Thursday, 31 January 2008

New York

accompanied by the emotive sounds of Brand New, with Soca Amaretto Lime:

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

11th December, 11:14

Argh! Last Day! Panic! or not. I got ready and trundled down to the lobby to check out and store my bag. Where I chilled for a bit before hitting Macy's post office and grabbing a coffee, croissant and a peanut butter cookie. Yum. Not sure what to do with myself before the airport shuttle comes for me at 2.30. I really fancy some Indonesian noodles again, yummy.

I'm not sure why I've fallen for San Francisco so much, maybe because I'm more relaxed with travel now, or because the weather is great, or the people, or how beautiful it is, or maybe because some of it reminds me of England. Maybe all of it. No idea. I do like coffee though. And my hair is exceptionally long. Like old times. I also have a cool hoodie indie top. Though still have holes in my shoes and some form of foot injury, but it was all worth it. Even writing 22 unique postcards and especially the long train journeys. I've rediscovered literature, fallen for Jack Kerouac and only put on clean jeans 3 times, including when I started in London. My bag is extremely swollen and I have grand plans for scrap books, photo organising and all manner of proactive ideas that will probable dissolve in my unrelenting laziness. I've learned lots about art and seen such an eclectic selection throughout all the cities.

I've also been listening to the voices in my head.....

Monday, 10 December 2007

10th December, 23:30

After departing the wharf, I headed on the long, near vertical, trek home for the last time. It was dark now and I just trudged slowly along, enjoying my surroundings and the music of Brand New. Once I got in, I packed my bad for the sad journey tomorrow and went to the lobby to finish my postcards. As a nice coincidence, Dan was working some crazy night shift at his work, alone, so we chatted via the internet tubes. At around 8.30 I trundled to the Indonesian restaurant across the street, where I got stir friend egg noodles with chicken, prawns and veg, a tiger beer and a scoop of mango ice cream all for about £6.35. EXTREMELY nice. I enjoyed it immensely. After returning to the hostel, I did some cool, yet geeky, python/linux hacking on my n810 and disturbed Dan some more. I fell asleep before the random guy returned.

10th December, 17:13

Today, I've been mostly wandering the city slightly aimlessly, enjoying the city in the beautiful sun and taking photos of various buildings. After buying two t-shirts in Macy's, I played in the Metreon shopping centre for a bit, getting a chicken pesto burrito and playing an arcade machine for a bit. It involved being ninjas but with guns, shooting other ninjas, without guns. The whole machine was on sale for $1950 though, which was quite cool. I walked further down market street until I hit the very pretty ferry building, along the bay, which is lined with many palm trees. I walked towards the bay bridge, past a cool spider sculpture, like outside the Tate, and a huge! bow and arrow sculpture. Very impressive.

I walked towards the city to see the big pyramid shaped building, which was again impressive. I then walked onward, past the church of Scientology and up some pretty streets towards the colt tower. It's an old tower built by a woman (called Colt), on a hill looking out over all of San Francisco. The views from the top were amazing, and it was really quiet and only $4.50! After that, I descended down some little crazy stairs to some streets, past lots of amazing house built directly alongside these weird non-road streets. As I came down I randomly saw a trickle of water and discovered the amazing Levi plaza. In the middle is a really fun water feature and the Levi HQ surrounds it. Inside there was loads of interesting Levi related paraphernalia, including jeans from over 100 years ago. I carried on towards the waterfront, past a crazy early sculpture and on to pier 39. I wandered around this for a while as the sun was setting, enjoying and reflecting on San Francisco. Now in a Bondin Bakery cafe, with a cookie, and a coffee, near some french woman taking 15 minutes to eat a boiled egg by apparently sucking it. Very odd.

10th December, 09:00

Yesterday, after what I last wrote, I wandered around some more, along the harbour, past all the extremely nice boats there. I then found a "fish and chip" shop, which I should have guessed would not have been able to grasp the concept of chips, wasn't too bad though. I then chilled and browsed for a while before the 4.30 ferry came, to take me back to pier 41. I walked back to la hostel because queues for cable cars are crazy and they rarely seem to be faster than walking. I organised to meet train Jane and her friend at 7.30, so I chilled for a while, breaking various internet terminals and other such things people of my calibre do. I met Jane and her friend, Rachael, also from Glastonbury, at the lobby a bit early and we wandered off on our bar finding expedition.

The conclusions that can be drawn from the highly excellent night is that 1) You should always listen to Tom about where bars are 2) USA hostels are far better than hostelling International 3) I'm immune to food poisoning. Let me guide you through the night.

We began by wandering to a bar the girls had found previously, and had a pint in there, but we decided to move on as although it was nice , we wanted to see what else here was. After a while of wandering, and being unable to find anything but Disney shops ("That doesn't serve alcohol") and Macy's, we trekked back to the hostel and asked the dude on reception where bars were. Turned out they were on Polk Street, where I had initially pondered some might be. After crossing the road to avoid the guys in gang colours, we went in a cocktail bar which had a Marilyn Monroe film playing. The bar people were jolly nice and we got free popcorn at the bar as well. After initially having some form of generic lager, possibly Amstel Light, I was persuaded to get a cocktail, so I got a Hawaiian ice tea, which after watching them make it and following a taste confirmation, seemed to be a near pint glass of vodka, rum, gin and tequila, with a splash of pineapple and cranberry. I had two in the end, as for $7.50 each, they seemed best value for money. Rachael had a number of cosmopolitans and Jane had some crazy drink with leave in that could have been Japanese.

We then went across the road to another bar which was cool, busier, and they're Guiness was EXTREMELY suspect. In that the whole pint was poured in one go, and there was no swirling, highly strange. Anyway, after various super power conversations I headed to the loo, as you do. Where somehow I met some guy who I chatted to, back in the bar, for a while, both of us jovially mocking the others city. Twas very humourous, though I fear 50% of the words we used were "dude". The girls peeled me away from him and we went to a diner where Rachael and I got friend chicken and Jane got a hamburger. Which I finished in the end. As it turns out, they both were up all night ill from food poisoning, not sure how it didn't affect me. Anyway, we bid farewell and I wandered back home to bed.

