Sunday, November 28, 2010

Journey to England Part V

When setting out on our hitchhiking misadventures, the idea was usually to head to the closest main road to the highway. That way if someone wasn't getting on the highway, they could hopefully drop us near the highway and then we'd be in a good spot to hitch further. 

Right! Perfect logic! 

Well the universe responded to our logic with overwhelming indifference. 

"HA! Sure, go to your roads, I don't give a FUCK."

So, Sheffield to Lancaster, here we go. We checked our road map, and figured out a whole elaborate plan. We'd start out going west until we hit M61, then that would take us most of the way north from there. Since we didn't expect to find people going all the way to Lancaster, we had signs for various towns for checkpoints. 

To get to the outskirts of town and find a good spot to hitch, we realized we'd have to walk about two miles west. Since we were hung over, tired, and carrying huge packs, here's about how far two miles felt

This walk was probably my favorite part of the trip. 

Finally we reached a "lay by". It's a small area to pull over if you've got a flat tire or something, usually found right before on ramps, and sporadically on the highway. These were the best spots to be. We held up our sign for "West to M61" and after about forty minutes someone stopped and offered to take us north instead. We were going stir crazy, so we begrudgingly accepted, rendering our whole plan completely fucked. 

At the drop off point we came up with a new game plan, and while we waited to get picked up again, we saw this:

After only about 15 minutes someone pulled over! We got in the dude's peugeot, and he took off...quickly. He was constantly swearing at other drivers, and driving at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. We tried to distract ourselves from his driving habits, and asked him what he thought our chances were of making it to Lancaster by that evening. His response? 


"Oh you mean like our chances of getting out of this alive?" 

Haha, no we didn't actually say that. We were too terrified.

So to keep you up to speed *rimshot* we were riding with a maniacal racecar enthusiast that was calling other drivers "twats" and didn't expect us to make it to Lancaster. AWESOME. NEW FAVORITE PART OF TRIP.  

He dropped us off at another service station with *phew* all of our limbs intact. Our plan was to get to a town called Blackburn with a not crazy person and go from there. We kept our fingers crossed, and positioned ourselves at the end of the gas station's on ramp. Then it occurred to us, what if instead of waiting for the drivers to come to us, we go to them?! 


Yes! We can guilt these people into taking us places! It may have been a bit intrusive, but it was a much better plan. If someone sees you on the side of the road, they know nothing about you except the fact that you might stab them. If we could ask these people face to face, we could make a positive impression, and they'd hear our charming American accents. Plus we could tell them not shaving for something like five days was a fashion statement in America, and was definitely not a sign that we planned to murder them.

So we just started asking people "HEY! Are you going to or through Blackburn :D:D:D?" I'm sure some people were, but lied. 

Eventually we saw this burly trucker with a sweet beard. Figuring he was a good driver since he appeared to do it for a living, we asked him if he'd take us to Blackburn. He said, "well no, but I can get you right close to Blackburn!" And we hopped in.


He told us all about being a trucker, while blasting Thin Lizzy and Sabbath. My biggest regret from the whole trip is not getting a picture of this guy. He dropped us at a roundabout, and told us which on ramp would take us closer to Lancaster. We didn't have to wait long before a dude not much older than us gave us a short ride and dropped us right by the highway, an easy twenty minutes from Lancaster. And it was only 3:45! All in all, our average waiting time that day wasn't too long, so we expected to be in Lancaster by 5pm at the latest. Well,


..we gave up. We walked to a bus stop, defeated, spent a few pounds to get to a bus station, then spent some more money and took a bus into Lancaster. Perhaps you're wondering, "what's the big deal you cheap piece of shit? It couldn't have been that expensive." Well upset reader, you're right. It wasn't that much money, but I planned to be in Europe for about 3 more weeks, so I needed to save as much money as I could. Plus, if all the money I should've had was a sandwich, let's just say I had a pretty fucking small sandwich.

So, it was a mixture of relief that we were going to make it to Lancaster, and furious rage that the shortest leg of the trip in the area with the most traffic met with absolutely no luck.

"Haha remember me? FUCK YOOUUUU"

Well, what can you do? Lancaster was a cool town. A lot of it was on a huge hill, so you could see for miles.

We hung out with Mike's sister, made some delicious soup with sausage, beer, and I think chick peas. Saw some sights in the city, went out for some drinks at this pub by the river, then went to bed, exhausted. We slept the fuck in the next morning, and were treated to a full English breakfast. Fried eggs mushrooms tomatoes bacon sausage beans and toast. YUM. Next phase of the trip! 

Remember how we spent the whole previous day hitchhiking and being stressed out? Well now we had to do that again, but about twice as far to Stirling, Scotland.

Imagine being in Waterville Maine, and having to hitchhike to Boston Mass in two days. That's pretty much what we were in for. But thankfully we had the luxury of an extra night this time. The idea was to spend a night in Stirling, make our way to Edinburgh, and spend a night there. We had a bus ticket booked for the day after that from Edinburgh to London, and from London we'd take a bus to Mike's grandparents' house.

If someone asked me today, "Hey, do you want to hitchhike two hundred miles to points unknown, not be sure where you're going to sleep for two or three nights, then take a bus back from Edinburgh, without even being sure if you're going to make it to Edinburgh in the first place?" I'm not sure I'd say yes. 

But at the time, I was all for it!

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