Hammock interior shot. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hennessy Hammocks, there’s a Velcro slit near my feet where you can enter from the bottom and sort of sit backwards to get into it. Then seal that bugger closed, stash your junk in the little clothesline pouch above, and hope the rainfly is correctly aligned this time because that mosquito-proof mesh just isn’t as effective against rain.
To me, the silver lining of the govt. shutdown was a priceless (and admission-free) chance to march right into a national park with no other visitors/staff around for the first time in my life. Tons of wildlife, plenty of open campsites, and few traces of human activity…My kind of spot!
I killed this guy when he jumped out of a log I was carrying while gathering firewood…then I felt bad about it so I followed the hunter’s code of ethics and ate him
Oscar the box turtle
A bunch of jive little turkeys
First day hitching in NC…thought I had a solid method but it just didn’t work out
Meet Josh: One of the most easygoing guys I’ve met along the way and traveled from NC to OK with. He’s also a talented drummer and plays in a djentstep band.
Found this puzzle piece on the side of the road and decided to substitute it for the South/West sign I’d lost somewhere in NC. No success…maybe if the fish was looking the other way?
Riding in the bed of a pickup with Josh and a litter of chainsaws while four drunk and slightly intimidating guys sat up front with the driver
Fresh picked cotton. If you look closely you can see that it makes pretty decent earplugs
Around the fourth or fifth day were were stuck in NC. Believe it or not, this method didn’t work when I gave it a shot. But the upside was that Josh taught me about the ghetto zip tie belt after the clasp on my regular belt snapped.
After one of the strangest and most interesting conversations with some random dude and the rest station janitor whose thumb was replaced by his index finger after a mishap in the navy.
My sleeping bag has a little zipper slit at the bottom where you can stick your feet through to waddle off into the woods when nature calls. Or something like that
Just your average underpass rest stop
Somewhere in the general vicinity of Statesville, NC
Meet Whitney: One of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever met. Being in her company for no more than twelve hours fostered a sense of love and respect for her that will last an entire lifetime.
Whitney’s wonderful dog, Zeus. He’s a mild-mannered Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix that Whitney took in from the streets.
This was written on the side of an abandoned cabin just inside the city limits of Memphis…hope it was a successful trip
A decked-out car at a Popeye’s parking lot in downtown Memphis
We went inside to rest and the manager hooked us up with some free food
Tried looking sharp in my double breasted suit…no luck getting rides but the shoulder pads did wonders for those abrasive pack straps
Pimped out hobo hangout
Right alongside the Mississippi River on the TN/AR border
Josh: “You know you’re a redneck when…”
He said it was pretty hot wearing that chicken suit
Snazzy Memphis underpass lighting…those Memphiscitizens know how to do it up real classy!
Chewing on a chicken bone, working on a farmer’s tan base layer…gettin’ there
Meet Rebe: A super-chill environmentalist/gypsy/chemist. She has an excellent taste in music and told us a crazy story about how she had given a ride to a mentally-unstable hitchhiker several years ago…who later turned out to be a serial killer and had already racked up twelve victims by the time they’d crossed paths. Glad you made it out alive, Rebe!
Waiting in McDonald’s with Josh, hoping for Rebe to make good on her word and pick us up again after she went to visit her aunt for a few hours.
Thankfully Rebe turned up to save the day…As it turned out, Josh had accidentally forgotten one of his bags in the car while she dropped us off at the Mickey D’s
Try this at home maybe. Not on the shoulder of the interstate at night as trucks going 75+mph pass by several feet away from you. Drag is not a valuable asset for pedestrians in this situation. On the plus side, we set up camp right next to a creek and none of our stuff got wet.
Dozens of dead ‘dillos later and the novelty of seeing one still hadn’t worn off. Never did find one that was still alive, but the sheer quantity of flattened corpses made up for it I guess
Foggy morning. Upgraded my ghetto belt from zip tie status to a piece of rope.
Breaking camp at an abandoned rest stop somewhere in Oklahoma
Nothing to see here…just your ordinary neighborhood smoke shop lawnmower drive-thru…
Four courses for horses
I bet you think this sign is abuot you.
