My workbench

My workbench

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

France at last

I'm in Chamonix. Yes, I was headed for Lyon. Yes, I do know that one is east, and one is west when leaving Geneva. But...Chamonix! Mont Blanc! It is absolutely incredible here. I'm going to spend the rest of the day relaxing by a raging river, camped out illegally in the woods listening to music and writing in my journal. There is no better way to unwind (at least, in France...Legally...Safely...At this time of year). So, tomorrow Lyon, but today, pristine wilderness. With a motorway a few hundred meters below me...

This is the route *normal* people take:
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And this was my route...

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And I'm still not to Lyon

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Budapest to Ljubljana was rather uneventful- A single overnight spent just south of Balaton, sleeping in my brand new $10 tent from Tesco. I love these cheap little things, I can abuse the hell out of them, expect about three months of wear and tear, and then give them to someone unwilling to spend even that much on a piece of gear. I can't wait to hit an REI and pick up a decent tent for a reasonable price...

Ljubljana...Well, I succeeded in meeting up with Shaun, as well as his friend Martin. While we were only intending on meeting up and hanging out for a little while, I ended up staying with their couchsurfing hosts for the night...And the next one. The four girls were university students, two of them sisters, and were on summer break. We all cut loose a bit, had a lot of fun, and I will hopefully see Polona and her friend Ziva in Barcelona or Portugal. I really love Slovenia, and think that it may be the most beautiful country I have visited yet...Ljubljana is like Burlington, but bigger, with much prettier architecture.

This continued for four nights, after which time, despite protest (my own), I hit the road. My first lift came almost too easily, a quick hundred kms to the border with Austria. A brief wait later, and I caught a lift with a Slovenian truck driver up to the Rasthalle in Salzsburg, just west of the city. Discrete camping, an underpass to the other side of the road, a McDonalds with free Wifi, and LOTS of vehicular traffic...I like this one! I camped in the mild rain, throwing my tarp over my tent (1500mm hydrostatic head is 'water resistant' in my mind) to block both the rain and the light from the trucks coming and going. The next morning, still damp, I hitched out.

A german gentleman gave me a ride from Salzburg to a tankelle (petrol [gas] station) south of Munich, where I looked sorry enough that a Belgian couple decided to take pity on me and give me a lift. They were headed all the way up to Gent, just in time for the end of the Gent Festival. I considered going with them, and then hitting the festival for a day, then hitching back to A'dam, but in the end decided against it. Patryk, I learned last night, is at Casa right now...Shame, but I'll see him in Portugal. Well, these Belgians were freaking awesome! They had a cute golden retriever in the back of their series-3 Westphalia, and they were both pretty well linked up with the squat/alt scene in Gent. This gave hours of talking material, which helped us overcome 500kms and hours of stopped German traffic (ON THE AUTOBAHN!!!).

In the end, they set me down near Heilbonn at another tankelle. I walked over to the other side of the autobahn and walked into the small shop, searching for a better atlas of Europe to hitch with. Unfortunately, after comparing my own map to the atlas (same company) and placing my atlas back in my bag, the shopkeeper thought I was trying to steal it and shouted at me. I smiled, showed how worn my atlas was, and she understood. Back out to the road, I caught a lift with a German kid going to Offensburg. He worked for the state government (bundestadt?) and wanted to travel after he finished his university (apparently he won't have any trouble getting a job after taking a year or two off in his line of work...I want that!) As enthusiastic as he was, he nonetheless dropped me at the wrong service station (my fault for not paying attention), which was off the highway a km or so. I ended up camping on a nearby canal path, not bothering to set up my tent.

The dew in the morning was everywhere, and took a while to dry off. Due to the construction at the ramp, and my inability to properly find my location on a map, I boneheadedly decided to hitch to France. Not only do I fail to realize that I am NORTH of Strasbourg, but I smile and begin to walk, also failing to realize that it is 25 kms to the French motorway. I finally manage to get a few short lifts there, and wait for nearly an hour. At some point, I checked my map, looked at the branching roadsigns in front of me, and realized that I was in the wrong place, and would have to hitch straight through Strasbourg to get south. Naturally, I turned around and hitched back towards Germany. My first ride was going all the way to Freiburg. I got dropped at the last service station in Germany, and was not the only hitcher there. Apparently the pair of guys whom had sat down and set up a sign in front of me (quite rude, as I was there first) also trying to get to Lyon. I almost changed my direction when a beautiful blonde in a hot white Porsche smiled and gestured that she was going in the direction of Basel. Before I could change my mind, she was gone...Ironic, considering my next ride took me to Basel, and then ended up taking me all the way to Geneva.

I arrived here yesterday afternoon, no idea where I was sleeping, and no idea how to hitch out. I found some wifi and posted an emergency couch request, and began to explore. Daniel, a like-minded hitch-hiking, mountain climbing, adventure-seeking Brazilian dude is now hosting me, while he studies for his PhD in neuroscience. I will leave tomorrow for Lyon, crossing back into France and embarking on my last 150kms before hanging out for a few days with Sitrane. Sma, Patryk (with his Russian hitchpartner), and a number of other hitch-hikers will be meeting in Lyon on the 30th, on our way to Barcelona and then Sines, Portugal for the 6/8/10 hitch-hiking gathering.

I wonder what they're going to put 11 with next year?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

laptop dead

back to somewhat infrequent posting, as my laptop has crapped the bed, so to speak. the hard drive is screwy, and while i do know how to fix it, i am not currently feeling like traveling back to Amsterdam to fix it. So, for the time being, i will be least it means 3lb more off my back.

plans...heading south for a bit, with a nice stopover in the mountains to clear my head in the swiss air. i will head to lyon, then to barcelona and portugal for the hitch gathering. i might meet up with leigh and travel around for a bit, but in all honesty my current desire is to travel solo for a bit, visit friends up north, and then head over to iceland for a spell. not sure yet what will happen, but this is the most recent update-development.

Friday, July 16, 2010


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We took the loooong way. but still made it in 48h, with two (short) nights of (wet) camping.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


As I've been tallying up all of the hitch-hiking I've done over the past few years, I've discovered something...

I've got a REV. That means I've hitched 40,000kms, or the circumference of the earth. I'll post maps of some of my other fun trips, such as around the west coast and my first European trip from Cork to Belfast.

This is kinda cool...I've hitched approximately 41,200kms in total, or over 25,000 miles.

August 2009 hitching trip

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Friday, July 2, 2010


From my discussions with Mom and Dad, it seems that some folks have a misconception about my travels. Yes, this most recent hitch-hiking jaunt threw me into a roller coaster of emotions, from self-doubt and depression to companionship, joy, and celebration. However, this is my life. I don't usually post about when I feel any sort of significant self-doubt, that all goes into a private log somewhere else (no, you can't see it). I simply felt that it would have been incomplete to tell the story about this particular trip without mentioning the emotions which were attached to it, so that folks understand what it is like. Just like anyone else's life, I have good days and bad. The difference is, I don't always have a place to hide when I'm having a bad day like most home-bound folks; I grit my teeth, screw on a smile, and keep going.

Dan asked me an interesting question: Why? He was asking why I camp in the bush, turn in after dark, and wake up before daybreak. The answer is that I enjoy pushing myself, and getting the most out of every single day. I love the freedom I have when I'm living out of a rucksack, knowing that I don't have anywhere to be, anywhere to go, and nobody depending on me- I'm the master of my own world. It's a feeling which most folks cannot really relate, always having to work on someone else's schedule or pace. This is why folks enjoy going into the wilderness- suddenly, the only thing which matters is you.

I hope this gives a bit of insight into Me.