Cold weather, warm people

I wanted to spend a few days in Washington DC, for two reasons :

  • The great range of free museums.
  • I was still freezing outside after spending so much time in the Caribbeans… Let’s wait for Canada to warm up !

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My time here has been possible thanks to Dinah’s hospitality ! She was working there and gave me a couch for the whole week I spent in DC.

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It was the perfect mix, I was visiting all museums during day time.

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And cooked for her at night and learnt how to make tasty Mexican food !

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Staying with her felt like holidays in that trip. She took me all over the city to the most local spots…

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And the must see ones…

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Dinah made sure I was getting a fluffy taste of the American lifestyle, which I truly did ! I will never see our theaters the same way in France after that.

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After that fantastic week, I left and experienced the cold spring coming up.

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As I was waiting frozen on the side of the road, one of the best surprise on that trip happened.
Michael, a worker from Florida, showed up and offered to drive me on my way to New York. Later on, he went further and proposed me to sleep in his place because there was a damn blizzard outside. As if being in warm home was not enough, he started to look at my equipment and see if he could give me something I was missing.
He took a look at my old Moroccan backpack. It had survived two Atlantic crossing and I had to sew it up many times. Needless to say, it was time to change it.
As a matter of fact, he had a very good one and was not using it.
He offered to give it to me. I could not accept it at first but as he really wanted to give it to me, I exchanged a nice flask of Gin and gave him my old backpack that he kept as a relic.

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My back and I are thanking him everyday when I carry his backpack on my shoulders. Then I headed to New York and got a lot of different rides.

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In the end of my journey, I got arrested almost in NY because it was “illegal” to hitchhike there. I spoke with the officer, explained my trip and he dropped me off almost in Manhattan to make sure I would be safe.

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New York is the most intense place I have been in my life.

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I have never seen a city with so many differences and people. Walking through Chinatown and then Little Italy reflects that social diversity very well.

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I had a place to sleep thanks to a friend of Dinah, Rebecca, who also happened to be a great guitar player and a singer. I even had the chance to assist at her performance in Brooklyn.

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Where you’ll get one of the finest view of Manhattan.

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I had been visiting Washington DC museums for a week so I took some fresh air in Central Park, which was definitely a nice breathe in the city.

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And checked an old friend from my home city living right by Manhattan. As good French, we spent the whole time cooking or eating in restaurants around !

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At night, we went out to check the best view of that never sleeping city.

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After a week in NY, I was done and tired of the city but visited a last friend who was on her way to be dancing in Broadway in few years. That’s another side of that city, you find every lifestyle possible and best talents from all over the world.

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I left in the morning and it took me 6 hours of long walking until I had my first lift.
I was arrested one more time by the cops but as I kept the business card of the last officer, it went very smoothly.
Later in the day, I met Alper, an artist living close to New York. He offered me to stay in his house for a few days because he needed someone to drive him all around New York. In exchange, he was going to introduce me to many artists, show me many places and be my own personal guide.

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I have never seen a person like him. He was overflowed with energy and had thousands of meetings everyday. In only 3 days, I discovered places of New York I would never have had the chance to know or pay the entrance by myself.

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I met an incredible amount of people during those days. Some were super wealthy, some were healers, some even came from Russia to enjoy time with him. I met Nigora and her son, a semi pro hockey player living there.

DSC_8261I did not know if I wanted to leave since all of them were as interesting as they were nice. I stayed a few more days and left with Rick and Michelle, Alper’s friend who were driving close to the border.

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I stayed a little bit in their house and cooked to offer them some European flavor since they could’t travel. Indeed, Michelle had just published her first book and was going on a signing tour very soon.

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No suspense here, I made my old lasagna recipe !

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I was now close to Vermont, the last state of the USA before Canada…

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Ride after ride, Canada started to feel much closer.

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I went for a last trek in the White mountains of New Hampshire as a nice grand’pa advised me to take a hike there.

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That turned out to be one of the toughest trail I did in my life. It started to snow and I had to cross overflowing rivers where I had to remove shoes and pant to cross it.

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Ouch !

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Still, I kept on walking and made it to the top of the mountains, way above clouds, rain and ice.

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Tough night on those rocks but the payoff was huge as I woke up with the sun in a beautiful clear sky.

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This is mount Lafayette, one of the last mountain before the border.

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A few hours and burgers later, I made it to the Canadian border. I was happy like a child when the immigration officer started to speak French with me ! Just look like I survived the east coast of the US !

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Hitchhiking was already not too hard in USA but in Canada it became a piece of cake.
I made it to Ville de Quebec in only 2 hours.

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And this is where I met Isabelle, my great friend from my first time in the Canaries Islands !

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It felt so good to see people I had met in this trip !

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Isabelle was the starting point on my long road to Alaska. She offered me to rest a long week and discover Quebec lifestyle !

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The first time I met her, we got along well because she also traveled around the world for 5 years. Now she had settled and was studying to become an horticulture specialist.

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I followed her journey and left weekends to meet friends. That’s Canada, when you go to friends, they might just live in the middle of the wood.

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Their culture and mine are very similar and they live a bit like Europeans. We drank wine very often, had dinner together every night and cooked most of meals ourselves like in France.

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They even play pétanque !

But you can still say they are not so far from the USA ^^.

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I stayed with David, Annabelle and Flo for the whole weekend, just being in the wood and visiting surroundings together.

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It was like being home with friends from childhood.

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I spent my last days in Ville de Quebec cooking a lot with Isabelle. That was just such a relaxing break on that life on the road.

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Oh I forgot, they introduced me to Poutine, I introduced them to Ti’Punch !

