Hitchhiking America: End Of The Road (Part 11)

Hitchhiking the United States

Hitchhiking America: End of the Road

Stevensville, MD

With only 100 miles between me and the Atlantic coast, today was the day. Time to embark on the final stretch of my hitchhiking adventure across the United States.

Day 37 of my journey across the United States began with a boat ride across the Chesapeake Bay. With no good places to catch a lift on the opposite side, I’m forced to walk about a mile into the town of Stevensville.

There’s a Cracker Barrel in town. I decide to treat myself to a large breakfast. This could well be my last day hitchhiking, after all. With a belly full of eggs, grits, and buttermilk biscuits, I attempt to locate some cardboard for a sign.

After finding some in a gas station dumpster, I scrawl out “OCEAN” in big block letters with my oversized sharpie.

Hitchhiking in Maryland

Ride #34: Nebraska the Alligator Chef

Ride #34: Nebraska the Alligator Chef

I then walk towards the edge of Route 50 to assume the position. Sunglasses off, sign in one hand, thumb out with the other, and a big smile on my face.

A run-down Buick pulls over 10 minutes later. The guy inside leans over and says he can drive me to a town called Trappe about 40 minutes away. I climb in and learn that Nebraska (that’s his name) used to travel the world as a military brat with his parents.

A hardcore Pittsburgh Steeler’s fan, he was recently laid off from his factory job.

These days his passion is cooking (and eating) alligator meat. He explains that deep-fried alligator tail is a dish not to be missed. I promise him that I’ll try some next time I see it on the menu.

Hitchhiking in Maryland

Don’t Worry, I’m a Travel Blogger

Importance of a Good Sign

Nebraska drops me off at another gas station where I grab a snack and decide to try a new sign. A few readers following the trip in real-time on my Facebook page recommend I try one that simply says “Travel Blogger”.

So I spend 15 minutes sitting on the curb putting it together.

While I’m working, a pair of delivery guys walk up and ask if I need a lift West. “Wrong direction” I say. “I’m headed to the ocean. But thanks!”.

And here I thought hitchhiking on the East coast was going to be difficult…

Hitchhiking in Maryland

Ride #35: James the Marine

Ride #35: James the Marine

With my new sign complete, I find a spot along the road with enough room for a car to pull over. But that’s not necessary, as a young guy walks over from the parking lot to offer me a lift after only 10 minutes.

James is a US Marine currently studying environmental science under the GI Bill. He’s never hitchhiked himself, but occasionally picks people up. He and his friend were headed to the town of Salisbury, another 40 minute drive.

I hop in the truck and we take off down the road. This day is going great so far!

James drops me off at yet another gas station on the outskirts of Salisbury. I ditch the travel blogger sign and pull out my “OCEAN” one again, standing near the entrance.

Hitchhiking in Maryland

Ride #36: Ed the Boat Builder

Ride #36: Ed the Boat Builder

Most people need a really good look at you before they’ll commit to picking up a hitchhiker. Which is exactly what Ed did before he pulled over.

He saw me on the way in, contemplated it while he purchased gas, and made the decision on his way out. I jumped into my 2nd Land Rover of the trip and we drove towards the coast.

Ed builds yachts for a living. Including the world’s fastest propeller powered speedboat called The Phenomenon.

He’s also an ex-Navy explosives diver who helped put out oil well fires (using explosives) during the Gulf War. Ed is one interesting guy.

Maryland Pony

Assateague Island Pony

Time to Celebrate!

When Ed discovers he’s my last ride on this epic adventure, he offers to give me a personal tour of the Maryland coastline. We stock up on “beverages” and drive out to Assateague Island.

It seems Maryland has its very own population of wild island ponies!

Assateague ponies are a unique breed of feral horses that live on the island. Numbering about 300, each year some are rounded up and auctioned off to breeders nationwide to pay for local fire fighting equipment.

Next we grab some food (soft shell crab) at a place called Captain Joe’s Shrimp Boat, more drinks, and Ed drops me off in Ocean City. My final destination.

Hitchhiking the USA

Celebrating in Style

Mission Accomplished

Ocean City is one of those slightly cheesy beach towns with a boardwalk, carnival rides, resort hotels, and saltwater taffy on every corner.

To make my coast-to-coast trip official I’d need to go for a dip in the ocean.

So I whip up one final cardboard sign and walk to the beach. On the hot sand I meet Shai, Marina, and Laurentia, a group of sunbathing bikini girls, who help me celebrate the end of my journey in style.

Hitchhiking across the United States has been one of my favorite travel adventures so far. Something I’ve always wanted to attempt. Everyone told me it would be dangerous or impossible these days. They were wrong.

Most of the people I met were friendly, sane, and fascinating.

