Austin-Lubbock pt 2 – The most American night of all

Where were we? Ah, I arrived to Lubbock, the city of Buddy Holly.

 

I was staying with Tyler’s friend, Schmoo; and Ben, and Socorro and… guys, I think there was somebody else in the house, or am I making that up?

There they were: Socorro, the king of the comedy; Ben, an expressive Texan millenial in the heart of gay community of Lubbock; Schmoo, a gentleman hard rocker dressed in red, white and blue jeans.

We went out with a few guys to this pub, I’ve got a free diet coke.
One of our companions was Josh, a very handsome cowboy with an absolute gay appearance. His perfect blond ponytail under a cowboy hat, his elegant vest and very shiny -clean boots; he used to say all those words, like ‘howdy’, ‘y’all’, ‘ain’t’ or ‘ma’am’, with his smooth voice. And he played the banjo. He was delicate and dramatic. Very Southern and very gay. Beautiful connection that I adored.
Me and Schmoo went out on a bicycle ride.

At some point I lost Schmoo and had my not best moment of feeling dizzy in the street, so I sat down on the kerb and rested. A homeless guy came up to me:

‘Y’all feelin’ alright?’

‘Yeah, I’m just dizzy’ I said, ‘I’ll be OK in a second.’

‘Do you want some food? I can bring you food. Maybe you’ll feel better when ya eat somethin’.’

He offered me a blanket (dude, we’re in Lubbock in August, it’s rather hot!), something to drink (that’s when I realized that I’ve taken out the glass of diet coke; I’ve got a beverage for free and then I stole the glass… ehh, not proud of that one)… He really wanted to take care of me. But as my head settled down and Schmoo appeared, we continued the ride.

We stopped at a 7 eleven, had a great laugh, did shopping and … there is was, a magazine with a fat letters printed on its cover shouting something about Elvis not being dead.

‘Do you see it too?’ I asked, ‘Isn’t it 2014?’

We laughed like crazy.

Schmoo had a dog named Alpheba. I noticed how amazing vowels and their pronaunciation were. He explained a bit to me;

‘If an “E” is followed by a consonant that is followed by a vowel, then you pronaunce it “e” as in “Egypt”. If an “E” is followed by a consonant that is followed by a consonant, then you pronaunce is “eh”, as in “Elvis”; if it wasn’t like that you’d say “Eelvise”‘

We could see all the stars that night, even though the lights were strong, we were in the city. At some point of the evening, Ben said ‘I really think that there is more sky in Texas than anywhere else in America’.

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There was a reason for me to take the above picture, yet I want you to figure it out yourself.
I know you can’t see too much but that is why I chose this copy!

Early in the morning we went to eat breakfast burritos – that amazing amazing Texan thing that pretends to be inspired with Mexican cuisine, but really is stuffed tortilla flats with whatever the fuck you can think of when you think ‘breakfast’ + hot sauce.

The boy serving us had fake eyelashes and lipstick. He was so pretty, I think Ben had a crash on him or maybe the other way round? It doesn’t matter now, the thing I was trying to say is: he was a sweetheart.

There was some story to the place, something about activity of the owner and the people they hire… But I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really remember. I should have written down more things.

That is also why I’m going to stop my story right here. I do not remember the next part. Something about taking pictures of houses, tricycling, Schmoo’s band’s rehearsal, banjo playing, more of that Texas, I’ve never gone to Buddy Holly’s museum in the end. It didn’t matter, I had my ‘most American’ night.

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Ben and Schmoo leaving me on a gas station on a road to New Mexico.

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Austin-Lubbock pt 2 – The most American night of all

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 😉


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

>> NINA ANN MUSIC <<


 

First of all – in 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 – it 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 😉

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 😉

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Laws on hitch hiking in the USA

Austin – Lubbock pt.1 – How the Universe saved me

As a break from my 2016 hitch stories, I’ll tell you about the most cliche-American thing that has ever happened to me (and about the Universe taking care of me everywhere I go).

Before that though, I’d like to mention something that probably a lot of bloggers struggle with – the fact that a blog is very very very public (unless you want to secure it with a password, but then it all depends on your target for readers, I want a wide range of strangers to read my crazy amazing stories and therefore can not block them with a secret code). Fact: people I do and don’t know can read this. Fact: there’s my mom and potential employers among them; ergo = some stories will never be published.

Like this one. I was very close to deciding not to share it. I just thought that’s such a shame, I love this story, I love it so much – I’ll just skip parts. Oh, also I think these two stories are really one – it’s quite a long one though, so I’ll just cut it into pieces: How the Universe saved me and The most American nigh of all.

