I got up and quickly realized that my phone hadn’t been charging. Turns out the external battery charger I had wasn’t as charged as I thought it was and my phone battery was dwindling at 10%.
I looked for the closest library on my GPS and then shut off my phone to save the remaining battery for emergencies. It turned out that it was going to be a 10 mile hike to the closest library because I was walking through Ocala National Forest.
A short ways down the road, a van pulled over and the driver offered me a ride. He told me his name was:
“Seth,” I said shaking his hand.
“So how did you get the name boots?”I asked.
“My brother gave it to me and I’ve had it as long as I can remember. As to why, he never told me,” he said and laughed.
I found out Boots was a retired electrician from Rockville Maryland and that he had traveled all over like me when he was younger.
“So what’s something you’ve always wanted to do? I asked him.
After some serious thought Boots said:
“Pretty much did everything I’ve always wanted too,” he said smiling.
Boots dropped me off right at the library. I thanked him and then went in to resupply on water and power.
While everything was charging, I picked up and continued reading Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.
After spending about 5 hours letting stuff fully recharge, I headed out from the library. I stopped at the Winn Dixie close by and picked up a new supply of tuna packs, then got back on the road with the intention of finding some nice woods to bed down, especially since it was supposed to rain for the next two days.
However, as I walked I noticed this car ahead of me. I didn’t see it pull over and once again didn’t think it had pulled over for me. When the widow on the passenger side rolled down, I realized he had.
It turned out Nolan was headed to Daytona and offered me a ride. After I told Nolan about what I was doing, I asked:
“So what about you man? What do you do for a living?”
“I do videography work. Shooting video for company’s and documentaries.”
“Dude, that’s awesome! Talk about serendipity.” I said referring to the fact that I also like to shoot film and do video editing.
We talked about different editing softwares we used and Nolan told me how he worked all over and was actually getting ready for a trip on his own. He is going to drive across America and film his own documentary.
Nolan told me how he was headed up to Georgia to help build an Earthship (Green self-sustaining house), and then make his way up to New England. I told him we should meet up and make some movies when he gets up there because the rest of the year I’ll be in New England. He agreed.
I once again asked the question:
“So what’s something you’ve always wanted to do?”
“Become a certified skydiver,” he said with no hesitation.
“Nice! Like with the wingsuits too?”
“Yeah man, it’s like 200 jumps to get your certification. Then another good bit with the wingsuits to get certified with them,” Nolan said.
“That’s awesome man,” I said.
“Yeah, once you get the certification, you can get a job pretty easily. Like packing chutes, you get like $30 per chute you pack,” Nolan said.
Nolan dropped me off in Daytona near the beach, but not before filming me to help advertise what I’m doing.
I thanked him and set about exploring Daytona beach. Walking along the boardwalk, I met a lot of people interested in what I was doing and handed out a good bit of business cards. However, going from being in the woods to a full-blown city can be a culture shock. Nevertheless, I kept exploring.
On the Daytona boardwalk by the beach I stopped and bought the most expensive single scoop of ice cream I’ve ever gotten ($3.75). After I enjoyed its deliciousness, I knew I had to get off the boardwalk, not just to protect my wallet from all the amazing but overpriced food, but because a storm was rolling in.
I walked north towards a state park because I needed to be back in the woods to set up my rainfly and hammock. However, this guy across the street waved me over.
Now one thing about this trip is I don’t care what you look like, your beliefs, or who you are voting for; I’ll talk to you. Throughout this trip 99.9% of people I’ve talked to have been pretty cool and enjoyed our conversations.
This was the 0.01%. His name was Michael (also known by his road name Tennessee). Michael was a grifter on disability. The group I saw him with were people he was asking for money. I thought they were his friends at first.
Michael immediately set about tagging along with me saying I’ll walk with you, which isn’t exactly something I wanted because every person we passed he was asking for money. Plus he was the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to share a campsite with because you might wake up with all of your stuff gone.
I told him I was probably going to go meet some friends later that I’d met earlier in the day and his response was “When we meet them can you ask them to help me out?”
Now don’t get me wrong, if someone is in need I’m all for helping them out, but when they brag about how the have phones with unlimited data, food stamps galore, continuously hitting people up for money to spend it on cigarettes, beer, and drugs, I’m out.
Michael kept making plans for us, saying about how it was better to walk together as a team. Then on the beach he went and asked this dude if he had any weed or crack. Which the guy responded:
“Let me get a hold of my boy.”
I told Michael I was leaving and wanted no part of what he was doing in any way. He said that he would catch up with me…so needless to say I hightailed it as fast as I could with a 60lb pack (which wasn’t very fast).
As I was moving as fast as I could, I met this guy Jason on his moped with his kid. He asked me where I was headed and I told him my story about traveling all 50 states.
“Dude, that’s totally rad! My son Elijah would love you. He loves traveling and animals,” Jason said.
After talking a bit more, I gave Jason my business card and I headed out feeling a little better. However, the angry sky and the 4-5 miles I still had to walk to the state park discouraged me a bit.
Then I got a phone call. At first I thought it was Nolan wanting to hang out, but then the voice said:
“Hey man, It’s Jason I just met you on the beach. I was on the moped. I noticed it was starting to rain and just figured I’d ask if you want to pitch a tent in my backyard.”
After we figured that I wasn’t too far away, I took Jason up on his offer.
Jason has his own family run surf shop and a landscaping business. He has traveled all over the US in a VW van. He now lives with his wife and six kids who are all awesome.
Jason showed me how he built some work sheds in his backyard out of recycled material. In two of the sheds he was working on building some surf boards.
“Yeah, this was originally going to be a place to stay for people like you, but I needed a place to work after we had to move the business. So it works out. I’m close to home and can still work,” Jason said referring to the shed.
I quickly found out that Jason and Michelle were also Christians and I wasn’t the first person they took in.
Niah (one of Jason’s daughters) made us Macaroni and we all swapped stories late into the night.
So a pretty cool day getting to meet some really cool people.
A big thank you to Boots and Nolan for the rides and to Jason and Michelle for putting me up for the night.
Forever your friend,