Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Manchester -> Rancid, Roydon/London and take off!

      From Manchester I took a short train to Dewsbury.  The train conductor was really nice! I just about missed the train by one second because all the doors were closed. I asked the conductor where the train was headed and he let me pop in the front to the cabin where all the controls are. I was excited thinking that I was going to get to ride in the front the whole way!

     He then opened the door behind me and let me into the normal passenger car.  It was absolutely packed!!  I ended up sitting on my backpack on the floor in the hallway of the train.  Since I was in such a rush I didn't have time to contemplate whether I was going to buy a ticket or not.  When he came by and asked me for my train ticket I showed him my week pass for the buses in Manchester. He smiled, even though it wasn't valid for that train, and said thank you.  This was the second time I had encountered such a sweet conductor in my rides through Europe.   I just love proving that people are loving and giving!

    Before I knew it I had arrived in Dewsbury, just outside of Leeds where I would meet my new host.  He was a Scottish lad from Edinburgh who loved suba diving, telling haunting stories and spicy food more than anything.

    That night I made him chicken with mushrooms, fresh ginger, sweet potatoes and spicy peppers to munch on.

Those orange peppers are called scottish bonnets.
Don't let their name fool you! They are *SO* spicy! He just about turned purple.

      I do believe he loved it! ... and washed it down with a few pints of cider.  He told me those haunting stories about his trips around Scotland.
      Apparently one of his friends bought this haunted house.  The dog would always go crazy, the lights would flicker... you know? the normal haunted house type story.  Basically, they had an issue with the electrical or something and went to do some construction which entailed fixing the chimney.  When they opened up the chimney which had been sealed with bricks they found the corpse of a little girl. ....the little girl who they had seen as a ghost.   :/

     On that note..... 
       The next day was the night of the Rancid concert in Leeds.  We took a short train into town, got there early enough to buy a ticket and got a mulled wine from the Christmas market.  (The whole restaurant structure behind us was temporary just for the event that would last a few weeks.)

        After that I was off on my own to see Rancid.  I was sad I wasn't home to see it with my good friend Torrey but I decided I was going to have a good time anyway.  At first I was standing in the corner feeling alone and awkward.
        I started moving into the crowd just a little bit. Before I knew it there was an older gentleman who was short and totally built with a shaved head and a younger friend behind telling me to join them in the mosh pit.  It turned out to be perfect! They were there for a good time, just like me and could keep me off the ground if I fell.  Safety first right?!  :P

        Here are a couple clips from the concert:

  This song used to be my alarm clock when I was 18.  :p

If I fall back down, you're gonna be my friend!

       After the show I bought a little souvenir, walked outside and looked for my host.   At the time he was no where to be found.  I was worried for a minute.  

      What seemed like seconds later; I had wifi and a text saying the last train was about to leave.  We met back up with him, scurried back to the station and luckily jumped back on the last train home!

     The next morning was quite beautiful.  Blue skies, a bit of sun and maybe even some frost on the ground.  I looked up my route and found that I wasn't too far from the freeway home.  Hitchhiking was definitely the plan!

       As you can see above I was very bundled up!   With my still overpacked 50 lb/ 23 kg backpack I was off.  Of course I really had no idea where I was going.  It would be just down the street, take a left and keep walking.  No sweat!  Right?

       Well, what google maps doesn't automatically mention is the landscape.  It would be two miles on a steep incline.  I figured I'd just start hitchhiking from right then and there.  With my thumb out and a can do attitude I climbed and climbed for at least 40 minutes with all the extra weight.  My legs were burning and I was definitely getting hot.  I only had another mile or so left unless I got picked up.

       I kept persisting; eventually a car pulled over!!   I was in complete disbelief.   I tried running up to the car but my legs just couldn't run.  When I made it to the car I just asked for a lift to the freeway and told him I was London bound.  He said it was no problem but didn't really say where he was headed.  After about an hour and knowing we were heading in the right direction I asked where he was going to.  He mentioned some place that was already 40 minutes behind us.  He then explained that he didn't want to "see me in the newspaper", that his work paid for his gas and that he had tomorrow off so he might just stay in London.  This meant THREE hours out of his way EACH WAY!  Was he nuts?!?!  I guess he was just genuinely really concerned about my wellbeing.


        We stopped Leicester for a restroom break and some coffee.  I told him time and time again that it was fine, he didn't have to go out of his way -especially not six hours worth.  He kindly insisted he would drive me all the way to London or all the way to my friend so I would be safe!  What a sweet man!

         Before I knew it we were at the Tesco, a grocery store, just down the road from my friend Will's house.  I had called Will from his phone to try and figure out exactly where we should meet.  I guess I sounded confused earlier because I was watching the traffic signs and trying to figure out where I was in relation to where we needed to be going.

        When Will arrived he popped out of his dad's Range Rover like he was about to tackle a rabbit. (I really wish I had some kind of documentation to share that but I don't.) Will had thought something was wrong because of the confused tone in my voice on the phone.

         All was good.  The man was very kind and I was now "home" safely.  It was yet another wonderful hitchhiking experience, thanks to that man!

"Home" - Their proper kettle, AGA (stove)
and part of the tea/coffee cup collection
         I now had four days until my flight back home.  I still hadn't really seen London.  

         Will and I went out for couple nights on the town. 

              The London tube!

Big Ben exists! ... and he's not so big.
The Tower Bridge!
(I've yet to see the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, CA, day)

         Before I knew it my visit in England and Europe was over.  I began packing, while trying to savor the last few hours in such an incredible country.  As always, packing was nothing short of bittersweet.  I knew that the flight home was going to mean the end of my journey hitchhiking, couchsurfing, meeting new people and experiencing new things.

          I was happy to be going home for Christmas and my birthday.

          I was sad to pause my adventures and leave such a wonderful continent.

Bye, bye




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