Avoiding the cops in Pennsylvania

I know, I’m crap at keeping up to date with my blog. I’m sorry for any of you who actually noticed my absence. I suppose a good place to start would be from where I left off, last time. If you check my last post, I was explaining how I rather embarrassingly crashed my rental car whilst driving through the outskirts of New York City. If you haven’t already read about this hilarity, you can do so by clicking here: That time I crashed a rental car in NYC

I think that I also mentioned in my last blog post that I had picked up a hitchhiker after posting an advert on Craigslist. This was one of the first times I’d ever picked up a stranger like this whilst on my own. I thought about this fact whilst driving through New Jersey, heading for the state line of Pennsylvania. I figured that after countless experiences meeting new people through Couchsurfing, Airbnb and other travel related social platforms, any fears of meeting random folk off the internet had long gone. Or perhaps it was my frenetic dismay and concern due to the damage I’d inflicted on my vehicle that prevented me from giving a damn about who got in the car with me?! Anyway, Erica was super lovely and we had some amazing chats about life and our respective travels.

After spending the night in the cheapest motel we could find we set off and made our way towards Ohio. It was around another 5 hours or so until we made it to our final destination of Dayton. I had a rather hair-raising experience whilst stopped in one particular service station, as I noticed a cop car pull up behind my parked car as I watched from inside the station. He seemed to be paying extra attention to my vehicle as he then proceeded to drive a couple of metres further and pull up to the side. At that moment I was 99% sure he’d noticed that I was travelling without a right wing mirror and was therefore shitting myself and expecting to receive a big fat fine and to be told that I wasn’t able to drive the car any further. Things were already tight enough to begin with as I only had $400 left for the rest of the trip. Any ticket from a cop would either seriously deplete my funds, or worse, wipe them out completely.

I decided to swallow my fears and make my way back out to the car… preparing myself to bring out the sympathy vote if the cop did decide to pull me over. Anyone who knows me knows that I do appreciate a little ‘positive discrimination’ every once in a while – which reminds me, I’m planning to write a blog post on that very subject soon! We got in the car and I nervously pulled away, passed where I thought the cop car was stationed, fully expecting him to trail me. To my surprise though, he’d vanished and although at first I thought he’d still come out from somewhere and pull me over, he didn’t.

I think he was probably just waiting to see if I was genuinely disabled, as I had parked in a disabled parking space and I didn’t have any badge to prove I was allowed to do so. I guess you could say I was a little paranoid in this situation, but when you’ve not got much money on you, you really cannot afford for anything to go wrong, so of course I jumped to the worst case scenario in my head.

Now that we were safely back on the road and approaching Columbus, Ohio, I started to grow ever increasingly concerned about the fact that I had nowhere to stay for the next three nights and I still wasn’t able to meet up with Emilija as she was busy until later in the week. I knew that I couldn’t afford to splash out on a motel, and after doing some research online it quickly became apparent that hostels aren’t really a thing in America – so I was bracing myself for three nights spent in my car – when Erica suggested I send out some last minute Couch Surfing requests. I was reluctant given that I’d never been successful when requesting last minute. People have their own plans and such and so it’s hard to make it work when you’re reaching out to them wanting a place to stay for that very same night – but Erica was persuasive and so I threw out around six different individual messages to people in the Dayton area.

To my sincere surprise, three people got back to me and offered me a place to crash for the night. I opted to stay with the first person who’d gotten back to me, who was a lady named Etana who was all too happy to rescue me from my predicament. I chilled outside a Starbucks leeching off the free WiFi whilst I waited until 8pm when I’d be able to swing by her place. Etana’s street was everything I’d ever envisaged about the USA. Porched houses with a lot of wood on the exterior, overgrown shrubs cracked roads (that somehow looked like they were meant to be) and a park between either side of the street.

I got my wheelchair out of the car and grabbed my backpack before making my way to the house. I wasn’t quite sure which door I was meant to go to as it appeared that the one building was divided into apartments. After snooping around the side of the house and almost getting ambushed by a giant spiders web, I then figured I was meant to ring the bell around on the front porch. Etana came running down from her upstairs apartment and introduced herself before helping me with my things. I instantly felt comfortable. This was nice. This was good.

(I’m currently editing pictures, so I will upload them all in my next post)



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