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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Maple Syrup & Quaker Oats

USA | Sunday, 4 June 2017 | Views [228]

I'm gonna regret not trying poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese) in Quebec! Looks like I'll have to journey north again. As I hitchhiked through the gorgeous Quebec countryside, it took several lifts to finally reach the US border. A local took me on a short tour of the Canadian side of Lake Champlain before making a detour to drop me at the border. With a duty-free bottle of French wine in hand, I walked toward the border and would be greeted in typical dictatorship fashion: four officials came out ready for a rugby scrum, telling me to keep my hands out of my pockets as I reached for my wallet containing my passport card. Only then did they tell me I hadn't done anything wrong, but instead it's very rare to have someone walk up to that particular border crossing. After only a few minutes and a little bit of stress they handed me back my passport card and let me through. What a shock to be treated in such a way upon returning to your own country. Don't get me wrong, the USA is a gorgeous country but with such a messed up system!

As I don't get to add a US state to my travel collection often, I opted to hitchhike down through Vermont. Famous for maple syrup, the birthplace of Ben & Jerry's, and the country's smallest state capital, Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State. A short walk into Vermont, as part of my quest to find geocaches in all 50 states, I found my first one in Vermont, bringing my total to three US states with found caches. Just a few minutes later, an elderly couple driving to Montpelier would pick me up. They suggested dropping me near Burlington to have a better chance at getting a lift. It was getting dark already, and an unfortunate event earlier put me on the road much later than I planned...

Trying to get around where they're holding the Canadian Grand Prix proved to be a nightmare as a park normally accessible was not so due to the race. After nearly getting around the mumbo-jumbo I was escorted by security back to where I started from. One bus ride and then waiting an hour and a half for another bus wouldn't get me out of Montreal until early afternoon, and because I was going back to the USA via Vermont instead of New York I had to "sidestep" it toward the border with a number of short lifts instead of one long one.

As I walked for more than half hour, a young man named Daniel with his dog picked me up. He explained it's illegal to walk or hitchhike on the interstate highway. He'd give me a lift to the town of Randolph, nearly an hour away from Burlington. Although it was late, I felt like I was making some great progress since I crossed more than half of Vermont. Daniel hooked me up with a few cans of maple soda called Sap!

Creatively, the bar code is in the shape of Vermont.

My eating options were thin tonight so I had to eat at the golden arches. Speaking of, Montpelier is the only state capital without a McDonald's. 

Since hitchhiking or walking is illegal on the Interstate, a Vermont state trooper advised me to hitch from the on-ramp. Waiting only a few minutes in the dark, a gay couple from Quebec living in Boston would pick me up. They could only take me as far as the next turnoff only about 40 km ahead. As they were heading toward Boston, they dropped me and I was walking the in dark unsure of how far away the next gas station, rest area, or even a light would be. Walking on highways late at night is a bad move, legal or illegal. Only about 500 metres away I stumbled upon a rest area. It was rather empty and a couple of truckies said they couldn't take passengers. From there I just had to sit and be patient. For more than two hours I quietly sat, and then a torch shone upon me gave me a fright! It was the Vermont state trooper whom saw me only a couple of hours earlier, saying he got a call that I was walking on the Interstate. When I explained the couple earlier said this highway was fine to walk on, I was unaware it was also part of the Interstate. Fortunately I wasn't fined, but the trooper had to check with his seargent to be sure it was alright to hang out at the rest area overnight. I really wish I brought my tent as I could have pitched it a patch of grass at the rest area. 

Running on fumes this morning with next to no sleep, I was utterly focused on getting a lift. If I were picked up by someone driving to New York City, I would have just taken a bus from the Port Authority back to Easton. Two different people contemplated but didn't pick me up but then a Mennonite couple named Roger and Patty would pick me up. I'd be blessed as they were driving all the way to Pennsylvania, therefore I would end up very close to Mom's house and I could sleep along the way. From the land of syrup to the land of Quakers; oats and maple go well together. My camera was the reason I was picked up as Patty said "if you're carrying a Canon camera, we know you're safe." I was too exhausted to talk much of the way or take any photos as we passed through Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York before reaching the outskirts of Scranton. Across five states, my lift with Roger and Patty is my longest in the USA so far. Three more short lifts would get me to Palmer Township. Whilst I hoped to be dropped right at my mother's doorstep I had to walk for about half hour and then I was home! I successfully hitchhiked from Newfoundland to Pennsylvania, and what a fantastic journey it was!

I'll recap this journey a bit: starting off in St. John's (English) I travelled to Saint-Pierre (French) and then across Newfoundland to Nova Scotia (English). From there, Montreal (French) was an unexpected detour and now I'm back in the USA (English) after a journey that went English-French-English-French-English, therefore a journey of many linguistical changes. What a difference only a few thousand, or even hundred, kilometres makes. After all, it was nice to see my family again...

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow." -Lin Yutang

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