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I am glad I never went #2 in the woods, phew.

September 30, 2008: Bon Voyage

Today I left Chicago, who knows if I will ever go back.  There is such an empty feeling inside me knowing that a long time will pass by before I see my family again. It was the hardest goodbye of my life. I will especially miss Barkey, the most adorable little furry creature (my toy poodle) to ever exist.

Barkey

Brando and I arrived early to downtown Chicago then headed to the Megabus that would take us away to Covington, KY. That is where our big hike to Savannah, GA would begin.

We stayed with Wes and Emily, the most awesome couple ever. We met through Couchsurfing.com. Wes is funny and has great stories to tell and Emily’s smile will brighten anyone’s day. Oh, and Evie their dog! What a precious little creature, I fell in love with her instantly.

Right before she licked my face

Later that evening we ate Thai at Shanghai Mama’s.

We will most definitely keep in touch. I hope one day they visit Chile and stay in our couch!

October 1, 2008: Weird People

TANK – Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky. It is about 10:00am and Brando and I took a ten mile bus ride from Covington to Greenwich Village Mall. I mean, we might as well avoid as much road hiking as possible right?

At the beginning of our long walk we decided to stop at gross Burger King for potty breaks (Wes and Emily made delicious omelettes for breakfast, yum!) As we left BK, a gracious old man asked where we were hiking to. We eventually told him our professions – artists – and he said: “Oh! weird people. I understand now.”

We hiked for more than five hours and it was exhausting because our backpacks were HEAVY AS HELL!

It was a joy to arrive at AJ Jolly/ Kincaid Lake State Park in Falmouth, KY. It was until the shadiest of men informed us that camping season was closed for the rest of the year; lucky us!  But what did we do you ask? A little thing called gorilla camp. After almost having a nervous breakdown of exhaustion, we found an area next to the gold course which had plenty of trees to hide us from society.

The night before was terrifying

Interesting things we saw today:

– Massively giant wheels on an over sized truck

– Flattened remains of a small snake

– People staring at us for being strange

October 2, 2008: Last Night and Yellow Cab

So last night was scary as shit and I feared for our safety. We were almost ready to sleep and I remember asking Brando what we would do if we heard noises outside our tent, he said we’d have to go and confront whatever it was. Well, less than an hour passed by and we began to hear strange noises.

Just try to imagine yourself in this situation: there your are, exhausted and laying next to your better half. It’s very late and all is pitch black, suddenly you hear noises you have never heard before. Is it a human or an animal? Why is it so close to our tent? It’s running so fast around us, holy crap what do we do now?

My boyfriend is so brave, although he now admits he was terrified at the moment. He grabbed the flashlight and knife and stepped outside the tent to shine the light towards the noise. Something just ran away from us but could not tell what it was. As we kept hearing the noise we assumed it could be wild turkeys, which eased my mind a little. Eventually we figured out they were deer who noticed us – the intruders – and were making noises to warn us of their presence? All I knew is that I was ready to crap my pants if something came to attack us. That’s how prepared I was.

I love the woods.

This morning we woke up at around 8:00am which was a lot later than we expected. We would’ve had an alarm but I left my brand new K-Mart sports watch in Covington; nice move Maurin. As we packed our things we saw more deer, maybe the same ones from last night. It’s breathtaking and humbling to see such a spectacular animal up close. It took us about an hour to find the road since we began to walk the opposite way from where the road was. Oopsie daysies! Fortunately, on the other side of the road there was a convenience store and a diner. We had pizza.

There was nothing else to do but keep walking, so we did. The problem was that our packs were really heavy which made us tired fast. Also, there was barely a shoulder for us to walk on and cars were too close for comfort. We eventually stopped in front of Fairbank Baptist Church and called Yellow Cab. It cost $70.00 to get to Kincaid Lake State Park. The cab smelled like weed.

The Kentucky Wool Festival was going on that weekend, apparently it’s one of the top ten events in the state.

We cooked our first meal, quinoa and yellow split peas. Yum?

Cooking quinoa

Brando cooking yellow split peas

We took HOT showers and washed our clothes. We also slept very cold and wet but our tiredness made us forget it. Thank goodness for society.

October 3, 2008: Latinos en Mount Olivet?

