So the last you heard from me I was recounting the story of stopping off in Pennsylvania and almost getting myself in trouble with the police. As mentioned in my previous post I then drove on through to Dayton Ohio and dropped off the passenger I had travelling with me, before making my way to the ladies house where I was staying for the night thanks to the awesomeness of Couchsurfing.
After a great first night and some really nice chats with Etana, I decided to follow Etana’s advice and drive over to the National Museum of the United States Air Force which is home to one of the largest collections of air craft and aviation equipment in the world. After spending a good few hours mooching around the place, I was so impressed by what this free museum had to offer that I even decided to go two days in a row. Etana had been kind enough to offer me an extra night at her place after hearing my sorry story of having no place to go, which meant I only had to find accommodation for a third and final night before collecting Emilija from Columbus Ohio. I also found myself being fed and handed a beer as I explained how little my funds were. I’d tried to tell the tale of how much money I’d been spending out of pride for my own budgeting skills, but I fear it came across as though I was a helpless bugger who needed help. Either way, it was super sweet of Etana to take such good care of me and she was an exceptional host!
I felt like I was at a bit of a loose end in the days leading up to meeting Emilija in Columbus. I didn’t want to venture too far because I was keen to save as much money as possible for the second week of my trip – so finding out that Air Force Museum was big to get lost in not once, but twice, was pretty cool. On reflection I probably should have crossed the border in Indiana and checked out Indianapolis, but oh well, there’s always next time!
I didn’t just spend all my time in the museum though, I also visited the Dayton cemetery which is where the Wright Brothers are buried. I know that it might seem quite morbid to visit a graveyard when travelling, but this one was a little bit special. You could take your car through the site, which was handy as it was very hilly, and I was pleasantly surprised by how pretty the landscape was. I had no idea where the Wright Brother’s grave was, but after driving around at a snail’s pace for a very long time, I eventually spotted a small sign that pointed me in the right direction. I pulled over on the side of the narrow road and assembled my wheelchair before tackling the mounds of grass that stood between me and the grave. I was determined to take a picture as a keepsake and to pay my respects to the guys who ironically made sure I was where I was on that day! Without their ingenuity, I would not have been able to take a flight to the USA, nor would I be travelling the world in the style that I do. Cheers boys!
On the second night I spent at Etana’s, she invited me to join her at a Hillary Clinton’s supporter’s event, at a house down the road from here. At first I was a little nervous and felt out of place once I arrived at this magnificent that looked perfectly like it had been taken from a scene in the movie Hocus Pocus. Dark solid wood staircase, carved furniture, autumnal plants, dashes of red green and gold – you name it, this place had it.
When we arrived I was made to feel welcome and was also offered a refreshment of my choice and I was also told to help myself to the food that was on offer. I was approached several times and asked about the (then) upcoming presidential election and asked to share my story on why I’d decided to back the Clinton campaign. I got quite a few surprised looks when I told them that I wasn’t voting – followed by raised smiles of understanding when I told them that the reason was because I was British.
Witnessing the event for myself was one of the most interesting things in my entire life. The passion of everyone there and the commitment to the cause of spearheading the Clinton Campaign in their area was just infectious. I’ve included a little video exert of the group meeting which was held just to give an idea of what I was witnessing.
Everybody there (aside from myself) was there for the sole purpose of signing up for canvassing and phone-calls to voters in the weeks leading up to the election night. Natasha (the girl speaking at the start of the video clip) was a representative of the Clinton campaign who had been drafted into Dayton and was staying with the folks who owned the house in which the event was held. It was essentially her job to make sure Dayton went to the Democrats come election day as opposed to the Republicans. Ultimately, we all now know how the election panned out, and I’m making an executive decision to keep politics out of my blog and so will say nothing further on the matter. It was a very enjoyable night though, nonetheless.
After my two nights in Dayton, I headed over to Columbus for the night where I’d be waiting it out for Emilija who would be joining me the following day. I had no place to go once I got to Columbus and all my attempts on Couchsurfing had fallen through. I was faced with a night in the car as I didn’t want to pay in excess of $50 just for a motel room.
I floated from McDonald’s restaurant to McDonald’s restaurant, all around the part of town which wasn’t too far from where I was supposed to be meeting Emilija. All the while she was at the wedding reception of her close friend. I think the staff in one particular McDonald’s must have thought I was homeless as they came and gave me some free food! Some might see that as a little embarrassing, but to hell with it… I’ll take free apple pies if they’re being offered! I only went there to leech the WiFi!
As midnight approached, I left McDonald’s and in my nervous state I asked the first guy I found if he knew anywhere that would be safe for me to sleep in my car. He strongly advised against it, citing that I would be an easy target for criminals and if the police caught me sleeping in the car I could even be arrested. Seeing as I had no other option I decided to go along with one of the suggestions I’d found online and so I drove over to the nearest Walmart and positioned my car between two huge lorry-trucks.
I’ll admit, it was a pretty rough night. It was bitterly cold and quite uncomfortable, but all the while I was mindful of the fact I was making yet another saving. I didn’t dare leave the driver’s seat, for fear of needing to make a speedy getaway at any moment, and much against my better judgement, I left one of the rear windows open slightly, because I had some irrational, paranoid fear that I was going to suffocate if I didn’t. You know that expression “sleep with one eye open”? Well I think I just about nailed that one.
I woke up at about 6am and looked around to see that it was still pitch black dark. I made my way to yet another McDonald’s to grab myself a coffee and wait for Emilija to wake up and message me with a time for when I could collect her. Little did I know but I would be waiting for at least another five hours before I was finally able to swing by her Motel room and collect her. Oh and if you’re wondering why I wasn’t able to just spend the night at the same Motel as Emilija, the reason was that she was sharing with a German girl who she didn’t really know before the wedding, so it wouldn’t have been appropriate. I don’t want you guys to think that she was just being a bit mean! 😉
NEXT UP: Breaking free of the USA and heading to Canada!