Laws on hitch hiking in the USA

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the legality of hitch hiking around the USA and decided to answer them as much as I can.

I have not been to all the states.

I do not know all the laws by my heart.

But I have my sources ūüėČ


Before you get into reading…
On everyday I make my living as a musician. It‚Äôs a hard yet amazing industry. I love what I do, even if I struggle. If you‚Äôre reading my blog or if you‚Äôre interested in who I am, please, visit my website. It would be such great help! I‚Äôve just finished writing it on my own (I‚Äôve never done such thing before! Also the smartphone version is not available yet, as of 23/08/2017, but I‚Äôm working on it); I want to give my site life. To show my appreciation, I‚Äôve got a free song for you. You‚Äôll see it on my home page ūüėČ

>> NINA ANN MUSIC <<


 

First of all Рin most states pedestrians are not allowed on INTERSTATES, therefore you cannot hitch there.

It makes sense. You don’t want to be there.

And it works just the same in Europe – you’re not allowed to walk on a highway, are you?

That doesn’t mean you can’t take interstates at all.¬†Most of the time they were my first choice, as:

  • it is¬†the fastest way by car,
  • you get a lot of people traveling long-distance so your chance of catching a direct lift is increased,
  • nobody takes routes

My tactics would be to stand on the shoulder of the on-ramp (highway’s entrance). Hitch wiki says:

“(…)¬†understand that the ramps are still technically considered interstate property and are illegal for pedestrians to be on, although it is almost without exception permitted if you stand in front of the “no pedestrians” sign.”

Doing so I’ve never had any trouble. The police just passed me smiling.

*****

Hitch wiki on National Parks:

‘The only nationwide law (Code of Federal Regulations) that prohibits hitchhiking is 36 CFR 4.31 which states that hitchhiking is illegal on any property under jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior: National Park Service. This includes but is not limited to National Parks, National Scenic Byways, and National Recreation Areas.’

*****

In a lot of states it is illegal to hitch on Turnpikes. That is not the case in all the places, so please, check the Road Code of the state. I know that is the case in Maine and Oklahoma.

Again, that one makes a lot of sense – these are the roads where you’re supposed to pay for the ride.

*****

USA numbered highways and state routes are differently regulated depending on where you go.

Regarding the places of the codes where soliciting rides is mentioned – for the right interpretation of road codes you need to make sure that you adjust your definitions of terms to what the code proposes.

For example:

Louisiana, Mississippi and Nevada all agree that it is illegal to solicit rides on a highway – actually… Louisiana and Mississippi say it is illegal on a roadway.

Now.

As much as in Nevada it is legal to walk on a highway, it is only legal if you do it facing the traffic on your side, so walking to the opposite direction than the cars on your side.

Also the way it defines highway is

(NRS 484.065) ‘Highway means the entire weidth between the boundary lines of every way dedicated to a public authority when any part of the way is open to the use of the public for purpose of vehicular traffic, whether or not the public authority is maintaining the way’ [ugh]

…and you can do nothing about it. You just cannot solicit rides on the highway.

Let’s go to Louisiana now.

They may say it is illegal to solicit rides on a roadway, yet they define roadway as ‘that portion of a highway designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic, exclusive of the berm or shoulder’

which pretty much means you should be all fine as long as you’re on the shoulder.

And Mississippi?

Mississippi road code says that a roadway means all surface portions of the roadway between shoulder lines.

I’d say – don’t stand on the shoulder, as that may be misinterpreted by cops, yet as long as you’re on the grass, you should be fine.

*****

Some of the states that I’ve visited…

Pennsylvania Рit is prohibited to hitch on Turnpikes, you can hitch from the shoulder (berm), also on-ramps.

Maryland – you can hitch from the shoulder of a highway, on-ramps. Parking lanes of highways are included in a roadway though and it is prohibited to solicit rides there.

Virginia – you can hitch from the shoulder of a highway, on-ramps too; interestingly, it is permitted to hitch on Shanendoah National Park’s theritory.

Tennessee is a star. ‘Begging is prohibited, hitch hiking or soliciting of transportation is illegal’… But then I’ve done it, a cop passed me by, slowed down, smiled, waved friendly and continued on his way. Remember, they’re conservative, don’t like hobos, so look like a human being if you want to hitch without drama there. If you have a guitar that’ll make it even easier, trust me. I don’t like generalizing but seriously, it works.

Mississippi – as above, you can hitch from the¬†berm, grass (also at on-ramps)… whatever comes after the shoulder; I’ve actually hitched from the shoulder and had no trouble but these were periods of 5-10 minutes of wait, not too much opportunity for the police to bother me. Also no police around – rather dodgy spots in most cases…

Louisiana – hitch from the shoulder, also on-ramps.