Woke up this morning, awake and fully fit, there's a new guy in the room, but not met him yet. I think he's called Ali, and is from Saudia Arabia, according to his receipt anyway.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

9th December, 13:46

Okay kid's when we're all millionaires we're all buying houses in Sausalito, only about $1.25 million and up, with the exchange rate that's only like 3 grand or something. Disclaimer: exchange rate may be exaggerated for poetic reasons, beverage is extremely hot.

I woke up surprisingly early this morning (7.15) to be greeted by a divinely beautiful day. I said bye to Cheung, who is off to LA today and wandered down to the lobby to write some journal. Bus for my magic tour to Muir Woods and Sausalito arrived at 8.30 and took us to the wharf where we paid for air tikets and boarded a new bus of magik. Welvin (like Melvin but Welvin) was our driver, narrator, guide and poet for our journey, and he was beyond excellent. We drove through San Francisco and then across the Golden Gate bridge with very informative and humourous narration in his interesting voice, which had an odd rhythm to it. He also called me Mr England, which was dope. As we descended the winding, precarious road down to the Muir Woods, he recited poetry to us to calm any nervous people. It went very well with the amazing scenery. Once we arrived in Muir woods, we had an hour to explore the stupendous redwoods, which were mind-blowingly tall. There was a cute little stream that danced between the tree's and the sun splashed through gaps in the distant canopy.

After wandering around looking upwards for about 50 minutes and taking many photos, I grabbed coffee, cookie and tuna sandwich from the little cafe and slid back to the coach. The driver gave us a nice souvenir postcard of the red woods, with a poem by Strauss (the guy who designed the golden gate bridge), that he had written on a sack and given to a park ranger. We then commenced our journey to Sausalito, with more poems and one from Welvin himself. As two people were late getting back to the coach we only had 50 minutes in the town, but as soon as I got off I realised how amazing it was. So I found Welvin, gave him a $5 tip and told him I'd get the ferry back, as were many people.

I wandered over to the nearest shop and struck up conversation with a very friendly shop keeper who told me of an ice house opening at 3pm and various nice places around here. I bought some nice magnets for my mum, which she guessed right and wandered through a little park/fountain area. I went into a shop, that again had a very friendly shopkeep, and bought some souvenirs for some fools I call my friends. The guy had a collection of foreign coins, so I gave him a 20p piece, as it's a cool shape, he seemed quite pleased. I then found out where a camera shop was as I needed ANOTHER new SD card. On the short walk there I passed an ice cream shop and got sucked in by the sight of chocolate chip cookie dough flavour. I got a nice pot of that, and sauntered into the camera shop, where again the woman was very friendly, and after I got a 2gb card and she helped me open it, we chatted a while about Sausalito and my trip.

Afterwards I sashayed along the waterfront, which offered phenomenal views across the bay, towards the bay bridge and city scape. I sat there for a while, taking photos, watching a guy build some rock towers that defied everything newton stood for and just chilled. Then my camera battery ran out. Aha. Fear not dear reader, for I had brought a spare. Excellent work. I carried on my walk, where I saw some amazing houses up the hills. After the shops had ran out, I walked a bit further, grabbed a Dr Pepper from a mini mart and made my way back on the other side of the road.

Sausalito has many art galleries, one which Welvin mentioned was "Art that makes you laugh", which is an excellent gallery by a humourist called Jeff Leedy, who mainly works in pastels. His work was fantastic, and once more I struck up a very lengthy conversation with the lady in there, who was all smiles and excited about everything. We chatted about art, traveling, my trip, the bay area etc. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but my jaw started to ache from smiling, so I said farewell and wandered on. Checked out an interesting t-shirt shop and then crash landed in Starbucks so I could write this.

This village/town is amazing, beautiful and friendly. And for once I didn't need music as everything I need I could see, and smell, and fell.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

8th December, 23:50?

Today I have mainly forgotten to write down exactly what I did in my journal but I shall try to reconstruct roughly what happened. I went down to fisherman's wharf to grab the 12:15 Bay Cruise, with captain Nemo who introduced us to many San Francisco characters. We go to go under the Golden Gate Bridge, see the opposite side of the bay, around Alcatraz and the bay bridge before returning to harbour.

Afterwards I walked along the water front, wonderful weather just enjoying all the sights. There were areas of grass and beach where people were playing football, American football, frisbee etc, everyone seemed jolly happy. My aim was the Exploratorium, which was quite a trek, and the sun was beginning to set, so I went around the Fine Arts Palace, which is a magnificent structure surrounded by a pond/lake, garden etc. I only had about an hour to go in the Exploratorium and I really wish I had more, as it was similar to the Science Museum's launch pad, but about 5 times the size, and amazing in there. Cheung reckoned it was only for kids, but I thought it was awesome, so many different scientific experiments to try, and interesting effects, including one thing that apparently temporarily blinded some part of your eye. I avoided that. Very good though.

I wandered back along Lombard Street to see the sights, and then ended up walking along Polk street and feeling hungry, went into a random Chinese restaurant. I had fried noodles with combination meat, which basically meant all the meat they could find around the kitchen, including octopus, which still makes me feel queasy after Feutaventura. There was a cool waiter in there, who was new to the job, and he asked me if I skated, and I cunningly lied and said a bit. He proceeded to explain that I looked like a skater and in my rather odd way, I was exceedingly chuffed. I probably tipped well, and made my way back, along the crazy hills, to the hostel.

I'm gonna miss my daily chats with Cheung, when I get back after a long day walking. We chat about what we did, give suggestions of where to go, and it's just generally very pleasant. Made a good impression on me about South Koreans, as did the guy in Chicago.

Friday, 7 December 2007

7th December, 20:12

If I had one tip for a budding traveller, it would be not to get behind on your journal, even by a day.

If I had two tips, the second would be, write a postcard a day to spread the creative flow.

Unfortunately, I have no tips, so we're all pretty screwed.

