Thumbing to Savannah, Unpredictable Lodging and Good Times

I woke up well rested in Northern Virginia, freshly showered, my clothes clean and packed, my mind on the road ahead of me, I could only guess at what my thumb would attract. Jamie had a pot of coffee going downstairs, I poured a cup and she joined me at the table with a cup of her own. We talked for a while, somehow the idea of a traveling bus came up, something I'd been tossing around in my head and aloud with others for a while. In Salt Lake we'd almost got into a green veggie oil powered bus, going as far as watching Candice test drive thing around downtown. Jamie liked the idea as much as I did, we shot ideas back and forth for a while getting more excited, everything from how the bus would be powered, to the furnishings inside, to the places it could go.

Some time slipped by and Jamie gave me a ride down I-95 to a good spot, we kept talking about the bus and looking at every school bus and RV we passed in a new way. I waived goodbye and walked towards the on ramp, the first rush of cars brought one that pulled into the shoulder and waived me over. I hopped in and we started going down the freeway, the driver was a Marine heading back to base a good ways down the road. We cruised on down, half way there he got pulled over for speeding and was not too happy about it, he has to report all tickets back to base, and had already gotten one ealier that month. He debated whether or not he'd report this one, I think he settled on reporting it whether than running the chance of them finding out on their own somehow.

He eventually had to make a turn down another road and dropped off at some cross roads. We'd looped around a bit too far, so it took just a little walking and crossing the freeway to get back on 95 South, but not much. I alternated between waiting at decent spots along the freeway and walking further down the road in search of new scenery. I landed at a nice looking onramp near a gas station as the sun went down on me. I took a seat in a group of tall trees and had a couple brownies, Jamie had given me a container of those and some cookies before I'd left.

What happened next was a Hobo 2.0 moment, I got a text from my friend Cameron in Salt Lake City. My phone had been silently updating my location automatically in my pocket via Google Latitude, my status in gmail was showing that I was near Wilson, North Carolina, and he had friends nearby. He made a call or two and in no time I was waiting for one of his friends to come pick me up, my sleeping bag in the trees would have to wait for another night.

Josh was his name, he picked me up along the freeway and we headed for the hospital. Their friend had just had a baby, I peered through the glass at the newborn boy while congratulations were thrown around for a few minutes, Josh and I headed out shortly after. I contemplated this for a bit, starting the day with the idea of going to Savannah, then somehow appearing in a North Carolina hospital amongst the first to see this baby boy whose family I'd never known.

We went back to Josh's place for an easy night of TV, beers and a smoke in an attic room. I slept on the couch and was up by 8am the next morning, a quick shower and we got going. He took me to a drive through place where I had the best sausage egg biscuit of my life, then dropped me off down I-95 by a big truck stop.

I got a ride from a guy in a pickup truck for about 20 miles, he told me about how his work in construction had slowed quite a bit, poorly timed with the recent birth of his third child. I waited a while more with thumb out until a small white car pulled over, I through my bag in the backseat and hopped in as the guy, clearly in the army, asked where I was headed. I told him Savannah, so as far south as he was going. He said he'd skipped work today, for no reason in particular, and that he'd drive me a couple hours or so for lack of a better idea for the day. When he found out my timeframe, that being none, he asked if I'd just want to stay the night, go to a bar or two, and he'd buy me a greyhound ticket to Savannah the next day. I didn't have to think to much about an answer, he got on the phone with Greyhound and gladly bought me a ticket for a 1:30 bus the next day.

He'd just moved into a trailer, I'd pictured something like an RV, but this was basically a small house that happened to have a trailer hitch. I helped him unpack some boxes from his car - plates, coffee maker, microwave - things like this, his place was empty besides some unpacked bags and suitcases. We made a run to Walmart where he got an air mattress I could use for the night, along with some other house related items. We got a whole bunch of food, he kept telling me to just grab anything I liked and throw it in the cart. I'd mentioned country fried steak earlier, so he got what was needed to make that happen. His generosity in all this was pretty amazing, again I wondered how sticking out a thumb could so often result in these unpredictable circumstances.