A walking stick going about its business at a safe distance from me
AHHH SOMETIMES THIS HAPPENS
Home cookin’ in Tulsa (or as Josh endearingly refers to his hometown: “A sluT, backwards”)
A train station in Tulsa, OK
After parting ways with Josh, my side-excursions became a lot more frequent and urbex-oriented
Meet Doodah!! The guy’s basically my brother. He gave me so many physical resources I could hardly carry them all, but thankfully I managed because much of it became pretty indispensable further down the road. I gave him my parents’ phone number and he told them that meeting me had changed his life. Wishing you all the best, man.
After walking through OKC until 2 in the morning I jumped the fence and decided to camp out here…until a police helicopter flew directly overhead and sniped out my gear with a searchlight.
I hid in this park until the heat finally went away. Then I kept walking until I came across a secluded to crash in…
I was woken up by this stray dog in the middle of the night. I mistakenly kicked him because I couldn’t see what it was, but when I woke up he was still hanging out at my camp, licking the morning dew from my pack cover. I named him Melvin.
I wrapped him up in a coat so the prickly things matted all throughout his fur wouldn’t cut into my arms while I carried him to a more hospitable area. He finally stopped shivering after a while and I gave him some water to drink. All I had to feed him was dry off-brand cheerios, but I think something was wrong with his jaws/teeth because he tried chewing on one for a while until he gave up and spit it out. Poor Melvin! After a couple miles I found a travel center and gave him some pieces of hotdogs, which he eagerly gulped down.
No, he’s not just happy to see me…that’s a bottle of vodka in his lap. I’m okay when people talk on their phone while I’m riding along, but something I’d rather not hear at 3PM is that the driver “should’ve gotten six DUIs by now.”
Micky…what can I say. His quirky cheerfulness was just the pick-me-up I needed after spending the greater portion of the day trudging through Oklahoma City
Will is on point, no doubt…super chill and down-to-earth. I might even get a ride with him again sometime in the future if he’s truckin’ my way. After spending the past few rides listening to hours of country music, a little gangsta rap on his nice stereo system was just what the doctor ordered. He also gave me a Samsung Galaxy III, because the screen was cracked and he already had a new phone (but it works perfectly fine otherwise and is the first smartphone I’ve ever owned). Thank you so much dude, I never would have imagined coming home with something like that!!
Waking up on a cattle ranch outside Santa Rosa, NM
Gabriel…he’s a great person and he lives in Bumblefuck, NM. More specifically, about 50 miles toward the middle of nowhere. It was courteous to leave me off at the nearest on-ramp and not in your desert hometown…Thanks for stopping to pick me up in the rain, I hope all goes well with your new job
Meet Jeff: He saved me from the NM desert on his way to Medford, OR in his new 4×4 he picked up from TX. Great guy, great conversation, and a great two-day trip all the way to Oregon with him. Along the way I tried chew for the first time and fired a handgun for the first time.
REAL Mexican food at some hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Albuquerque, NM. Love me some horchatas!
Outside Albuquerque, NM…It’s hard to decide where to hang a hammock in the desert with so many perfect trees to choose from!!
A little keepsake from my first time firing a handgun
My bed for the night in Salt Lake City, UT
A salt silo in Salt Lake City, UT
Driving through the salt lake flats just after a crazy hailstorm
Wild mustangs in Nevada
Bighorn sheep in Oregon
Just getting into Oregon and seeing real trees for the first time in days
Found this lil guy right here on my pack as I went over to put on my pack cover for the night at Fourmile Lake, OR
Took him to a tree, where tree frogs are supposed to be. I was too tired that night to give him a name, so let’s call him Edgar
Camping overnight at Fourmile Lake in Oregon…It was a beautiful forest to stay in but it was getting pretty cold that far up north by that time
Poor owly…No signs of decay so I think it was a fresh kill
I got my first ride on the West Coast from Jason, who brought me to I-5 South in Oregon.
