6/05/2013

Hitchhiking in America: To Maine and Back Again

hitchhiking in the united states of america
A bookbag, a man-purse, and my Martin Backpacker
The more I travel, the less I wish to carry. And on all of my trips, up until this point, I've dawned a rather large internal frame pack.One day, when hitchhiking in New Zealand, I met a fellow hitchhiker. All he had with him was a school backpack. I was amazed. Sure, he was only going on a weekend trip, but in that moment, I made it my goal to someday forsake my 65+ liter pack for nothing more than a bookbag.
On my Spring Break Adventure, I was much to cautious of the early spring weather in Indiana (though it turned out to be gorgeous, there had been snow and freezing rain just the week before) to try it, but with summer afoot, I decided it was finally time to put my pack on Jenny Craig.

A bookbag, a man-purse, and my Martin Backpacker.

A Bookbag:

I decided to try and get one last trip out of the bookbag that I salvaged from a trash heap in Japan. I had already patched the bottom of the bag twice, but it had served me well, hitchhiking in Japan and on the way back home since then. By volume, it was definitely a school backpack, but it had hip straps (which is probably why I chose to use it, even though the shoulder strap were starting to come unsewn).
Inside: Sleeping bag, waterproof hooded jacket, convertible pants, shorts, underwear (2x), a food bag, toiletries, my voice recorder, and a pack cover.
Outside: 9'x12' waterproof tarp, 1 liter water bottle, and...

A man-purse:

Last fall, I decided to get rid of my cellphone (and replace it with a pocket watch), and unlike my girlfriend at the moment, I loved it. Around that same time though, I finally received the package I'd shipped to myself from Japan. And due to funky US Customs laws, my laptop battery was not included.
After a semester of having to plug my laptop in and boot it from a full shutdown, whenever I wanted to use it, I had two options: spend a couple hundred dollars on a new battery or put that money towards a new tablet. 
I went with the latter, and my father also gifted me with an L.L.Bean "guide bag" to carry it in. But lets be real here: guide bag, shoulder bag, and tote are all round about ways of saying man-purse. For the past six months, I've sporting a murse (you will find no shame here, this thing rocks), and I had no intention of letting my travels put a stop to that.
Using two carabiners and the purse's own strap buckles, I was able to clip my murse to the front of the bookbag.

My Martin Backpacker:

Instead of using the case that I built for my trip through New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, I opted for the lighter soft case that it came with.

A man, a plan, a canal, Maine.

With all of this talk of packing, you're probably thinking, "Well, where the hell did you go?" and to that, I say Maine. 
Why Maine? Well, some time after my last adventure, I had this moment of realization. People tell me some crazy shit. Some of it is crazy, crazy shit, but for the most part, it's rather insightful. Within a two hour car ride, I could get someone to open up and spell out their entire life for me. And I learned a lot of from these sort of conversations, without really even meaning to. But what if I set out to do so. What if where I was going didn't really matter. What if what I really was seeking was wisdom, from all the people that I met, rode, and spoke with. And what if, because I'm so human, I record it all, so I can listen back to it and share that wisdom with the world... well I'm not so good at "what if's" so I instead I said, "Fuck it. I'm going to do it."

So again, "Why Maine?" I could tell you it's the lobsters or the scenic beauty or my deep seeded desire to regress back to not being able to say my r's and not feel like a fool, but that's not it. I mean, I'd never been there before, so that was kind of it. But honestly, I think the reason was nothing more than distance. The more miles I traversed, the more rides I would have to take, and the more people I would be able to talk to.

At this point, I feel like I should have already shared a good story or two from the road, from my adventure, but I can't. I made it up to Acadia National Park in four days and back in the same amount of time. My voice recorder not only captured the words of those who picked me up hitchhiking, but it also became my audio-journal. Nearly 3,000 miles I traveled. Over six and a half hours of audio was recorded, and most of that was not me. 

I met some amazing people on my trip, and in writing this, I've been tempted to list some of them off hand. But I do not think I should. Like a journey with no real destination, my thoughts on everyone are a bit rambling. I don't feel I have the perspective yet to really tease out what to and not to share, if any of it at all. I'm at a loss to judge importance.
Every driver is just as important as the last. Without the ride five miles down the road to a busier interchange, I would not have been able to catch my next ride five hours down the road. And simply because I was more engaged with one driver over another does not make them more interesting. My mood, their mood, how either of us has been interpolated over time. How am I to say who is more interesting. 

So, until I sit down and listen to the six and a half hours of audio I recorded, I can't really say anything but it was an adventure. One hell of an adventure. And for now, I'll leave it at that.

Would you like or do you think I should post the full, uncut audio from my trip? Let me know in a comment below.

If you're looking to learn how to hitchhike, check out my book- The Hitchhiker's Guide to: Earth.


Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

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