I’ve started to notice dark circles around my eyes. What a cold morning, brrr! We’ve packed our things and are now waiting for the 12:00pm shuttle to drive us to the Wool Festival. Our next destination is about 30 miles from here so there is no way we will make it by foot in one day. Since Brando and I are not wool aficionados we decided to start hiking because we had a long way to go. We walked a lot and along the foothills of Falmouth, KY. We had a couple of scary moments with dogs wanting to chase after us. No worries, they were chained…otherwise… I’d rather not think about it.

Man, those foothills were killer. I almost had another panic attack of exhaustion and have noticed that my legs are swollen above my ankles; my boots hurt like a bitch. We have now decided to attack Plan B: HITCHHIKE. A family consisting of a husband, wife, baby boy and two daughters picked us up. We rode in the back for a long time along road 20? We stopped at an old and small convenience store where we chugged water and ate chips. We do love junk food.

We kept walking for another couple of hours as we headed to Mount Olivet. We are so exhausted at this point that we decide to hitch, again. To our surprise, a black pick up truck stopped for us right away. He did not speak much English so at this point I am glad to be bilingual. As Brando said, I worked my magic and before we knew it we were in the truck headed to Blue Licks Battlefield State Park! However, Fernando – our hero – invited us to his house to offer us fresh water and to meet his wife. He would later drive us to our destination. Once we arrived at his house we met Gisette and we got along great from the start. She is the sweetest woman in the world. Brando and I were cordially invited for dinner and what a delicious pasta it was. Before dinner we all went out in search for a property that Fernando and Gisette thought of buying. We never found it and doubted it ever existed. We did see some interesting things on the road: ducks crossing the street, a cat who seemed too dumb to get out of our way – we followed it for a while – and a skunk.

They also invited us to spend the night at their house. We slept in our sleeping bags on their living room floor. The next morning Gisette would drive us to our camping site which is about 10 miles from their house. This was the most unexpected and adventurous day of my life.

A tip for Minou: When making ‘Arroz con Gandule’ place a plantain leaf on top of the pot and close the lid. This gives a wonderfully unique taste to the rice. Thanks Gisette!

October 4, 2008: Bonjour, vous êtes à Paris, KY

Ah! What a good night’s sleep. Brando and I woke up at around 10:00am and chatted the morning away with lovely Gisette. She was online and kept showing us houses on foreclosure that she wanted to buy in Miami. We packed our things and said our goodbyes to Camilla and Zeus, their dogs, and Gisette drove us to Blue Licks. So in the end Brando and I ended up skipping a national park from our itinerary. Blue Licks Battlefield was expensive and kinda lame for us.

Camilla and Zeus

Camilla and Zeus

Camping was packed and lodges were $90.00 a night. Gisette was headed South to Paris, KY to purchase some things at Walmart. She suggested we go there and stay at a hotel so now we are at a Best Western. It worked out better than we expected because we are closer to Lexington and to Daniel Boone National Forest. Gisette, Brando and I had lunch at the Huddle House…mmm I love OJ. I also ad biscuits and gravy for the first time and I must say they’re purty darn good!

I wish Gisette was family, she’s so cool! On this trip she was home away from home.

So Cingular is apparently the ‘thing’ to have here in Kentucky, everyone has it. Brando doesn’t have it and he barely gets reception. I on the other hand have full bars! We chatted with the receptionist at Best Western and she was shocked to know that Brando has Sprint.

We just ate some generic chinese food and it is about 8:30pm. I’ve realized that Brando has been extremely patient with my behavior. Little city girl complaints: “My knees hurt, my feet hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurts, my shoulders hurt” and so on… you get the point. We are now resting from swollen ankles and blisters; we’ll recover soon.

October 5, 2008: Going back where we came from

We had continental breakfast at the hotel and departed at around noon. We walked down 68/164 until we arrived at a good point to stop and hitch. Have we become too comfortable with hitchhiking? We stood there for about two hours holding this sign:

It didn't work

It didn't work

Everyone was going to Middleton which was halfway to Daniel Boone, but there were no hotels there. I was terrified of gorilla camping again.

Next to where we stood was a church. It was Sunday and a 16 year old girl aprroached us while smoking a cigarrette. We were invited to go inside the church and eat. Never in my life have I felt so out of place. I wanted to get out of there so bad. These guys were interrogating Brando but he’s a people person so he was fine. I felt so many eyes staring at us with every bite we took.

