Hitchhiking to South Carolina from Michigan
Our mission now was South Carolina where we'd be joining her parents for a hit of luxury and familiarity on their vacation. The other time I'd met them hadn't been so joyous, with me being the hitchhiker dragging their daughter to certain death and all, so hopefully this would be a little more cheery.
We had some places we wanted to hit on the way, the first stop was Lansing, not all that far south. The reason for going was to see my friend, however as it turned out he'd be out of town, but we'd pop into his house anyways.
The river couple gave us a ride to the highway during a break in the rain, we managed to hitch a quick ride from a rapper kid who liked the idea of hitchhiking, then we caught a second ride from an out-of-work journalist going to a bachelor camping party, he took a detour on his journey to get us directly into Lansing, an easy travel day.
Even though my friend wasn't there we were able to stay at his place and meet up with a couple of his friends, hit some taprooms in town and relax for a couple days.
We caught a ride from one of his friends to the highway the morning we left, our next idea was to see another one of my friends in Ohio. We hitched our first ride from a guy who used to hitchhike to Florida from Michigan every winter. A cop chased us off the highway where we got dropped off there, but a woman quickly scooped us up and got us a couple exits further to a better spot, from there we managed to hitch a ride to downtown Ann Arbor from a girl and her big white dog.
We paused downtown, hitting a couple breweries and playing some shuffleboard. It was a long and hot walk to get back to the highway, but worth it overall.
We got a ride from someone going to Detroit, but that was only two miles for us where we had to turn off. We walked a little more and got another short two mile ride, but then got a good ride from a couple heading to Toledo. They'd been fishing and caught a whole bunch of Perch, they invited us to a fish fry with their friends and we easily accepted the invitation.
We hung out with them a while and chowed down, it was well after dark at this point. After a couple hours or so of that they gave us a ride back to the highway, we didn't intend to hitch any further in the dark, but instead disappeared into the trees, hopped a fence and tucked away, setting up the tent for the night.
In the morning we were aiming for my friend's place in Mansfield. The first ride we hitched came from a car with Texas plates, but was filled with a girl from Jerusalem, a guy from Kenya and another guy from Jordan. They took us a little ways, then we hitched a ride from a guy going to Ashland and finally a ride from a guy going to see his wife in the Mansfield hospital, he dropped us off downtown.
In no time my friend was scooping us up, a friend I hadn't seen in about a decade under much stranger conditions. It felt good catching up, drinking down beers together for the first time, we spent some time with his friends by the pool, whacking golf balls into a field and laughing it up.
A hungover morning came before long, we left the aftermath of a drunken night as my friend rode us out of town to continue our hitchhiking after the brief yet somewhat momentous reunion.
Onward we went a thumbing, our first ride from a couple heading to DC, they got us to the next interstate junction. After that came another couple heading just a bit further south, then a short ride from a guy in a minivan. After that came Keith, a drunk guy heading down around towards Charleston, West Virginia. Marilyn took over driving as he kept slugging on his Jim Bean, it worked out well as we got just south of the congestion of the city where he dropped us off and turned back.
A state trooper ran us off the highway itself, which was somewhat unfortunate because of the remoteness of the particular highway entrance we were on. That and the rain was picking up. We stood it out, thumbing the few vehicles coming our way, waiting on that next ride.
An eighteen wheeler pulled up, it was pretty clear that his stopping was unrelated to us, but we waved all the same and he sort of motioned us over. That's all it took, he'd indeed stopped just to fiddle with his GPS, but now he was offering us a ride. Three hours later we were hopping out of the truck and checking into a Super 8 motel for the night. My hotel-to-camping ratio had been shifting significantly since traveling with Marilyn, a little different than what the road had conditioned me to, but made for enjoyable nights and cleaned up mornings feeling fresh for the road.
Our goal for this coming day was Raleigh where Marilyn had a friend she wanted to visit. Our first ride came from a truck driver from Georgia, he was from the same little town as some of Marilyn's family, despite her excitement about this the driver was mostly quiet with short responses. The ride was equally as short, but he got us to the next interstate junction which was quite helpful.
Our next ride came from a chill couple that had been hiking the Appalachian Trail, they got us down to Winston-Salem and Interstate 40. There we got a ride from three construction workers who talked our ear off about Jesus until dropping us off in Greensboro.
