Asheville, Augusta and down to Savannah
After some coffee and a shower I packed up my gear, it had been hanging up after some wet days on the road to North Carolina. I thanked the artist and started to make my way to town to begin exploring, Blythe wouldn't get off work until later in the day.
The quickest way to town was to hop over a little stream via a tire swing in the backyard and climb the embankment to the railroad tracks. I strolled along the tracks, over a bridge or two heading on close to the action in town. I found myself a sort of book store coffee shop first, then a food truck and finally got myself to one of the breweries in town.
Soon enough Blythe was off work and picking me up. She was about my age, casual pretty and with the traveling spirit that is about the default in couchsurfers. Right away we drove off to a place in town right on the river that had good beer on tap and a large outside area with bbqs and a small tent serving up free sausages and other food. On the river was a little dock where people could park their kayak or canoe to grab a quick beer or three. We hung there for a while getting to know each other, she also told me about how much she liked this town of Asheville, I could see why.
The next morning we headed to a cafe for a while, then she had to split for work. I walked the train tracks back to the warehouse where I'd forgotten my sleeping pad, no one was home, but I still managed to get in and grab it.
I headed over to a bar after that to watch the basketball game. Towards the end Blythe arrived, bring my backpack along with her, then gave me a ride a little ways to the edge of town so I could continue hitchhiking.
A friendly ex-hitchhiker in a pickup truck gave me the first little ways, then I got picked up by a couple guys whose faces I never really saw from the backseat. They drove me down into South Carolina out of their way a bit to get me to the next junction, by this point the scenery was getting better and better through huge rolling hills and forest.
I walked for a bit until the next guy picked me up, a local guy who liked to catch wolves and tried to catch bears, he explained that some people in the area would get bears to become their pets. It sounded fairly illegal and entertaining. Right at dusk I managed to catch one last ride from a guy named Michael with his wife in the passenger seat and quiet uncle in the backseat next to me. He was a fairly religious guy and talked on that for a bit, but I was pretty happy when he offered to go out of his way to get me right to the gate where Kate lived. He gave me a flier before he drove off, it was a religious spin and warning on the whole 2012 thing. He was about four months too late, being that this was late April 2013.
I got a ride from a girl going a little ways, we paused briefly at a house where she needed to grab something and then she took me down to the next town. I had to walk along a sidewalk for a while, but luckily got a short ride in a pickup truck further to where it was easier for other cars to stop.
When I hopped out I had a message from Marilyn, she'd just gotten word that she'd been granted leave from her work and was now set on doing a traveling stint with me over the summer.
Pretty soon I got a ride from self proclaimed cowboy ex-cop. He asked if I was thirsty, after a stop at a convenience store we were back in his truck with a six pack of local beer. He had some stories and laughs for a little bit until dropping me off along with the remaining beers.
The next ride came from a PT Cruiser, that driver offered me a beer as well. He'd clearly already had his share, his girlfriend was in the passenger seat slightly less buzzed. He got me to the next town where the road broke away into the forest. I walked for ten miles down that road finishing my stash of beers all the way, very few cars actually passed me. A woman came walking towards the road from her yard handing me eight bucks, she was the driver of one of those few cars that had passed me. Some kids waved to me here and there as the side of the road alternated between houses and stretches of nothing but woods.
As sunset came and went I sent a message to John telling him I was gonna fall just short of Augusta, it didn't seem like I'd have any chance at this point. I was just about an hour or less away, so he decided he had no problem hopping in his car and coming to pick me up. I didn't want to put him out, but he insisted.
I kept walking and then eventually he came along. He was with his girlfriend, Lilly, both several years younger than me, avid hikers excited about eventually conquering the Appalachian trail. I was excited to be amongst friendly faces for the night rather than alone in the woods off the side of the road.
Back at his house we stayed up a while chatting about travel, the trail and about all kinds of gear. He was into tinkering and making his own custom hiking and camping gear. We swapped ideas and he showed me some of the things he'd made. He was generous with everything, even giving me a food bag he'd made out of a waterproof envelope and a pair of hiking pants that could zip off into shorts.
By the morning he'd offered to take me the extra way to Savannah to save me the hitchhiking trip. Before that he drove me around Augusta briefly so I could get a feel for it, we stopped by a waterway too, walking along it seeing turtles and whatnot.
The drive to Savannah was a bit more than two hours, we headed out to the windy beach just outside the city. We walked along talking more travel and the like, then headed back to Savannah and walked around there for just a bit until they were going to head back home. It was nice to make a new friend on the way and have someone else to geek out on gear with now and again.
I plopped myself down in the brewery to gather myself with a beer, then met up with Jules, a girl I'd met a previous time in the town. She was a designer I'd met through a friend in Salt Lake City, I dropped my bag at her place and then she took me out to several bars in town ranging from a dive bar where I got a forty to a beer bar where I got a pint of high quality. One of the other advantages of Savannah is the to-go cup, they have no issues with drinking on the streets.
I spent the night and slept in a bit in the morning, she'd already gone to work. By lunchtime I went out and met up with her and some co-workers on their break. She treated me to a meal in the park and we all chatted for a while. Soon their break was coming to a close and I now had to meet Rebecca for the first time and begin the next adventure, onward to anywhere.
April 20, 2013 to April 24, 2013