I was hitching from Austin to Lubbock. Tyler gave me a ride to Lampasas, dropped me there on a gas station and left me feeling happy about not committing to others and free flowing.Seriously, I was celebrating having these feelings and I guess that is why I was enjoying myself so much on that tour.

Here’s Tyler feeling zajebiscie:

The first car that stopped for me offered me sex for money. I said thank you and they went away. Same happened with the second car. The third one wasn’t even a car, just some cowboy coming out of the bushes and trying to convince me to just give him a blowjob, really nothing else. Oh great, that sounds so much better than the other two offers! [joke; really: joke.]

I looked at the road, said to myself: if I don’t stop anybody during that wave of cars, I’ll go to the toilet and right after a pickup truck stopped by me. The guy inside seemed weird, not scary though; as in: he was a little bit off, yet I did not feel the threat of him hurting me in any way. We chatted for two minutes and I asked if I could send his place to my mom [to Josh], as I still got a weird vibe from him. He wasn’t too happy, he agreed though. I took my time, waiting for him to react, making sure I press ‘send’ before I get into the car. I was hesitating for a little bit too long, so I decided to just shut the phone and step into the vehicle quickly.

‘Wait’ he says, ‘there’s a police car behind us’.

And indeed there was.

The cop came to us, and started asking questions about the situation. He was very obviously checking, if I wasn’t a prostitute and I didn’t take that as an insult, more as him knowing his area (‘mind you the three cowboys). In the end he asked us to present our documents, he took them away and wasn’t coming for a while.

Me and the weird guy in a cowboy hut (somebody told me in Mississippi: never trust a guy in a hut and yet I ignored – not forgot – it, as it was damn hot and I wanted to get to Lubbock sooner than later) started chatting, my feeling about him was not changing and really, just for a moment, I didn’t even care about it. I started panicking about my passport, my visa, something was taking that cop a long time, something wasn’t right.

Finally the policeman comes back, gives the guy his driver’s license back and when I want to reach for my papers, he asks me to step out of the vehicle. My heart’s beating even faster. I follow the cop to his car, he’s in front of me, very serious and silent. For a few seconds there I am panicking about getting deported. Once we’re by the car, he turns around, looks at me and asks:

‘What makes you trust that man?’

‘I don’t trust him’ I answer straight away, ‘I can’t trust him, I have just met him. And he’s weird but I don’t think he would hurt me’.

The policemen looks at me (now I see: his face says WORRIED), ‘I don’t want to tell you to do or not to do anything, but I have a piece of information I have to share with you and you will decide whether you want to go with that men or not’.

I agree, relieved it’s not about my documents.

‘That guy has spent 5 years in jail’ starts the cop and my mouth opens immediately, ‘for sexual harassment’ he continues, my jaw goes lower, ‘on a 6 years old boy’ he finishes – my chin goes even lower.

‘Fuck! I knew he was weird!’ I say in theatrical yelling sort of whisper, ‘but it’s very hot, I’m very late and I need to keep on going…’ I see in the guy’s eyes he won’t just leave me there, so I play it cool, ‘I guess I’m outside of his age or gender preference’ I joke. The cop doesn’t smile. ‘…I guess I will not go with him though, I’m a chick, I need to play it safe’.

The policemen offers to get my things, tell the guy off and then help me with my travel. After he brings my backpack and the guitar, we hit the road. He calls somebody and tells them I’m with him, going to Lubbock. He can only take me to the end of the county, as he’s on shift here, so he needs somebody else to take me further away. We talk a bit, he turns out to be actually a laid back dude.

He brought me to another policeman, who turned out to be his dad. Another great ride, he was so sweet. Then he got me another police car for another county. The last cop dropped me off on a gas station, insisted on me accepting some lunch money and gave me a Lampasas police pen which disappeared very soon. Aaargh, that would be such a cool souvenir!

That day the universe fell on my head to save me.
I was so close to making my first mistake about whom to get into a car with.
You may say  I have made that mistake, I was already in the vehicle. Yes, and no. I took his plates, I was watching his every move, I knew he had an off vibe and I had my hand on the knife for all the time that I was in his car.
Also maybe I wasn’t wrong – maybe he would not hurt me. He didn’t seem as if he’d wanted to. Again: I might have just not be in his type – a girl, and such an old one… Come on, it is a little bit funny!

Anyway. Thank you, Universe.

From there I’ve got a direct ride to Lubbock, where I was staying with Tyler’s friend Schmoo). My last lift was a guy whose name I’ve already forgotten (it’s not my most popular story), he was going to visit his son in College in Colorado. He told me about a 19 years old boy called Jacob Lavaro, a friend of his son’s. Lavaro used to bake hash brownies for him and his friends until one April day that the cops got him and now they’re pressing charges against him for the entire weight of brownies (400 instead of just weed’s worth. He was facing 10 years to lifetime in jail. Apparently a nice guy, good student, polite kid with a lot of friends. Not a dealer, just a user; facing mandatory minimum of 10 years for really just getting stoned with buddies; by eating cake. That’s the least gangsta use of drugs anybody has ever heard of and yet they were treating him like a criminal.

