Strolling around US east coast

Alex and Ana were the first friends I knew since I left Morocco long months ago. It was good to see familiar faces.

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It was just like holidays in my trip that enabled me to recover as I was finally back on land. I mean not for long, Alex is also a pilot and decided to show me a bit of what Florida looks like from the air.

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The landscape has changed dramatically since Cuba…

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On the week days, I just enjoyed internet to reconnect with friends, family and news from the world, while on weekends, we hiked on the Orlando tropical forest.

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And went party a little bit.

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After two weeks, it was time to be back on the road. On the last day,  we celebrated Alex’s birthday in a friend’s house.

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And enjoyed a last jam before splitting.

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On my last night, I was a little bit anxious about hitchhiking in USA after this whole sailing trip. I had no idea what it would be like to hit the road here.
Well, at least I knew I would start with that beautiful Florida state…

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It took me some time to get a ride out of Orlando as the city is huge. I finally had a lift by a police officer who told me to watch out for immigrants (that I was). Then I had different rides shared with an American ranger, a Cuban truck driver and some farmers.

I had no idea where to sleep at night. Fortunately, the last guy dropped me off in a forest and gave me a whole box of chicken wings to make sure I would be well.

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Well, I was really surprised how nice and easy going were Americans as the hitchhiking culture here does not really exist.

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I started my second day more enthusiastic and after a couple of burgers I met Rebecca.

DSC_8022She passed me and turned around few miles later to come back and pick me up.
We got along super well and she decided to drive me to the natural park where I was heading.
We discovered it, spent the afternoon together until I went to look for a place for my tent.

DSC_8023.JPGIt is not easy to settle a tent in the USA since everything is private property. I could just get shot if I entered a private land without authorization.
Instead of sleeping illegally, I decided to ask every farmer every night night if they had a piece of land where I could relax without bothering them. It worked very well.

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Next morning, I went in the Ichetucknee springs state park and hiked for a bit.

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And discovered natural warm water springs…

DSC_8033The water comes from a very deep cave and fills the lake above. I swam and snorkeled there as it was possible to dive more than 15 meters below the surface.
Later in the day, I met this great Cuban/ Canadian family and had lunch with them. Once again they decided to drive me where I was going because we had such a great time.

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I was now in Osceala forrest, in the border of Georgia. I slept close to a public shooting range because they were bears in the woods. I figured out that shooting noises would keep them away.

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Thanks god I’m half deaf, that was a damn battlefield over there.

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I woke up in the morning under a heavy rain, first one of the trip so far.

DSC_8043I was praying for someone to just stop in order to get a warm coffee or a damn burger. I surely did not expect the next ride.

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While I was about to cross the state border walking, this guy showed up and took me in back of his truck for 100 miles because I was to wet to sit in his car…

He dropped me off in a small city and I spent the next hour eating an endless amount of whoppers from a burger king to warp up…

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As I started to walk, I realized that the landscape was already much more different… Palm trees were now gone. In the late afternoon, I met the amazing 23 years old Forrest.

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Him standing in front of one of the oldest city hall of Georgia.

Once again, the rule that I would meet a great guy everyday applied. We got along well and he invited me over to a crazy party in northern Georgia with his great friend Erik.

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I met a bunch of students from Taiwan and Georgia and got to party with all of them downtown… and woke up in the morning devastated.
Still, with the few energy they had left, they drove miles and introduced me to the american breakfast biscuit, a painkiller biscuit that helped me to go on that day !

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Back on the road, I decided to go to mountains to hike, recover and breath a little.

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I ended up in the very German looking city of Helen.

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As I was making my way to the end of the city, Tom, a grand’pa living there, saw me walking and asked if I needed a ride. I was not even hitchhiking.
He took me to this house and offered me to sleep there. I was amazed by this kindness but I was even more grateful when I realized I was surrounded by an endless numbers of guitars and banjos.

Tom, originally from Ireland, was as good as a pro musician and definitely a blues legend.

We jammed together the whole night while and got to learn some fat country blues riffs…

Easter was right at the door and when I woke up next day, Tom and his wife invited me to spend another moment with their family.

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It had been one week since I left Orlando… I decided to hike a part of the Appalachian trail, a famous 3500 kilometers trail crossing most of the eastern states.

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I finally met winter after more than a year. Spring was still too shy and waiting for warmer temperature to show up.

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Back on the road to North Carolina now…

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My trip in North Carolina started with this guy.
I was buying some food in a supermarket and he asked me where I was going. I told him my destination and he offered to drive me over there.

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After a while, he told me he had to leave to come back to the city where we met. I realized that he only drove me all this way just to help me and he was 100 miles away from his home. I was speechless.

I kept hitchhiking in the mountains and because it was raining badly, asked local people if I could sleep in their property to cover myself.

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Then I met Debby who helped so much that night. She offered me breakfast and drove me to the next village.

DSC_8084I got out of the mountain and hitchhiked all the way to Winston Salem, a city where I had some very far away relatives from my family.
Cory, another cool american dude, made sure I reached my destination and took me to the front door of my family.

DSC_8086Meeting my family there was an amazing feeling after all these months of travels. They showed me the whole city and made sure I met the great american hospitality…

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Back on the road few days later, my lunch came back to the normal routine…

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I was now about to enter Virginia. I was already more than 1100 Kms north of Florida and could feel the cold winter hitting me here.
I was waiting frozen on the side of the road when Homer showed up and took me home to warm up around a coffee.
Himself and his wife Therese were rangers on the Appalachian trail and used to help and welcome thousands of hikers in their home… first time they had an hitchhiker though.

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We went out to a steak house restaurant with their friends and I enjoyed the warm hospitality of Virginia with them.
Fully rested, I attacked the road to Washington. I was now overwhelmed by winter.

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Before going to the capital, I wanted to see a bit of wilderness. Rangers advised me to go to Shenandoah national park, 100 miles north from where we were.

I met a nice couple travelling with their kids that morning. Fate had decided that they just wanted to hit the road and discover new places. When I told them where I was going they just decided to go with me.

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They were the happiest kids.

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They left me there and I hiked a day alone in the freezing blaze

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And woke up frozen next morning… time to leave the mountains.

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I escaped the cold blizzard thanks to very nice Canadians and made it to Washington DC. Now it was time to visit a bit of American culture and the most famous world institutions…

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See ya !

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9 thoughts on “Strolling around US east coast

  1. L’Amérique telle qu’on l’aime, telle qu’elle fait rêver !
    Des paysages magnifiques, une nature sauvage, des gens adorables, accueillants, une hospitalité spontanée, généreuse…
    Tu as le meilleur de ce grand pays 👌
    Gold bless America 😉

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  2. Quelle belle rencontre nous avons eue avec toi Arthur. La vie nous réserve parfois de belles et agréables surprises. Bonne continuité et bien hâte de te revoir lors de ton passage à Montréal.

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  3. Art I see your adventure is going well . There are beautiful people wherever you go. It was a pleasure having you for Easter. Please remember you are welcome anytime. Call me anytime and let me know how your blues is doing. Tom

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  4. Merci pour ton partage !!! Belles aventures , magnifiques rencontres , des jeunes , des plus anciens !!! Dommage ton absence en Alsace dernièrement … mais ce n’est que partie remise !!! GROS BISOUS de Gox.et de moi en particulier ..à bientôt

    Véro

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  5. You are really having the ultimate experience in the USA ! The Americans are so welcoming ! Do tell me if you go to Long Island in New York, or when you get to Australia, I have several friends there that would certainly host you with pleasure and generosity.
    Take care and enjoy life. Jackie from Nantes

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