Succeeding in this only strengthens my desire to do more of it. ★

“If you fuel your journey on the opinions of others, you are going to run out of gas.” ~ Steve Maraboli

More Information

Route: Stevensville, MD > Ocean City, MD
Distance: 104 Miles
PREVIOUS: Sexy Stalkers & A Cruise to Die For (Part 10)
START: Hitchhiking Across America

Hitchhiking Photo Slideshow

Hitchhiking America: Final Stats

Starting Point: Seaside, OR
Ending Point: Ocean City, MD
Total Distance: 3,500 miles
Total Days: 37
Total Rides: 36
Modes of Transportation: Plane, Train, Cars, Motorcycle, Big Rig, Boat
Total Spent: About $700

Any Questions Or Comments?

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38 Comments

  1. It looks like you had a great experience hitchhiking across America. I have been hitchhiking the United States for most of 20 years now. I have met a lot of great people and have strengthened my faith in God.

    Here is a something that happened to me on the road several years ago:

    Hitchhiking on U.S. 20 in Nebraska.

    [25 February 2010]

    Yesterday I was walking east on U.S. 20 between Bassett and Stuart, Nebraska when this car pulled over to give me a ride. This guy’s name was Shawn and he was going to Atkinson on an errand. We got to talking and he just got back from a mission trip to Mexico. Shawn used to be a pastor at a few churches. He recently lived in the Star Valley area of western Wyoming. He now lived in Valentine, Nebraska with his wife Theresa.

    After Atkinson, we drove to Ainsworth to pick up his wife. We stayed at their friends’ place for supper and then drove west of Ainsworth to this farm to see a couple that they knew. We walked to the house and the man motioned for us to come inside. I looked at the man and he looked familiar. His name was Greg and his wife was Marla.

    We talked for a while and Shawn told Greg and Marla that he had picked me up on the road earlier that day. I think Shawn then asked Greg if he had ever picked up any hitchhikers. Greg said that he and his wife picked up this hitchhiker in Idaho four or five years ago and that the hitchhiker had written a book. They dropped the hitchhiker off in Missoula, Montana.

    Greg then said that the hitchhiker sent him a copy of his book. He searched for a short while and then produced the book [typescript]. It was my book! (High Plains Drifter)

    It was a photocopy that this lady in Lewiston, Idaho had sent to them. She picked me up hitchhiking in the fall of 2004 and told me to give me a floppy disk of my book and that she would make some photocopies and then send it to anyone I wanted. She owned a print shop in Lewiston.

    I told Greg that he probably picked me up on U.S. 12 somewhere between Kooskia and Lolo Pass, Idaho in the fall of 2004. We talked about it some more and I believe he picked me up at a gas station at Lowell or Syringa, Idaho.

    We stayed at Greg and Marla’s place for an hour or so and had some excellent fellowship.

    It’s a small world.

    [Published by Digihitch–July 26, 2011]

  2. Hi matt,
    How did you implement the google maps? Was that actually tracking your location or just using the generic route from town to town? I’ll be doing a similar hitchhiking adventure in April across America and want to set up a google map that tracks my location so my friends can see my progress, not sure if you were or have done anything similar.
    Cheers.

  3. Hello, my name is Naynay and I’m an addict. Welcome. Nice to meet you.

    July 1, 2015 I became a full time “junkie”, leaving behind the banking racket to live my life in the insatiable quest for the ultimate high. I’ve always been a traveler, it’s in my blood, but have only lately been able to experience liberation, without the slave-driven commitment known as “the 9-5”.

    Recently (two days ago) I discovered your blog. I’ve spent (wasted ♡) endless hours pouring through your adventures. It has been a blast!!! I genuinely appreciate “your kind”.

    Last month I ventured to Cuba alone, and WOW!- it was my best experience (travel or otherwise) to-date! I recommend you go… maybe you’ve already been, but since I’m the new kid, possibly I haven’t caught up…

    All the best to you! If during my wanderings I could catch you (host, give a lift, cookie,etc) that would be maraviosa!

    P.s. thanks for not kidnapping the penguins…

  4. Hi, Matthew. I enjoyed your blog. I just spent a couple of weeks reliving my epic summer hitching around the western half of the US in ’87. This time (like you!) I had the advantage of being able to afford Motel 6’s if things went belly up – not an option I had as a student 28 years ago.

    Your experiences are eerily similar to mine. But the overwhelming impression I got is that there are still a lot of folks out there who are willing (eager, even….) to pick up hitchers – whether they’re trying to conquer their fears, love oking for company, or are basically just nice people looking to do their fellow man a good turn. All this bodes well for the future of hitching.

    I made a 2-day trial run up the Big Sur coast from LA to SF, which went enough (the last ride was with a guy who is just about to make a documentary about hitching around the US – you couldn’t make it up…!) so I decided to make a longer trek from Phoenix to Nashville. Took me four days. Had a few long waits but overall it was excellent.

    Here, for the record, are my rides:

    2ND LEG
    Globe, AZ – Nashville, TN

    1st Ride – First car (pick-up: Todd Molesworth. Owns asphalt company in Tucson. Took me to Springerville, AZ.

    2nd Ride – Bob. Pick-up. Country music radio. Took me to Albuquerque.