What have I done today? Mainly what I wanted. I relaxed in the morning, and then sauntered out to some shops in sodden shoes and a slightly pathetic limp. I bought some more socks from old navy, and an awesome hoodie/sweatshirt/jacket. Very indie, a tad emo, and cool. Cheap as well. I then grabbed a Greek style salad in the shopping centre while reading Kerouac. I finished The Dharma Bums, very Buddhist, which although not really my style of thought, I always find very interesting and peacefully crazy.

After this I wandered the shops some more, but was unable to find any shoes I liked. I did see some awesomely cheap surfwear brands in Macy's though, quiksilver and billabong, so I may return there at a later date. I ended back at the hostel, threw on my new top to show off and blogged a bit. On the phone nearby was a girl with the most awesome Irish accent ever, very satisfactory. I then began the epic task of writing postcards. After a while hunger got the better of me and I went across the road to a nice little pasta place. I got some crazy filled pasta device with beef and chicken stuffed in it. Mushrooms and peas as well, twas very nice.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

06 December, 22:41

Today shall be known as the wet day, so wet that I bought an umbrella, which as we all know goes against all my strangely held views. Unfortunately, this did not help my trench foot inducing skater shoes, which not only have major war wounds from vicious escalators, but also have significant splits in the soles. To confound matters even more, my throat is killing me, the left side of my jaw hurts when I chew and my big toe on my left foot feels like there is a nail through the joint.

Anyway, besides these normal tribulations of life, I left the hostel around 11:20 and wandered down to the wharf, where I went in the Aquarium, 3rd I've been to so far! Although it was quite small, they had 2 giant tanks below with tunnels through the middle of them, which was extremely cool. There were sharks, rays, starfish, and many many other fish. The whole experience was quite short though, but I decided to come back at 3pm for the feeding.

Further down Pier 31 I played in various souvenir shops, until I spotted an All You Can Eat Buffet sign on an Italian restaurant. Not learning from my previous pizza disaster, I ate far too much pizza, meatballs, garlic twists and salad. Washed down with an amstel light, 3 came around and I went back to see an awesome feeding time for the sharks and rays. I then went to the petting type area and I got to touch and stroke some rays, small tiger sharks and starfish. Incredible! Rays are very smooth and soft, while the sharks are more rough and more so in one direction than the other. Star fish were surprisingly hard and crusty, but were amazing colours.

It was now time to limp to Pier 33 where the rain increased it's vicious attack upon the ground. I was a tad early so waited in Peet's coffee house, where there was no room to sit. So I collected my ticket, promptly placed it so elegantly in a puddle, and joined the already growing queue. After a bit of a wait we were let onto the boat for the short trip across the swirling San Francisco bay waters.

As we were on the late night special super duper tour, we had a guide talk to use on the way across, explaining various points of interest including little Alcatraz. Once docked we all filed off the boat and started up the hill towards the theatre room. We past the last remaining guard tower as well as some Native American graffiti from their occupation of the island, post prison days. We had a short presentation explaining what was going on and answering some questions. We then made our way up the hill to the main prison barracks in the driving rain, with me squelching all the way.

Inside we received an audio tour that guides you around the cells and other areas of interest. It was actually voiced by past guards and prisoners, many not alive any more, and detailed the experiences and various escape attempts. Throughout the evening they kept saying that no one escaped alive, except 3 guys escaped and were never found, so in theory they could have survived and gone to South America. Cool!

Once the tour was over I saw 2 presentations on escapes and then a movie on the entire history of Alcatraz. All very interesting, some of the escape attempts were crazy elaborate and I have no idea how the guards didn't realise. Some built up to the actual escape day with months of preparation. Good stuff. Took the boat back across the bay through the driving rain, to the magnificent view of San Francisco at night. I limped back to the hostel and must have done something but I can't quite remember. I'm sure it must have been something of epic proportions, or maybe not.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

5th December, 22:57

After bidding farewell to Mike, I began my walk to the De Young Museum, after my morning internet party. The walk to and through Golden Gate park was exceptionally nice today, as it was sunny, no clouds and quite baking so resorted to just a t-shirt. I took a similar, though slightly more intriguing path to the park and wandered into the De Young in a surprisingly sweaty state. Luckily I had to check my bag into a cloakroom so I could dry off somewhat. I quite enjoyed the museum, everyone was friendly, some good art and ancient sculptures and best of all I came across a Edward Hopper painting, I think it was called "scene of New Orleans". Very good. There was even a Charlie Sheeler as well, and I don't even remember any all black paintings. Though some all black sculptures existed. There was another beautiful painting called, A Ranch On The Plains by Peter Hurd (in high tech zoom-able glory), that was excellent, but then I'm a sucker for orangy warming sunsets and long shadows. There were some photos as well, including two of Audrey Hepburn looking stunning as normal.

There was also a giant spork.

And a house sized paper clip.

I went up to the observation deck, and looked out in stunned confusion as my city of paradise had been invaded by opaque fluffy stuff. So much so you couldn't see more than 2 blocks away! Once more Mother Nature had won the battle of modern art. As my ticket game me free entry to Legion of Honour as well, I decided to walk the very long trek there as I am a glutton for punishment.

It was unfortunately a disappointment, apart from the cookie and coffee I had, it was all just fine art, or something, which was as dull as it was tedious. Too many portraits and religious pomp. I then started the long walk back, but went along Clement Street, which has quite a few interesting oriental shops and restaurants. I stopped in Apple Books which was a cool 2nd had bookshop, and nearly bought Crisis of Infinite Earth, but nothing had prices on and I fear much expense as it was heavy. Adn they didn't have Kerouac's Big Sur, which I need. After finally reaching the hostel, I set abhout finding ways to avoid postcard duty, like cookies, talking to Damien, who was heading off, and the internets. I then went and got an extremely spicy Thai green curry. Those sneaky Thai's with their subjective use of the word "medium". It was nice though, except the Sierra Nevada beer was a bit pants. There were some cool and strange hippies sitting near me that were having an argument about levels of various masters of the world, with Jesus being one of them. Also something about Arc Angels evolving from humans, twas all slightly bemusing, and eventually one stormed out in a huff.

