Hitchabout Nice – Antibes – Aix-en-Provence – Arles | back to Montpellier

I think it was the fastest I’ve ever gotten rides in my entire hitchhiking experience. Residing in Montpellier, France, I had decided to hitch to Nice, the day before. I had anticipated it, knowing that my sister and her British husband go there regularly to escape the York, England chill. It was these two who had visited Montpellier several years earlier on a regular basis. That put this town on the map for me. I liked the sound of it. When I’d googled the town back when I suddenly had the proposition to go to the East coast from Taos, New Mexico, I learned that it’s the fastest growing city in France, of which 25% are students that emerge during the academic year. I sort of made the decision to go there in particular, and base myself . I was actually still deliberating on whether Portugal might be a less expensive and lively place to live while I was purchasing the bus ticket from Paris for Montpellier. At some point I decided I wanted to be closer to other countries in Europe and also where I have a semblance of knowledge of the language.

Mont_Saint-Victoire Paul Cézanne

Mont Saint-Victoire notoriously painted by Paul Cézanne among others

Nice, didn’t appear to have any available couches to surf on. The weather which has been continually warm and sunny, dropped about 10 degrees with predicted rain. I decided to go anyway. My bicycle had just been stolen 4 days earlier in the middle of the day around the corner from the cafe I was working in. After the initial discovery, I decided it was a gift for whoever took it. They not only got bad karma, but also a bike that didn’t work. It was hurting my knees because the gears basically didn’t move and I had to get off frequently, to walk up hills. Montpellier is full of them. Many at gradients of 55ª angles.

When I’d arrived in Montpellier the first day I asked a woman sitting on the tram near me “where is the mont”? She discussed it with her friend and decided that she didn’t know. My guess is that the whole town is so hilly that they decided to call it Montpellier, which means mountain. So, the missing bike precluded transport into town outside of the tram TAM, so it was as good a time as any to check out some other places along the Mediterranean. Nice, France is really close to Italy and Switzerland. By the time I finally left the house after consulting google maps to know what destinations to write on a sign, it was going on 2pm. The drive is a little over 3 and a half hours.

I strolled to the end of these outdoor tables with people seated there where I spotted a large white clean piece of cardboard tossed on the ground beyond the tables. I was already steering myself towards this cafe to ask for cardboard. Nice start, I had markers. The entrance to the highway was basically right there. This area was a short walk from where I’d currently been living, conveniently on the edge of town. I noticed several cheap bus lines departing from there, Sabine. I incidentally had been told two days previously that I needed to move out by the end of the month, a day after the bike theft. I had two weeks to decide my next moves. That was another reason to make this trip, a few pairs of ears to discuss my options. I was now less convinced that I wanted to stay in Montpellier. The housing situations had been a challenge.

I watched traffic stopping and starting at a traffic light, and was standing right before an indentation in the road for busses, perfect for cars to pull over. I had written Nice on one side of the sign and was starting to write Aix-en Provence on the other, flipping it up for cars to read both sides, when the first small truck pulled over after only a few lights. I hadn’t been there more than 10 minutes. He’d been working in Montpellier for the day and was on his way to Aix. He’s an Albanian man from Kosovo, his name packed with consonants, Xhemil Iveseldaj.  He’s been living in Aix-en Provence among other members of his family, for 40 years. He was returning from his work week in Montpellier where he stays in a hotel. His boss pays for that, along with his tolls and I guess all travel expenses. He works in such a specialized field, that he’s been accustomed to these long commutes for years, sometimes sweeping countrywide. He’d previously commuted to Paris from Aix, and before that by plane to another town. I learned a fair amount about his life and his two sons. He is one of 7 siblings, five brothers and two sisters. He said in Albania the families tend to be even larger. He said he doesn’t believe in a ‘God’ but in nature. We agreed about that, ‘Nature’ is our ‘god’. I asked if he believes in climate change. We discussed it for quite a while along with other topics.

He had missed his turnoff and I was wondering if I was going to be dropped off in the middle of the highway at an inconvenient place, but he then went back through toll booths, and tracked back to the highway where we were now still heading towards Aix-en-Provence en route to Nice. He’d seen the Aix on my sign. Works every time to have a sign. Xhemil always seemed a bit impatient when coming to any toll, as if seconds shaved off his time were going to critically screw up his day. I guess he was simply in a big hurry to get back home at the end of his workweek. He brought me to a good place where all traffic was heading in the direction of Nice.

I was happy to find a bathroom next to an odd parking garage area where on one side there were buses, ironically, one on its way to Nice. I had covered half the distance already and didn’t bother to approach the bus to ask the driver, preferring to hitch. Someone saw my signs and was yelling out to me from the top story of this large round parking garage building. I ignored him/them. It took about 6 minutes, maybe less, for a car to stop. I heard the responses from above as I was getting into the vehicle. The driver was Olivier, a local who lived in a little town with a great view of this mountain outcropping Saint Vincent from one side. He was on his way to Cannes for the evening. Olivier is an engineer, specifically works on plane engines. He lived in Paris for a stint, said he learned a lot working for Air Bus. He still works for them, and was relieved to move back to his home ground.

Mont Saint-Victoire, Paul Cézanne

Olivier says this landmark outcropping of rock Mont Sainte-Victoire, changes color frequently and has been a feature of many painters.

He and I had a nice rapport. We talked the entire time and really had a lot of similar points of view about the quality of simple things in life that give it value. He dropped me off at a very convenient location at the entrance to highways from Cannes. I was sorry to see him go.

My next ride was with a professional chauffeur, John Christopher. He had made sort of a precarious stop to pick me up. I guess as a local he knows what he can get away with. He was going to pick up his clients on this late afternoon to take them to a fundraiser gala event, hosted for wealthy families who were donating money to hurricane victims in Saint Martin, a French island in the Caribbean. He has worked for this same family exclusively for 15 years. He said that this event was perhaps at a hidden location. He knew that football stars, actors and actresses were going to be there among the very wealthy patrons. He described what these evenings could be like, and how he had to always be available for and and all things that might occur. He might have to make the commute over the bridge to pick up one item left behind, or drop off kids at different places. I enjoyed this little scope into the lives of the upper crust there, from the chauffeur’s point of view. A very gentle guy, he left me off before taking his route to the home of his employer. We left with smiles lingering.

Nice, France first shots - pastry and me

A bridge separated me between where I stood where everyone seemed to be racing to their next destination. I’m guessing I was at St.-Laurent du Var by this bridge. I wondered how long this ride would take, since now I was extraordinarily ‘out of place’. A hitchhiker with a backpack among demonstratively expensive cars and high income drivers. Surprisingly, a car stopped. It was Raphael a medical student in Nice, where he also was raised. He looked distinctively Spanish or Italian. He did me the courtesy of using his phone to dial my contact number and drop me off after crossing into Nice to a very familiar cement way lined with Palm trees before the beach. The Promenade des Anglais is where a demented man drove a truck moving down pedestrians on Bastille Day on the evening of 14 July 2016. The Nice attack killed 86 people and injured 458. Sound familiar? The whole area has since been reinforced to block vehicular traffic, involving bringing in full-grown palm trees with cranes.

historical Nice, France and cemetary

I wound up spending several days in Nice, endowed with lovely weather. Took various local rides ferried to different parts on cool excursions with family into the hills looking back down over the city. I had particularly wanted to see Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Nice page 1 of second group inlaid stones

Nice, France inlaid stones

When it came time to leave, I finally noticed a text message on my cheap French phone, an invitation from a friend I’d met years earlier, who had actually invited me to stay at her and her boyfriend’s place. I texted her back explaining I’d missed seeing her text. In a little while I made my way to make a start, found some cardboard and what appeared to be the entrance to highways. I stood there a short time up in the hills. I saw a dread-headed girl across the street who when she crossed, approached to tell me she’s hitched a lot, and if I’m going to Aix-en-Provence, I’d have better luck down standing down by the water – once again before the Promenade des Anglais. I thanked her and walked down the hill. When I turned the corner I saw a group of people waiting for a bus a hundred yards away. I thought to myself, they’re probably wondering about what I was doing. Within several minutes, my first ride stopped. A smartly dressed man in a nice car on his way to Aix-en-Provence. I laughed to myself at how easy I made it look for the people standing there waiting for a bus. He made a phone call to his wife indicating he was on his way. I mentioned that I’d come from Montpellier to Nice and still was trying to figure out where to land. He mentioned that for using English, Aix-en-Provence would have better opportunities than Montpellier due to its larger influx of British because of the nearby seaport. He convinced me in fact. He said forget Montpellier, it’s mostly a college town, whereas Aix has an English speaking presence and a sophisticated flair.

mazza

mazza

 

Manu

Manu

The text was from a woman whom I’d met with her boyfriend 5 years earlier in Krakow, Poland. I was now getting out of the car upon receiving the text, only half an hour or so from Nice and 100’s of km before where I thought I was going. That was a great timed text, minutes before the Antibes exit. I had a splendid visit with these friends and their wonderful feline creatures. It was the therapy I needed, the playful cats along with friendly and inspiring conversation and inclusion.

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

 

Edwige, Antibes

Edwige in Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibe

I departed from my friends and the kitties in Antibes who I was already missing. Once again I got fantastic rides, two rides from Antibes. A young baker, boulanger, who told me stories of his life and his wife and 2 kids. At the moment that I noticed a sign for a rest stop I asked him whether there was another like it prior to where he was going. He wound up immediately pulling over, because he in fact was getting off soon, where the town was so small he explained I’d probably have very fewer ride possibilities than here at this highway stop. I parted farewell from this sweet guy and was walking into the rest-stop restaurant and showed my signs to the people as I was walking by them. They were a couple, and happened to be driving to Montpellier. I said that that’s where I live, but am going to Aix-en-Provence. They said they could take me there, it’s on the way. I hung with them a bit at the outdoor tables after I returned. We had a few interesting exchanges before getting in the car. A huge lovely white dog accompanied by a man entered the picture. I said, ‘elle est belle’, and the girl laughed, saying she has exactly the same type of dog, whose name is Belle. It’s unusual for a couple to offer a ride, very rare. They have to be really confident with one another, and these two were. Thomas and Gwendoline were very animated. At one point I mentioned out of the blue that I’d like to go to Istanbul, and they laughed, saying they’re going there next Thursday. They each engaged in conversation the entire time. We really connected. He owns 2 businesses in (IT), one which he originally started doing web design and the other advising companies on how to work more efficiently. She isn’t currently working. We talked the whole time, They were on their way to Montpellier to visit his father, and in fact he drove me into the center of Aix-en-Provence which he loves, and Gwendoline had never been.

Eight weeks earlier I wouldn’t have been able to understand but a quarter of what they were saying, now 8/10th percent. She spoke some English cuz she lived a year in New Zealand doing a WWOOF with baby sheep! She visited Australia too. She joked that she’s probably more conservative politically than he. He described that he believed the French president Macron would have more possibility to take a center stage in the global political arena. As we were driving into Aix from the highway, I commented that I believe trees may be more conscious than we are. To my surprise, Thomas the computer guy, heartily agreed, saying that he despises that people believe that they’re at the top of the pyramid of life, when in fact all life forms have intelligence. Thomas so much admires the town, that I decided after walking around a bit that for my saturday night, I’ll stay in Aix-en-Provence, regardless of where I may or may not sleep.

Aix-en-Provence, France

On this late summer Saturday afternoon in the street of Aix-en-Provence  I came upon a group of woman doing a spontaneous dance exercise; an an all female dance troupe. They were doing an improvisation exercise in their practice. I sort of guessed that this is what they were doing. Later when they were less involved in any presentations, I asked a few. One woman with eye that met mine with a sparkle in her eyes and large smile approached me and handed me a flyer.

She was in fact the director who organized this theatrical dance art group. http://cie-mariehelenedesmaris.com

I had decided to stay there regardless of not having looked for couchsurfers. It was a Saturday evening, it’ll be fun. I asked the right couple on my walk, who described several different options, pointing to areas on a map I had of specific areas to find things going on.

I went to a cafe to catch up on writing and organizing my pictures, and wound up hanging there into the late hours, with co-workers and guests. As the evening progressed, I was invited not only to stay that evening, but for an extended length of time, if I was demonstrating that I was doing the work I needed to do. I could now stay at this apartment there in Aix-en-Provence with these two brothers. However that vanquished at the point that the one breached my trust, and caused me to launch myself out back into the streets of Aix with the approaching dawn. It seemed like it might have been the semblance of a good thing, if not for the immediate security violation. One of the brothers was already in bed, it appeared. I was ushered into a room, fine, ah, but wait, no lock on the door. I waited before getting into bed with my pully and pack on by the door. listening for a few moments, when suddenly the door swung open, with me standing right there. I’m sure it surprised him as much as it did me; bursting into the room allegedly having misplaced his cell phone. Not only did this maneuver make me feel quite uncomfortable with the thought of sleeping there, but it also immediately dissolved that opportunity. So, I was heading out from Aix that morning, and still not sure what would define my future. This town hadn’t particularly welcomed me; no couch surfers, no housing possibilities and no tolerance for an opening in a bachelor den that was the epitome of neglect.