Meet Rikki: She gave me a ride through the town of Ashland, OR, where she is involved in a Shakespeare theater. It wasn’t a very long ride but she was very friendly and a great tour guide for such an interesting town.
Meet Andrea and her puppy, Koko: I met them just outside Ashland, OR and hitchhoke with them all the way to Half Moon Bay, CA right alongside the West Coast on Highway 1.
When Koko got tired and whiny, Andrea would have to carry him around on her shoulders for a while
Meet Arnold: A great dude who took us from OR to CA and let us stay at his place for a while until he had to go in the the ER for surgery
Chillin’ with Arnold and Donna in southern Oregon, somewhere outside Mt. Ashland on the way to their place
Meet Alex, Arnold’s youngest son and a local volunteer firefighter.
Andrea and Amber (Alex’s girlfriend)
This was the first thing we saw when Arnold brought Andrea and I over to his place
Arnold’s backyard was essentially a nice patch of farmland in the valley of some mountains in northern California
Arnold showing me a bear skull he found somewhere by his property
Just a cat on a vertical stump
Koko investigating some animal skulls in the front yard
Had to snap a few shots on the down-low because Arnold’s wife kept a pretty close eye on us while we were helping trim their crop, so I could only capture the few scrappy plants hanging in the corner. If only my camera could replicate the aroma inside the shed…
Again, I wish I could’ve taken a shot of the entire place, but I guess these are better than nothing…just wish they would’ve created a better representation of the whole atmosphere in there.
This guy was curled up in my room when I came in to check my phone to see if I had any service, so I chilled with him for as long as my allergies could tolerate and then had to kick him out
Goats with gusto
Brownie: The “perverted one,” according to Arnold. I kept my distance from this guy because he apparently enjoyed pissing all over himself (however that works for a goat?)
One of the many dogs owned by Arnold’s family. There was at least one dog for each of the seven residents.
A chicken just doing his thing
Kicking back with some Empire in the movie library room while some wiener dog is creepin’ at me from Amber’s bed
Oh, hey there…
Horses to the left; poultry to the right; various crops in the foreground; buds outta sight
Next stop: Weed, CA…Derpy derpa derp
Probably the most beautiful and saddening roadkill I’d seen on the entire trip
Koko and Andrea on our first day on the West Coast. That’s the Pacific Ocean out there in the background
Hanging out with Oscar at a McDonald’s in Pacifica, CA. He told us where we could get some free dog food for Koko and randomly met up with him again later on in the day after a long hike down highway 1.
The recently-constructed “Devil’s Slide Tunnel, leading into Pacifica, CA.
Not ten seconds from the time we’d reached the other side, the sun had completely descended below the horizon, across the Pacific Ocean
From the moment I saw it out in the distance, I knew it would be home for the night
“Koko Castle,” an abandoned lighthouse where I spent the night on the coast with Andrea and Koko outside Half Moon Bay in Cali. On the right-hand side (not shown) is a false entrance leading to a dead end, but that gap near the top wound up being a suitable entrance point
This was the only accessible entrance to “Koko Castle,” so I climbed up and squeezed through to tour the interior
Exterior shot of Koko Castle
Two kindhearted Chinese folks that brought me from Highway 1 outside Half Moon Bay to Highway 101 outside Santa Cruz in California.
Cheezin’ by the Pacific
Came across this at just the right time…it was the perfect place to take a break and rest my legs for a while
Meet Anthony, Sarah, and Gavin: A trio of hitchers I met that got kicked off the same freeway by the highway patrol and with whom I spent Halloween in Santa Cruz.
Gavin making squirtahol (“Squirt” soda + gin)
Anthony donning his Halloween costume…he really went all out that day (I only had a hitchhiker costume)
Flying a thumb with Anthony to get a ride out of Santa Cruz
…only half-seriously, though…
…and the highway patrol decided that the on-ramp was the freeway because the bacon’s pretty nasty around there. Some nasty swine flu going around with a lot of the pigs in that area. Then again, wearing a “hitchhiker” costume on Halloween and flying a thumb was sort of a lost cause anyway…
I decided to opt out of the glitter after seeing Gavin doused with a faceful of the stuff
Downtown Santa Cruz on Halloween Night
Strange artifact I found nearby a graveyard in Santa Cruz, CA
Seemed like a fitting place to spend the night on Halloween…
Tunneling out of Santa Cruz
In a place where highway patrol had let me down so many times, Eric finally delivered.