When I came back, I chatted with Cheung for a while, my sole room-mate, and learned that anywhere down of Geery Street is dangerous after dark. Whoops. Also turns out he was in Legion of Honour when I was in de Young and vice versa. He prefered LoH, though this preference may have been related to his degree in fine arts. Also I should really use the cable cars instead of destroying my feet in torn, decrepit skater shoes.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

4th December, 21:11

Well, today was an action packed extravaganza of multiple attractions, wasn't it. Getting up at a moderately decent time, I headed down to the California Academy of Science's temporary location. It was mainly an aquarium with a small amount of natural sciences. It's new location in Golden Gate Park looks like it's going to be totally amazing, with it's own mini rainforest and 200,000 gallon tank and coral reefs, which you could see them growing in some labs. Many small humans appeared to be running around aimlessly, but many participating in many acts of cuteness.

After this, I walked towards the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but was first distracted by a shopping centre called Metreon. Which is most excellent. On top of grabbing a coffee, I explored a cool arcade they had, and a geeky, but still cool comic book shop similar to Forbidden Planet. I prevented myself from buying too much and made it to SFMoMA. Which the damn hippies had designated it Free Tuesday, even though I had a city pass already. No matter, I went in and checked all the same crazy all black canvases. There were some very interesting photos by Jeff Wall, and a very weird sensory area at the top that I got partially lost in, and nearly paniced. It was still interesting even if I couldn't take photos to prove it's existence. I sauntered back to the Metreon to grab a roast chicken Caesar salad with red peppers, button mushrooms and broccoli, mainly to make up for the pizza yesterday.

I also had a Mr Pibb which turns out to be a viable alternative to Dr Pepper, see "Lazy Sunday". At this point I realised I had left my bag in the SFMoMA cloakroom and so went to collect it...

Next Stop: The Da Vinci exhibition at the Metreon, which was extremely good. They had on display replicas of his notes and paintings with an informative audio tour. They had also constructed most of his engineering ideas and some were "hands on", so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well worth the $20, even if the audio tour was a bit of a rehash of the text.

Walked back through a slightly dodgy area and returned to find I had no clean clothes. So it was laundry time and I chatted with Mike for a while. He once got held by customs for 14 hours in Missouri, which is manic. I also found out that a few blocks away, is a neighbourhood called tenderloin, which is full of gang-related roughness. Which I may have just walked through this evening. Anyway, some police stopped mike from walkthrough through there at night so he wouldn't get beaten up. Cool.

Early night tonight. Wham.

4th December, 09:00

After realising the immense pain and discomfort I'd put myself in, I decided my best course of action was to run up the steepest road in the world, or at least that I had seen. And although I got some nice photos at the top, my heart and soul nearly gave up on the way.

I recovered in the hostel while interneting and the such like. New Aussie from melbourne in room now, though he's only staying 2 nights. Sleep was extremely hot and someone was talking in their sleep, which always disturbs me. I also fell asleep still listening to straylight run.

Monday, 3 December 2007


Japanese Tea Garden
De Young -> Legion of Honour

Aquarium of the Bay
Alcatraz at Night


Exploratorium and Bay Cruise, Lombard Street, Boudin Bakery and Souvenirs

Muir Woods/Sausalito
Haight Street


3rd December, 18:21

Today has been nice and relaxing, I got up a bit late, (9.30) then spent a while writing up yesterdays adventure. I also got more high energy rolls, an apple, a packet of turkey ham (as I was scared that I had no meant yesterday) and a Dr Pepper. I then wandered down to Macy's to get me an electric razor as I couldn't be arsed to shave off my care bear beard with my quattro. Guy there chatted with me for a while about my oyster card?! and I bought some Philips speed X-L thing, that looked pretty. I went back and spent ages shaving as I fought through my iron hair. I then rang my mummy and we chatted awhile while a man tried to use a pneumatic nail gun on me. I decided, after some Internet usage to head down to Fisherman's Wharf.

The walk took a short while, but it was interesting as it cut through china town and was nice and hilly. When I got down to the wharf I wandered around aimlessly until the fun police came to tell me I was too handsome and not having enough fun. Luckily, I bribed them with $5 for a good cause and got away with my dashing good looks intact. Ahem.

The Musee Mechanique was right next to where I was and with free admission, I strolled in. Muchos fun inside! They had loads of old old arcade machines, so mechanical scenes, firing ranges, fortune tellers, peep shows, mechanical pianos, pinball and some old digital arcade machines, like Mrs Pacman. Each one was only a quarter as well, so I spent $5 in there and had a great time. Except the arm wrestling machine thrashed me. There was even a machine that you seemed to pay to make a fake baby cry. After much time in there I came here, to a random pizza joint run by a Chinese dude. His astonishment at me ordering a medium pizza to myself forced me to prove I was just that awesome and so I ate a 14 inch grease filled pepperoni, salami and sausage pizza. Ow my heart.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

2nd December, 23:00

Whoa, today was epic, I started out a bit sluggish just chilling in the lobby on msn etc. Then I wandered across the street to the little mini-mart where I bought 6 high energy fruit rolls, a bag of carrots, an apple and a sprite for about 5 dollars. I then proceeded to walk to Golden Gate Park, now this is a hell of a way. I came across some magnificent buildings which I think were City Hall Rotunda and an opera house on Van Ness Avenue. After that I staggered up Fulton Street, by which point I was feeling a bit rubbish and came across Alamo square, which is a lovely little park surrounded by very brightly painted Victorian houses, which I'm told are famous. As I carried on up the hill, although the houses were beautiful, they weren't maintained at all well, which was a shame. In fact this turned out to be the "roughest" place I saw all day, and it wasn't even rough.

One block had a strangely large amount of LPs littered around the street and outside houses. Odd. When I reached some amazing uni/church buildings there was a random Asian tourist there taking the same photos as me, just for some reason in the middle of the road, so he kept having to dodge traffic. The views down the hill were amazing, as well as to the left where there were loads of houses nestled amongst the trees on the hill. I finally reached Golden Gate Park, and whoa, it's amazingly crazy but awesome. It started out with huge trees, slightly overgrown, and quaint little paths, all quite tranquil and mysterious. Then suddenly I came across a road and the presteenly kept conservatory of flowers. A beautiful glass building, a bit like crystal palace circa 1800s, surrounded by flowers and a huge clock on the lawn.