 

Arles, France, Nice, hitchabout

I hitched to Arles from Aix-en-Provence that morning. Maybe I’d go to Nimes (Roman ruins in both towns) on the same day.  The two cities located in the Occitanie region of southern France, were an important outpost of the Roman Empire. Nimes is known for its well-preserved monuments such as the Arena of Nîmes, a double-tiered circa-70 A.D. amphitheater still in use for concerts and bullfights. Its Maison Carrée white limestone Roman temple and Pont du Gard tri-level aqueduct are around 2,000 years old. I wound up staying in Arles instead.

Shortly after arriving at a good departure point in Aix, a woman stopped in her sleek car. I assumed the boy of about 11 sitting in the passenger seat was her son. She was an attractive, well dressed, middle aged woman who appeared professional, everything intact.  She was on her way to Nimes. The song that was playing on the alternative rock station was fairly pop, and each of the songs became progressively more hard-edged. The music didn’t seem to go with her appearance at all. The volume was so high that it impeded the ability to talk. When I asked, she staccato answered that she lives in Aix. That was my first and last question in an attempt to engage them in conversation. Her son and she didn’t say a word to one another the entire time.  She drove very fast and agilely on the highway on her way to Nimes, maneuvering efficiently. I was surprised she picked me up at all.  I pictured that she was dropping her son off at a midway point in an agreement with her ex, as they trade time with the child since divorcing. I decided that she was annoyed to have to drive him there, the hour and a half, now wait, 3 hour journey altogether to drop him off in Nimes and return; an invasion on any other activities she might have wanted to do on that Sunday. I didn’t ask. I let them ‘not talk’ to one another or me. I felt sorry for the kid. The music was quite loud. The silence was fierce.

Michael Jackson T-shirt, Always Be Yourself

Michael Jackson T-shirt
Always Be Yourself

I’m sitting in a cafe putting these pages together, sitting near the bathroom entrance. Many people flow by. One guy was waiting in line, a tall Arab guy, I saw in between the edges of his jacket a skeleton, and I said pointing, “is that Michael Jackson”? He said, yes and opened his jacket. I said, trying as I could in French, after multiple plastic surgeries that destroyed his cartilage, he’s now a skeleton. He said, exactly. He and I were both laughing pretty hard at this point as he was now walking into the bathroom, since it wasn’t supposed to be that obvious. I asked him when he came out to get a shot of the shirt, which is even more hilarious, saying below the image ‘Always Be Yourself‘.

In Arles I met a man whose eyes met mine from where he was perched on a balcony of this cloister.  I was like, what, are you WORKing there or what? Later we met on the stairs where he offered me an extra ticket to the last day of the photo exhibit there. He’s local. So, he’d waited until the last day of the exhibit to finally go see it. I had the impression that in this town that flowed regularly for most months of the year with tourists, that it was well stocked with woman accessories.  I wondered whether he took advantage of this, and lead a sort of double life. I was sort of expecting that we’d hang out together more, but he had other plans, probably a dinner gathering, or going home to dinner with his family. He bade his farewell and disappeared into the dusk, cutting through this building. Perhaps I seemed too risky, an American woman who happened into the town and didn’t know where she was going to sleep that night.  It was a nice exhibit. I wound up wandering away from the middle aged man who vanished to walk up a hill to find myself watching bats fluttering about and looking out over the valley, and instead talking to some young North African teenagers.

I had wandered around the periphery of the olympic Roman stadium and along streets in the town looking at the sites. I had gone into a lovely church where I learned some history. It was later, much later that my bed found me.  I was walking around a building and saw this little sort of fenced in courtyard that was merely following the contours of the rounded building. There was a low decorative iron fence around a small curved plot of soil, encasing a few bushes and a tree or two. I spotted large pieces of cardboard neatly wrapped up and tied together stacked vertically on the outside of this area. I learned years ago from a French (North African) truck driver that cardboard can be used to insulate from the cold. (Who I wound up driving with through Italy to Germany where during Ramadan, he’d chain smoke and start drinking his coffee before the sun came up or went down, and had packed a delightful gourmet assortment of foods home-made by his wife who packed them for his holiday fasting). I picked up the cardboard, pulled the pieces out, saw that they weren’t soiled and laid them out to form a platform to lay on. I had no sleeping bag. It wasn’t cold. I felt quite safe there and happy to not have to carry my backpack any more.  A pretty ‘sleepy’ town, I didn’t sense that anyone was going to look for me there. I didn’t sleep, but was comfortable. The night before in Aix-en-Provence I hadn’t slept at all.

I had already decided to stay in Arles that night. It was still pretty warm, September 25th, 2017. Later that evening, my resting place found me.

Arles rockin an auberge cardboard style at the hidden concave of a building

It was the last ride, Phillippe Lu, (great grandparents or grandmother came from China to Cambodia, where his parents were from. It was the intelligent conversation I had with him and his power of persuasion, which now convinced me after all that I should in fact plant myself in Montpellier; offering English courses with all the university separate buildings spreading over the north of town. He said I could make €15 to 20 per lesson. He texted his son to get the coordinates of an umbrella organization for all the universities called CROUS. He helped to give me some wording for a sign to put up. I since had looked up C.R.O.U.S. and gone there several times to get as much information as I could from what I’d written down while riding with him. They had info about housing, the university of lettres (languages) and basically I followed through and later wandered the labyrinthe of different buildings that a part of the university, that spreads across the north part of town that had been 50 years ago, fields. When I’d returned to Montpellier I was now homeless and searching through many different sources, mostly online, for housing. It was on the eve of the beginning of the month that one friend pointed out a site I’d already disregarded, judging that it was too expensive. I told him I’d already looked at that one, and it tends towards more expensive listings. I noticed that my friend had fr.fr in the beginning of the web address and mine us.fr, because I had first viewed it from the United States (I started viewing housing listings from the moment I booked an inexpensive flight). Turns out the subtle difference in the website made a huge difference in what was offered. The local listings offered a category unto themselves, anglophone families looking for English native speakers to live with them for reduced rent in exchange for some prerequisite time and activities. I’ve since found the most remarkably perfect situation, a win-win.

my signs for the return trip

my signs for the return trip

Montpellier Zoo, Jardin des Plantes

Montpellier Zoo Jardin des Plantes and street pics

It started, or rather was continuing a year ago in another desert, in the high desert of New Mexico, bordering Colorado. Luna was Bill Light’s dog, who built his home in the canyon 5,000 feet above Santa Fe, New Mexico en route to the ski area. His wife had died a few years earlier. I stayed for several months in a cabin adjacent to his home which he built for his daughter. I lived there in the autumn of 2016.

I quickly became a fan of going on walks with his dog Luna. She was a fan of walks as well, and would actually come over to the cabin and tap on the door with her foot. Wow! She absolutely loved the excursion off the property and a long a path cutting through a narrow valley to the National Forest land. In the late summer twice with Luna, I was exposed to bears. It was because Luna discovered them, and barked them into submission.

 

Luna, Bill Light's, Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

Luna my friend at Bill Light’s cabin in Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

I lived in the cabin next to Bill Light’s home in my first months above Santa Fe, New Mexico where my nice landings began. Luna and I would cut through trails up to the National Forest land and then either move further into the canyon’s or launch up to the ridge. These became my sketching/water color excursions. Luna launched and climbed the hill with ease and I followed.

Bill who had an earlier bought with cancer which had gone into recess, got it again, and died from pneumonia since I had moved out. It’s a strange thing that he was there and actively doing all sorts of things, and now gone. I don’t know what happened with Luna, certainly she was completely at home in the mountains. I hope a neighbor took her in. Besides seeing lots of deer in the late summer and the few incidences with Luna barking a bear and her cubs up a tree, I would mt. bike into town from there, regularly. I cycled 7 miles up 5,000 feet to get to the property. I never used any bike lights or reflectors, despite the fact that there were no street lamps. My eyes would adjust whether it was a new or full moon. i figured it was a good way to balance out staring into a computer screen. I find a bike wherever I go and also animals that I love. Now there are stray cats where I am, and I’ve just landed, with muscle and sweat and help with several bike mechanics, a bike that I am delighted to ride.

Now there’s no dog present like in Santa Fe and the ones I affectionately grew acquainted with and loved immediately in Taos, New Mexico the following spring. There are a bunch of stray cats however here in Montpellier. It occurred to me to look for a used bike at this place I’d become a member of months earlier. Le Vieux Biclou. After asking a guy in the street when I knew I was in the vicinity of the bike shop if he knew of where it’s located, it turned out he was on his way there. There I spotted the mt. bike I wanted, and the following day during opening hours learned of its one major obstacle; a seat post jammed all the way down that wouldn’t budge. Several technicians, pounding and myself instructed to scrape off the rust of the now ejected post, and a day later going to another bike shop to get a lock appropriate for the rampant bike thievery in this town, I purchased bolts to replace the quick release wheels and seat, and was assisted in mounting the lock to the frame. After riding it the second time i realized that this bike runs flawlessly, enabling me to climb any steep slope with ease. Stoked!

I’ve since made my signs and printed them and edited my contact cards. I wanted to get this blog out, put up the signs in various excursions, and begin today on a singular path to complete my book between my father and mother’s birthdays. That’s pretty immediate. The difference, no noose around my neck to pay a rent that squelches my time and psyche.

And as is typical, I ask for donations. Thanks! PayPal Donate Button  Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

carol keiter, blogger, Nice

blogger in Nice

Hitchabout to a casting call for a political satire TV show filmed in Albuquerque, NM

It was a remarkably successful hitchhiking journey to ABQ and back to Taos, with the generous help of friends, who made my sojourn to Albuquerque to answer a casting call job for a day. I write about it because I learned a lot from talking with each of the drivers. Props for hitchhiking, in which one comes across locals who more than likely are delighted to share information about their own region and its history, as well as stories about their own family. The driver’s were white and various shades of brown; Native American and Spanish, representing each race that live together in this region.

Pueblos of the Southwest

Pueblos of the Southwest

I turned down the first 3 rides, intuitively, and took a fourth to the edge of town, to a better place for people to stop.

While in the process of doing the final research, edits and writing and illustrating of my eBook in the final countdown, I received a phone call. It was from a casting company I had registered with a couple months ago, knowing that both of my sources of employment were going to end with the season: in this case, ski and school. I accepted the job, even though with a slight disappointment, it wasn’t going to take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a one hour and a half drive, but Albuquerque, NM, adding another hour; a 133 mile drive.

My only choice to get there, hitch. Upon speaking with the representative of the casting company about the potential call time, I realized that I would have to hitch there the day prior, and figure out how to get to the TV shooting site (yet to be announced), by 6am, or earlier.

Turns out that by contacting my friend living there, who was out of town visiting her home town, she responded immediately, gave me the phone number of her husband who then responded and gratuitously and generously gave me his time and the transport and shelter that I needed.

I only wanted to mention the hitches:

It is the second time in my life that I have turned down rides. Both times occurred in New Mexico. Typically, I feel quite comfortable with those who have stopped to offer a ride. I turned down the first 3 rides, trusting my instincts. Another I trusted to give me a lift to a better departing place with more room for a car to pull over. Within a minute of that ride which was welcomed, a man stopped with whom I had a great conversation the entire time. It was my Albuquerque sign in the early afternoon in Taos, that drew his attention, since he was returning to there after coming to Taos to do mold testing on a structure. As I’ve said before, typically the people who do stop for hitchhikers, are as interested in telling their stories as they are in hearing yours. So we chatted about many topics. I learned about his sons, their projects and several fun stories about their characters, among all sorts of things that we discussed.

Turns out the filming of a political satire TV show, Graves went from 5:45am to 10:30pm, lots of waiting time and repeated filming of the same scenes. Regarding takes, I almost felt I could have been a stand-in after several hours, having heard the lines so often. I opted to stay again in ABQ that night and join my host and his son, driving to Santa Fe the following morning to go to Meow Wolf.

drought, southwest, wikipedia

drought southwest wikipedia

On the ride back, I had one after another great ride. First, a gentle, soft-spoken Native American man who is a jeweler who presents his crafts among other Native American artists 5 days a week in the Santa Fe playa. He explained that he was born in Northern Arizona, and I assume that he is Navaho. He said that his parents moved from there, because there was no work. Several times he mentioned the fact that there is no water. He said that one makes a presumption about water coming out of a faucet. They didn’t have that luxury. He said he attended 7 different schools between his junior and senior high school years, because his parents kept having to move to find employment; from Arizona to California to New Mexico. Each of them are deserts which have experienced droughts. He emphatically stated when I asked if he was coming from work, “no, I work for himself, making jewelry. He says he lives behind the hill of Pojoaque where he let me off, happily with his Pug.