We were advised not to go to Eastern Kentucky. We were told a scary story of rocking chairs and shotguns.

Eventually we say thanks for the food and go back to our spot to catch a ride to Lexington. Now we are trying to go the opposite way. Unfortunately we had no luck so we headed to a nearby Starbucks and decided to go back to Best Western since we were tired and it was getting late. My right ankle is killing me. I feel it very swollen from walking with my heavy backpack.

We walked to Walmart and bought some food. Since then we have been watching shows about bear attacks and I am scared. However, I really want to leave Paris and head to the forest mostly to get over my stupid fears of bugs and animals. I’d like to experience nature because I am sick of road hiking. I am certain Brando is too.

Tomorrow we are headed to Lexington either by hike, rental car or by foot but we are getting there no matter what. We will arrive at Aimee’s place, an awesome couchsurfer who is welcoming us at the last minute.

October 6, 2008: Beer

We left at around 11:00am and headed to Lexington. Today was a hot sunny day and walking with our packs was hard. I think it might have been really tough for Brando because his foot is injured. About two miles down the highway a car stopped to offer us a ride. Mona had the prettiest voice in the world, I could hear her speak all day. She said we had a heavy load and that’s why she stopped. Since Mona had a brand new GPS navigation system in her car, she took us all the way to Lexington exactly to Aimee’s place. Aimee’s great, we are her first couchsurfing experience.

Brando and I are considering skipping everything and head to Florida where his family lives. We either do this or continue hitchhiking, our next best option. It is unexpected and somewhat risky.

October 7, 2008: Greyhound

We left at 11:30am since the Greyhound bus to Ocala, FL departs at 1:35pm. Yes, we are going to Florida! We walked for about three miles with a slight fear of not making it on time. It was our bus that arrived 20 minutes late.

My conscience feels guilt. We skipped everything but it’s so hard getting anywhere without a vehicle. Most road roads suck since there was barely any space for us to walk safely. Public transportation is almost non-existent here and to rent a car we need a credit card, boo! I feel unaccomplished and this saddens my heart. Like I told Brando today, maybe we over planned it by attempting to hike a quarter of the US without any previous experience. Come on, with our backpacks we can barely make 10 miles a day. So here we are now, in the Greyhound and let me tell you it’s nasty. Everyone in this bus looks like they crawled out of a pile of dirt. Let’s picture this better: in front of me is a man who has moved his chair so far back that I have no space, I have the top of his head right on my face. To our right there is a guy who keeps looking at his Playboy magazines and selling weed to other passengers. In front of him there’s a girl who was sniffing morphine? At least that’s what she said. Behind us there’s a Harley Davidson lady who makes realistic farm animal noises.

So we are headed to Ocala to meet with Brando’s family. I hope they like me. We must now plan our real hiking trip in the Florida trail. Black bears, wild boars, snakes and alligators. That’ll be fun!

This ride lasted until the next day so you can imagine how miserable we were. Oh! At one point we stopped at Burger King for a break and you’ll never believe what was inside the Burger King…a Greyhound booth.

Unbelievably true

Unbelievably true

I have nothing positive to say about Greyhound, it’s a zoo.

Thank you Brando for taking pictures!

Next chapter: Florida, oh my…

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4 Comments

  1. I miss you already. Come back to Chicago when I return from the Philippines. Take care and have a safe journey. Love ya!

  2. yo! man you crack me up!! I have not finished the whole thing, but i was lauphing imagining you and Brando in the tent freeking out about the deer! I have had similar freeking-poop your pants moments with camping! Mine was with a beaver, but i didn’t know it was a beaver until the morning light unvailed the mangled tree by my tent!
    Mat told me you two bought a truck and you are driving around! that is great, what are your destinations? I love you sweetness!! XOXOXOXOXOXOX

  3. Hey maurin! its ur lil Cuz =)
    sounds like you had a great time, i enjoyed reading your adventure to the bus station lol. you’re a great writer, as i read i can hear you… its kinda weird. keep safe chicago misses you a bunch.
    bye!

  4. Hey, Mau! It’s your nephew, Jon!!
    I didn’t know you had a site! Jess told me about this when he found it on mom’s computer! By the way barkey is awesome, and mom is thinking of getting another dog.


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