Tuesday, 25 November 2008

My last days in the US

Flat Feet, his wife and I
I did a lot of travelling after finishing the AT - almost too much civilisation after being on the trail for so long. First I stayed another night with Flat Feet and his wife who took me to the old gold mines in Dahlonaga - where the first American gold rush hat taken place. They had also agreed to take me to Atlanta - but it being a Sunday they insisted on taking me to church first. I must admit that I first felt a bit blackmailed by this itinerary because I did not have much choice and am not much of a church goer. But to my big surprise this service turned out to be a very interesting event - and German priests and ministers could learn a lot from it. First of all we did not go to a church, but to an airfield hangar that was used as the churches meeting place on Sundays. The whole congregation take a huge interest in my adventures and even prayed for me - something that I can definitely need. Even the sermon was interesting - and in the end I was very glad that I had come and participate in this very American experience. On top of all that I was even treated to an enormous AYCE buffet - and that of course pleases every thruhiker. 

Martin and Larea
Flat Feet and his wife delivered me safely into the hands of trail angel friends in Atlanta- and of course there is an interesting story behind that. When I had hiked the CDT the year before I and my hiking partner were stuck in a small place in the middle of nowhere called Leodore, Idaho where we were resupplying. It had already taken us 3 hours to hitch into town because there just wasn't any traffic on the dirt road into. The first car in 2 hours had even stopped for us.... So when we were in Leodore's small library we tried to chat up people and ask them to give us a ride back - and this is when we met Martin and Larea who lived in Atlanta but had come back to Lareas old hometown Leodore for a summer vacation. They had never heard of the CDT but volunteered to give us a ride back to the trail - and the rest is history. We had recruited new trail angels and they ended up shuttling a lot of other hikers that year. Now I had come to visit them in Atlanta and they really pampered me. Larea even cooked Sauerkraut and pork for dinner for me, in case I was homesick. And the Sauerkraut was good, actually better than most of the stuff in Germany. It was great to see them again and do a bit of sightseeing in Atlanta, like the overpriced aquarium and the even more overpriced CNN headquarters. Stone Mountain which is the American Ayers Rock was very nice. And it looks like a miniature version of Ayers Rock indeed. I regarded that as preperation for Australia.

Washington, DC
After two days in Atlanta I took Amtrak to Washington. Believe it or not: I arrived one hour early in Washington, which is an incredible surprise as Amtrak is chronically hours late. I met my German friend Maik in Washington and we spent 3 short and packed days with sightseeing and updating each other on our last half year. Meeting Maik was like a short holiday in Germany. To my great surprise I could still speak fluent German... 3 days is way too short for Washington because there is so much to see. Despite being really efficient we managed maybe half of the museums. Washington is great - everything is located in the center, so it is actually a walkable city. And the museums are definitely world class. Washington was a very positive big surprise, but alas, 3 days were way too short.

Maik left for Germany and I left for Los Angeles where Anita was being my angel again picking me up at the airport at night. Luckily I did not have a bicycle that time. I have to admit that I did not do much sightseeing in LA - I am just taking it easy.

Too Obtuse
But another suprise was waiting for me in LA: Too Obtuse is an old PCT friend living in New Hampshire. Because he was hiking the PCT this year he was the only PCT friend I did not see while hiking the AT. So you can imagine my surprise when he mentioned in an email that he is temporarily working in LA. Well, we met yesterday in Hollywood and talked for 5 hours straight. I was having a great time and felt great about missing out on sightseeing .

In 12 hours I will be leaving for Australia - I am horribly nervous. I had to dissassemble my bike for transport and now I am having nightmares about not being able to assemble it again. At the end of this trip I will probably be a very able bike mechanic - hopefully.

Well, that is all for today - next post will be from Australia.

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