Arkansas does not clarify whether ‘roadway’ includes the shoulder or not and they do say that soliciting rides on the roadway is illegal. Is it OK to hitch¬†at all? God knows, it’s Arkansas…

Texas – you can hitch from the shoulder, also on-ramps. I believe it is also legal to walk on an Interstate in Texas, I can’t find proves online, yet I was told that by a cop. A cop who saved me, then gave me a lift and then organized the following lifts.

New Mexico – it’s OK to hitch from the shoulder or on-ramp. Baudelier National Monument has got it’s own laws about where you can and cannot hitch on its theritory.

Arizona – they’re my favorite;

(code 28-796)¬†‘Pedestrian on roadways

A. If sidewalks are provided, a pedestrian shall not walk along and on an adjacent roadway.

B. If sidewalks are not provided, a pedestrian walking along and on a highway shall walk when practicable only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction.

C. A person shall not stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of a vehicle. ‘

Arizona is quite relaxed though.

Its code says that roadway does not include the shoulder; and although you can’t walk on the shoulder in the same direction as the cars,¬†I would say you should be alright if we agree that you were not walking, just standing. It includes on-ramps.

Nevada – don’t hitch there.

New Jersey – don’t hitch there. Don’t even go there ūüėČ

California – it’s OK to hitch from a shoulder or on-ramps.

Colorado –¬†it’s OK to hitch from a shoulder or on-ramps although their law is very weird.

If you’re planning on going to any other state than the above, please, get to know the state’s road code. You can take a look at this great website which gathers so much information on the topic:

HITCHER

And make sure you don’t scare the Americans off. Look like somebody whom they need to save from the evil evil world of hitch hiking ūüėČ

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Laws on hitch hiking in the USA

Everything is… Paolo

*Zajebiscie – (adverb) ‘fucking awesome’ (rude but positive)*

When I went to Charlottesville, VA in July, my friend Lawrence gave me that shirt saying ‘everything is zajebiscie’ (as an inside joke). I promised I’d take a picture of me in that shirt in every place I go to. Of course¬†I haven’t done it so instead I’ve started recording my drivers saying ‘everything is zajebiscie’ behind the wheel. Later on – just some people.

Here’s what I missed in the Italy post. Paolo, my host from Sanremo, saying the magic words:

And you know what? At that particular moment, everything was.

 

 

 

Everything is… Paolo

Monkey attack

Hello everybody, finally I’ve put my hands on somebody’s laptop and can update my stories. Let’s start with this one…

Going to Gibraltar I did not know what to expect. Hot and humid or chilly and windy? English or Spanish prices? British or Spanish coffees? So many unknowns… The one I was mostly preoccupied with was: monkeys or no monkeys? – as my host from Benalmadena, Claire, claimed they’d taken them away. [seriously, I was extremely¬†excited about meeting those cuties!]

I started the day from visiting Main Street and finding a Polish guy performing songs by Dzem. I did not say a word about it, because I’m a nice person, yet he must have seen the look of recognition on my face, as he greeted me in Polish. I mentioned it’s shame I didn’t take my baby guitar with me and so he let me play his. I made 50 p during that song – just enough for the rock’s entrance. The universe was playing well that day…

I enter the park, climb the stairs, it’s very hot so I take my shirt off and continue in bra only and I climb up to meet the monkeys (I’ve been already told by my host, Fabio, that the monkeys indeed are up there, just quite vicious and smart; he said: hide away the jewelry, as that attracts them, they also steal food and just whatever they can, really). There’s a Czech/Slovakian family all around me – a lot of people and their kids/babies. Suddenly one of the monkeys grabs that ladies bag… I take a picture, laugh and think ‘eeh, tourists…’.

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As I climb Charles V Wall, karma comes back to me – I get surrounded by 4 monkeys (my jewelry already in the bag), the biggest one (let’s call it BM)¬†stares at my bag, I know what they want from me, so I hug it. BM¬†pulls the bag from the bottom, I pull it back up and we struggle like that for three rounds, with me shirtless yelling ‘no you stupid monkey, give me my fucking things back you bitch, give them back to me!’ and mothers covering their children’s ears. The strap of my camera falls out, so BM moves its focus onto that. We struggle for the camera this time, after a few rounds and me constantly yelling, I bang the monkey with the London Coffee Festival Bag, win the camera over and yet another fight begins, I yell even harder and when BM is getting ready to attack, I just let it go, as I don’t want to end up in a hospital on my trip. The monkey takes out my lunch (packed in a plastic box, a couple of layers of foil and a plastic bag, smart one!), eats it in front of me and at the same time guards the bag so other monkeys can go through it and see if they like anything (surprisingly they don’t, not even the cookies).