The next ride was with a man and his 11 year old son. Anglo, mixed ethnic (Mexican mother) son, he mentioned all of the different pueblos in the area.

He was driving an exceptionally beat-up Suburu, still running like a charm. I went with them on a few errands on their way home. I accompanied them to the Pojoaque

Pojoaque Pueblo, New Mexico

Pojoaque Pueblo New Mexico

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pojoaque,_New_Mexico . There, the son enthusiastically bound into the library to pick up the books he ordered, several pounds of these slender Japanese hardcover Manga (漫画? Manga) books, part of a series, whose storyline just keeps going.
Considering the fact that I’m in the final edits of my own eBook geared towards kids and young (and any age adults), it is quite impressive to see this enthusiasm bordering obsession with this genre. Having taught in more than 2 dozen schools this past year in the Santa Fe public school system, I saw middle and high school students both embracing anime books (pronounced an i mae).

Anime charicters with tattoos

Anime charicters with tattoos

As the father smilingly responded, you have to have a story that the kids are interested in reading! He spoke about how miserable he was working at a local Casino, and that he makes far better wages and engages with all sorts of people who are friendly and kind, in the hotel in which he now works in Santa Fe.

The third ride was with a young Spanish man, who is 3rd or 4th generation Taoseño. He described the struggle that his great grandparents had when prior to New Mexico being declared a territory in the early part of this century, that previously in the late 19th century, the United States came in and basically just kicked people off of their land, who had been living there prior to the discovery by Columbus. Perhaps this coincided or was subsequent to Mexico territory becoming that of the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Cession His great grandfather and a group of others pulled their finances together to purchase acres by land they valued very much, by El Salto. This they did not to develop, but to protect it from development, to preserve the wilderness, beauty and the habitat of animals there, for all to enjoy. We talked continuously. I learned that with his carpentry skills, he is widening doors and making his home wheel chair accessible for his step son, who has cerebral palsy. I said, so you must indeed have made the commitment in this relationship. He is happy to do this, loves his son and is proud of his daughter by his first marriage, who will now work as a dentil hygienist for a female dentist entrepreneur who rolled into Taos, an eccentric and imaginative woman, who has resurrected and improved a number of local dental practices by incorporating state-of-the-art technology. The dentist woman rides a harley apparently. The technology they use, rather than exposing patients to potentially harmful x-rays, is audio sound technology, so that one can image the cavities and so forth through sound waves. Pretty interesting. It’s called ultrasound technology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23706922

As I said at the beginning, the neat thing about hitchhiking, is that one comes across locals who more than likely are delighted to share information about their own region and its history, as well as stories about their own family.

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz ~ As an avid blogger who is presently picking up where I left off with my eBook to complete it and and beginning again to compose music, I ask you rather unambiguously and unabashedly to please donate, if you are able. !-))

Carol Keiter le_blogger, writer & illustrator, musician & composer

Carol Keiter le_blogger, writer & illustrator, musician & composer

hitchabouts abounding – rolling into one another

Several weeks ago I hitched to Taos from Santa Fe several days after the SantafeSki basin closed. Word on that last day by many locals was that Wednesday was going to be a powder day…and the lift tickets for that week only were $20, instead of $90 +. I went, standing there in flurries on this corner holding my skis, poles and boots by my feet. I quickly got a ride the whole way from a man who was doing some business and had done his Trader Joe’s stop etc., heading back to Taos. He and his wife have Taos ski passes. We had plenty to talk about social, political, economic and environmental subjects. My host phoned me to give an update on the meeting point because he was leaving his current location. The call came when the vehicle I was in was within less than a minute from where my host was standing.





The following week I hitched the 90 miles again, to be present for a dinner with my host, a friend from my home town in Pennsylvania whose mother, a friend of my parents, was making her trek across the country to visit several of her kids. I made it just after the cocktail hour and before the Palmyra crew were sitting down at the dinner table. The ride I had that day was with a woman who picked me up at the same corner at the DeVargas Mall. I had just started to dial my host to apologize that perhaps I was not going to make it in time, when this young woman put down the passenger seat window to say she’s driving to Taos. I always have a sign! I would have been on time, if a female police officer hadn’t kept us for 20 minutes after waiting in her car at a speed trap.

I hitched to the peoples climate march, the 1,877 or so miles, and after about 9 rides, leaving 1pm on Wednesday, I made it to the grounds of the event at the Mall in Washington D.C. a bit after the opening speeches had begun. I was among them as we approached the White House to surround it. Although I later learned and saw that the Prez was indeed there, because there was a very long and loud motorcade for the visiting dignitaries…I assumed that this particular weekend he might have chosen to go golfing on a high-rise rooftop in Saudi Arabia with Marine le Pen and Putin. En route, I pretty much barely caught any sleep. The night of the climate march, by the time I’d wandered to the Starbucks at Dupont Circle to plug into electricity and the world, after having taken 300+ photos after the march of all of the signs laid down in a field spelling out words from a mandala, I realized it was too late to phone my friend. Oh yeah, I had to go to Starbucks to look up her number. I thought it was in my phone. I wound up chatting with a guy outside of a bar on this pleasant Friday evening, where all these people flowed out from the club above. They were mostly gay men, of mostly middle eastern decent; Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt…I wandered into a different club to dance, and when that ended, asked a man on the street where I could find a place open to eat dinner. A tall, elegant AfroAmerican, we somehow got onto the topic of the award winning deserts he makes, marketing in other countries. He steered me to a restaurant bar where I could find his dessert which was near. I was still in the Dupont Circle area. Not knowing where I’d sleep that night and figuring that I wouldn’t, I wandered to go splurge on dinner. I say splurge, because by virtue of my lifestyle, I rarely have spare money to go ‘out’ to eat. However, turns out that I was given numerous donations along my hitch to D.C. I believe I left with $13.00 in my wallet. By the time I reached D.C. had about $90, and returned with about the same amount I left with. Seems the money went in multiples of $7, each time I’d buy anything.

So I walk into this restaurant at about 5:00 in the morning. It’s packed. I’m seated next to a bustling table of gay men, mostly the Middle East, like a different country represented by each of the six. Turns out the guy next to my elbow was very communicative. We chatted, chattering and and laughing. I had a nice rapport with the waiter, a gay man from Tunisia. He asked after the gang next to me left and I was finishing up my meal if I had anywhere to sleep. I accompanied him just a few blocks away after his shift ended. He was genteel, made sure that his alarm clock was additionally set for when I had to rally to catch a 5:40 pm flight. He was proactive and is kind and a great sense of humor. He explained how I needed to walk back to the metro and catch the train, in case he didn’t get up. I noticed the clean, sleek black sheets as I was leaving the following afternoon. He also articulated the two possible train routes I could take to the Ronald Reagan Natl Airport, in retrospect very helpful, because the Blue line was not functioning on this particular Sunday. I got to the domestic flight with still half an hour to spare.

driving directions from Taos, New Mexico to Tucson, Arizona

Now I’m hitching tomorrow, Friday morning for Tucson. It’s a quarter of the distance of the last, according to google maps about 9 hours. I was asked if I wanted to be among the cast of female producers for this ‘all female producer’ electronic music producer’s open mic sort of thing. It takes place every month at a bar in Tucson called the Flycatcher. I participated in it twice before. I figured yeah, I’ll go 578 miles to play 20 minutes or so, why not?

Pushing Buttons -Monthly Producer Getdown Sat May 6 at 9pm

Pushing Buttons -Monthly Producer Getdown Sat May 6 at 9pm

I flew back to Albuquerque after the march on sort of a standby. I didn’t know how I’d make it back to Taos by 10am the next morning to meet the person driving me to move my stuff from Santa Fe to Taos, but knew I could wake up early and hitch that distance easily. In fact, after having a bit of a rapport with a man sitting right behind me, I then saw him walking together with the man seated across the isle from me and overheard Santa Fe. I asked them, and they were happy to give me a ride that night, right off the plane. We had a very in depth conversation, carried along by my continued questions about the Ba H’ai faith. They were coming from a conference in which the driver is the Santa Fe representative who is eligible to vote for a National member of their ‘clergy’. I will have to talk about that later. I am still on the learning curve of creating music with these programs, though learning short cuts and continually learning by doing, how to use the programs Ableton Live and Propellerhead Reason. I lost the original material of a chunk of songs when that laptop ceased and I couldn’t transfer the content from one to another Software version. I had heard of this before, hadn’t realized until the man informed me that it originated only about 150 years ago in Persia. Ironically, Persia is also the origin of the particular meditation tradition the South African Pediatrician studied originally (a Sufi tradition). He guides a ‘Heart Rhythm’ meditation presently at the Hershey Penn State Medical Center in Hershey, PA.

Interesting, Ba H’ais except and wish to support and respect all religions, they don’t proselytize, they don’t have a hierarchy of clergy with mega bucks holding sermons in mega churches. There are no ‘leaders’ but an elected group who pass things by majority rule. They believe in love, kindness, acceptance and service. They are very Green.

I got that flight back by virtue of walking along the same sidewalk the day before I booked the flight, and running into a guy I’d known years ago in Taos, when he was a customer at the Cafe Tazza where I was employed. We chatted for a while, catching up there on the corner where a man with a stark white long beard and cowboy hat had just ridden across the crosswalk among the midday car traffic. My friend mentioned that he’d give me a call. He did the following day, and I hopped on my bicycle and he met me to donate funds towards my vision, to get to the peoples climate march. He gave me the money, I found a one-way ticket after lots of searches that was guaranteed to leave the day I wanted to leave, but not revealing the time until after it was booked. I hoped it would give me time to get to the airport from D.C. It did.

I came back to move into a yurt so that I can live the life of a starving artist with a roof over my head. I’m not starving either. Although I worked 7 days a week throughout all but the last month of the school year as a substitute teacher booking often 4 and 5 days a week of work and taking weekends and holidays to commit to working as a ski instructor for the local ski basin in Santa Fe, I have barely any money saved; trying to pay off a credit card debt. The yurt residence is not far from the center of town of Taos, New Mexico.
Here are pictures of the yurt and surroundings.



 

 

yurt

new residence in a yurt

I have to stop writing now and get onto arranging what I’ll be doing. I just started a new song a week ago involving Penguin calls that sound sort of like horns. I still have more composing and sound editing to do.

In the meantime, I have had two landlords rip me off here in New Mexico, land of enchantment. Astoundingly, after verbal promise to reimburse my security deposit and not cash the check for the rent I paid in advance, which was paid by another woman for the same month and same room, and from whom I received a security deposit, David Michael Carman who owns this property in Santa Fe among others in his residential city of Albuquerque, stole over a thousand dollars from me. Just sayn’. The following landlady, where I had to move in on sudden notice, also itemized the deductions from my security deposit to squeeze as much out of it as she could. What happened to honesty?

Here’s the blog I never got to post about the hitchabout to Taos.

The ride down, actually, up, north to Taos, was flawless. The word had been spreading among all of the locals and employees of Santa Fe Ski Basin on its last opening day of the season, Sunday April 2nd, that the coming Wednesday will be a powder day at Taos Ski Valley, not only open for still another week, but lift tickets reduced to $20.00 from over $90. No brainer.

Ride – hitch to Taos $20 – powder day = fantastic ride > direct to Chris at phenomenally the exact time of his call

I phoned my friend living in Taos from the same hometown in Pennsylvania next to Hershey. He hadn’t planned to ski, but wasn’t on a project at the moment. Sure, he’ll join. It had occurred to me the day before that hitching, I can’t feasibly wait until the day after the storm, because I’d have to leave while it’s still dark. Lift lines open at 9am for the 90 mile drive.

The whole point of a powder day is to be there as the lifts open to get freshies – fresh tracks – before the snow gets chopped up by people skiing moving the snow into little digits and channels and mounds. Virgin powder conditions are like floating. Each tiniest weight shift creating a little arc of a turn. “No Friends On A Powder Day” – No Waiting. No Stopping, for anything.

