew I would start with…
It took me some time to get a ride out of Orlando as the city is huge. I finally got picked up by a police officer that told me to watch out for immigrants, then I got a ride with a great natural park lovers, a cuban truck driver and some farmers.
I had no idea where to sleep and the last guy dropped me off in a natural forest and gave me a whole box of chicken wings to make sure I would be well.
Well, I was really surprised by how nice and easy going would be americans towards me as the hitchiking culture here does not exist.
I started my second day more enthusiastic and after a couple of burgers I met Rebecca.
She passed me and turned around few miles later to come back and pick me up. We got along super well and she decided to drive me the whole way to the natural park where I was heading.
We discovered it and spent the afternoon together and then went to look for a place for my tente.
It is not easy in US as everything is private property and you might just be shot if you enter some land without authorization.
Therefore I use this old good tactic that I have learnt from my previous manager last year when I was working in Bretagne… “the feet in the door”.
It is simple. You ask for a small service that enables you to ask for a bigger one after.
For instance, I would go to some farmers houses and ask for some water as an opportunity to introduce myself. Then we speak for a bit, create a relax atmosphere and then I ask if they have a piece of land where I can put my tente !
I’m then safe, allowed and sleep in privacy in their fields !
I came back the next morning in the Ichetucknee springs state park and hiked for a bit
And discovered the natural warm water spring…
The water is coming from a very deep cave and goes all the way from the undercave to the surface. I swam and snorkeled there as it was possible to dive in the underwater cave going more than 15 meters below the surface…
I then met this great Cuban/ Canadian familly and had lunch with them. Once again they decided to drive me where I was going as we had such a great time.
I’m now in Osceala forrest, in the border of Georgia. I slept close to a public shooting range as they were bears in the woods. I figured out that the shooting noise would keep them away.
Thanks god I’m deaf, that was a damn battlefield over there
I wope up in the morning under a heavy rain, the first one for months…
I was praying for someone to just stop in order to get a warm coffee or a damn burger. I surely did not expect the next ride
While I was about to cross the state border walking, this dude showed up and took me in back of his truck for 100 miles as I was to wet to sit in his car…
He dropped me off in a small city and I spent the next hour eating endless whoppers from a burger king to warp up…
As i started to walk I realized that the landscape was already much more different… I guess the palm trees are now gone.
In the late afternoon, I got a ride and met amazing 23 years old Forrest.
Once again, the rule where I met a great guy everyday applied.
We got along well and he invitated me over to a crazy party in northen Georgia with his great friend Erik.
I met a bunch of amazing student from Taiwan and Georgia and got to party with all of them dowtown… and woke up in the morning devastated.
Still, with the few energy they had left, they drove miles and introduced me to the american breakfast biscuit, a painkiller biscuit that helped me to go on that day !
Back on the road I decided to go to the mountains to hike, recover and breath a little.
I ended it up in the very german looking city of Helen.
As I was making my way to the end of that beer gap city, Tom, a grand’pa living there, saw me walking and asked me if I needed a ride. I was not even hitchiking.
As it was late, it took me to this house and offered me to sleep there. I was amazed by all this kindness but I was about to get even more as I walked through the house and realized I was surrounded by an endless numbers of guitars and banjos.
Tom, originally from Ireland was as good as a pro musician and definitely a blues legend.
We jammed together the whole night while and got to learn some fat country blues riffs…
Easter was right at the door and when I woke up next day, Tom and his wife invitated me to spend another moment with their family. I felt almost like hime that day.
That was now a week I left Orlando… I decided to hike a portion of the Appalachian trail, a famous 3500 kilometers trail crossing most of the east states of US.
I finally met the winter after more than a year. Spring was still too shy and waiting for warmer temperature to show up.
Back on the road to North Carolina now…
My trip in North Carolina started with this guy.
I was buying some food in a supermarket and he asked me where I was going. As I told him my destination he offered to drive me over there as it was on his way.
We then went to restaurant once we reach our destination and lunch together.
After a while, he told me he had to leave to come back to the city where we met. I realized that he only drove me all this way just to help me and he was 100 miles away from his home. I was speechless.
I kept hitchiking in the mountains and as it was raining badly, asked local people if I could sleep in their property to cover myself.
I then met Debby that helped so much that night. She offered me breakfast next day and drove me to the next village.
I got out of the mountain and hitchiked all the way to Winston Salem, a city where I had some very far away relatives from my family.
Cory, another cool american dude made sure I reach my destination and took me to the front door of my family.
Meeting my family there was an amazing feeling after all these months of travels. They showed me the whole city and made sure I met the great american hospitality…
Back on the road few days later, my lunch came back to the normal routine…
I was now about to enter Virginia. I was already more than 11OO Kms north of Florida and could feel the harsh bites of the cold winter hitting me here.
Like in Georgia, my first day in Virgnina started with an heavy rain. Whereas I was waiting frozen on the side of the road, Homer, showed up and took me home to warm up around a coffee.
Him and his wife Therese were rangers on the Appalachian trail and were used to help and welcome thousands of hikers in their home… first time they had an hitchiker though.
We went out to a grill restaurant with their friends and enjoyed the warm hospitality of Virginia with them.
Fully rested, I attacked the road to Washington. I was now overwhelmed by winter.
Before going to the capital, I wanted to see a bit of wilderness. The rangers advised me to go to Shenandoah national park, 100 miles north from where we were.
I met a nice couple travelling with kids that morning. Fate has decided that they just wanted to hit the road and discover new places. When I told them where I was going they just decided to go with me.
They were the happiest kids
They left me there and I hiked a day alone in the freezing blaze
And woke up frozen next morning… time to leave the mountains.
I escaped the cold blizzard thanks to very nice canadians and make it to Washington DC. Now it is time to visit a bit of american culture and most famous world institutions…
See ya !