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Every time I take a step towards the bag, BM gives me the bitch look (yeah, BM stands for BITCH MONKEY) pulling it’s chin forward and opening it’s eyes wider – so I wait and collect evidence. Finally a guy coming from downstairs manages to distract BM and uses a stick to grab the bag and pass it to me. He says ‘run’ and we (me, him and his absolutely terrified girlfriend) climb up to meet more monkeys. With babies. Doing toilet on the stairs. At that point I’m terrorized by wild animals and passing them by is the last thing I want to do, there’s no other way though. I look in the eyes of the girl and she’s totally pissed; her boyfriend motivates us, gives the monkeys some food and we pass.

On the top there’s a lot of those monsters so I make my way down straight away. It’s long and scary, I’m on my own now. I get lost a couple of times, I’m out of water (luckily I find a shed of some construction workers and they share they fill my bottle), finally I find some people and we walk along each others.Then we get lost again. Then it takes so long and I’m so tired. I put my hand in the bag and I find some cookies. How come? Yeah, obviously right after I take them out, a couple of monkeys run to me like crazy so I just throw the packet in their face and run away screaming. And there they are – two men with a spliff and a car. I ask them ‘is it the way down at all?’ and they offer me a lift.

In the car I tell them my story, they share some smoke and offer to give me a round of the city to show me the whole thing in a short.

Such a great ride! I asked them a lot of questions, I’m afraid it might have been even too many… but I NEED TO KNOW! They told me about growing up and living in Gibraltar; about the lack of events and music; about how big is the upcoming festival for the reason of being the only one their country holds (where 1/2 of Gibraltar’s population has fun with their friends and neighbors because everybody’s a friend or a neighbor – that what makes the country so crimeless). ¬†Probably not that fascinating place to live… very nice people though and amazing amazing views. Just take a look:

And here’s my favorite host in front of a pretty view:

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As I’m normally very bad finishing my stories, I’ll just say: so that’s the Gibraltar I explored. Plus a few free coffees from a Spanish bartender and a guy on a street quoting my favorite movie scene’s dialogues to his children (of course I picked it up!).

Answers to my entry questions are: it’s hot, expensive, though not like London expensive, the monkeys most definitely are still there and they drink Spanish coffees.

*****

PS have you thought about how unhappy the Gibraltars are about Brexit? 96% of them voted ‘in’ and to be fair, I can not understand the remaining 4%. Unbelievable.
Almost as unbelievable as the fact that some people pronounce ‘mojito’ as moh-ji-to. It’s just not the right thing to do.

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Monkey attack

Quick update from the road – Italy

I’m alive!

I have been traveling for three weeks now and just now got a chance of sharing some of my stories with you.

First of all – I knew it’d be a chalenge to travel Italy, France and Spain without knowing the language, yet sometimes it was just too much. On the other hand it gives you so much crazy satisfaction once you get across the language barrier!

My first ride from Milano to somewhere 1/3-way to Sanremo was a truck driver Tony who in English knew only ‘hello’. Yet we spend a whole hour talking, playing the music together and sharing our stories; somehow. We WANTED to communicate and so we did. If I try describing Italy in one phrase it will be: Italy is very humid, the people don’t know English, yet want to tell you a lot so they try, the women are loud and tabacchi bars are¬†much better than pizzerias.

My first host, Alex, was a … special person. This time CouchSurfing didn’t go crazy. Yet I have met somebody else (in a way through CS, really – just by an accident), a very special person I believe. Hoomam.

He decided to leave Siria after a bomb had exploded next to him. He’d escaped to Sweden where he’s spent half a year living in a refugee camp and learning Swedish;¬†he’s been doing so well that not only after being given residency he became a Swedish teacher, but also speaking English he had Swedish accent. Very lingo-talented, whatever I told him in Polish, he’d repeat with a perfect pronaunciation. Apart of that a very very very amazing person. I had so much fun with him. Serious, so much fun!

Here is us and some canals of Milano:

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And then we met in a Craft Beer Pub Michele – a guy who were supposed to be my CS host but I never requested him. But yeah, the universe brought us together so we could sing ‘Feeling Good’ in the rain of Milano and then take separate ways.

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What else happened in Milano.. I went to the Sforza Castle and found that amazing spot I was not allowed to enter.

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And I climbed (yoged!) that monument in order to take a picture of the Duomo. Faces of the guys having food downstairs, as I pull myself up in my mini dress and of course nearly show my butt Рpriceless.

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*****

Next step was Sanremo. Apart of my first amazing Tony ride, I drove with an English teacher who just did not know English. I’m being super serious here. Very sad.

Sanremo… very nice. I stayed with Paolo, had a little chill, rode around on his Vespa and checked out the nearby cities and beaches (including the beautiful Busana Vecchia, a true reason for me to come to Liguria), crossed some other language barriers… pretty satisfying. Apart of two things.

  1. my Nice (not so nice) host, Bryce, decided to just disappear two days before I was supposed to stay with him. That story will return in the France part.
  2. Paolo did me some fixing as a physiotherapist and osteopath and something very weird happened to my salivary glands. That’ll will return in the Monaco story, for which I need separate post.