I walked out prepared with my backpack, sign on the back of my ‘SKI’ sign created on a paper bag which I used all season from the tryouts to be an adult ski instructor with the Santa fe ski school to the work days; hitching up to the Santa Fe ski area. ‘TAOS’ was an easy fit on the back side of the sign.

http://350pacific.org/pacific-climate-warriors/

I chose each place where I lived in town specifically for the ease with which I could hitchhike to the ski area, to access the main roads en route to the only road going up the mountain- Hyde Park Road. People trying out for skiing or snow boarding positions are obliged to attend the training clinics, leading up to the opening of the ski area. Those hired were expected to be bodily present during prime times – winter and spring breaks – I scheduled myself to work weekends. When I wasn’t up at the ski area, I was mountain biking on a lent bicycle throughout the entire Santa Fe district from the previous autumn throughout the winter, working as a substitute teacher for all grades. This for the Santa fe public schools, many of which were located on the periphery of the town. When I still lived in the hills on the way to the ski area, my commutes were for example, 22 to 28 miles round-trip. Once I moved, they were reduced to 15 and less, taking biking trails south through the town district. One can schedule jobs online independently. There was only once that I looked at the snow report for the ski area moments after clicked ‘accept’ this job, when I saw that the there were 6” of new powder. I cancelled the job for the following morning. Being a night person who typically starts preparing dinner after 10pm, that was now my curfew.

April 1st was the send-off party, more than the final day, the 2nd of SkiSantaFe. On the 1st, many locals were in costume, there was a treasure hunt, dj’s on the deck of the mid-mountain Totemoff lodge, and just lots of partying. It kept flurrying as the sun was still visible through this veil of clouds. The following last day, were phenomenal conditions. Fresh untracked powder everywhere. The decision to return to ski at Taos, especially when this inexpensive, was full-on. I phoned my friend in Taos who also had worked at Taos Ski Valley previously (I at the Kinderkaefig and Chris on Ski Patrol). Our paths had crossed that time, each having lived in California at different times and each raised in the same town in Pennsylvania, next to Hershey.

I walked quickly to my starting point, with no place for cars to pull over on the main drag heading north to Taos. With skies propped on my shoulders and poles and ski boots next to me, I stood in the flurries of late afternoon. I felt confident I’d get a ride the 90 miles to Taos. Within about 5 minutes, I heard a beep in the parking lot behind me. Someone driving by who couldn’t stop, turned around. He was coming from business meetings and a Trader Joe’s stop. His non-profit work focuses on the health of people in relationship to their environment in specifically rural areas in the rocky mountain area. For example the planning of land, community spaces, looking at resources such as water in particular and thinking not only about the health and attractiveness of the town but also improvising ways to make the town more attractive, to persuade inhabitants to remain there or return; explaining that there’s been a trend of people magnetically moving towards cities.

The Santa fe ski area had closed on Sunday, with fabulous conditions of fresh powder and sunshine in the morning. It was mild and beautiful and there was no work, just skiing and socializing. I was very happy with each of the different new and newly rediscovered ski routes that I discovered and created. I felt super happy, feeling very happy with my turns.

fantastic return trip after turning down 3 of them, each scarier than the prior. Mr. Bill (with 6 daughters) a climatologist and I had very much information to exchange in conversation.

I found out hitchhiking back from Taos, NM with my ski equipment in tow several weeks ago something alarming and astonishing from the Climatologist who gave me a ride. He had worked for years for the State of California. He said that back in the early ’90s, he was warned numerous times by the state of CA – uh, a progressive state in the USofA – NOT to mention the word Climate Change – at this time I’m sure the dirty word was Global Warming. So, Chump is just a reflection of a much larger horrific state of consciousness lead by the corpocrisy, in which science, truth and actions in defense of what is right, and the words of scientists, are dismissed completely, in the name of profit of the oil oligarchy. So this denial and hushing up of facts, the facts that Al Gore revealed 10 years ago then shown in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, have been hushed, denied, kept silent to the public, while we’re distracted again and again by other ‘news’.

Now I just found an article in the Rolling Stone

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-of-denial-20110622

Hitchabout Tucson Arizona to New Mexico

Here are pictures of the lovely sky and light of the Southwest en route during my hitch to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Tucson, Arizona. I had two rides, one taking me all the way from the outskirts of Tucson at the entrance of the highway to my destination.

clouds, palms, Sonoran Desert

clouds and palms in the Sonoran Desert

Saguaro cactus , Tucson, Arizona

Saguaro cactus in Tucson, Arizona

I’ve been so absorbed with my new location that I haven’t had the opportunity to post my hitchabout highlights. Tucson sculptor Al Glann who has a studio in the Tucson Metalarts Village responded to my comment about his mastery in capturing the essence of creatures in his work, “the trick is to work quickly and to know when to stop”.

Al Glann, sculptor, Tucson, Metalarts Village

Al Glann sculptor at Tucson Metalarts Village

I enjoyed the arts of Tucson tremendously, yet my ambivalence peaked as new promises eviscerated. Final pushes lead to a pull towards New Mexico, where I’ve lived previously in several communities.

contrasts light and dark, Tucson, Arizona, New Mexico

contrasts in light and dark driving from Tucson, Arizona to New Mexico

 

flickr hitchabout tuscon arizon link to pics

flickr hitchabout tuscon arizon link to pics

Ambivalence and the fact that I hadn’t quite dived in to the town (except in the pool at the apt complex where I lived which was eerily empty most of the time) was pointing me elsewhere – the ‘universe’ directing me with a number of different innuendos and nudges…and I wasn’t sure exactly when or where. Then I remembered that I have friends not so far away in New Mexico, in several communities there.

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My intention, to hitch hike more or less 453 miles to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Tucson, Arizona, first stop.
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contrast_light_dark_route_New_Mexico_5pg
I had the most successful hitch hiking experience EVER; efficiently arriving at each destination which I visualized, right within the timing I anticipated.

contrast_light_dark_route_New_Mexico_6
I had a great hitchhiking adventure with quick and easy rides. Just two, covering circa 500 miles.
contrast_light_dark_route_New_Mexico_7

contrast_light_dark_route_New_Mexico_exc

 

Waited no longer than 5 minutes walking from my apartment, which I physically moved out of that morning, August 1st – now an extra bag in tow. Within yards of my residence, a woman stopped to bring me to the Interstate 10 entrance/gas station by there at my request. After leaving the gas station to walk to the highway entrance, a guy driving to Illinois picked me up as I was arriving there.

 

 

 

 

 

googlemap_2016-08-03_tucson_albuquerqueNM

 

I arrived to my first planned destination that evening, to stay with a woman friend in Albuquerque.
contrast_light_dark_route_New_Mexico

driver_garth_tucson_to_new_mexico

 

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My driver opted to stay at a hotel and offered to drive me the next day to my next destination, Santa Fe. We had great fun discussing all sorts of things and talked non-stop until we were hoarse. He met both of my woman friends, and dropped me off at the door of my friend and former boss back when I lived in Taos, New Mexico. He’s a seasoned traveler himself. I listened to many stores. , It appears I was lined up to meet him and for us to influence one another. It seems that he’s brought me that much closer to wanting to simply trust traveling…even if I have no money.
Then to meet up with a friend and former boss in Santa Fe. Turns out she needed someone to cat sit for her and water her plants while she was making some road trips herself.new_mexico_skies_garth

new_mexico_skies_hitch_

 

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new_mexico_skies_hitch_illuminated_rock_1

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new_mexico_skies_hitch_rainbow

new_mexico_skies_hitch_rocks

new_mexico_skies_hitch_whiterocks

new_mexico_thunderclouds_garth_2

new_mexico_thunderclouds_garth

 

 

 
I’ve rolled into meeting a number of old and new friends who are moving me further towards collaborating and following my passions here. It’s gorgeous here. Bright blue skies, lots of fluffy clouds and also the rain storms.

And off for more art viewing.

Whitehawk Antique, Indian, Ethnographic Art Show

Whitehawk Antique Indian and Ethnographic Art Show

Halloween nYc Hitchabout ’15 | Travel – Golden Elixir – Sharing Information & Hearts | Great Pacific Garbage Patch

I have no income. I love Halloween. I love New York city. So, I hitched to celebrate Halloween in nYc. I work all the time – I simply don’t receive any money – YET – putting together my two blogs, food podcast, photographs I take, music that I play and compose or the book that I will complete within the next 7 months … ! I hitchhiked to nYc from Central PA for Halloween, and back the following day. I spent about $5 dollars over the weekend. Naturally, hitching in NYC drew some attention and comments (and I noticed some pics from peoples’ iPhones) down on Canal street in Lower Manhattan at the unusual site of seeing someone, anyone, standing along the three lanes of traffic inching towards the entrance to the Holland tunnel, holding up a “PA” sign. I had conversations among passersby with a French couple and an Austrian family, among others. I love languages and always go out of my way to interact with people when I detect a language with which I’m familiar; just to have the chance to interact and share information and smiles. I conversed with a French couple on my way back by a gas station along interstate 81 who had purchased a car upon arriving in the U.S. 3 months earlier. They were on their way to Quebec, where they will sell the car, after their months of traveling.

I had great rides, a fantastic time in Gotham city and tears of joy in the experiences that I had with the peoples’ whose lives touched mine en route.

The irony, is that barely a cent needed to be spent. Sure, I was hungry and sleepy, ha, but that’s part of the fun of it.

I had a wonderful time. Sure, I didn’t dine in the fashionable places or name drop who I sat next to at such and such club…but did happen by a synchronistic explosion of serendipities, upon the New York Village Halloween Parade which I knew nothing about until I discovered it would be starting within minutes of my arrival in Manhattan. I had already started to assemble my costume that was in my backpack and was talking with a woman standing before me who asked if I was going to the Parade. What parade? When does it start? It was starting within 20 minutes. I found out about where to go and was among thousands of people corralled in an area waiting to launch into the parade, which consisted of 50, 000 or so costumed people. That rearranged my plans entirely, a no brainer. I intended to go to a party in Brooklyn, but the parade took front seat. It was great timing, intuitive attention and open and friendly contact with people right next to me.

Village Halloween Parade NYC 2015

Huge display of every imaginable Halloween costume

http://gothamist.com/2015/11/01/91_photo_village_halloween_parade.php#photo-1

Gothamist, wild costumes, Village Halloween Parade nYc  2015

Gothamist 91 wild costumes Village Halloween Parade nYc 2015


“Thousands of people descended upon lower Sixth Ave. for the 42nd annual Village Halloween Parade. Lasting well over three hours and featuring dozens of mobile dance parties doubling as floats …. and approximately 60,000 often-outlandishly costumed revelers strolling, dancing, lurching, running, roller blading …. the parade is thought to be the largest such celebration in the world. The weather was perfect, the atmosphere festive, the costumes usually handmade and often pretty incredible…”

I can’t believe that I had no knowledge whatsoever about the ‘Village Halloween Parade’. Wow, was I glad I discovered it. My costume was a ‘Mermaid caught in a fish net in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I was wrapped in bubblewrap as the mermaid’s tail (walking in tiny steps like a geisha – or a fish outa water), tangled in fish net with plastic dripping off my costume – having gotten stuck in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This article mentions the young man who is doing something about it. There are vortexes of garbage archipelagos in every ocean. The GPGP is larger than Texas, and deep.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

tip of the burg Great Pacific Garbage Patch

I didn’t have my camera with me nor a smart phone to document my 48 hour hitchabout. Yet Yougourthen kindly sent me the pic he took of us at the G bar in Manhattan hours after the parade had ended. G bar, indeed a gay bar, was packed with people, had a great ambience, good music and dancing and a fantastic array of costumed gorgeous men. he he.

Carol and Yougourthen at the G bar Manhattan halloween

Thank Yougourthen Ayouni for the pic of he and Carol at the G bar Manhattan halloween

Sure, with a working schedule, dependents, less time available and any other constrictions, one can’t just dart of hitching for a trip thousands of miles away for a couple days. However, I’m pointing out that since travel and discovery is about learning about the spirit of the place and its people and the other creatures and life that inhabit the area, it’s not about consuming, and spending, but finding joy in discovery and social interaction. I have done many hitchabouts which I’ve written about, particularly interesting when I lived based in Berlin, Germany. Here’s a string of these writings on my blog. https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/?s=hitchabout . I love sharing information and smiles with people. I meet such wonderful people during my rides, that this in itself is as enjoyable and exciting as the destination. People whose lives I otherwise would not necessarily come into contact wtih. Sure, i realize that this is not everyone’s thing. but travel doesn’t need to always cost so much! i better stop now. I discovered by synchronicity (timing and intuitive attention and open and friendly contact with people right next to me) that the Village NY Halloween Parade was happening, and joined in with my costume that was in my backpack and ready to be assembled.

And because my heart was sickened every time I saw the body of a dead dear along the highway en route, I’m writing a corresponding blog about animal bridges / wildlife crossings. https://digesthis.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/animal-bridges-wildlife-crossing-witnessed-way-too-many-dead-deer-en-route-to-new-york-city-through-pennsylvania-and-new-jersey/

which provide means for animals to have their habitat extended, rather than blocked, by human construction. Why do I care? Because I care about all creatures which are awesome and beautiful inhabitants of this planet.

nYc Mid Summer Hitchabout Bliss | Sleepless in New York | The Strangers Project

 

Here are 104 digital photos of this nYc hitchabout trip July 11th, 2015 from Palmyra, Pennsylvania

highline, graffiti, einstein

highline_graffiti_einstein

With a new impetus to travel, I worked hard for the week – much of my tasks involved with proactively preparing for when my current residence, the family home where I grew up, will be sold. And as I’m not ready to depart just yet, I decided that a weekend adventure in New York city would fulfill that desire.