I got pretty hungry walking alongside a plantation so I decided to pick a few strawberries that the workers hadn’t gotten to.
Found this northern alligator lizard just outside Monterey County, CA
Alligator lizard, up close
The underside of a western fence lizard
I lost hold of him (but luckily I spotted him before I decided to take a seat)
Obith brought me from Highway 1 to Highway 101 in Salinas, CA, and bought me an enormous burrito at a Mexican food truck.
After I was thrown off the freeway, a group of people in Salinas, CA let me stay in their mobile home and offered me coffee and oatmeal in the morning
Ryan sanding down a “meteorite found on the railroad tracks” when I woke up inside the trailer
A slightly larger western fence lizard. I thought It’d be safe holding this guy with an open hand but he later scampered down me and did an abrupt 180 up my pant leg…I had to pin him down with one hand before he made it to my left knee and carefully pry him off with the other hand
I had a pretty healthy diet that day. After finding some broccoli I came across a lettuce plantation and pretty much just kept stuffing my face with greens as I walked along the field
The only living snake I saw throughout my entire trip
Gume, a boss Mexican dude who hooked it up with some authentic Mexican food (tongue tortas…yum) and a five hour ride with two of his Mexican workers that didn’t happen to hablo inglais.
Some great Mexican food in Chualar, CA that Gume treated me to when I went into town to fill up on water. He’d seen me walking along the freeway the previous day and I seemed like a pretty decent guy to him. Thanks Gume and the two Mexicans that worked for him that I didn’t catch the names of because we couldn’t breach the language barrier
Fresh out from the shower with a clean shave, #nomakeup #nofilter
A beef tongue sandwich. Deliciously tender!
After my two Mexican amigos brought me to Oxnard, CA they pointed to a gas station where I could continue traveling. It was in the middle of the city and late in the evening, so no bueno. I mimed that yo neccessito a place to sleep por favor, so the driver shrugged and pointed to this car, which he cleared some of his things out of so I could crash in the back.
Doug took me to In-N-Out in L.A. on his way home to gather some of his things before he headed out on a trip to Las Vegas
Welcome to Los Angeles
This girl didn’t seem amused as I took her picture while driving by. We later saw her conglomerating with some other characters on the street in the heart of L.A.
The legends were true!
Pure deliciousness. Maybe I’ll sign up for Instagram just so I can post this bad boy on there
Between rocks and fences, western fence lizards seemed to be more fond of the latter
You find a lot of weird things in the alleyways beside the freeway. Like this balloon, for example…
…and this dog that apparently been THROWN AWAY! Give the guy a proper burial at least…
Just a lizard in a lime tree
No mere spider can block me from getting more delicious limes to snack on!
Brian gave me my first ride on I-10 E, on my way toward Palm Springs. Also dropped me off at a road running parallel to the interstate so I would henceforth be harassed by California Highway Patrol never again…so far…
Meet Donald: A hilarious, kindhearted gay realtor dude with a crazy awesome house in Palm Springs that he and his partner decided to leave for a house in Florida because they wanted a place with warmer water.
Meet Rogue (the black lab) and Bucket (the black bunny)
They love each other. Awwwwwww.
The backyard of the house I stayed at in Palm Springs, CA
There were quite a few hummingbirds flying around the yard during the daytime
The gazebo in the backyard of Donald/Roger’s place
Watch out for tan lines
When I went hiking on part of the Pacific Crest Trail I saw more of these lizards than I could shake a stick at (but I still tried anyway)
Gets hot up on the mountains of the Pacific Crest Trail. After hiking a few miles from the trail-head I pretty much had the whole peak to myself, if you don’t count the pair of Black Hawk helicopters doing their rounds across the mountain range every now and then
That’s basically the only time I ever used my faux-Gorillapod during the entire trip. For a crappy knockoff that I hardly touched, I’d say it was money well spent
Dung beetle? I didn’t get too close..