Sanremo had amazing visual side. I mean… just check it out.

 

And so Busana Vecchia. One day in Cracow, years ago, out of nowwhere Jimi jumps on me and Pawel and he starts telling us we have to¬†visit Busana. That amazing place, which was deserted after an earthquake in the end of XIXth century and then, almost a hundret year ago populated again by artists and hippies moving into the ruins and taking care of them. When I found out it was on my way from Milano to France, I had to go there. The reason I went to Sanremo was there was no CouchSurfing in Busana. I felt like there would be a few places to stay there, yet wanted to have the comfort of knowing I wouldn’t be homeless ūüėČ

And so from there I hitch to Monaco. To be continued…

 

 

Quick update from the road – Italy

A new journey begins

Hello everybody,

I’ve been absent for some time, yet there has been so much going on.

The news is: I am about to begin a new journey, this time around Europe – as even here there are places I haven’t explored yet.

On the 29th of July I’ll be comfy and fly with my beautiful Tanglewood guitar to Milan¬†(Italy).
Here she is:

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From there I’ll go to Sanremo and Bussana Vecchia¬†in the region of Italy called Liguria; from there through Monaco to France: Nice –> Marseille –> Montpellier.
Then Spain: Barcelona –> Valencia –> Murcia –> Beneficio –> Granada –> Malaga
And Gibraltar.
Back to Sevilla in Spain.
And then I think I’ll go to Portugal… I haven’t made those plans yet, I’ll really see where the wind blows.

That gives 5-6 countries in a month and a half. Europe’s tiny!

I’ll be hitchhiking and couchsurfing, just as every time, because I want to explore the lands through the people.
I’ve already found people to stay with in Milan, Sanremo and Nice. It’s getting closer so… if you have any awesome¬†friends who’d you think have fun with me and have some space for a human-worm (me in my sleeping bag), please,connect us!

And for now: enjoy July, people!

 

 

A new journey begins

The most interesting rides

A lot of people in the US asked me if it wouldn’t have been easier to take a bus than to hitch across the country. The answer is: yes, it would have.

But it’s not about being easy. It’s about being life changing.

Today I’m going to focus on one of the reasons to hitch¬†– people you meet on your way. Here’s the story:

1) Ken (Virginia –> Knoxville, TN)

Ken was an ex-professor of bio-physics or something equally hardcore. Now, working for the government (like the rest 1/3 of American citizens), he would travel a lot between Washington and Chattanooga or even Alabama. He wore a baseball cup, spoke with a thick southern accent, he was telling me about the civil war and we were listening to an audio book about it. Older guy, I’d say around 70? But full of live ūüėČ He would make as many stops for me as I wanted. I traded with him lunch for a song. After some time he stopped talking at all¬†and I felt a little bit uncomfortable. Next thing he said was when¬†he stopped for a wee: ‘alright, I think I really need to smoke’
‘Well, alright… but I just want to remind you that you haven’t smoked¬†for over 20 years now. It’s not a good idea¬†to go back to it’ I said.
‘Oh, no worries, ma’am. I won’t be smoking cigarettes’

He loaded a full bowl of weed, we smoked and hit the road.
He was restarted – telling stories about him and his friends being¬†attacked by a bear in the Smokey Mountains and how much he loved those lands. This time he wasn’t an A driver though. To be honest I was a little bit afraid, especially when he was putting a map in front of his face and looking for some small cities marked on it.

He dropped me right in front of the house I was going to. I remember the guys told me that when we arrived they panicked; somebody said: ‘quick, it’s an old dude, hide the pipe’. Well, if they only knew…

2)¬†Jesus Freak Lady (Knoxville, TN –> Nashville, TN)

I was leaving Knoxville, the rain was pouring hard. A trucker stopped by me yet I told him to leave, as he was really sketchy. And then out of nowhere that lady arrives, asks where I am going, ‘Nashville’ I say, she considers time and says ‘jump in, I’m gonna take you as far as I can’.

She asked me, after two minutes of ride, if I was a Christian. Something told me I should have rather said ‘yes, I am’ and so I did. She said she picked me up because Jesus told her to drive me¬†as far as possible from here. Alright, if Jesus said so… I won’t complain.
In the end she drove me to Nashville (right to Josh’ house!) – so sweet! Instead of taking 1,5 hour trip to Georgia where she was going to, she took 4,5 hours trip Knoxville–>Nashville–>Atlanta!

On ¬†our way she was asking me A LOT of questions of ‘what does the Church in Poland say about…’ kind, we listened to Johnny Cash, as he was a religious man (‘I’m a Jesus Freak, normally I listen only¬†to Christian music, I like it. Yet Johnny Cash was such an amazing man! We saw him here, in Nashville’). She was a teacher (‘I work for the government. I’m a teacher’), so she was also curious about the education system in Poland (or wait, I was interested in education system in the US?). She also told me about racism (or actually the lack of divisions? or maybe the adults attempts of creating them) amongst¬†the kids in¬†kindergarten/primary school age.