I decided to make the plunge.

highline_graffiti_plunge

highline_graffiti_plunge

This title could also be Sleepless In New York 🙂

NYC hitching sign

NYC hitching sign

building juxtapostion

building juxtapostion

I went on two of these hitchabouts within two weeks of each other. The first was on the 21st of June, to celebrate the summer solstice with the Make Music New York. Here’s a flickr link to the pics from this trip.

As New York is unlike most other places in America, one visits the entire world as people wander by in full traditional wear from whatever their culture, especially the older generation. One can see saris of India, elegant midwestern wear in burkas, Central and South American passengers on the streets along with various African cultures passing you in turbans along with Jamaican…basically you name it, you will see people from all over the world. I’m merely talking about Manhattan. Of the five boroughs, I know that Queens has one of the most broad concentrations of people living in the same congested area, resulting in the highest concentration of divers languages in one area, in the world.

highline_looking_south_midtown_plexiglass_stadium

highline_looking_south_midtown_plexiglass_stadium

highline, flowers, bees

highline_flowers_bees

highline water walkway

highline water walkway

 

Here are 104 digital photos of this nYc hitchabout trip July 11th, 2015.

 

My best discovery of the last hitch was the the High Line, which is much more maturely grown with its extravagance of wild flowers than the wiki-link pic when it was just being born. It is now one of my favorite getaways for silence and nature and a healthy sprinkle of people from all over the world who are also visiting these lovely gardens imbedded into the former overhead railway. This former railway carried trains to transport meat and finished products back and forth to the Meat Packing district.

The other highlights of this trip both took place in Washington Square park.

A surprise classical piano recital played on a grande piano that Colin Huggins rolled up and played.

Colin Huggins playing the grande piano in Washington Sq. Park NYC

Colin Huggins playing the grande piano in Washington Sq. Park NYC

Colin Huggins, grand piano, Washington Square Park

Colin Huggins playing the grand piano in Washington Square Park

As well as the Strangers Project, an interactive event in the park where people came to read other peoples’ stories, and were invited to share their own.

With a new impetus to travel, I worked hard for the week – much of my tasks involved with proactively preparing for when my current residence, the family home where I grew up, will be sold. And as I’m not ready to depart just yet, I decided that a weekend adventure in New York city would fulfill that desire. I decided to make the plunge.

highline_graffiti_plunge

highline_graffiti_plunge

This title could also be Sleepless In New York 🙂

NYC hitching sign

NYC hitching sign

building juxtapostion

building juxtapostion

I went on two of these hitchabouts within two weeks of each other. The first was on the 21st of June, to celebrate the summer solstice with the Make Music New York.

 

Here are 104 digital photos of this nYc hitchabout trip from Palmyra, Pennsylvania on July 11th, 2015

As New York is unlike most other places in America, one visits the entire world as people wander by in full traditional wear from whatever their culture, especially the older generation. One can see saris of India, elegant midwestern wear in burkas, Central and South American passengers on the streets along with various African cultures passing you in turbans along with Jamaican…basically you name it, you will see people from all over the world. I’m merely talking about Manhattan. Of the five boroughs, I know that Queens has one of the most broad concentrations of people living in the same congested area, resulting in the highest concentration of divers languages in one area, in the world.

highline_looking_south_midtown_plexiglass_stadium

highline_looking_south_midtown_plexiglass_stadium

highline, flowers, bees

highline_flowers_bees

highline water walkway

highline water walkway

My best discovery of the last hitch was the the High Line, which is much more maturely grown with its extravagance of wild flowers than the wiki-link pic when it was just being born. It is now one of my favorite getaways for silence and nature and a healthy sprinkle of people from all over the world who are also visiting these lovely gardens imbedded into the former overhead railway. This former railway carried trains to transport meat and finished products back and forth to the Meat Packing district. The other highlights of this trip both took place in Washington Square park. A surprise classical piano recital played on a grande piano that Colin Huggins rolled up and played.

Colin Huggins playing the grande piano in Washington Sq. Park NYC

Colin Huggins playing the grande piano in Washington Sq. Park NYC

Colin Huggins, grand piano, Washington Square Park

Colin Huggins playing the grand piano in Washington Square Park

As well as the Strangers Project, an interactive event in the park where people came to read other peoples’ stories, and were invited to share their own.

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_stories

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_stories

the Strangers Project whats your story

the Strangers Project whats your story

the Strangers Project whats your story

what's your story? the strangers project

what’s your story? the strangers project

Here are a few stories !-)

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_story_dont_forget

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_story_dont_forget

the Strangers Project

the Strangers Project story How things are supposed to work

the stranger project my story in nyc

the stranger project my story in nyc

The pictures pretty much describe most of my journey, with the exception of dancing the first night in the Meat Packing district!

On the way back, I made my way to my town square in three rides. An Egyptian driver taking his rider through the tunnel to New Jersey, picked me up because she asked him to. His attitude towards me changed abruptly once she left the car; he was now a bit hostile and asking me for a faire. However he calmed by the time we talked a bit and took me next to the road where many cars could head onto the route I intended to take. The next was a man born in the Dominican Republic, whose parents moved to the Bronx when he was ten. He claimed that there’s way too much corruption there and high presence of gangs. That this transformation has been taking place as a result of the economic fallout, with a high percentage increase compared to what the United States population has taken. These poorer countries feel the hit ten fold. He brought me to within feet of the border of Pennsylvania from New Jersey. There I discovered two gas stations across the street from one another, with both of the gas station attendants barely English literate young me from the Ukraine. I sort of drifted back and forth investigating rides from both. One of the men was all smiles and brightness. The other looked continually sour and preoccupied. I thought he was going to ask me to leave, then when he finally said something to me, it was to complain that people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania don’t tip. I offered to make him a sign, and with time on my hands, did so. I showed him the sketch and said I could make a substantially larger one with my marker on cardboard.

Tips R Welcome

Tips R Welcome

After that, the few times that I suggested holding up the sign, he waived his finger gravely, no no, his boss definitely did not like the idea of having a sign encouraging tips! I was about to pack it up for the night, mean walking around to investigate the area, when after getting no response from the two cars at this station, I looked at the less busy one across the divided road, and saw two cars there as well. I was 90 miles from home and it was dark for a while now. I suddenly noticed cars at the gas station across the street and immediately started walking there carrying my pack. I then started to run with a bit of an urgency. I arrived there just as the customer had paid, his window was open. I approached the driver sitting in the car about to leave holding up my

Hershey sign

Hershey sign

as I spoke to him asking if he happens to be going towards Hershey, and he answered, “As a matter of fact, I am.” The conversation with him now started to pull together what the previous conversation with the Dominican Republic man had started to hint at; economic injustice causing most of the problems of the world today. Captivated, I listened as my young driver quite articulately expressed: ‘that the current world problems of injustice and inequality and the subsequent violence and disharmony are all a fall-out of the fact that as the economic powers that be – corporations which are growing larger – grow more wealthy and dismantle and crush mom-and-pop stores around the country (world) have the effect of decreasing the circulation of capital, which normally would take place as more and more people contribute their business and flow of money. These large corporations have the tendency to keep getting richer, as they also suck the money out of the populations. And the years of growing phat monopolies and outsourcing have basically ‘desertified’ the home grown economies. Yep, well, there it is in a nutshell>DIVEST< from petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, dirty industries, from the Starbucks, Walmart, CostCo and all of these huge business chains that are gobbling up all of our local businesses. 🙂 I had my good luck charm with me, which seems to have done me well.

elephant_necklace_gift_from vendor in Berlin

elephant_necklace_gift_from vendor in Berlin

Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it.

carol_the_blogger_safe_n_sound

carol_the_blogger_safe_n_sound

Donations towards Carol Keiter’s writing, eBook, music composition, photography & illustrations are graciously accepted! PayPal Donate Button Thanks!

the blogger, Carol Keiter at a luncheon.

Carol Keiter, the blogger

” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>104 digital photos of this trip, nYc hitchabout July 11,2015

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_stories

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_stories

the Strangers Project whats your story

the Strangers Project whats your story

the Strangers Project whats your story

the Strangers Project whats your story

the Strangers Project whats your story

what's your story? the strangers project

what’s your story? the strangers project

Here are a few stories !-)

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_story_dont_forget

washington_sq_pk_the_strangers_project_story_dont_forget

the Strangers Project

the Strangers Project story How things are supposed to work

the stranger project my story in nyc

the stranger project my story in nyc

The pictures pretty much describe most of my journey, with the exception of dancing the first night in the Meat Packing district!

On the way back, I made my way to my town square in three rides. An Egyptian driver taking his rider through the tunnel to New Jersey, picked me up because she asked him to. His attitude towards me changed abruptly once she left the car; he was now a bit hostile and asking me for a faire. However he calmed by the time we talked a bit and took me next to the road where many cars could head onto the route I intended to take. The next was a man born in the Dominican Republic, whose parents moved to the Bronx when he was ten. He claimed that there’s way too much corruption there and high presence of gangs. That this transformation has been taking place as a result of the economic fallout, with a high percentage increase compared to what the United States population has taken. These poorer countries feel the hit ten fold. He brought me to within feet of the border of Pennsylvania from New Jersey. There I discovered two gas stations across the street from one another, with both of the gas station attendants barely English literate young me from the Ukraine. I sort of drifted back and forth investigating rides from both. One of the men was all smiles and brightness. The other looked continually sour and preoccupied. I thought he was going to ask me to leave, then when he finally said something to me, it was to complain that people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania don’t tip. I offered to make him a sign, and with time on my hands, did so. I showed him the sketch and said I could make a substantially larger one with my marker on cardboard.

Tips R Welcome

Tips R Welcome

After that, the few times that I suggested holding up the sign, he waived his finger gravely, no no, his boss definitely did not like the idea of having a sign encouraging tips!

I was about to pack it up for the night, mean walking around to investigate the area, when after getting no response from the two cars at this station, I looked at the less busy one across the divided road, and saw two cars there as well. I was 90 miles from home and it was dark for a while now. I suddenly noticed cars at the gas station across the street and immediately started walking there carrying my pack. I then started to run with a bit of an urgency. I arrived there just as the customer had paid, his window was open. I approached the driver sitting in the car about to leave holding up my

Hershey sign

Hershey sign

as I spoke to him asking if he happens to be going towards Hershey, and he answered, “As a matter of fact, I am.” The conversation with him now started to pull together what the previous conversation with the Dominican Republic man had started to hint at; economic injustice causing most of the problems of the world today. Captivated, I listened as my young driver quite articulately expressed: ‘that the current world problems of injustice and inequality and the subsequent violence and disharmony are all a fall-out of the fact that as the economic powers that be – corporations which are growing larger – grow more wealthy and dismantle and crush mom-and-pop stores around the country (world) have the effect of decreasing the circulation of capital, which normally would take place as more and more people contribute their business and flow of money. These large corporations have the tendency to keep getting richer, as they also suck the money out of the populations. And the years of growing phat monopolies and outsourcing have basically ‘desertified’ the home grown economies.

Yep, well, there it is in a nutshell>DIVEST< from petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, dirty industries, from the Starbucks, Walmart, CostCo and all of these huge business chains that are gobbling up all of our local businesses. 🙂

I had my good luck charm with me, which seems to have done me well.

elephant_necklace_gift_from vendor in Berlin

elephant_necklace_gift_from vendor in Berlin

Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it.

carol_the_blogger_safe_n_sound

carol_the_blogger_safe_n_sound

Donations towards Carol Keiter’s writing, eBook, music composition, photography & illustrations are graciously accepted! PayPal Donate Button

Thanks!

the blogger, Carol Keiter at a luncheon.

Carol Keiter, the blogger

nYc hitchabout | City of Continuous Interactive Creativity

It’s not just my current economic situation that propels me to hitch, when I wish to visit a place without being prohibited by my lack of disposable income. It’s the fact that I learn things through the people I get rides with, who more often than not, are people whom I wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with and learn about the area that in some cases, is their hood. I had a nice nYc hitchabout visit to a city which always promises and delivers lots of energy and movement. I happened upon several open air festivals and demonstrations that reveal the creativity and spirit of involvement that all of the different cultures of people congealing in one city demonstrate. Here’s the google link to the pictures I took in progression.