Next came a ride from a bearded guy in a pickup truck who'd "picked up ten couples like you guys this year". After that was a couple mile ride from a guy who'd picked us up just for kicks, then finally a guy heading straight through Raleigh to Wilmington, he was cool enough to drop us off right around downtown at Crank Arm Brewery.
It was there that Marilyn discovered that we wouldn't be able to stay with her friend for the night, which up until that moment she'd assumed was a given. She became a bit depressed after this revelation, as this girl had been one of her best friends, but sometimes people's living situations just aren't conducive to hosting travelers, great friends or otherwise.
All the same this put us in a situation where we were now in a big city without a place to sleep for the night, likely to late to find a chill Couchsurfing host or otherwise. We did the most practical thing we could think of, found another brewery to check out.
And after that, another brewery. Her friend actually joined us there for a beer, but was gone almost as quick as she'd come. We made our way to one more beer spot after that, a chill spot where a friendly guy even got us a round of beers and listened to our travel stories.
At last it was getting late, once again Marilyn was on her phone tracking down the least expensive motel possible. Soon enough we were in a room to ourselves for the night - pizza, beer, sex and chicken wings, I suppose the night could have been worse.
We made a sign that said Durham in the morning and walked to the highway, Marilyn had another friend nearby she wanted to see and we were pretty well set to spend the night with her. We got a ride from a sweet Iranian women eventually, she got us going towards Durham, but we wound up getting off away from the freeway and in a weird spot where she dropped us off.
We walked down the city streets, not really great for hitching, but we managed a short ride from someone all the same. Marilyn used some Lyft credit to get us the rest of the way to Durham. A coffee shop, a brewery and then we made our way to her friend's house for the night.
In the morning we discovered we'd only be staying there that one night, as her fiend's boyfriend was leaving town and wanted to have the coming night just with the two of them. We walked on out towards town and managed to hitch a ride along the way from a nice women, eventually we wound up at a coffee house for a good chunk of time.
Suddenly we got word from Marilyn's original friend, the one we'd just met briefly for a beer before, she'd conferred with her boyfriend and wanted to put us up for the night after all. More breweries and good times and eventually the four of us wound up at their place sipping beers and swapping stories.
Our Raleigh-Durham experience had been a bit of a cluserfuck overall, but it's hard to look at a couple days of brewery visits and good times as a loss.
Coffee, bacon, pancakes and a ride to the road, now ready to complete our mission to Mryrtle Beach. We thumbed a ride first from a couple guys who got us to I-95, from there a retired guy drove us along down to a rest area, then we got a ride to the next junction from a guy hauling bleachers to Atlanta.
A couple other guys got us towards the coast from there, then a nurse rode us as far as Tabor City. Our last ride came from some friendly guys who decided to go out of their way to get us all the way to Myrtle Beach. They were "from a small town with no black people, not a one, it's great!". Always nice to see a stereotype in working order, we'd made it to the south.
They dropped us at a pretty touristy strip, which I suppose could be about anywhere in Myrtle Beach, but being the crafty duo that we were it wasn't long until we'd planted ourselves at bar stools in a brewery. Not long after that was another beer bar, a Mellow Mushroom. Nursing our beers I scanned the satellite images of our surrounding area. The next day we'd be linking up with Marilyn's family in some swanky on-beach hotel, but for tonight we still needed a place to stay, so I was hoping to find a suitable cluster of trees to accommodate our tent for the night.
Slim picking for the most part, but a good walk away I thought I'd found something. After hoofing it a ways we arrived, a patch of trees right off the highway, we leaped on down to the thorny area of brush and managed to clear a spot for the tent, setting it up in the thick heat of the night.
At last we laid down, essentially swimming in boiling humidity. We pondered our situation, within minutes Marilyn was on her phone doing the hotel search dance, justifying this we thoughts of getting a good night's sleep and shower to appear refreshed when meeting up with her parents the next day.
And so it went, as fast as we'd set up the tent we were already packing it up, trudging out of the brush back into the night, snaking our way down the streets until we'd gotten to the hotel she'd conjured up. So instead of a sweaty night by the road we were once again on a bed for the night in a climate controlled room. I couldn't complain, another good night, needed showers from a day of sweaty walking and hitching, a morning feeling fresh ready to meet the family again, hopefully this would go better than the last time...
August 29, 2014 to September 7, 2014