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One more time, the hardest part of my travel was to say goodbye. However, thanks to her, I know that goodbye are not definitive and can lead to other adventures…

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I walked, hitchhiked and made it to Montreal in a single ride.

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One more time, I found friends I met before in that trip (they picked me up on my way to Washington DC): Jose and Richard !

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They had planned my visit and managed to find my mom on Facebook to ask her about my favorite dessert and they had just cooked it ! I was speechless.

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They made a 4 pound Mille-feuille ! This is one of the most challenging French dessert and Jose first try was just out of that world !
Next day, Richard took me to the world famous Cirque du Soleil (where he works) and gave me a personalized visit of the headquarters.

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The whole history of the circus lays here…

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And this is where all costumes are thought and elaborated !

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I can’t show much pictures to respect the cirque’s privacy but here is one of the finest view of Montreal from the top floor.

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It is hard to believe that it all started with a ride on a snowy road back in Virginia.

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After visiting the city, I understood why so many French are living there. But not so many know you since you are able to walk: I met one of my oldest friend ever, Clotilde, who had settled in Montreal for 2 years already !

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I could tell she had been here for a while when I saw how many people she knew there. She took me out all night…

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… and all day ! Indeed, Montreal never stops, every Sunday there is a techno festival in the middle of the city called pic-nic electronic !

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I was just recovering from last night and was already thrown into that gigantic electro feast. Fantastic.

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Whereas I was ready to leave Montreal, Richard asked me if I was around on the next morning. I knew he was up to something but I would have never imagined that he would take me to the second largest zip line in Canada with his two kids.

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Well, I left Montreal blessed. I will never forget that amazing time spent in Quebec. Thanks Richard and Jose !

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You might notice french lasagna in those plates.

I left in the morning and kept on going to my long road to Alaska… From now on, I wouldn’t know anyone and there was 7000 km ahead.
I had a lot of memorable rides like with Hassan and his small daughter.

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A lot of drivers offered to put my tent in their garden at night.

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And many time they offered me to have dinner with them. Step by step, I also got new gears to go through Canadian wilderness.
Indeed, a lot of time, people gave me clothes they were not using anymore. I had a new jacket, a mosquito net for my face (it is black flies season) and even military ration ! Thanks so much !

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The more days passed, the more the road started to be wild and lonely. I left Quebec and went through the English speaking part of Canada, which starts with Ontario.

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Going through Ontario, I had to learn how to play horseshoes. Damn those guys here were good !

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Step by step, I started to find wilderness and discovered Canada’s natural parks. I went to Algonquin provincial park and hiked for couples of days.

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Most people here would just kayak but hiking went fine.

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I finally met summertime, that warmth I had been seeking for since I left Florida.

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Canada was just like I pictured it out, full of trees and lakes. Just lovely.

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Those pictures might look idyllic but I was just hiking in full black flies season. You can’t see them but they were all around and hungry as hell.
Back on the road with a little less blood, I was now heading for giant lakes of Canada.

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On my way to the Lake superior, I met Lindy, an amazing mother going to visit her family in northern Ontario. We drove together for 400 km before she dropped me off.
As I was walking down the road, she showed up again and told me that I was invited in her daughter house. I hardly believed it… I was even more surprised when I arrived and she served me fresh nails.

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Staying with this family is one of those experiences that makes you travel. I thought to spend a night and ended up staying the whole weekend.
I followed them through their day and even had a chance to help them renovating a part of the house. To thank me for that small job, Rory, the dad, took me over to the lake with his kids.

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Where we had the very first swim of the year… brrr

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Next day, I kept heading west and covered a good 700 km when I realized that Rory’s family discreetly placed a envelope in my backpack. I opened it and found a warm note and… $200 in cash.
I was speechless. They all gathered that money together to make sure I would be traveling safe and to thank me for my help (that was not worth more than $20). Woo… I might have cried a bit when I saw this.

Couple of hundreds kilometers later, cities became rarer.

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I made it to Lake Superior later in the day just at time to catch the sunset. Felt I just hit the ocean.

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I hiked around the lake fighting against mosquitoes when I met Laurence and Helaine, going west as well. As we were heading in the same direction, they offered me a ride to the next campground. A ride, and also wine and great warm food.

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That I was going to slowly digest in my old good hamac.

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It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of the country with such a sunset.

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I hiked on my own the next day and followed the lake for couple of kilometers.

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And got to shower in those small natural pools where water would be warm enough for me.

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On the way, I visited some old native Indians pictographs.

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Days later, as I was hitchhiking again, I met my friends by chance and got to travel a bit further together.

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They were good walkers so we went together for a long 22 kilometers trail to some spectacular cliffs.

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That was a long slope but the view was sick.

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I felt I was back travelling in Norway.


Now I had more than 2500 km of flat land until I made it to Alberta’s mountains. I got a last breakfast with my dear Toronto’s friends and they dropped me back on the transcanadian road.

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Alone in the rain, I waited a little bit wondering how long it would take to cross those long prairies, when a truck driver from Albania stopped and asked me where I was going. I said for fun Alberta and he just shook his head and said”perfect I make it to Vancouver, just jump in ! “

Let’s go for 2500 km together. Well, hope he has more CD than this one…

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2 thoughts on “Cold weather, warm people

  1. Toujours le prems, Thibault !
    Je suis d’accord avec toi, la lecture du blog est un véritable cadeau et on va de surprise en surprise.
    Je n’imaginais pas dans le meilleur des rêves qu’Arthur rencontrerait autant de gens sympathiques, chaleureux et hospitaliers.
    C’est un festival !
    J’espère que la faune sauvage sera aussi cool et bienveillante…
    Là, je ne sais pas si le charme d’Arthur opérera aussi bien…
    On y croit !!!

    Like

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