New York City, flickr,  pics

New York City flickr link to pics

For a 2.5 hour trip by car, I received three rides to arrive in NY, and three to return home. Each a fairly quick connection; after having used google maps and directions to map out my route. The first gift upon the last ride, was with a man from Guiana, who brought me that last stretch right into Queens, where he introduced me to some local flavor on that Friday evening. A local bar filled with music and laughter of people, mostly men, from Guiana, Trinidad and Jamaica. I’d always heard of the fact that the borough of Queens in Manhattan has the highest concentration of languages of any place in the world, due to the fact that there’s a dense convergence of people of different cultures from all over the world living there.

I discovered barriers set up in the East Village for a Dance Parade which would happen later that day, in which various different cultures participated.

Dance Parade nYc, Village

Dance Parade nYc Village

This was passing from the West Village to the East Village by another event taking place, a Secret Walls Street Art competition at Cooper Sq. in Manhattan. The Secret Walls xnYc is part of the L.I.S.A. project | Little Italy Street Art

Secret Walls, Graffiti,  L.I.S.A project

Secret Walls Graffiti L.I.S.A project

Carol Keiter the bloggers contribution to the Wall

Carol Keiter the bloggers contribution to the Wall

Graffiti competition

Two Team Graffiti competition


Graffiti competition, Secret Walls, L.I.S.A. project, Little Italy Street Art

Graffiti competition Secret Walls L.I.S.A. project Little Italy Street Art

It just so happened that next to the Graffiti competition and interactive for the public to contribute to, were a bunch of chairs set up for people to take their ride, also an interactive event.

NYC X Design, chairs, Cooper Union Sq.

NYC X Design chairs at Cooper Union Sq.

Interactive chairs, NYC X Design

Interactive chairs NYC X Design

NYC X Design, interactive chairs

NYC X Design interactive chairs

The following day I happened upon an AIDS walkathon in Central Park, where I happened upon some live music there to perform for the event with drummers and dancers. Black & Gold Marching Elite band.

AIDS Walk Central Park NYC

AIDS Walk Central Park NYC


AIDS Walk, Central Park NYC

Approaching AIDS Walk Central Park NYC


Black & Gold Marching Elite band

Black & Gold Marching Elite band

That was after my friends who I had gone to meet up with and visit in the first place informed me of how fantastic the current Chinese Textile and Design exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – “Through the Looking Glass” is. When they informed me that one can “Pay What You Can” to enter, I was sold on going there to investigate. The exhibit was indeed splendid with its visual, texture and sound multimedia; beautifully created by the curators in which they use frames of metal and glass to reflect even more dramatically the color and intricate designs of traditional Chinese Royal Robes through the centuries juxtaposed next to modern Western designers works of this last century. One of the friendly workers in the museum suggested that I check out the roof top, which I’m glad I did, after trekking to the other end of the museum to catch the elevator up. There were lots of tourists, in fact, I heard so much French from passersby as I walked the streets of Manhattan that I approached one family and asked them. I told them that I’m hearing sooooo much French among people in the streets, do you live here? what is going on? They mentioned smiling that they’re on vacation, as is and eighth of the population of France 🙂 I also got to practice my German, taking a photograph of a family group on the MET rooftop, who were surprised and pretty stoked when I spoke to them in colloquial German, explaining that I’d lived in Berlin. Encountering all of the different cultures of people from around the world is certainly what makes New York so dynamic and engaging.

Through the Looking Glass, Chinese Textile and Design, MET Metropolitan Museum of Art

Through the Looking Glass Chinese Textile and Design exhibit MET Metropolitan Museum of Art


Through the Looking Glass, Chinese Textile and Design exhibit, MET, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Through the Looking Glass Chinese Textile and Design exhibit MET Metropolitan Museum of Art

After happening upon the demonstration after the Museum following discovering a mid-town street fair in the process of being set up, I made my way down to SoHo, to Canal street, where there was already a solid wall of cars on Sunday late afternoon inching their way towards the Holland Tunnel to exit the city going West. There, after seeing mostly New Jersey license plates, yet with my sign that said on one side Route # 78 and the other PA Pennsylvania, a car of a Mother and her two daughters were driving back from there to a town within 17 miles of where I’m presently residing in PA. The one daughter just celebrated her Associates degree of Art at the Pratt Institute of Art. Because of the recent commuter train wreck in Philadelphia, there were no trains, and the airlines’ gracious response was to jack up the fairs 200% or so.

It was a wonderful trip visiting my Native New Mexico family of friends, a Mother and her two daughters, Dana, Aria and Colette whom I know from Taos, New Mexico when I worked for Dana at ‘Caffe Tazza’. There meeting in NY is what brought me to visit the city in the first place, while the three converged there for the weekend.

Dana and her daughters Aria and Colette Manhattan

Dana and her daughters Aria and Colette Manhattan

I was fortunate to join them and their friends for a meal at a Ukrainian and Polish restaurant Veselka in the East Village, after which we went to an Italian place for coffee and desert.

carol_aria_dana_colette_caroline_vera_nyc_2015_2

carol_aria_dana_colette_caroline_vera_nyc_2015_2

Bar Harbor, Maine hitchabout via Massachusetts | Plum Island, MA | Acadia Nat’l Park, ME

At the edge of autumn, September 2014, I planned a visit with friends and family in New England in the northeastern United States. I would be hitching from Pennsylvania.

The reason for my ‘hitchabout’ to Bar Harbor, Maine was to visit family friends who lived in the same hometown, Palmyra, Pennsylvania. Visiting Byrne and Bill Erb was a warm and first class visit with fine homemade meals, lots of art and inspiration. It was a fine introduction to this lovely seaside island town in southeastern Maine and Acadia National Park located on Mt. Desert island.

Byrne and Bill Erb are who I was going to visit!

Here are about a 100 pictures that I took documenting my hitchabout journey and the places I visited.

rock slabs Maine

rock slabs Maine

crab remains

crab remains

Blue Maine water

Blue Maine water

 

So I googled to get directions, and tweaked them with my sister Barb's route suggestions.

So I googled to get directions, and tweaked them with my sister Barb’s route suggestions.

opted to follow my sister's suggestion to take route 81 in PA through to 84 in NY

opted to follow my sister’s suggestion to take route 81 in PA through to 84 in NY

 

hitch_description

hitch_description

trip_booklet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entire trip was in essence; wisdom, positivity, education and enlightenment of the heart from the rides to my stop with my sister in Massachusetts en route and the time visiting with friends in Maine. We worked out the time convenient for my hosts. I was happier to go during the warm days, stoked to go for a swim.

 

One of the rides I had with a woman from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts was mind bending, mind opening that is. I felt that the information exchanged was in itself, worth the trip. She was articulate and educated. It was a 2.5 hour ride with a psychologist turned policy maker at the Veteran Administration hospital region of NJ and part of Manhattan. It was a life-changing interchange. We talked of her work and all that veterans face. She was warm and intelligent. In response to mentioning to her that I’m writing a grant proposal for my book, (which I was about to send) she had much to offer. She explained (as a person who has written several grants and reviewed them) that you must ‘cut to the chase’ in the 1st 3 lines, or you’ll lose them. “They’re sitting on a plane on their way to the meeting with a pile of grants on their lap”. The grant will go to that material demonstrating that the person is finely tuned, showing competency and already demonstrating that they’ve worked through the recesses of their plan.

She made it irrevocably clear that one must be very detailed about the entire process. “Not that you plan to find appropriate translators to translate the text into the other languages…but describe the process of deciding upon them and who the translators are – you’ve identified them already.

She mentioned several times that you’ve got to think of the ‘we’ factor, the village. The more people you bring in, to introduce your material for them to critique and contribute, the more depth this interconnected fiber will be. Certainly it depends on the context of the type of proposal you’re writing. Her savvy lead me to realize that you have to communicate to the grantor as completed of a worked-through plan as possible. She said that if it’s not you, it’s someone else who is going to be deserving. The village factor is in the direction of transparency, the more open-sourced and openness of the plan, the better.

She asked “What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?” Leading me in to recognizing how important it is to clearly delineate one’s plans, if one is going to reach and actualize even a portion of what one sets out to do. She offered the information that those who are successful, often map out in detail – in writing – specifically what they can imagine for themselves. It’s not so important whether it takes place in exactly the way that you imagined these steps to go, just let them fall into place. But aim high. Even if you don’t reach your goal, you’re going to get closer than if you’d done nothing at all.

It was like having a session with a life coach. She offered information for me to contemplate and digest, as mentor or advisor. She chose to direct her questions to subjects that caused me to think differently, see things from a different perspective; which she has encountered in her experience. It was certainly invaluable information for me to be exposed to. She mentioned the gap between vision and reality, that one is continually arching over, as an idea becomes executed. I came out of that ride realizing I have a lot of work ahead of me, and really feeling very grateful for having had this intelligent and genuine conversation with someone who reached out. She also mentioned the value of each of us to reach out to exchange ideas with people who are more successful in whatever it is that you wish to accomplish. These people can act as mentors, and will be happy and honored to share their successes and habits as productive and fulfilled people.

After I was dropped off by her at a rest-stop where I figured I’d be staying for the evening, I went inside to orient myself, borrowing a map in the shop to identify where I was on it.

the woman behind the counter let me take a photo documenting where i was

the woman behind the counter let me take a photo documenting where i was

The peeps behind the counter at the rest-stop let me do this (open up a map and take a picture of where I was). I had pretty much concluded in my mind that any further rides would probably not be too probable. Yet I approached one man whom I’d seen pass me as he was getting into his car. I mentioned that I was going to a small town on the northeastern tip of Massachusetts. As I was saying this a woman approached the passenger door. I know as a hitchhiker that couples rarely pick up hitchhikers. It turned out that these two were colleagues, not a couple. When she heard me repeat the name Georgetown, she said immediately as she walked to the trunk to move things around, “Put your things in the car”. I asked incredulously, do you KnoW where Georgetown is? He answered, it backs-up to the town we’re going to. It’s literally another small town next to my sister’s town. They were environmental engineers, something I’m very keen on, as a growing environmental activist myself.

I needed to return from the Maine hitchabout to attend the Climate March in New York city the following weekend, September 21st, 2014. Right on! good hitching Karma!

Therefore I was able to make it to stop in Georgetown, about 5 miles from the New Hampshire border. I visited my sister’s home there. She lives close to the Interstate highway 95 that continues into Maine through New Hampshire.

 

They were environmental engineers returning from a conference that day in Philadelphia, PA. Their company purchases thermoplastic pipesthermoplastic composite pipe from manufacturers in Germany and the United States. They talked of these as being much more ‘green’, in that they don’t have seams that can crack with pressure or become unsealed at their joints, risking leaking deleterious toxins. They also spoke of the technique of directing storm water runoffs into pipes channeling the water into the ground where it can be naturally filtered, and out of streams that would be carrying all the toxins and garbage that heavy rain water floods can sweep along with them. Here’s a link from Ohio State University in which the US Environmental Protection Agency further explains the subject; “Stormwater runoff has two major adverse impacts. One is related to quantity. Uncontrolled stormwater runoff entering sewers, lakes, rivers, and streams may cause flooding. Second, stormwater runoff often carries pollutants that may severely impact water quality. These discharges can result in fish kills, the destruction of spawning habitats, loss in aesthetic value, and contamination of drinking water supplies and recreational waterways that can threaten public health (USEPA, 1999).” Let’s not even START to talk about the deleterious effects of the impact of fracking on groundwater. In an article written for the Rolling Stone, “The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind Aubrey McClendon’s Gas Boom“. Jeff Goodell states that “McClendon dominates America’s supply of natural gas the same way the Tea Party-financing Koch brothers control the nation’s pipelines and refineries.

I offered what I know of a hotel in Taos, New Mexico that treats its own sewage into becoming grey water that is further used on the property. They do this through a system that includes a lovely terrarium type room ‘biolarium‘ where water filters over rocks. The Living Machine, is the “El Monte Sagrado” resort in Taos, New Mexico. The building is a recycling machine; collects rainwater, has energy independent heating and cooling systems, utilizes an ecological treatment of sewage to reuse wastewater, has environmentally friendly water disinfection, composts and re-uses organic waste material, which feeds their onsite food production and use of earth-based building materials.

the biolarium of the El Monte Sagrado resort in Taos, NM

the biolarium of the El Monte Sagrado resort in Taos, NM

We met my sister at their office, in the next town around midnight. The following day she and I visited Plum Island, a lovely protected wilderness area off the seaside town of Newburyport.

Newburyport, Maine

Newburyport to Plum Island MA

Newburyport to Plum Island MA

Plum Island is a nature reserve that my sister Barbara drove us to where we walked around among tempestuous waters during the high tide and moody skies.

These pictures Plum IslandIMG_0013
IMG_0015 It was at the tail end of our walk that we came upon this fence there.
fence Plum Island

There was a reddish hued sand on the beach. red hued sand Plum Island

Later I took pictures of my sister’s home, particularly her art work displayed in different rooms.

artwork created by Barb Keiter

artwork created by Barb Keiter

Barb Keiter's illustrations

Barb Keiter’s illustrations

and her Hearth with a hand painted cloud mural behind.