At the end of our trip she gave me all sorts of shit she had in her car – scissors, some letters from a Christian community, tissues or paper or something… I’m not sure, the whole sheet of post stamps with the face of Johnny Cash and, wait for it… an audio Bible. Bigger than an actual Bible as a book. Oh my God, did she think I’d carry it all the way to San Francisco in my backpack? It was a sweet gesture, weird too.

I remember that she pointed at a red rock by the road and said ‘see this rock? You find these only in Tennessee and Arizona. Nobody knows why’. Ha, I believed, of course! But soon I realized that it wasn’t entirely true and there was no big mistery in all of it. Just a classic red rock.NinaStopUSA

3) Horny Grandpa (Nashville, TN –> Dickson, TN)

I needed to check the story in my text messages because apart from that I knew it happened, I wasn’t sure where and when – Tennessee, Mississippi…?

The guy was at least 80. A complete redneck. I texted my friend saying ‘I’ve got my first ride to Dixon [actually it’s Dickson], forgot the plates of course [the plan was I’d send him plates of my rides, just in case] but I’m going with a really funny southern grandpa’

Guess what. He wasn’t that funny. After 5 minutes he started telling me how dangerous it is to travel alone with ‘what a nice pair of hooters [or titties]’. He promised he was too old to hurt me, but it was creepy anyway when he was staring at my boobs and making up nicknames for them.

4) Keith (Dickson, TN¬†–> Memphis, TN)

Keith was a lovely human being. He was protective too.
The way he picked me up – I didn’t even leave the horny pa’s car entirely, my leg was still inside but he stopped and asked: ‘are you going West?’ and I was so he invited me to go with him.
He decided that it’s odd I hadn’t had pancackes in the US yet and that he had to get me some. He didn’t eat himself. He told me the story of his daughter, much younger than me, who got raped and how did they manage the whole thing. That’s why he was an ‘everybody’s dad’ now. I needed a person like that at the time, somebody I could feel comfortable with. On top¬†of that he was a classy guy, super smart, good¬†sense of humor… somebody safe, trustworthy, interesting, intelligent and entertaining. Yaaaay, a break from horny weirdos!

On our way we had to emergency stop once more. An accident. Two bikers lying on the ground, one of them not moving, the other one – a lady – panicking. Keith stopped the car, yelled ‘I used to be in the Navy, I know first aid! Stay in the car!’ and he ran to the guys. I stayed in the car. I wouldn’t help really and if that’s how he prefered it – alright, he’s the savior here. After 5 minutes the ambulance was there, Keith explained as much as he could to them and we left the scene.

I remember he insisted on waiting with me for my host to make sure I get home safe (though he’s already said ‘Oh my God, that’s South Memphis, pretty nasty’).

5) The¬†Druid (Memphis, TN –> Clarksdale, MS)

He was a part of this story of mine.

Quickly: big, scary, scars and burns all around his body, neck and face more similar to pigs than humans, he had a silver scull at the car’s hood. He believed himself to be a druid. And he laughed at satanists who don’t know the Black Bible enough. He did.

He said that in his live he had been hit by a thunder three times (to be honest,¬†he looked as if it was the truth), several times by the bus (also probable), he was shot and etc… because somebody cursed him. But he cannot die because as a druid he is immortal.

6) The creepy trucker (Vicksburg, MS –> somewhere south from Vicksburg)

Part of this story.¬†(there’s also no 3. horny grandpa in there, as I was pretty sure it had been the same day. It wasn’t, now I know)

The guy didn’t have any super interesting story for me. But the way he was saying ‘yo giiiiiiirl, show me your white leeeeegs!’ (every two minutes the least often!) was really funny.

Also he asked weird questions – I left earlier.

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7)¬†Bob (I-12/I-55 intersection, LA –> Hammond, LA)

This guy looking like Danny DeVito, driving an expensive sport car, stops by me so as to save me off the highway (it was a shit place, the shoulder wasn’t too wide, it was 100% illegal to be there but I wasn’t worried about¬†the police – I was scared of¬†the trucks passing me by so close that they would just do whatever they wanted with me – the air would lift me, move me, stop me, push me back, push me sides… scary!). His name was Bob and he looked like a Bobby. Name and car matched him perfectly. He was really nice but I just drove with him about 10 minutes and he went different ways.

8) Tim the policeman (Hammond, LA –> NOLA)

Really creepy dude. It felt safe to drive with a policeman and he was really funny etc… But after he dropped me he tried giving me a kiss (nope.). Then he was texting me for a while. I didn’t answer too much.