A couple stout and healthy-looking trout
Got to ride all around Palm Springs, CA in this classic.
Riding dirty in Palm Springs, CA
Getting ready to head out at sunrise from Palm Springs, CA to Van Horn, TX. Note Rogue creepin over in the passenger seat…He’s not very generous when it comes to sharing space, but at least he wasn’t overly fidgety.
In the front seats of the car we were towing to liven up the day of any officer who decided to pull us over
Let me tell you how it feels to spend a night in a hotel room after a long day on the road…it feels good. It feels good.
A Texas for breakfast
Meet Richard: A trucker with a solid sense of where he stands in life and won’t hesitate to put any mofo that crosses him six feet underground. Ex-navy + ex-criminal/vigilante = hours of amazing stories!
My first ride in a semi
One of the many trucks that passed by carrying a giant blade for a wind turbine. Afterwards someone was listing a bunch of stats about them, but all I remember is that a complete turbine costs roughly $1 million per unit
Plenty of abandoned places in southern Texas
As a parting gift, Richard gave me the SOA “Reaper Crew” cap to replace the previous hat that I’d lost. Almost lost that cap an hour later but after about a mile of hopeful backtracking I happily recovered it just before sundown.
Plenty of skeletons in southern Texas
Maybe a winded butterfly here and there in southern Texas
Tire blew out a half hour from our destination…no spare, so we had to wait for a tow. Yet another reminder to live without expectations: The time required to travel to a destination is independent from the actual time of arrival at that destination.
My travel route from the East Coast to the West Coast to San Antonio (where I spent the following couple weeks spending some time with my family).
Meet my cousin, Anthony! Little man is already nineteen years old but I felt like I hadn’t seen him in a million billion years.
Plenty of anoles in southern Texas
Plenty of toads in southern Texas
Meet Sandy…She’s less innocent than she looks
A freshly-killed local duck, courtesy of Sandy. It was my privilege to scoop the carcass out from the back yard and dispose of it in the trash. My aunt wasn’t too impressed with my puppetry skills but I think I put on a pretty decent show, considering what I had to work with
Just your average wall decoration at a San Antonian water jug refill store.
Hair was getting a bit out of control so I decided it was high time for a cut.
“A little off the top…”
Five minutes later, five pounds lighter, five inches shorter, five degrees cooler.
My little gecko bud who chills out on the porch ceiling every night.
Freshly made juice, straight from my aunt’s juicer. Apples, celery, jicama, sweet potatoes, ginger, and carrots. Delicious.
Anthony, all prepped and ready to go lizarding…
…but there were no lizards to be found that day. Just a tacky fedora inscribed with an equally-tacky catchphrase. Womp.
Couple deer in southern Texas
Comanche Lookout in San Antonio, TX
A local hawk chowing down on some kind of snake or slender lizard
Had to take care of my anole fix when I got the opportunity
Took a day hike with my aunt and uncle in Enchanted Rock State Park, TX
Probably the most buff [wild] lizard I’d seen on my trip…no Mr. Lizard, but still pretty husky
Photography for dayyys
When suddenly, I noticed something peculiar…
This could be proof that the theory of evolution is bogus…Or, it could be a clue…
And the next thing I knew, I’d stumbled upon the elusive desert nun in her natural habitat. A rare specimen indeed!
Papaya + OJ + Yogurt + Banana = A damned decent smoothie that doesn’t taste nearly as repellent as a papaya, straight up
Meet Pat: This guy is freaking awesome and every time I visit San Antonio I make it a point to stop by and chill for a while. Sorry about the image quality of this one.