    3rd – 4th Rides – local rides

    5th Ride – picked up by cops in Edgewood at 1 a.m., frisked, escorted in police vehicle to Moriarty, NM. Spent hours of 0200 to 0600 in Moriarty “Travel Center” (truck stop)

    6th Ride – local ride
    Stuck all morning in Clunes Corner. Ride chances disrupted by roadworks.

    7th Ride – Joe (college boy studying at Santa Fe). Drove me to McLean, Texas. Stayed at the McLean family ranch and joined in the family reunion weekend, drinking beer and crossbow shooting turkeys.

    8th Ride – Shamrock, AZ to Clinton, OK. Back of pick-up.

    9th Ride – Clinton, AZ to El Rino, OK. Another pick-up.

    10th Ride – local ride. Took me to truck stop….and gave five bucks to buy a sandwich!
    Overnight at Econo Lodge

    11th – 15th Rides – local rides, netting me only 30 miles by dusk.

    16th Ride – George. Trucker. Picked me up in a flatbed after I’d given up in Kickapoo and was trying to head back to Oklahoma City to catch the midnight Greyhound. Turns out he was heading into town to pick up his truck before heading out to Little Rock. So I went with him.

    17th Ride – Jeff Blakeney, van driver doing San Antonio – Virginia run. Drove me to the Heartbreak Hotel, Memphis, TN. Somewhat prone to hyperbole, he said I was the most interesting person he’d ever met, and an inspiration for the rest of his life. And he claimed he’d only stopped to tell me he had no room in the van for me….!

    18th Ride – local ride (thankfully). Wanted to know if I knew Jesus, and also whether I had already put my trust in him as my saviour.

    19th Ride – Charles and Janice, retirees heading home to Georgia from California. Also Bible bashers, but softer. Took me all the way to Elvis’s Birthplace in Tupelo, MS.

    20th Ride – cops. Told me I couldn’t hitch on the Natchez Trace Parkway, frisked me, and gave me a ride to local truck stop.

    21st Ride – local ride. Trucker.

    22nd Ride – Mac: old gay guy. Wanted to take me home and “party”. Told me I’d regret it if I didn’t. I told him it just wasn’t going to happen. Said he was “real good”, and I didn’t know what I was missing. Took me over the Alabama state line.

    Got stuck at gas station near Natchez Trace Parkway. Stayed with the station employee, an old lady called Paula, originally from the East End. She ran away to the US after discovering her husband was a contract killer….

    23rd Ride – local ride. 89-year old local farmer.

    24th Ride – George Hogan. Took me over the Tennessee River to Florence, Alabama. Showed me the Alabama Hall of Fame and the Mussel Shoals recording studios on the way.

    25th Ride – local ride. Ex-cop.

    26th Ride – local ride. Mexicans.

    27th Ride – Pick-up. Picked me up on the ramp in Athens Alabama, and dropped me in Downtown Nashville. The end.

    Take care out there. See you on the road.

    Ben

  5. Just catching up on this series Matt! Absolutely brilliant and certainly fuels our passion to do a coast to coast road trip across the US! Congrats on this amazing adventure!

  6. Hey Matt, really enjoyed reading this series!

    I was wondering though, was there any potential lifts you turned down? There was the Captain Kitty Litter guy you mentioned earlier that you were desperate so just went with him, but were there any you thought were too crazy and decided to not go with?

  7. Hi Matthew,
    I recently fell across your blog whilst planning for my RWT next year. I LOVE this post so much – it gives me faith in humanity and kindness! I am glad you finished your trip and found people willing to lend a hand! Amazing. I look forward to reading the rest of your posts!!

  8. What a great ending to your adventure! This past summer I took a road trip to Baltimore, then through Annapolis, stopping in Salisbury for the night to stay with a friend and then spent a few days in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. One of the most memorable nights of my summer was watching lightning in the sky (with no rain!) over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from a small beach on the eastern shore, so as I’m reading this post and the one before I’m reflecting back on my own trip.

  9. I found this a very inspiring post. This is such a great idea. I would love to have the opportunity to travel in such a way. The hospitality illustrated by your friends you met along the way is absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing this!

    -Sara Chukoian @ Green Travel Reviews

  10. That’s such a great idea and for the record, as someone who won’t get cracker barrel for a year, you should never pass up a chance to eat it or you may find yourself in India dreaming of chicken n’ dumplings.

  11. I’ve done some hitch hiking between cities, but nothing to this extent. It’s on my list and from the hospitality that I’ve experienced should be a great adventure. : D

  12. Absolutely amazing. The only thing cooler than the fact that people will still pick up hitch hikers is that people like Matthew are still hitch hiking! I long for those good ol’ days when it was totally normal to hitch hike. Thanks for bringing them back!

  13. Fuck, what an amazing adventure! I like the ‘travel blogger’ sign idea. What are you going to do now though?!

  14. Love the creative signage. Rabies Free (since June) was my fav. Also loved the glimpse of the faces of all your transporters and your mode of transportation.