Still he told me an interesting story about a 14 years old girl from LA who run away from her home, hitch hiked, having sex with old dudes for accomodation. She was hitch-hiking and he picked her up. When she started offering what she had to offer he said something like in a movie (‘well, you’re lucky, cause you’re getting your accomodation now!’ or ‘I’d love to but I can’t lock myself up’) and… put her into the jail. Sure, why would you send this baby to it’s¬†parents… they put her in prison for prostitution. It seems rough.

9) Adam and Gary (Houston, TX –> Austin, TX)

The best lift ever.

Adam noticed this doughnut place giving away freshly fried doughnuts as samples when the neon sign is on – it was on so we tried, got amazing (and free) doughnuts and left through the other door so as to escape the awkward situation of just hanging out after eating a bunch of samples and not¬†actually purchasing anything… But hey, we were on our way to dinner at that place where they had paper tablecloths and a lot of crayons. Sooooo much fuuuun!!! (and some gossip about Adam with his dad ūüėČ )

gary an adam

10) Rescued by the law enforcement¬†(Lampas, TX –> Lubbock, TX)

On my way from Austin I’ve got picked up by this really weird looking person in a pick up truck.¬†Something told me I have to double check if I want to travel with this person. I asked, if could send his plates to ‘my mom’. He wasn’t happy but said OK. I was really slow with this one. I sent his plates to Josh (actually today I saw I’d never sent the message!) and just when I closed his car’s door, he said ‘oh, wait, the police’s here’.

The policeman asked us what’s going on and took our papers (his driver’s license, my passport and ID). He was definately checking if I’m not a prostitute (some rednecks checked it before him the other day, offering me ‘nice’ deals, so the guy definately knew the neighborhood). He spent a lot of time in his car which gave me a chance to talk a bit longer with the driver before we start rolling. The policeman came back and asked me to come with him. I was soooo nervous following him,¬†thinking ‘oh my, something’s wrong with my passport. Or my visa. I want to continue this trip!’. He held my papers in his hand and spoke:

‘What makes you trust this man?’

‘I don’t trust him’ I responded immediately ‘I don’t know him. But I have to hit the road, I’m already late’.

‘I will tell you something about this man and you will decide if you want to go with him or not – it’s your choice’. The rest of his words seemed to be coming out of his mouth incredibly slowly: ‘This man… spent 5 years… in jail… for sexual herassment… on a 6-years-old… boy’

Oh my God!

‘He doesn’t seem to be able or willing to hurt me’ I said ‘yet, as a woman traveling alone, I should probably watch out, not risk. Oh no, I have to go…’ looked at the policeman feeling that he wanted to give me a ride ‘Alright, I won’t go with him, I need to be careful’

He said he’d sort me out. He took my backpack and my baby guitar out of the guy’s car, he said I wouldn’t go with him and that we’re sorry. He gave me a lift to the end of the county. Then he called the cop on duty in the next county – his dad. He gave me a lift to the end of their county saying this city was amazingly beautiful and I should have stayed if I hadn’t caught any ride. He gave me some lunch money and a hug, then he left. Love his lift! (and the universe for saving my risky ass!)

11) Lady death (7 miles south from Las Vegas, NM –> Santa Fe, NM)

Right before Santa Fe, this lady stopped by me and said ‘I won’t give you a lift, I’m going to Vegas’ [Vegas, NM!] ‘But tell me, do you play the guitar?’ so we had a little chat. After our¬†chat the lady decided to drive me to Santa Fe.

She looked like Phoebe from ‘The Friends’, if she ended up working at a funeral home for her old years. She was beautiful by the way. But old and weird. And spiritual, just like Phoebe. She never mentioned anybody dying but she had a few funeral wreaths in her car. In the end she turned out a bit frustrating but still she helped me out (and she was one of only three women who gave me lifts for those 3 months, rest of them was afraid).

12) A mexican bus (Santa Fe, NM –> Denver, CO)

My destination was Boulder, CO. I stopped a Mexican coach (almost empty) going directly to Denver. Happy me! I slept all the way!

[Maybe it’s not ‘the people I met on my way’ but it’s ‘The most interesting rides’]

mexican bus

a2aa(our only stop, around Trinidad, CO)a2a

13) Digger

In this case: he’s not any ride, but he’s a person I wouldn’t have met, if it hadn’t been for hitching.

King of the hobos. An intelligent type, so what that crazy? His heart was in the right place. He taught me how to recognize and ex KGB agent and gave me a REALLY NICE knife.

The entire story is here.

d

14) The psychologist 

Ron¬†wasn’t a psychologist. But he was there for me and I was his patient, that’s why I call him this way. He seriously fixed me during our ride. I cried, I laughed, I cheered, I yelled. He said ‘special occasion’, opened a pack of Marlboro and decided ‘we’ll both need¬†a smoke’.

Thank you, road, for a doctor like this!

15) Pablo, the porn producer on a wheelchair, who turned out to kind of kidnap me
(Albuquerque, NM –> Flagstaff, AZ –> Las Vegas, NV)

The entire story is here.