Throughout my time in Golden Gate Park I mainly followed John F Kennedy Drive, which was closed for traffic, I presume as it was Sunday. However, it was full of cyclists, skaters, joggers and loads of rollerbladers. I even saw rollerblade dancing and at one point loads of random people just dancing salsa on a bridge.

Anyway, I then came to a large expanse of, I guess, courtyard. On one side was the apparently closed California Academy of Sciences & Aquarium. Though I think it's moved to somewhere temporary. On the other side is the de Young Museum of Contemporary Art, which looked cool, and was next to a pretty Japanese Tea Garden. In the centre is the music concourse, with a cool tree plantation and the such like. As I was walking on I came across a cool little place called the enchantment garden, which had a little pond and a number of statuettes, very nice.

I then went to the Stow Lake, and began to walk round but I started to feel really rotten by this point and had to sit down for a minute. I absorbed the view and then decided to put on some Rage Against The Machine on my portable noise creator. This soon picked me up and reduced all pain in my head. So I carried on round the lake, across a bridge onto the island in the middle and then off at a different bridge. I then played with a squirrel for a while, then a woman's dog tried to eat it, with failure luckily. We then had a conversation about how they are really rats (in fact I had just seen a rat) and I shared the anecdote of one running up Mum's leg, much to my amusement. I bid farewell to the lady and grabbed a coffee from a snack bar, which also hired out boats/peddalos/bikes. After that, I decided nothing could stop me and I would walk all the way to Ocean Beach, past football fields, Bison Paddocks, more lakes, golf courses and an ancient ( at least in USA terms) windmill.

Wow, the beach is amazing, I took many photos and then wandered up the cliff road, where there was a path to that followed the cliffs and greenery along. Amazing views across the bay and towards the Golden Gate Bridge. The twisting trail was extremely enjoyable but I'd fallen off the map and the sun would set soon, which might be an issue. I didn't worry too much though and enjoyed the various lookouts and crazy steps. Eventually I popped out on a random road somewhere, amongst a very posh but very nice neighbourhood. I wandered a bit until I came across some Avenues, and turned down 29th. Using my GPS on my n810, that had no battery left, I found California Street, that went all the way into town. So I walked.

And walked. And walked. Past village mini-marts, and people performing Hadukens on cars, past humming birds and Christmas lights, and extremely nice castle-esque Victorian houses. Eventually I hit Jones St and descended down the steepest road in the world to my hostel. I staggered in, and mapped my route on google maps, as you do, and found it was 15 miles long!!! No wonder I couldn't bend my knees properly. After relaxing a bit I went to the Hostel movie night where we saw Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson, and Transformers, which is still highly awesome. Free popcorn as well.

Went to my room at like 23.30 and a new guy from Korea was there, Cheung, I think. He was quite quiet. I crashed out, tired and achy. Great day though.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

1st December, 22:00

Once more I have randomly blundered through a variety of obstacles with surprising ease. First of all once we got there, I explained my predicament to a nice ticketing man, with the use of some puppy dog eyes, which I keep in my bag. He then wrote randomly on a piece of paper that I could go through to San Fran, and the bus driver seemed happy to accept it. Woo! Then the driver managed to do the prepared route backwards, but I realised and still got off at the right place. I then staggered haphazardly towards my hostel, which I found far to easily. I checked in after an initial scare that I had lost my passport and a girl showed me around the hostel.

I'm on a 4 bed dorm with a Scottish guy called Mike who has lvied in Oz, America and England. He's currently going for football try outs at a San Fran based team who are gonna play in Major League Soccer, which is damn awesome.

I grabbed some bread, cheese and water and wandered through a few streets, but I was insanely tired so I went back and am now gonna crash out.


1st December, 18:08

And another dose of Kerouac, and I feel like writing again. I'm tired, my brain feels compressed and my journey is far from over, but I'm not worried. It's dark now, though it appeasr we're following some form of waterway according to my GPS. Many mesmorising lights are silently whipping by and my eyelids are starting to feel heavy. I hope it's all good.

And as I sat watching myself digitally, without any exact plan when this journey ends, I thought:

Holy Moly, I've gone across america on my own.

Somehow, so far, I've not quite comprehended it, but in the midst of blissfull uncertainty I realise it's all pretty cunning. Interestingly we just went through Richmond. Kudos to American originality. It's also a bit odd that we're going the fastest we've been all day through a built up area: 85mph.

1st December, 16:53

I can't remember if I mentioned my ponderous predicament but I only booked a train to Emeryville, rather than San Francisco. Lukcily there is an Amtrak bus there but it leaves 15 minutes after we arrive in Emeryville. So in that time I have to get my baggage, find out if I can get tickets for it, and then where it is. Amazingly, though, we got to Sacramento an hour early AND no one is getting off at Davis so we're sailing through that. Plenty of time for me to get lost in Emeryville then.

I was going to write this in the lounge but there's some goth/emo kid in there who's completely drunk after drinking straight from a bottle of whiskey all afternoon. Sun is setting now, soon I can shower! Mwahahaha.

1st December, 12:29

Wow, scenary is totally amazing. I have my GPS working now, which is highly handy, for instance I knew the lakes to our right were coming up before they did. We have some guides from a local railroad museum and apparently we're entering the cold water valley. We're doing soem crazy 180 degree turn to get through the valley. There's also a tunnel at some point. Last time we had a long tunnel some fool apparently pulled the stop train cord and then loads of foolish people had panic attacks in the tunnel, including Wade (who is also petrified of flying among other things). I had some coffee.

At this rate I'll need a new SD card, I may try and get on in San Fran. Whoa, an amazing lake view, the afformentioned valley I suspect.

Okay, this is phenominal, I can't describe the view, huge mountains, perfectly still lake. Thousands of straight, giant trees densely populate all the hill sides. It's very hard not to be a slave to my camera.