Among her painted furniture is this mural painted by Barb Keiter

Among her painted furniture is this mural painted by Barb Keiter

More pictures of the entire trip are here. The shots are chronological;from the beginning of my trip with pictures of the sunset in Pennsylvania

sunset in the Pennsylvania skies on the eve of my departure.

sunset in the Pennsylvania skies on the eve of my departure.

then the trip heading northeast through Pennsylvania via New York state to Massachusetts.

After being dropped off at a rest-stop along I95, I noticed this bus, and wound up riding in it.

my ride through New Hampshire to Bangor, Maine.

my ride through New Hampshire to Bangor, Maine.

The bus is to transport the two piece band, the Hornitz. This was a great ride with the driver of the Hornitz bus, coming from a musical festival where he left the band behind in Massachusettes, and was preparing for an upcoming music festival in Maine.

Bar Harbor hitch sign

the magic bus of the Hornitz

the magic bus of the Hornitz

sketch with ink of shade coming through trees while driving on the bus

sketch with ink of shade coming through trees while driving on the bus

My ultimate destination was to visit family friends from Pennsylvania who now live in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Bar Harbor - Mt. Desert Island - Maine Notheast US

Bar Harbor – Mt. Desert Island – Maine Notheast US

Bar Harbor - Mt. Desert Island - Maine Bay Fundy

Bar Harbor – Mt. Desert Island – Maine Bay Fundy

Bar Harbor - Mt. Desert Island - Maine

Bar Harbor – Mt. Desert Island – Maine

The town of Bar Harbor is located on an island named Mt. Desert.

Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Mt. Desert Island, Maine

I was treated graciously by my friends and hosts with wonderfully prepared meals from breakfast

beautifully prepared scones and fruit

beautifully prepared scones and fruit

to dinner

dinner in Bar Harbor, Maine

dinner in Bar Harbor, Maine

in lovely ambiences.

The protected land of Acadia National Park stretches over most of Mt. Desert Island, of which Bar Harbor is just on one corner.

Here’s a photo of a map of Mt. Desert Island, Maine. Mt. Desert Island

The area was originally inhabited by the Wabanaki people.

Acadia National Park reaches over most of the island, preserving the beauty of the wilderness.

Acadia National Park free shuttles

Acadia National Park offering free shuttles throughout the park.

Here’s a wiki link regarding more details and history of Acadia National Park.

from the town of Bar Harbor
sandy beach in Acadia Nat'l Park

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island

rocky cliff Acadia
rock ledges Acadia Natl. Park
water through pines Acadia Natl. Park
rock water Acadia Natl. Park

 Acadia Natl. Park

Acadia Natl. Park

rock ledges Acadia Natl. Park

rock ledges Acadia Natl. Park

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

geological coolness

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

I swam by this beach, verrrrrryyyy cold water.

scattering from the rocks everywhere I looked were these tiny black spiders sunbathing. I swam by this beach, balancing on the rocks and in verrrrrryyyy cold water, even colder (in September) than the waters by San Francisco.

It was just a great time!

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

Acadia Natl. Park, Maine

more pics of the entire trip as the link above indicated.

Return sign towards Hartford from BarHarbor to Pennsylvania

Return sign towards Hartford from BarHarbor to Pennsylvania

I encountered police en route a number of times. All were pretty chill. The first actually rescued me, after a driver had left me at an inopportune spot at dusk next to the highway. It was along the correct route, but literally in the middle of nowhere along the highway, with the next gas station 10 miles away. Two highway patrol officers helped me out by delivering me to the next restaurant/truckstop. However, they had to handcuff me to do this, because they were driving with an automatic weapon between them and no glass between their passenger and themselves. I was grateful. That’s where I got the excellent ride with the psychologist policy maker. The other time was being transported to a ‘more appropriate location’ a ‘non-private’ gas station, with a cordial and interested police officer. On the way home at an odd place a police officer was alerted to the dangers of stray cats walking into a place late at night, another all night gas station. That’s the one I walked to along this unlit road through a field that was lit by fog rising throughout, before the sun had risen. It could have been spooky, yet it was hauntingly beautiful. Somewhere in Massachusetts, I watched the fog snuggled against a field as the sun rose.

Massachusetts dawn

Massachusetts dawn

Great trip.

Love over Fear – Jim Carrey | Supermoon Hitchabout | Lakota Sioux – Secret Within

I came across this through a FaceBook wall posting, and feel the need to share.

Jim Carrey’s Secret of Life – The Journey of Purpose

His words paraphrased:

Choose love as the lens to look through, make decisions based out of love rather than fear.

Jim Carey’s Secret of Life The Journey of Purpose

Jim Carey’s Secret of Life The Journey of Purpose

We are not only viewers, we are projectors of our reality. Fear can write a lot of this script; when one is leaning back into the past or leaping towards imagined thoughts of the future. Yet, all that is happening, is in this moment, not in the past or in the future. It is your choice to make decisions that are based in either love or fear.

Herman Hesse

There is no reality except the one contained within us…Herman Hesse

Life doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us. It’s about having faith in one’s vision, and letting the universe know what you want, working towards it and letting go of how it arrives.

You always have two choices, love or fear.

Cape May sunset

Arriving at the Atlantic, as sun was setting.

And on that note, I chose love over fear, to follow through with my desire to watch the Supermoon rise over the Atlantic Ocean. This prompted my “SuperMoon Hitchabout”. Destination, exploring the marine reserves; the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. Not having realized just how vast this area I wished to explore is, ridiculously underestimated, I wound up staying at my designated starting point, Cape May, New Jersey, and not venturing any further. My aim was to arrive at the Atlantic ocean to see the Supermoon rise, and I did. My last ride brought me right to the Cape May ‘boardwalk’ (made of cement), as the sun was lowering in the sky.

Turquoise waters of the Atlantic setting sun.

Turquoise waters of the Atlantic setting sun.

 
Here’s a link to photos of the Super Moon in Cape May, New Jersey
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The setting sun.

The setting sun.

Pencil water color of the waters as the glowing orange sun was setting.

Pencil water color of the waters as the glowing orange sun was setting.

Supermoon rising over the Atlantic Ocean

Supermoon rising over the Atlantic Ocean

I left earlier in the day with the necessities: a backpack equipped with a sharpie, tooth brush, bathing suit, sleeping bag, sunscreen, lipstick…digital camera. Didn’t take a credit or debit card, nor had i bothered to look to see if I had ANY money. Turns out I had a 5 dollar bill and change. Packed some baked sweet potatoes, bread, cheese, fruit and a water bottle. I felt like a beer the second night, which is when I discovered I had a five on me.

 

My trip costed $1.57 all inclusive: the PBR ‘tally’ that I bought the second day, travel, accommodations, running water access (rest houses on the boardwalk), ocean-side sleeping. I might add that this included these high-tech beach sweeping vehicles which would have ground me into a pulp, had I not made the rational decision to lay the sleeping bag between the search and rescue life boat and fence at the dunes.

Due to self-imposed lack of finances, I had little choice but to catch a ride with someone. The morning I decided to go, I glanced at the local city’s craigslist rideshare and responded to a person’s ‘anonymous email’ asking people to accompany him to Niagara Falls. I suggested that my intent is to go to the ocean and explore the marine wildlife of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays…Minutes later a text arrived on my phone. Adverse to giving out my address randomly, I told him generally where I live. It turned out that within minutes of my departure, the phone rang. I told him to meet me at a corner.

As I turned to that street, in the distance I saw a vehicle parked and someone walking around it, a vibe of commotion. As I approached, I was certain that this was him. As I got closer through the glaring sun, I saw an array of newspapers lying on the ground at the rear of his nondescript van. I leaned towards the open passenger window and before introducing myself, asked if this stuff, motioning to the ground, was his? He hastily offered to pick it up. He had driven from a neighboring State to offer me this ride. A large round man, archetypal Jewish with his scull cap perched on his thick head. I glanced at the filth in his car, the seemingly glued-on pile of coins on the floor by the passenger seat. I turned and picked up the littered papers from the ground and floated them through his window. I told him that this isn’t a good sign, and basically said, thanks, but no thanks, and walked away.

I ignored his call minutes later as I had grabbed my sharpie and was making a sign for my first destination, the entrance to the PA Turnpike. The first car that stopped was a man even scarier looking than the one I had just walked away from. I declined, “I want to get a ride all the way to this point. thanks anyway”. I rarely turn down rides. This was peculiar. The next ride was a woman who turned out to know my sister and brother, once I had offered more information. She went out of her way to bring me to my first drop-off point. The remaining rides were equally smooth and interesting, during which time I chatted with the drivers’ and listened to their stories.

 

sign so small someone would have to be close to see it

sign so small someone would have to be close to see it

Coast sign

The last Filipino American man who lives in Cape May, drove me directly to a central point in town by the boardwalk. We each smiled and laughed as I was leaving his car, knowing that I had just the sleeping bag on my back and no plans.

Dusk before moon rise

Dusk before moon rise

When I arrived the air was still, barely a breeze. I climbed onto the lifeguard chair (vacated at 5:30pm) and sat my stuff down. Two young couples were sitting on a blanket nearby visiting for the day from Philadelphia. The water was smooth, silky, lovely. The air moist, the ocean’s rhythmic breathing muted thunderclaps.

Glowing Supermoon over the Atlantic Cape May, New Jersey

Glowing Supermoon over the Atlantic
Cape May, New Jersey

What was astounding, was the color of the water as I swam, facing the glowing setting sun. The play of light was incandescent orange on a turquoise blue, mirroring the sky. I was compelled to make this water to remember it, since I couldn’t bring my camera into the water to capture my point of view.

That first night after having played a beach game on the sand for hours with a family of cousins, I then went to the boardwalk to sit down. This parlayed into a bed that first night, after meeting a Bulgarian kid on the ‘boardwalk’ where I sat on a bench. He asked with an obvious accent if I’d like someone to join me, to which I answered no. Hours later, except for his intermittent phone conversations in Bulgarian with a girl in Wildwood, we were still talking. I wound up crashing at his group house that night. I was wondering why I kept hearing people speaking Russian around me that day, then discovered first-hand, that it was probably Bulgarian I was hearing. huh? Luckily, the next evening I was already familiar with the built-in tent structures on the beach. They came in handy as I slept in a sleeping bag under the stars, when rain drops started falling at 6am. I was near these built-in tent structures (not those below) but smaller and more portable ones, easy to unravel and fasten the tarp, under which I could just listen to the drops along with the driving breath of the ocean. ‘-)

Fixed tent structures that became my makeshift home.

Fixed tent structures that became my makeshift home.

I visited the Cape May Bird Reserve, of which I have some shots too. I visited a concierge of this local Cape May Hall, where I picked up a map and started to make my way first to get information from a local reserve.

Cape May cartoon map

Cape May cartoon map

The map was dramatically off in terms of leaving streets and distances out. Trudging down the street towards the first place in tremendous heat, I wound up turning around, deciding rather to check the reserve. Hitching back to the center of town, an SUV with two plain clothed policeman informed me that “it’s illegal to hitchhike in New Jersey”. I walked the rest of the way. When I got to a traffic light to take the road to the bird reserve, I looked into the distance, and decided to hitch. A guy with his surfboard in the car picked me up. I asked what kind of work he does here, as he had a pretty fancy vehicle. He’s in the navy. The visit to the reserve was quite significant, not so much because of the birds, but because of the people who were there at the same time. We hadn’t seen each other there, yet I had glanced at two couples making their way at the end of the trail. I later recalled that the arm of the one woman was the same as that who was driving the car on my journey back to PA. They wound up leaving and arriving at the Pizza place near the reserve where I chatted briefly with an employee there, at the same time as me. They noticed me, how friendly I was. Later that employee told them that I was going to Pennsylvania, where the couple live as well. The following day the man in the couple was standing at a vendor stand, when I approached to ask if the guy had cardboard. Half an hour later, it was he and his wife who picked me up after my first ride brought me to the edge of town and entrance to the bridge connecting to the major highways.

I had been standing there in the sun and some rain drops with a sign with the letters, PA. I watched as numerous NJ, DE and PA license plates drove by, leaving the beach behind. When they stopped, they announced that they’d seen me twice over the weekend, and that they intended to pick me up if they saw me. I didn’t learn until a little ways in that they were going to within 40 mi. of my town. The three of us communicated animatedly about all sorts of things the entire drive. It was the ensuing rain drops that prompted them to leave as well, and at times there were heavy downpours en route. It was a valuable exchange for each of us, synchronistic for sure.

Orange glowing moonrise night after the Full Moon.

Orange glowing moonrise night after the Full Moon.