Didn’t catch this dude’s name but he was giving me a weird look the whole time
When it was time for my farewell, my aunt dropped me off at an abandoned gas station on I-10 E outside San Antonio
He didn’t say much
We passed the guy in the foreground walking along the interstate in the rain before my aunt and cousin dropped me off from San Antonio. My aunt had promised my uncle she wouldn’t pick up any hitchhikers before they got married, but luckily for him he was already riding in the truck when Ricky (the driver) picked me up. The trucker could only bring us a few miles up the interstate, but he loaded us up with some bagels and snacks before we parted ways. Thanks Ricky!
Meet Dominick: A trucker for Swift who picked me up en route to his rig.
Check out that sweet whip…I was not expecting a ride in this fine set of wheels. Thanks for the much-appreciated break from walking miles in the rain, Dominick.
I sought out shelter in a church in East Houston after the shoulder of the interstate turned into a river and soaked my boots all the way through. Nobody could put me up for the night but they set me up with a motel room for the night. The next day, pretty much all of the roadways looked like the right side of the parking lot.
Paul rescued me from the flooded shoulder of I-10 E in Baytown, TX and provided me with a ride into Louisiana (as well as good company and friendly conversation).
Meet James: An offshore driller from Houma, LA. Extremely laid-back gentleman with an awesome Cajun accent
This is pretty much what the offshore rigs look like, except they tend to be offshore and don’t have a parking lot for cars near a field. On the left is a helipad where the drillers can get to work.
An unexpected nook above an investment office where offshore drillers can crash before heading out to the helipads around 5am.
If you’re ever in Southern Louisiana and have a craving for some tasty Cajun cuisine, I highly recommend stopping here.
Some kind of deserted houseboat at dawn in Louisiana
She picked me up on the way to the methadone clinic because I reminded her of her son.
Welcome to New Orleans
Meet Jason and Elise! They gave me a quick ride through the rougher part of the interstate in New Orleans where it was too heavily-trafficked to walk safely, and got me to a more residential area with plenty of cool folks and interesting abandoned structures to check out while I took a leisurely (for the most part) stroll. Thanks guys!
The expression on his face says it all. But seriously, Oliver’s a cool cat.
Jose, you saved my life man. I would’ve been a goner if I had to walk through that tunnel. It was worth losing my hat over the bridge as I ran toward the truck for that ride.
Alabama has no shortage of abandoned places
Brian thought it was an odd request when I asked to take his picture, but he kindly obliged.
Meet Keith: An incredibly kindhearted Jamaican guy with a lovely Bulgarian wife and two kids. He noticed me getting dropped off by Brian as he was filling up his truck at a nearby Love’s gas station. A half a mile down the interstate he saw me still hoofing it along in the dark and offered me a ride all the way to his house in Orlando…AND he also invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner when we finally got to Orlando at 3:30am and did some serious damage to a bottle of cognac.
Keith’s family! They treated me just like a part of the family, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
This is where I crashed in the early morning on Thanksgiving Day because I’m the prettiest princess of them all
And I thought I might be eating granola bars and beef jerky for Turkey Day
This was pretty much the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had, hands down! (Sorry, biological family, but I’m just stating the facts here.)
My seemingly daunting Greyhound bus schedule…until I met lots of interesting people to hang out with.
I met Chris and Amanda at the Greyhound terminal in Jacksonville, FL. They were headed back to Cape Cod after deciding that Florida wasn’t where they wanted to be. They were a fun couple to spend most of my trip back to Philly with.
I think it’s a safe bet that we were the only ones in the entire line that found this amusing. Look at those cold stares!
Jullian was a friendly, like-minded individual who provided me with good company and some great conversation on the bus trip from Richmond, VA to Philly.
On the left is John, a Swede who was hitchhiking and catching bus rides from NY to FL in order to fly down to Guatemala to visit his friend. He told me about his trip to Nepal last year and gave me a map of Everest Base Camp. Who knows…he just might wind up being a part of my next big adventure! On the right is a random chill dude who happened to join in our the conversation.
A few generous offerings that made it back home with me after my trip. Thanks to the many indescribably amazing and kindhearted people whose paths crossed with mine during this journey, it has become a paradigm-shifting experience, an unforgettable life lesson, and an incredible story worth sharing.