We're now going through the 2 mile long Tunnel 41, called the big hole. 11600 ft above sea level is our highest point, along the Sierra Nevada, which will occur at end of this here tunnel. And problem just when my mp3 player runs out. On that note I've just realised all of my multitude of gadgets are black. Awesome.

My handwriting has really deteriorated. And my spelling. I should really have brought more dollar with me, as I have about 3 cereal bars left. To make matters worse my GPS reckons we just derailed...

1st December, 06:47

As I sit, waiting for a huge ball of extraordinarily violent flaming gas to ascend the heavens from behind it's mountain bunker, I think to myself "Darn gosh, I wish I'd remembered to put my clock backwards". No worries though, I bought a coffee with my last two dollar bills and am munching strawberry nutri-grain bars. Look's like these's a ground frost, which would explain why I was cold last night while experimenting with new sleeping positions that cause overnight damage to muscles I didn't know existed.

Finally we're off again, and now the cloud's are hugging the ground tightly, barely giving us a few metres of vision. Jolly foggy.

Friday, 30 November 2007

30th November, 22:00

After a small stint practicing the art of contortion I managed to find a comfortable position curled up, as if hibernating, where I could get some sleep. I had some crazed half asleep, half reality dreams of scratching my teeth on each other, which was cringe worthy. After I woke up just after 9 I went down to the lounge and grabbed a ham and cheese sub plus a bud light for good measure.

I fear when I return to Angleterre, all I'll be allowed to eat is vegetables and drink orangensaft. The number of people aboard has reached crazy lows, and we lose more than we gain at our stops on the way. I've been told the scenery tomorrow, going into Cali, is the best yet. At the moment I can just make out cosy towns nestled down for the night, with enthusiastic christmas decorations tracing house edges. Then we get surrounded by blackness for a time, and sometimes a strange fabric burning smell comes to linger, and keep us company for a while. I apologise for my current writing style, old Kerouac has infected my brain.

30th November, 16:52

I gravitated myself towards the observation/lounge car with some music and my camera. But it's wet and gloomy now. So photos are a no no.

Lydia and Jayne are here again, Jayne is quieter than Lydia but they both seem to have a tranquil happiness that's calming to be around. I should really be writing postcards but I don't know whethere to rehash stuff on here, or how to approach them. They're currently a mountain I don't have to tackle yet.

My reflection in the window looks humourous. I think I might sleep well tonight, but it's far too early now so I'm not sure what to do. Lady at the end of carriage appears to be trying to sell or trader her daughter to a random guy. In a very odd occurance, I've run out of words that I care to babble.

30th November, 16:06

This perpetual day does as it will, but I'm surprisingly dandy, to a moderate degree. The clouds are descending now but I'm not sure if that's the weather or if Grand Junction is particularly high. Train is surprisingly empty now, I've got two seats and there's loads more available. Air is extremely dry, but that's the odd air system they have here. For instance, we went through a tunnel and we weren't allowed to move between cars as fumes would choke us all. Good times.

30th November, 14:02

After much thought I finally worked out the right soundtrack to match the incredible scenery I'm witnessing through the Rockys. Sitting in the observation car, with a surprise lack of Eagles on my Zen, I remembered the good old Lynyrd Skynyrd, which suited perfectly. The whole trip so far seems to have lacked chronological sequence, so I can't even begin to construct a realistic narrative. I will, however, just keep writing. Before Jane got off at Denver, she gave me the latest Clarkson book to read, which was jolyl nice. I got her email as she may end up in San Fran on Monday.

I barely slept last night but I dosed in happy peace and somewhat meditively with The Postal Service gently drumming out simple sorrows. Wade slept in the Lounge car, which I was secretly glad of as I'd grown a bit tired of him and didn't quite trust in what he said. We hit the Rockys early in the day and so I've spent a good majority of my time up here. Met a guy from Cornwall and two nice women, Jane and Lydia, and we chatted about the scenery, from huge rocky mountains to gorges, rivers and streams. Many bald eagles and one or two deer were also spotted along the way.

I had a good, though slightly hard to escape from, chat with the cafe/bar man about Germany, the price of McDonalds in various countries and the such like. My diet of ceral bars is near excellent, though closer to worryingly nutritionally unbalanced.

We reach Grand Central, which is Wade's stop in 1 hour 30.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

29th November, 23:17

Aha! and you had all thought some horrible catastrophe had enveloped me. No fear, I've been on the train for 9 hours now... out of 55. Luckily, I met a cool american guy called Wade, who is sitting next to me. By his own admission he's a bit red neck, but is really nice and chatty. He has teh sort of personality that he always repeats how he respects everyone and not to judge people, but at the back of your mind you suspect if you got in his bad books he could flip out. While the sun was gingerly creeping down the sky I relaxed with him in the lounge car and met a jolly nice American called Josh. We all chatted for a while where I found out nuggest of info like they had both been druggies but cleaned up etc. Wade had recently found his best mate dead from an overdose and that had had a profound affect on him. Josh in turn had lost people, but I liked Josh's outlook and he seemed pretty knowledgeable about Britain and History etc.

Wade's reason for travel (to Grand Junction) was to find work at a gas rig as teh demand for tree-climbing tree reducers had diminished. Josh seemed to be going to Sacramento, or there aboust, to join the army. But his shape and secretly Wade, begged to differ. After returning to our, once again, spacious seats we struck up conversation with an english girl, Jane, and Rebecca, and American, sitting to our right. After general chatting we headed to the bar for some beers, where after some depressing drug/death talk, and Wade trying to playing match maker with me and Jane, he headed on up to hang with some other people he met.

Jane (24), it turned out, had been travelling on and off for 5 years, taking a gap year before uni in Africa. When she was meant to go home she decided to stay and has travelling/worked all over the world ever since. Including working in New Zealand, Oz etc. she's now on her way to Denver to work down the country. One of the reason's wade was so up for matchmaking us was, obviously us Britishness, but also our love for Jack Kerouac, who ironically the two American's had never heard of. She also lives in Glastonbury, so we chatted about the festival for a while.