We headed back to his place and I cracked open a beer, he'd bought a few movies too, but the sound on his laptop was pretty low. He wouldn't have it, we were back in the car in search of a pawn shop, he quickly picked out a TV with a built in DVD player and we headed back and watched Boondock Saints. He cooked up the country fried steak, then we watched Fear and Loathing. It was a little later now and he was ready to go to the bar, I'd already knocked back a few pale ales, but he was waiting for the bar and his beer of choice, bud light. Before we went he through a wad of cash at me saying was for the bar, insisting I take it. Funny thing is, he bought the first round himself, and most of the rounds after that as well.

Both bars were within walking distance of his place, although we drove there anyway. We played several rounds of pool, then threw darts for a while at the first bar, called Pirates. It was a pretty big place, which really just made it feel emptier given there was only half a dozen folks in there drinking. We crossed the street to the Swamp bar, a smaller dive sort of place with a friendly bartender. We sat at the bar talking with her over a few beer, I did a couple shots with her, Jon, the army guy, said he wasn't into shots himself though.

They had a pool table there and we played a game or two before heading back across the street to Pirates. They were shutting down, but still gave us one more drink. We downed that and were back in the Swamp. A group of 4 girls and one guy came in, thus doubling the total amount of people in the entire bar. The bartender said the one on the end was the cuter one in the bunch, Jon found someone to play a round of pool with and I sat down next to the girl.

We talked for a minute and I fell in love the way I do, I was really just a guy hitting on her though, as she said. I knew it was something more, and less than that, gathering from the piercing looks of her friends I could tell this girl wouldn't be able to step outside for a half a minute without being followed by her protective group, I wasn't expecting much more than a conversation. I called her out on every hair flip and facial tick until she understood my understanding. Her eyes changed, looking into mine instead of at them, and for a solid time we were in sync discussing things I've since forgotten, left with only an imprint of a memorable connection.

Jon and I took off, he'd disappeared for a while, but returned from wherever he was. He put on another movie and cooked up these chicken bites, anytizers he called them, I got through a bunch of those, another beer, and faded to sleep in front of the movie. My phone's alarm went off in the morning, surprising because I couldn't remember setting one or think of why I would of. I knocked it off and remained laying there, it had woke Jon up too who'd passed out on the floor across the room. He shot up and I could hear him cooking, I slowly rose up in time for him to hand me a plate of bacon and eggs. We both ate up and watched the end of the movie from the night before.

I grabbed a quick shower and we were off towards the Fayetteville bus station. He dropped me off there and made sure I picked up the ticket without any problems, I thanked him for the hundredth time, and he was off. I waited a bit and was soon on a Greyhound bus just 5 hours from Savannah. It went like a typical Greyhound trip, routy people in the back shouting between jokes, complaints and heated arguments here and again, and a disgruntled driver accustomed to these types of things, numb to a point. It got me to Savannah and I was ready to enjoy.


  1. Hey man! My name's Pj.
    I've been reading your blog now for a while-- I'm planning on heading out on a hitchhiking trip and I'm nervous. I just have a fear of hitching from all of the axe murderer stories I've heard and I have asked people to come with me so that I'm less afraid. The problem is, all of the people I've asked from digihitch or couchsurfing do drugs or a ton of alcohol and I'm not comfortable with that (I'm 19, male by the way). I want to head off to either start the appalachain trail in Georgia or head to Delaware to see the Antlantic and hike a trail that goes across the United States, that's going to be in April, but otherwise I am open to go almost anywhere until then.

    I really want to get into hitchhiking but I just can't get over my fear-- I'd love to have a travel partner but I feel like I'll wait forever. I don't know how to get over this fear or who is reliable to hitch with-- could you offer me any advice or help?

  2. Where are you coming from? I'd say just go for it and forget the fear. Maybe you've heard some "axe murder" stories, but if you've read my stories I'm sure they far out number the bad ones you've heard, and there's plenty others posting good stories online to read about... you have a statistically better chance of getting in a car accident than getting axed up.

    You really should be able to find someone else (who isn't a druggie) on couchsurfing or triphopping who'd go with you too, girls are really good luck for hitching especially, usually.

    Sounds like fun trips though, let me know how they go!


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