As I approached the beach this second night after the sun had set a while earlier, I was stunned to see this deep orange moon rising up into the low clouds. Here are the rest of the pics of the trip.

Cape May

Cape May

On the final day, sitting on the beach as I ate my last food before leaving for my journey home, suddenly something hit me on the back of my head. It was a seagull. He was doing more than just nudging me because he wanted what I had in my hand. I threw up a tiny piece of bread, and within 3 seconds there were 17 seagulls flapping their wings right within feet of my head, some just inches away. It was a little daunting.

I just got these shots.

IMG_0045 IMG_0048

 

 

 

Here’s a link to photos of the Super Moon in Cape May, New Jersey

 

 

 

As we got to the eastern outskirts of Lancaster, PA, we passed an Amish buggy with a trailer transporting a baby calf in back. My shot missed the trailer, but wow, amazing to see this juxtaposition of Plain people and their traditional ways intersecting with modern life, where they live in farms scattered around the countryside. They let me off at a convenient place and we said goodbye.

Amish buggy on the road approaching Lancaster PA

Amish buggy on the road approaching Lancaster PA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seagull through glass

Seagull through glass

A picture I took in Wildwood, NJ through a glass roof.

A picture I took in Wildwood, NJ through a glass roof.And a Lakota Sioux Indian creation myth to leave you with.

 

 

 

 

Lakota Sioux Creation Myth

The Creator gathered all of Creation and said;

“I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it.

It is the realization that they create their own reality.”

The eagle said, “Give it to me. I will take it to the moon.” The Creator said, “No. One day they will go there and find it.”
The salmon said, “I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean.”
The Creator said, “No. They will go there, too.”
The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.”
The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the earth and find it even there.”
Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said “Put it inside of them.”
And the Creator said, “It is done.”

ocean_sunset_framed

blurry selfie

blurry selfie

European Hitchgathering Liptovská Mara, Slovakia | August 8, 2013 | my hitchabout

This blog has been far too long ‘on hold’, mostly because I’ve been busy since my return to Berlin, Germany with relocation procedures, updating resumes with new contact info and searching for work. August 24th dates one month since my arrival in Berlin. The day after my arrival, July 25th, was the MayanDay Out of Time”, with the following day starting the new Lunar year. I realized this only in retrospect, though did feel on the day following my overnight sleepless flight as if I was in a zone without time.

My arrival intentionally coincided with the beginning of an event which tipped the scale, in terms of drawing me ‘Back to Berlin’, a couchsurfing event.

In between acclimating to my new location, time-zone and preparing for a short but sweet dj debut at the Saturday night party of the CS event, I began to map out how I would hitch to the ‘European Hitchhiking Gathering 2013’ in Slovakia, which I’d been introduced to through a Facebook group while still back in the United States.

European Hitchgathering Slovakia 2013

European Hitchgathering Slovakia 2013

I decided that there couldn’t be a better way to seriously start exploring Europe, on not a low, but no budget, than by continuing my hitchhiking tradition. As always, I began looking at google maps and ‘get directions’, to plan my route.

google_map_slovakia_location_hitch_aug3

I also consulted ‘hitchwiki‘ in which people share their experiences and recommend the best routes.

Hitchwiki resource for finding gas stations adjacent to cities along highways and their 'hitchability'.

Hitchwiki resource for finding gas stations adjacent to cities along highways and their ‘hitchability’.

And used bvg.de to figure out which stop to get off the train to just exit Berlin, after consulting the Berlin S & U Bahn transit maps. Hitchwiki is an excellent source to see where gas stations near cities are located, with recommendations provided by other hitchers about the hitchability of a place.

Having no accessible printer available, I began drawing my maps, which I prefer to do anyway.

Map of route Berlin to Slovakia

Map of route Berlin to Slovakia

Hand-drawn route map Berlin, Germany to Krakow, Poland.

Hand-drawn route map Berlin, Germany to Krakow, Poland.

Word-of-mouth as well as the hitchwiki site suggested that I begin my journey at a highway rest-stop southwest of Berlin near Michendorf in the Potsdam district. I was pleased to find a busy gas station and other hitchhikers there.

Five hours later, I’d met some of these other hitchhikers, particularly two guys who I learned were from Estland (found out later that is Estonia). They were having similar luck to mine. By the sixth hour I was offered a swig of Vodka from their bottle after we talked a bit. By the seventh hour, I decided to alter my route. Instead of heading to the destinations in Poland that I had already penned out, grabbing some bakery paper at the train station in Berlin (where I met an Israeli guy who observed that I was probably hitching, congratulated me and gave me some fruit & chocolate and wrote down my blog addresses).

European_Hitchgathering_Slovakia_sign_Wroclaw

European_Hitchgathering_Slovakia_sign_Krakow

I now decided to head to this outdoor music festival that was beginning that evening in Poland, just over the German border directly east of Berlin.

Woodstock  An open-air music festival in Poland

Woodstock
An open-air music festival in Poland

I had already thought of heading to this festival perhaps on my way back from Slovakia, so already had looked over the route. I realized that it would be probably be over by the time I got there, so decided to head there first, since it appeared that other hitchers with signs for this festival, had been picked up.

Kuestrin, Poland, Kostryzn is the Polish name of the town.

Kuestrin, Poland, Kostryzn is the Polish name of the town.

Now I held up the sign to go there, with the Polish name of the town.

Kostrzyn Poland

Kostrzyn Poland

Within minutes of making a new sign for Küstrin, Polan (Kostrzyn, Polska) the Woodstock fest, and approaching one car with 3 guys, I learned that they were on their way to Woodstock from Leipzig. They took me along. They were friendly and compatible the whole drive. They offered that I sleep in their car while they slept in their tents, sounded good. Once we arrived to the grounds, they proceeded to unpack their car and set up a table and chairs. I stayed with them, talked, hung out, laughed and we decided eventually to head over towards the festival grounds. Yet as we were about to leave after I’d put my pack in their car, something occurred that caused me to feel uneasy about leaving it there. I grabbed it out of their car and started walking with them as we left. I felt that it was painfully obvious that I was taking it with me. Yet something about the amicable tone had started to morph, I don’t remember exactly what.

Once we started walking, I realized how cumbersome carrying my pack would be. They quickly agreed that I should just leave it in the car. I laughed timidly, confiding that I had had a tinge of not trusting them, as we walked back to lock it inside the car. However, once we started walking again, pretty quickly the tone changed. Two of them walked a few paces ahead of the rest of us, talking quietly to each other. Something about their behavior made me once again feel uncomfortable, as though they were hiding something.

Within the first hours of this 4 day festival, already the parked cars in the fields began mushrooming into a big maze. After walking a quarter mile and getting more and more of a sense that something felt wrong about the situation, we approached a cross-roads. As I was contemplating what to do, suddenly one of the two talking turned around and said, “So, what are you going to do now?” After having wandered through fields of cars and now getting into a thicker crowd, I wondered if I would remember their car if we were separated. I had no phone. Explaining that I’d have to stick by them because my stuff was in their car, the same guy who was no longer smiling but rather short and almost hostile, was confronting me. I had to make a decision fast, we were approaching the gate with a mass of Polish police officers standing in a barricade. I walked away from them and approached a policeman. He didn’t understand German nor English, and acted confused and actually as if I was the person who was the problem. I then turned towards these guys again and said that I wanted to get my bag from their car. Without the slightest hesitation, the friendlier one promptly said he’d walk with me there, while the others stayed behind. I think they were nervous about my action and wanted to get rid of me. Strangely, the guy who had been friendly the whole time, was once again warm and talkative. We wandered through all of the separate car parking lots, and as we approached theirs he asked if I had a lot of money with me. I still wasn’t sure what to expect, thinking that he could even here ‘lose’ me and disappear, but he didn’t. He opened the car and I grabbed my bag without incident. Then instead of just dissing me, he engaged in conversation and we walked back to the same place where his friends waited near this entrance way. I was pretty surprised that he was as friendly and talkative as he was, and actually saying that I should join them, when in fact, I thought that they had been planning to leave me behind and rob me. Ten minutes later we were back by the cops and crowd, where his friends were waiting. I walking about three or four steps with them and within seconds, the friendly guy who was walking and talking with me immediately changed his tone, and was now once again walking side-by-side with the other ring-leader guy. He changed back to being sly and furtive, now that he was back with this other guy who was more of a leader. I was so happy that this drama was over and that I had read their strange behavior and intuited that something strange was happening. And I listening to my gut response and acting quickly. I was now off on my own at this massive gathering, sporting my pack and realizing that I would have to really be alert at a festival with probably already several hundred thousand people, since the combination leaned towards getting ripped off.

Happy to have divested myself from that troubled vibe, I was more than content to come upon the first tent with good sounding beats, where I danced for a while. Later I found a place to sleep under trees and as the sun rose, moved my location to shadows from trees holding off the hot sun. In the morning I wandered towards where the nearby stream was to have a little swim before heading back to negotiate which direction to take towards Krakow.

It was clear that I would miss the pre-gathering in Krakow.

Facebook pre-meet hitchgathering in Krakow

Facebook pre-meet hitchgathering in Krakow

Which I researched closer.

Krakow pre-hitchgathering

Krakow pre-hitchgathering

and made one of my own maps to figure out how to get to this place once arriving in Krakow.
Hand-drawn location of pre-gathering in Krakow.

Hand-drawn location of pre-gathering in Krakow.

Obviously, I missed this Thursday event, since it was Friday already. Once I figured out which direction to go in from the festival, I stood by the road. Across the road I saw two young guys standing and asked them if they were hitching as well, mentioning that I intend to hitch to Krakow. The one explained that they were waiting for his Grandfather to pick them up to have lunch. Confirming my direction, a few minutes later I was just off the road and heard someone call out. I looked up and it was one of these guys holding a map. As I got to the road I saw it was a map of Poland. He not only offered me a ride with his Grandfather, but also I was invited to join them for lunch. I was delighted. We went to a restaurant not far down the road. The two are studying biotechnology in Warsaw. They each spoke fairly good English. We had nice conversation and the Grandfather was very gracious in wanting to treat me to various Polish dishes. It was a very pleasant introduction to warmth of the people of Poland. The grandson firmly stood by his biotechnology choice of study, saying that it gets a bad rap because of the alleged dangers of bio-agriculture. He assured me that this was not true. (I’m one of the people believing that genetic engineering of seeds is by no means proven to be harmless.) After the meal, they let me off at a place along the road where I could begin my hitch to Krakow. The grandson, once again revealing his helpful and proactive nature, came over to talk to the driver of the next car who had stopped immediately. While he spoke with the man, I realized that I’d left my sleeping bag in their car. It was a huge relief to have realized this before they took off and to get it back. When I returned to the other car, as he continued to talk in Polish oblivious to the fact that I couldn’t understand a word, I decided not to drive with him. Thanking him, I got out of the car before he had even began. The two kids and grandfather were already gone. I was unsure of whether to bother making this long trip and stepped off the road. As I walked away, I heard a yell. I approached the van as one guy said he had seen my Krakow sign. The other guy was facing nearby trees taking a leak. When the one said that they were going all the way to – and beyond – Krakow, it was clear that my decision had been made for me.

Both in their mid-thirties, the passenger extended most of the conversation. I felt completely comfortable with them and certainly could communicate better than with the older worker guy whose car I exited. About 40 minutes into this ride that would take about 4 hours, I kept hearing the driver say the same thing. I thought he was saying curve, as he sped along the 2 lane highway, cutting into the middle lane to pass. Oh, there is no real ‘middle lane’, but the Polish style of driving, in which like Russian Roulette, you go for making a pass, hoping that someone in the opposite direction has not also decided to overtake the vehicles in the middle lane from their direction. The center of the high-way of two lanes, becomes the passing lane, literally – splitting the lanes – with some cars driving on to the shoulder to let you pass, and others not. A while into the drive I asked in German what ‘curve (coor vaa) meant. The passenger who was the most talkative, explained that it meant ‘f*$#’ fuck. Not the German word for curve at all. The driver had been swearing about every 6 words.

We were making time, and I was white knuckling it most of the way. It was a fantastically good ride, fast and direct to just outside of Krakow. Despite nervousness about the status-quo Polish driving habits, I felt very comfortable with the two.

Now evening, my last ride from a gas station just on the outskirts of Krakow, was with a polished and professional man who without question gave me a ride. He was dressed very business-like. He works for his mother’s successful hand-painted and hand-blown Christmas ornament business. She had worked for this kind of business during WWII and had lead a strike in her factory against the Russian owners. She was fired, yet wanted to contribute income to her family in addition to her husband. Getting advice and council from her uncle who managed his own similar business, she started out on her own. Her good business skills paid off, with an international business which he and his brother now have taken over. He spoke excellent English and was quite diplomatic.

More to come!! as the evening in Krakow turned out to be delightful…