I garnered less info from the quiet Rebecca (23), she works on her family farm, I think. If she could do anything, she'd be a botanist in South Americ, and she has some crazy herbal drinks. She's really nice though and she also handed out some awesome dark chocolate, which Wade had never had and he pretended he like it, even though he hated it. He couldn't believe I loved it.

A few more interesting things to note about wade, he had this barbed wire tattoo around his bicep, which was surrounded by knife stab wounds, apparently done by guy who tattooed it!? He wore cowboy boots that he was very protective over, even though they'd been run over by his girlfriend. Who had also got a DUI and killed someone while drink driving recently. Twas a bit hectic.

In conclusion, journey is good so far, but I'm far too awake while veryone else is asleep. Wade has gone to stretch out somewhere up front and I've resorted to the sounds of Long Island's Brand New flooding into my ears. They guys asked me if I had enough money and could do whatever I wanted what would I do. For some reason I said writer. From this post's 3 page length, I can't for the life of me see why. Plus my handwriting is dreadful.

29th November, 11:00

It would appear I forgot to write down what I did last night. After the awesome Planetarium night sky show and more playing around the exhibits I participated in an El (subway) fiasco, but eventually got to the Lincoln Park area. After realising it was too dark to actually go to the park I ventured up the main shopping part, which was full of hyper expensive, independent, small fashion shops. I also was entirely unsure of the general area as the lighting wasn't fantastically illuminating and I didn't know what the neighbourhood was like. I found a Starbucks though, where I finished my Manga book. Yeah, so manga is very expensive for it's content. I'm not saying it was bad, just short and ended rather abruptly. I then tried to walk to an el station, got a bit off course, aimed for a different one, which turned out to be shut, so had to carry on walking through neighbourhoods that I had a severe lack of knowledge about. It all ended up groovy though, and I walked down the mag. mile for the last time and had a gargantuan Jimmy John's.

When I got back I packed and sorted everything out for the train ride. The night's sleep was pretty bad as loads of people snored and people came in late, banging around. I slept in a bit and then cruised the net for cool N810 apps.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

28th November, 13:00

Sitting here in the Adler Planetarium I suddenly had the intense urge to drive to Exeter, A303 style. But alas, those days are gone, no matter, I got to drive a mars rover today, or at least a far cheaper copy. After waking up, a bit late, I decided Planetarium then Lincoln Park was the best bet as I probably know enough Science & Industry stuff already. Plus, it's in an area where I might get roughed up for my lack of modesty.

Anyway, Planetarium is excellent, very hands on, quite quiet so I got to be a big kid. Like most days really. I have some crazy show to see now, something like Night Sky Live! which might prove problematic as it's only 1.10pm. I have to work out how long I can spend here before walking to subway and going to Lincoln Park and surrounding area. I wish I could remember when the sun sets.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

27th November, 21:24

I'm currently at the top of the John Hancock Building, and I think it's better than the Sears tower. It probably helps that it's a night, and the low rise neighbourhoods and lake hugging roads look far more impressive. Very festive up here, with many a christmas tree and christmas music playing. I didn't buy the photo I had taken as my eyes are half shut and I look a bit special. I helped a couple have their photo taken, and every time the girl exchanged the camera with me I got a massive electric shock. So she's either a robot or an electric eel in disguise.

More info for your brains: Chicago isn't called the windy city because of the wind, which explains why NYC was windier.It's actually about the long winded speeches that some folks gave when trying to secure Chicago for some exhibition. Also, the river in Chicago was actually engineered to run backwarsd to prevent pollution entering the lake! Crazy Americans.

27th November, 20:00

When I get to San Francisco I should have a day on random unplanned wandering and just with no need to go anywhere specific. I might get time to write some postcards then! Man, I suck at getting things done. Down with Tom.

27th November, 19:47

I decided I should head to the museum of contemporary art as it was free on Tuesdays and shut's at 8pm. You may question why I, again, abused my brain with contemporary art, and with good reason, but it's kind of interesting seeing what these crazy folk came up with.

Therefore, I saw floors made of vinyl records, videos of dead masked spirit girls exploring a western town, many rock inspired art works, and other crazy things I've blocked from my memory. One piece that was amazing was an awesomely paranoid narrative in words and diagrams of a conspiracy theory behind a spaghetti restaurant that never had spaghetti. Very funny. They also had the same damn painting, that is just a big black canvas, that every art gallery in America has because the artist made so many because it's so easy. It's actually split into 9 squares, each a slightly different shade of black, but meh. Anyway, I enjoyed the madness in the end as it was free and Taking Back Sunday kept me sane in there.

I'm now in Seattle's Best coffee, writing this all down before I go up the hancock observatory and see chicago at night. Unfortunately this is in a Borders, so I may get trapped in here a while.....

27th November, 16:30 (Longest Post Ever!)

Right, that's settled, my mp3 player and I have formed a mental bond. I was thinking, I would jolly like to hear Soca Amaretto Lime. I slammed on Brand NEw and it was randomly chosen out of 48 tracks. I love coincidence.

After waking up a bit late, I slammed a new SD card into my camera and steppted out into the bright chicago mornign sun. More cityscape shots it is then. After enjoying the moderate walk to the Field Museum I soon discovered it had about 3 days worth of content and the Darwin exhibit cost more. After greeting Sue the T-Rex at the front I made my way to the evolution section, was was extremely excellent. Though there was many a school child scrabbling through, they were all moving at about 88mph, so it was fine.

Man, there have been some crazy animals, sharks called Helicoprion have some crazy spiralled bottom lip full of teeth for example. They had some cool dino bones and some itneresting videos on mass extinctions and ice ages. Apparently we're currently in an inter-glacial ice age at the moment, hence the polar ice caps. The human section was also very interesting, for instance, until relatively recently we shared the earth with at elast 2 other hominid species. For example, the neanderthals originated in europe, where as we came from Africa.

More interesting things include about 11% of us are missing a Palmaris muscle, which is a remanent of when our tree dwelling ancestors, tree dwelled. Other remanents of our ancestors include wisdom teeth, goosebumps, ear wriggling muscles, our 5th toe and what's left of our 3rd eyelid.

