Slingshot to Indiana and Memphis After Northeast Holidays

Christmas and New Years went as they typically do when I make it the northeast. Family meals and catching up, tasty beer runs with my brother and friends and running into a person or three I haven't seen in ages.

In the week after the New Year I was ready to cruise back out, Indiana being my first idea of a destination to pay Marilyn a visit. I managed to track down a Chinatown bus ticket from NYC to Cincinnati to give me a huge boost. Better than that it cruised over night, so I arrived in the Ohio city bright and early to finish getting to Bloomington by thumb.

A moustached Cincinnati native gave me my first ride across town and to a better spot and had me feeling good to have gotten that first pick up quickly. Next I got picked up by a frightened woman with a chilled out older man in the passenger seat who'd clearly insisted on her pulling over for me. She talked nervously about crime in the city while darting her eyes between the road and the rear view mirror towards me. I stayed laughing at her, but kept my motions to a minimum.

They dropped me off at the state road where a plumber gave me a ride to Columbus, Indiana. He said after wrapping up work there in town he could be heading to Bloomington so we exchanged numbers. I took a walk and relaxed at a coffee shop on the edge of town, but soon found out he wouldn't be continuing on.

Luckily I was able to catch a ride from a mechanical engineer who took just a few blocks from Marilyn's house. I got to her spare key to get inside and hung around until she got back from work, good times followed.

We went out to town for dinner and high quality beers, some more good beer, then back home so we could enjoy some tasty beer. Always our way, we would continue in this fashion for several days enjoying each other, brews and tasty meals. We made our way up to Indianapolis to stay with one her friends for the nights, hitting several breweries in between and in the city, bouncing around all night until getting one last selection of beers from a sort of convenience store / porn outlet / bar kinda spot - quite the stash of craft beers there somehow.

Back in Bloomington I was ready to keep moving, then was convinced to stay another day, then another, then finally had to scratch the itch to continue on.

A peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich drowned with coffee and a kiss for the road, now Memphis bound to see my good friend Nick.

A few short rides got me to the interstate 69 where a geologist for the coal mining industry gave me a cupcake and a ride starting south, then another ride from a guy to around Evansville. A girl from Maine gave me a ride just an exit or two where I started walking alongside the freeway until a cop told me I couldn't walk there. I walked down to the busy intersection where another hitchhiker was waiting on the on ramp, but it was a divided road and there was another entrance across the street. I waited there getting no rides watching him get no rides. He soon gave up and walked off and I took his spot since there seemed to be more traffic, it worked and I got a ride a good ways from a guy who'd coincidentally just dropped off another hitchhiker he'd picked up earlier.

Where he dropped me off I walked the freeway again, and again getting told by a cop to get off. Luckily a pickup truck let me hop in back as I walked back and got me further, where he dropped me off I got yet another ride to a truck stop.

It was now dark and I was wondering how much further I'd get. I tried waiting under the streetlight, headed into the truck stop to ponder my situation, then walked back to the streetlight where a truck was parked. I stood there for a bit thumbing cars as they came by. Eventually the truck door opened and the driver motioned to me. There were two drivers who'd just switched, happy to take me a little ways.

Eventually we came to the junction where we parted ways, I hopped out in the dark and progressively colder night, now with camping on my mind. Amazingly, I instead got picked up by a Mennonite guy on his way to Texas before I could find a camping spot, he'd be going right by Memphis.

We cruised and cruised and chatted, he was a delivery guy of all kinds of odds and ends who was running on minimal sleep. Closer to Memphis he offered me a hundred bucks to help him drive all the way to Texas.

I thought about it for a minute, but instead I was soon getting picked up by Nick around Memphis who'd brought some brownies along for me to munch on riding back to his place, a much better time than driving to Texas.

We caught up and both got quickly got to sleep, he had work in the morning and I was tired out from a full day on the road. The next night when he got back from work we went to his coworker Connie's house for dinner, Nick's patented jambalaya on the menu.

Connie's sister Desi was in town visiting from New York along with her friend Lindsey. They invited me to join them on their next day touring around Memphis, I happily accepted.

They scooped me up in the morning, first stop: Graceland. Elvis everything, we cruised through his old house in tourist audio tour fashion, eventually reaching his gravestone. After that was a museum with dozens of his cars, then even his private planes.

After this we headed downtown to go to an iconic BBQ joint called Rendezvous where I loaded up on tastiness in the form of ribs and brisket. Next we went to Sun Studios where a corny tour guide showed us and a group around, showing where Elvis had stood, the microphone he'd sang into and this sort of thing.

After all this they dropped me back at Nick's place. He came back and I told him about the day, he got a good laugh overall. I usually not one for the more touristy side of cities and Nick was aware of my spending habits in general, we agreed it was likely the most money I'd spent in a single day and at times would have been my budget for months. We supposed I was just a sucker for pretty New York faces and the brisket made it all worth it.

Nick decided to treat me to Gus's Chicken, another Memphis icon. We dominated the chicken, it was delicious, then stepping out the door our next move was in clear view, the donut shop. We grabbed a box of quality donuts and then sat in the car to further destroy them in our masterful feat of feasting.

"Stand beside her! And her guide her!", I sang with half donut in my mouth, blessed in America.

A cop car was parked next to us on my passenger side and suddenly there was a shout as we were in mid donut glory.

"Hey!", came the shout. I turned and saw the cop, my first thought being that we'd parked in a parking lot we probably shouldn't have been in.

"What are you eating?", he said in the same tone.

"Donuts!", I said, holding up the remains of a red velvet piece of heaven.

"They're good, aren't they!", he smiled, some Gus's Chicken by his side.

"Hell yeah!", I shouted back, smiling as I took another bite

We headed downtown later that night where I got myself a beer or two and checked out Beale Street briefly, not impressed after hearing it was like Bourbon Street. Not nearly.

The next day Nick and I headed an hour or so out of town over the border to Mississippi to a lake house owned by Connie and her husband, there along with Desi and Lindsey. It was a good day of touring around the property through the woods, followed by a night of games, beers, wine and tasty food with laughs all around.

We headed back to Memphis after a morning of relaxing and ATV rides. I had one last great Memphis meal with Nick at Central BBQ, then the next morning I'd have to continue on.

I had Arizona on my mind, and before that, Santa Fe where Marilyn was going to a conference for work where I could get some time in with her if I could make it there fast enough. Another day, another adventure.

December 22, 2012 to January 20, 2013