I followed the story. Attorney Mark Brunner said ‘As prosecutors we are bound by what the law is, not what the law should be or could be.’ and the law says that adulterants and diluents count as the drug mixture; luckily Brunner changed his mind about that later on and dropped the charges for a first-degree felony; Lavaro was being charged with two lesser felonies: marijuana buds + hash oil (the latest much more serious in Texas).

In the end it wasn’t that bad. In October Jacob pleaded guilty to second-degree felony in exchange for 7 years of probation.

How can one get into so much trouble for something which is a fully legal business in other parts of the same country? Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, D.C. Look at Texas! Houston and Dallas decriminalized possession of weed.

Oh, have I just fit in a third story here? Yes, I have. If you’ve made it that far, you deserve a prize. Even if you just scrolled it and read these words here – the prize’s yours. Watch this:

 

 

Austin – Lubbock pt.1 – How the Universe saved me

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 😉 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.

vicks

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 😉 )

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

Everything is… Ron

*Zajebiście – (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. But of course I do suck and I haven’t done it so instead I’ve started recording my drivers saying ‘everything is zajebiscie’ behind the wheel. That’s the first one to be published: Ron picked me up in Raton, NM [at a place where I’ve got stuck for the night] as the first car I’d stuck my thumb out to. That trip was very important emotionally to me  – I guess the guy fixed me A LOT. And he was just as cool as it gets!

Everything is… Ron

Found out!

I’ve just found out what I want this blog to be.

After writing about my trip to the US (which I never finished, I still have got so many stories to share!) I figured out I could write here about all my trips. Following week I’m moving to London. For the first time I’m gonna live (not only travel around) abroad. That’s my topic.

But first… let me present some of my US stories for you!

*****

source: http://www.facebook.com/theustour – “Hitch-hiking USA”

Las Vegas

So… it’s debatable if one can legally hitch-hike in the state of Nevada and personally I wouldn’t recommend it. To explain why, I have to start with the very basic: how the Americans see hitchhikers?

After the hippie movement collapsed and the people of freedom turned into drug addicts, psychos or just grew up and stopped doing those things (luckily not everybody, I’m talking about the mass movement!!!), let’s say some time in the 70s? 80s?, people started raising their children with the rule of „never picking up a hitchhiker”. 40 years later you hardly ever see people trying to catch a ride on the shoulder unless they’re homeless or they car broke down. No wonder the American society connects hitching directly with being a catchy bum and the world of capitalism (the one we’ve developed) doesn’t like those.

Nevada, especially southern, where no one really goes anywhere which is not Las Vegas (Clark county is where over a half of the states population lives) is not the best place for being homeless and it’s not only for the weather conditions. Obviously the county doesn’t like anything which is not shiny, glowy, wax or expensive. The importance of Las Vegas being attractive is so big that in 2013 the City of San Francisco filled a lawsuit against Nevada for discharging psychiatric hostpital patients too early and busing them to SF (called ‘patient dumping’ afterwards).

The law over hitching in Nevada says: A person shall not stand in a highway to solicit a ride or any business from the driver or any occupant of a vehicle (NRS 484B.297 – 3) and defines ‘highway’ as the entire width 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 purposes of vehicular traffic, whether or not the public authority is maintaining the way  ( NRS 484A.095 ) which means that it can be interpreted by the police. On the other hand pedestrians are allowed on most of the highways, however facing the approaching traffic meaning walking down the left side of the road – it doesn’t help with catching a ride.

Las Vegas City Ordinance is: No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle (11.30.110– Solicitation from roadway; 1949 code Ch. 36 § 96(c): prior code § 10-16-9(A)) and though e.g. Hitchwiki says it should be legal to stick your thumb out on a shoulder, the code defines roadway as that portion of a street improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel (13.24.010 Definitions). Again – it’s not clear… would be, if ‘exclusive of the berm or shoulder’ stood there as in most of the states road codes. As it doesn’t, it’s up to the police how to intreprete the law, so the question is: would you trust a cop, taking care of the city which buses homeless with mental issues to SF only to have their streets clean, that he wouldn’t inprison or fine you for trying to solicit a ride which is, in the US, seen as being a bum?

PS it’s different for a girl, especially attractive one: a huge part of society changes their mind and they don’t see a hobo, they see a crazy-girl-hitchhiker which is obviously more positive 😉

Found out!