Hitching in the rain is nearly impossible. No one wants to stop, and if they do, it's usually not saf for them to make a sudden lane change and pull over, especially on the interstate. So after an entire day of standing in the rain, trying to hitch along I-40 West, I managed to land only two rides, taking me from Icard to Black Mountain, North Carolina. I wasn't far from Asheville and if I could get a break from the constant rain, I knew it wouldn't take long to hit Tennessee. But the day was late and with dark comes the realization that I must fnd shelter for the night for no one will pick up a hitcher when the sun drops. I explored the tiny town of Black Mountain and found that the only overpass had no concrete shelf on which to sleep. The terrain nearby was also uneven at best, and everything was saturated, including me. Without a truck stop where I could wash clothes, I had no way to get dry or stay dry, so I did the last thing I ever wanted to do on this trip. I sinned.
I got the cheapest room at the only inn I could find and washed all of my soiled clothes. And after nearly 8 full days in the mountains and several more on the road, that was all of them. I did my laundry and showered, my first bathing in 10 days. Then I went to sleep.
While ransacking the complimentary breakfast this morning, I overheard a conversation about he Blue Ridge Mountains and a fellow traveler with an Australian accent said that he had done some driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He talked about the scenery and I mentioned that I had recently done some camping there. I mentioned I was heading west on I-40 and that's when I learned that rockslide had covered the road west of there. My path was blocked. I decided to take a detour and started consulting my map. I had several options, but in the end, the decision was easy. Chris, the Aussie, told me he was heading up to Roanoke, VA and I could ride with him. From there I could get on I-81 South which runs almost parallel to I-40 West. I'd end up in Knoxville either way and I'd be able to add Virginia to my list of states. And then he says with his Austalian accent "So I just bought this car" and shows me his keys. I thought to myself "so this is the guy who owns that Aston Martin Vantage parked outside."
The ride was great. The sporty import gripped the slick roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway like a gecko, and we cruised along the scenic byway, enjoying the view and the agility of the car, despite the occasional fog and continuous rain. We rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin and Metallica. But when we got on the parkway, Chris killed the music so we could enjoy the sound of the engine. It was purely a driving experience.
We rolled into Roanoke a little after dark and Chris pulled into Outback Steakhouse. What a fitting place to eat. A guy with an Australian hat on Walkabout and a true Aussie going there for dinner. We chowed down and Chris sprung for my meal, which was qute the generous gesture. Afer some tasty grub and a bit of relaxing he drove on to a Quality Inn. I told him I was more than willing to seek out the nearest overpass for a good night's sleep, but he was insistent on hooking me up with a room. I hesitantly accepted the offer.
I'm now staying in a very nice room and will get another nice breakfast tomorrow. I've anaged to get a shower two days in a row an tomorrow, the weather will be better and I'll be on on the interstate, hitching west.
I've added another state, another city, another great ride and another friend to my ever growing list.
Thanks Chris. This has been quite the pleasant detour. And thank you, oh gracious rockslide. I'll get around you soon, though. You cannot stop the Newanderthal.