The owner of Derby City told us that he had never had such a successful Monday night!
We piled back into Chicken Little's greasel vehicle (run on waste veggie oil!) and they drove me to the CouchSurfing house I'd be staying at for the night (coincidentally, they knew the people that I was staying with in Louisville!).
The house was a large two story brownstone with a chicken house and garden in the back. Three of its residents: Maya, her husband (regrettably, I didn't catch his name), and their newborn baby, were in the kitchen making sauerkraut from scratch!
Maya stayed up with us fairly late, asking me questions about my tour and music. Still, she was the first to turn in. Her husband offered me some food and I thankfully accepted. He spent a long time making rice, brussels sprouts, and other veggies, inviting me to take as much as I needed, and then went to bed himself. I ate heartily while catching up on e-mail and went to bed around 4am. I set my alarm for 9am, hoping to share breakfast with the man of the house. He slept in late and was unable to eat with me but again invited me to help myself to whatever I might find in the fridge or cupboards.
I had planned to leave Louisville, headed for Indianapolis, around noon and Maya emerged around that time to see me off. They were wonderful hosts/cooks and showed me a splendid evening!
I walked a few blocks to the nearest I65 on-ramp. I stuck my thumb out for half an hour or so. A large man with a red neck (so to speak) stopped a little bit ahead of me. As we drove away, he said "You must not be from around here. That exit you were on is in a black neighborhood. I'll take your to the white side of city." Sigh.
This man is a Vietnam Veteran. He did his own fair share of hitch hiking once he got back from the war, he said. But times have changed. "I'll take you over the bridge."
I stuck my thumb out again, near a gas station and White Castle, "in case you get hungry."
It was about 1p when I started here. I waited. And waited. Looked at my clock, it was 2:30. I decided to continue here til 3p, though I really wanted to try the gas station, perhaps, or just move on. I looked up at the gas price: $2.59. Again, a confirmation that I should wait here til 3p. This was a LONG half-hour! 2:57, 2:58, 2:59... and a black pickup truck rolled up in front of me with a driver in his 50s and passenger which must have been in his 80's. Presumably, these were father and son. They were headed to Seymour, a town about half way to Indy. I was glad to be on the road again. The ride was mostly quiet, save a few questions about my trip and music. The old man turned toward me and asked with a frail voice whether I knew Sunday Morning Sidewalk (presumably the Johnny Cash tune, Sunday Morning Coming Down). I didn't. He started to sing it. With the windows down, I could not hear him singing at all. I only knew that he was, with a big smile, and it was one of the most heart-warming sights I had ever seen.
They dropped me off at a gas station near the interstate. I walked back to the I65 on-ramp, where I hoped to catch a ride the rest of the way. Again I stuck my thumb out for an hour before yet another over weight baby booming gentlemen (this one decked out in a camo jumpsuit and driving a white mini van) stopped to take me a bit further. This man picked me up because 1) he was a Christian (FINALLY!!!) and 2) he was, accordingly, not afraid. "If it's my time, it's my time. But Jesus said to go two miles with the man who asks to go one, so that's what I'm gunna do."
He proceeded to preach at me for a while, even though I had already professed my faith to him. He later went on to tell me about his herbal cures, belief in Big Foot, and government conspiracies. Quite the character!
He dropped me off still about 45 minutes away from Indianapolis, somewhere in rural Indiana, on US31. I walked past farms, barns, and horses as sun began to set and I wondered whether these farmers would be willing to take in a weary traveler for the night.
A middle aged woman in a minivan stopped to offer a ride a little bit up ahead to Franklin. "You're not going to shoot me, are you?"
She was on her way to a blind date, I guess she figured that she was already living dangerously, why not pick up a hitch hiker? Her father used to tell her hitch hiking stories all the time. This was a short ride, only about ten minutes. But at least I wasn't surrounded by farmland after she dropped me off! I walked down the highway, hoping for yet another ride to take me nearer to Indy. A pickup truck stopped ahead of me but my back was turned and I didn't see it. When I turned back around, I saw they were starting to drive off so I waved my hands and starting running toward them (clumsily, with my guitar on my back and pack on my front). They stopped again and allowed me to catch up.
"You can ride in the bed."
I made it to Greenwood Park Mall, about 25 minutes from my destination. I got on the phone with my couch surfing host and she offered to pick me up where I was.
Brittany and Amber are room mates, gardeners, couch hosts, Apples to Apples competitors, and chefs extraordinaire, as I was soon to find. I enjoyed home-made-pesto pasta as I posted ads on craigslist and couch surfing, hoping to secure my ride to Chicago; and later a game of Apples to Apples with my hosts and a half dozen other guests. I had been unsure whether I'd leave Indy the following morning, but I got to bed too late and decided to spend an extra day in Indy instead.
The following morning I had a voice message from a couch surfer offering to drive me to Chicago. Excellent! I wouldn't have to hitch hike after all, nor would I have to impose another night with my very awesome hosts.
Brittany graciously offered to show me around the city. We went to a big fountain in the middle of downtown where I might make some money street performing. But I had left my guitar picks at her house and there turned out to be hardly any foot traffic after all. So we decided instead to check out the free art museum. I learned about Native American, African, and contemporary American art. It was neat.
We returned to her house with just enough time for me to try some homemade, homegrown veggie soup and then be on my way toward Chicago with another Indy couch surfer, Timothy.
I arrived in Chicago close to 9p, right around the time that Edgar was getting off work at the Apple Store on Michigan Ave. I'll be enjoying Chicago for a few days. Next stop, Pittsburgh on 8/31.