On December 3rd I did not hear from Basswood. I do not expect to hear from him every day; especially when he is hitchhiking, or … going somewhere he does not think I would think is safe. (On his trip to the Middle East a couple of years ago I got a message saying. “I am safe. I just spent a couple of days in Iraq.” For some reason, he had failed to mention that he was going there in the first place. He had been on a hitchhiking trip across Turkey. (A story for another day.)
Now, Basswood did work up to these trips gradually. His first hitchhiking trip was to hitchhike the Florida Keys. I was nervous because he was still pretty young, but I have a brother in Florida that he stayed with a few days first and who could have “rescued” him if he got in trouble.
Now, I am what you would call frugal; I don’t like to spend money. Ok, ok. I am cheap. Spending money literally makes me sick to my stomach. Now Basswood… I must say I am proud of him. He puts even me to shame. When he is traveling in his frugal mode, he does what he calls stealth camping. He hitchhikes until someone picks him up and takes him home with them, or it gets dark. (Now people in the US do not take hitchhikers home like they sometimes do in other countries.) So, when it starts to get dark he walks a little off of the road and stealth camps: He hangs his hammock between two trees where no one will find him. Last year while in Mexico, he went to Mass and was invited to someone’s home after. Then he stayed there a few days while exploring the city. I must say here, that we are not Catholic. (This says a lot for the kind people who took him in!)
Now, the thing I like about him hitchhiking in the US is that his cell phone works and he can call me every day to let me know he is still alive. That first night in the Florida Keys he called me all excited. He had found a great place to stealth camp. He had hung his hammock right down by the ocean.
I said, “Now son, you have to be careful about putting your hammock to close to the ocean because you do not know when high tide is or how far the tide will come in.” He asked me, “How do you tell how far the tide will come in?” I suggested that he look for a line of debris on the beach. He said that there was debris way up in the trees from a recent hurricane and he could not tell in the dark where the line was on the beach.
I did not sleep well that night worrying about him. He called me about 6 am saying it was hard for him to sleep also because the ocean had come close to his hammock trying to lap at his back side.
I believe it took him 5 days to hitchhike the Florida Keys. One night he called saying, “There is a really long bridge and people really do not like picking up people on a bridge.” Anyway, it was very dark when he set up his stealth camp that night. He woke the next morning startled to see some small bag hanging over his head. After he recovered from the shock his curiosity got the better of him and he opened the bag. There was a note inside that said something like, “Congratulations you have found the geocache.” Now I have never been a geocacher or gone geocaching. (I am too cheap to own a cellphone with gps to help me find the exact coordinates, but I believe the contents of the bag belong to the person that finds them.) Basswood did not feel that it was fair for him to keep the contents since he was not playing so he put everything back except for some change. He felt he earned that much at least.
While writing this I did find the geocaching creed.
When placing or seeking geocaches, I will:
- Not endanger myself or others.
- Observe all laws & rules of the area.
- Respect property rights and seek permission where appropriate.
- Avoid causing disruptions or public alarm.
- Minimize my and others’ impact on the environment.
- Be considerate of others.
- Protect the integrity of the game pieces.
from geocreed.info http://www.geocreed.info/
After hitchhiking the Florida Keys, Basswood got a ride to Miami. When he got there he called to say he was out of money in his account and did not have enough for the bus ticket back to his uncle’s house. (He doesn’t carry cash for his trips because someone might take it. I put just enough of his money in a bank account for him to use for a few days at a time. Trust me, if you don’t spend money you don’t need much.)
I was new at making sure his account had just enough money in it and, unfortunately, when he called it was the weekend and the bank was closed. So, he said that he would try to hitchhike out of Miami or call his uncle. Well, he called the next day to say that it is almost impossible to get a ride hitchhiking out of Miami. He did not want to bother his uncle, so when he did not get a ride by dark… he hung his hammock from two concrete bridge pillars that were between the north and south bound lanes of the interstate, where a major highway crossed it…
He did finally get a ride and made it back to my brother’s house. Sometime on this trip he got attacked by a wild pig, somewhere in the everglades, and had to beat it off with a stick. When traumatic things happen I do not hear about them for a few days. He did not tell me about the pig until he had been back home for quite a while.