16) Japanease energy stealer (Santa Cruz, CA –> San Francisco, CA)

He wasn’t even Japanease. He looked like Daryl Sabara¬†of¬†Spy Kids.

He was very¬†spiritual; very spiritual. I liked it – that’s the way I am. We spoke about live and karma¬†driving on Route 1, beautiful views, relaxing ocean,¬†and my Californian eyes.

That’s where the trouble began.

He took me for some kind of Japanease healing therapy and they stole all my good energy. I don’t know how but I feel like these people took away from me something precious, something I’d been working since I’d started my travels. They stole a piece of my soul.

No lawsuit will bring it back to me. I think that may have been my biggest lose ever.

Also after this one… a whole serious came by. They still stick to me, honestly. It’s like my spirit was… dirty, not as clean as it used to be. Or maybe it’s just San Francisco?

The most interesting rides

I went down to the Crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale 2

Where were we… Oh yes, I was in Clarksdale, had nowhere to go for the night and sat comfy getting started with playing some music in lunch bar’s front porch. Right before I started, a guy had sat next to me, offering me to stay with him and his friends in the condominium they’ve rented for two nights. He was a drummer. I don’t trust them. And a biker. Come on, if you’re a woman traveling alone you don’t stay with them (drummers or bikers) for a night! After short conversation he went away and I started playing.

With my second song, a car stopped down the road, two man and a woman came out of it with film equipment and came up to me with their story.

They were a TV from Chicago, shooting a documentary about the Blues Trail. Of course Clarksdale was important – that’s where the ‘Crossroads’ are, that’s where the blues was born. That’s apparently where the blues is still cultivated.

What they wanted from me was to appear in their movie, playing in the streets of Clarksdale and telling the story of my travels. And that I did.

A few minutes after they went away, a nice looking gentleman in his 40ties¬†sat next to me, so as to listen. We talked about the music with breaks for playing it, the waitress was bringing me new drinks, the guy was getting more and more kind. He said he wouldn’t give me money for my music, he would buy me a ticket to the Delta Blues Museum (which we both planned to see) and a lunch. Yeah, why not.

The musem was really neat. I wouldn’t call it impressive but it was definitely good. It’s address was 1 Blues Alley. There was a really neat Muddy Waters part; actually, Muddy was everywhere, his lyrics written on the walls, he’s spirit somewhere in the owner’s heart. Neither of us were massive¬†fans of Muddy though.

The guy wanted to teach me about the blues, but quite soon he realized that he didn’t have to. I still don’t remember his name, I don’t think I’ve ever remembered it after he said it. We didn’t like same things and enjoyed same things about the blues and the music in general. It was a nice experience. I took some time for watching Muddy and Pinetop Perkins on stage. He took some time watching Charlie Musselwhite’s (a Cherokee’s son born in KOSCIUSZKO, MS) harmonicas and went to grab some food. Told you – it wasn’t that impressing. But if you go down there, you should definitely see it yourself.

The gentleman offered I could stay with him for the night in Memphis and that he would be reserved but there was no point in going back to Tennessee. And again – I’m a girl alone out there, you just don’t do some things not being 100% sure of them. It was really nice of him but I said ‘no, thank you’, took my stuff out of his trunk where I stored them for some time and followed the map going to a privately owned hotel where I would try making a deal of ‘cheaper room for helping with room service’ kind.

Half way to the hotel I heard the music coming out from a street I shouldn’t have really turned into but… why not? It’s music being the reason why I came down to Clarksdale at all. I mean it wasn’t for the wonderful hotels or the beaches. So I just took the other way and met Deak doing basically that:

I loved it. His wife came out (he was playing in front of his shop). I asked if I could¬†leave there my luggage¬†for a bit so I could get to the hotel quicker and come back once I log in but they were concerned if¬†I’d be there on time. And then out of nowhere Steve appeared with some food and said he’d give me a lift to the hotel as soon as he finishes eating. He was a long-haired blues guitarist (I’d already started noticing that in Clarksdale everybody was a blues guitarist), very smiley and lovely. He said he’d just have to stop on our way so as to print some posters for his gig.

For my surprise we stopped by a funeral home and he opened the car’s door saying ‘come with me, you’ll meet my friends’. First he introduced me to two ladies, then the head of the funeral home. A family run business turned out to be quite a society in Clarksdale. The head, Scott, was helping Steve out with printing. Those were lovely, open people. I told them about my travels and they had a lot of questions; they seemed terrified about me. I mentioned I was on my way to a hotel, as I had nowhere better to go. One of the ladies, I’d met by the door, Teresa, offered I could stay with her, as she had plenty of room and didn’t want me to get hurt. I was saved! The head of the funeral home turned out to be very generous and supportive, I even got a company T-shirt (completely different from what you’d call a funeral home T-shirt; it was purple-lillish with a little hearse¬†on the front¬†and the entire back was covered with their partners, multum of pictures in different colors, shining and inviting)!

Teresa was amazing and she hosted me for my two days of Clarksdale. On my first night she dropped me by Ground Zero Blues Club – coowned by Morgan Freeman. Uncle Freeman didn’t decide to come down the other night, yet a blues band played for about 4 hours or so, extremely long. ‘This is normal in the US, you have to play long gigs. In most cases the band gets to play three or four hour sets with 15 minutes breaks per each’ said the guy making the sound or lights… I’m not sure now. The band was… extremely musically white (yet they weren’t bad). So was most of the audience. I remembered my friend told me about Greg¬†saying ‘the real blues happens in Clarksdale after you cross the railroad tracks’.

ground zero

One guy dressed like a posh redneck, a Mississippi Planter type, all¬†in white including the hat of course, asked me about my history, so I shared. He thought I was both insane and stupid traveling the way I did and I surely ‘could afford a bus’.

‘It’s not about the money and it won’t be’ I said.

‘Alright’ he sighed ‘I will give you just one piece of advice. Never, ever enter a car with a black person.’

‘Thank you’ I said looking at him like at an alien. He must have noticed that, he couldn’t have been that stupid.

He offered he’d give me a lift home (Teresa said that if I don’t find anybody safe giving me a lift, I should just call her; Steve wanted to give me a ride, but he was going to a club across the tracks and he was planning to party there for a while which I wasn’t really going for). I came back in and chatted with the sound-or-light (s-o-l) guy. He said he could give me a lift when he’s finished closing after the gig. Again: too late…

‘Thank, I’ve already got a lift from one guy’ I said.

‘Whom from?’ he wanted to know.

‘The other redneck in a white hat’ I answered pointing at the guy.

‘Really?’ said the s-o-l guy with big eyes and¬†incredulity¬†in his voice. ‘That guy? Do you really trust him? What do you know about him?’

‘I know that he’s a dad, a redneck, he’s mind is closed and he’s racist. He instructed me so as to never ever enter a car with a black person!’ I said nervously, wandering what type of man says those awefully stupid things.

‘What kind of man does it make him?’ asked the s-o-l guy. ‘Never trust a man in a hat’.

And that was my only strict rule for the rest of my trip. I didn’t trust men in hats. I only once entered a car with one of them, luckily I left it immediately and didn’t take the risk.

I called Teresa. She lived in a cute house outside of Clarksdale, had an amazing (can’t believe I’m saying that) Yorkshire Terrier Lady. She was just soo sweet! And so was Teresa. Her last lasting (sounds so funny) story was that her house was damaged by a hurricane (while she was inside!!!) and now it was getting recovered (for me it was pretty much done but I guess there were still details).

Next day I spent playing the music in the streets and talking to random people – all of them either were blues musicians or they children were. No doctors, no retailers, no waiters, only blues musicians. Then¬†Teresa took me for a lunch near the Crossroads where I went to on my own – I was hoping for some kind of mystical experience. all I’ve got was a roundabout and A LOT of tourists (who at the same time didn’t seem to stop in the city at all) taking pictures of the Crossroad sign:

crossroads
In the evening of my last day in Clarksdale Teresa took me down to the Hopson Plantation, a¬†historical-musical place. I think that if you’re interested in etno + music / blues stuff, you should best read their website, the ‘history’ page is really well written.

There was a band playing… I don’t remember the name of the leader. It was good. We had a lot of fun. The band opened with ‘Mustang Sally’ and went from it through all types of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’s, ‘Whole Lotta Love’s and ‘Midnight Hours” to, suprisingly, ‘The Joker’ by Steve Miller Band. Except of this one, the songs were all the same songs you hear Polish cover bands play (now I know that it’s English too) for the 100th time and you wish they play something new. Why? Of course: for the family. According to a noble Polish engeneer said once ‘I like the songs I’ve already heard once. (…) How could I enjoy¬†a song¬†I hear for the very first time?!’. People like what they know. Apparently it’s not Poland, it’s the world for you.

The next day Teresa drove me over an hour away from Clarksdale so as to make my trip to Vicksburg shorter and safer. Lovely her! I’m so glad I found her on my way.¬†I’ll post a picture, I really hope you don’t mind, Teresa, but this is one of my absolute favourite photographs ever taken!

teresa

My Clarksdale was absolutely different than any ‘regular’ tourists (meaning having any idea what they’re doing there). The fate took me down to the Crossroads, the fate took me down to the Meredith Nowell funeral home, the fate found Teresa and the fate found a Blues Trail Movie, Delta Blues Museum, never-trust-a-man-in-a-hat, the-locals-being-in-most-cases-blues-guitar-players and a lot more wonders and lessons. Mississippi is rough though, there’s a lot of racism in the air (that will be a¬†part of ‘rasism in the US’ story). And the fate worked because the reason for everything to me was always the music.

I went down to the Crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale 2