Returning to mass extinction, the "normal" rate of extinction is one species every 4 years. Currently 30,000 species go extinct every year. Human's are the win! or possible something more apocalyptic. I then went to a random plant section which was empty as there were no dinosaurs for people to gawp at. At this point I was slightly delirious from tiredness, thirst and eating too much when I entered the museum. I still took a photo of a model of a tea growing extravaganza for Rex and Tracey though. And also of a venus fly trap biting a man's tongue....

In my delirium I stumbled into a jade and precious gem exhibit, which was also empty and surprisingly interesting. A few gems of knowledge (haw haw) inclued that emerald's are actually rarer and more valuable than diamons, but they tend to be cloudy and have imperfections when they grow over a certain smallish size. Also, gold "carats" are different from diamond "karats" but I'm sure I'm boring you enough already.

I then crashed through haiwai which seemed a very good reproduction with beaches and markets etc. Soon I came across New Zealand and a Mairu house, which all suspiciously merged into Cheyanne artifacts. Then Asia cropped up and I collapsed at a fountain next to Sue's head. After some thirst quenching, reviving aqua, I entered the also barren (of people) Underground Adventure. Where I was promptly shrunk down to the size of an ant, or possibly smaller. What followed was an extremely good attempt at making soil exciting. Including anamatronic insects, very creepy sound effects as I made my way through some underground earth tunnels. After be regrown I used a crazy comptuer to help plan a town's redevelopment and I wa apparently excelelnt even though I paid no attention to the writing and just chose options according to the pretty map and Year 8 geography - sponsered by Crayola.

I then fond myself in Egypt, with some nice recreations of the nile and a display case of all the fake ancient egyptian things the museum had been duped into buying. They also obviously had many more authenetic items, or they just hadn't tested them yet....

I then ran out of time, lucky for you dear reader, which is probably only me by now, and exited from the building. Sun was setting beautifully and I took some photos of the outside brontasaurus against it.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Hoo ha!

I have internet time left, and nothing left in my magic book of wonderment to type up. I am officially caught up with all things that have occurred in the windy city. Which seems to lack wind. Chicago is really great, I really wanted to go up near Lincoln Park and see the posher end of town, as I think they have cool second hand bookshops and the such like. Ah well. Maybe next time, and I'll drag Rex along that time, and destroy him with puns, such as this one I pwned him with today:

Rex: "I like dolphins. Lots. Did you fall in accidentally?"
Tom: "Nah, on porpoise... *gaffaws*"
Rex: "Good night mr tom. *sighs*"
Tom: "*giggles* night dude, you sure set me in my plaice *sniggers*"

Good times, good times. Just done my good deed for the day by helping a person of Scandinavian origin use the vending machine. I should really go to bed as it's 23:45, and I need a shower. I'm a bit scared though as I fear my dorm is full of old men, and they may get grumpy with me for wearing a garish t-shirt and not being tucked up asleep yet. Ah well, us riff raff must continue to be the spanner in the works, the bane of their existence, the apple in there carrot cake, the brick in their washing machine and the suspiciously placed post box in the hanging garden of their hearts....

Yeah, I'll sleep now then.

Newly Revised Chicago Plan:

  • Field Museum: 09:00-13:30
  • Planatarium: 13:30-16:30
  • Contemporary Art Museum: 17:00-19:00
  • All You Can Eat Pizza And Beer For $20: 20:00


  • Science & Industry Museum: 09:30 - X
  • Planatarium: X-16:30
  • Hancock Observatory: 20:00/21:00

26th November, 23:00

I then headed to the Planaterium (spelling?) as it was free today. It was only open for a short while longer but I saw a show about Black Holes which was quite interesting though I knew most of it already. Though I didn't realise that there is a black hole in the middle of most galaxies as well as our one (the milky way). They had some snazzy computer graphics and liam neeson or someone narrating.

After it shut I wandered back to the hostel and via the medium of text organised to meet Tim for drinks. I then grabbed a Gargantuan Jimmy John's sub, which was excellent and then met him outside the Art Institute (though I waited outside for 15minutes because he was late). We then cruised down the Mag. mile to the Hancock centre, which is a massive skyscraper with an apparent very posh bar on the top, but we got in fine. Was quite expensive but the view was immense. I got a coors light ($8.25+tax) and he got some crazy cocktail which was tiny ($12.00+tax). However, his was immensely strong, apparently, and he got drunk off it quite quickly. By this time I had started to realise that he was a bit dull company as he didn't really pay attention or keep the conversation going. He also appeared moderately racist and snobbish towards Americans, which was a slight issue as he would talk to anyone, just often say the wrong things. Luckily, as it was expensive, we moved on, and the next bar we went to that suggest wanted a $10 cover, so we moved on, after a while of not finding a bar he got tired, which I was glad of, and he parted ways to go back. I'm quite glad in the end we only had 1 drink as I think I would have got REALLY annoyed with him as he was extremely hypocritical, especially in that he claimed all American's were ignorant to everyone, which is in turn an ignorant view. Ah well, at least we didn't agree to go to any museums together like we were gonna.

This post may be more rambling than normal, or longer, or something, as I am typing this straight from my neural pathways, because I couldn't be bothered to write it out, and I can type 10 times faster so I tend to splurge my brain on here. Yay me! Man the aquarium was awesome.

26th November, 17:20

Now that was an awesome day, makes me wish I had longer here. After I last left you I bought a random Manga book because I could and the blurb was humourous:

"On his way home from a round of heavy drinking late one night, master Moocher and Game Programmer Keita Ibuki decides to satisfy a craving for ramen at a noodle stand. But instead of slurping soup, he gives up his meal to a cute girl (an apparent ramen fanatic). Unbeknownst to Keita, the girl is a superhuman being known as a Mototsumitama who's being hunted by others of her kind. When a battle suddenly ensues, Keita gets caught in the crossfire and loses his arm. The next time he opens his eyes, he's back in his apartment - arm intact. But just whose arm is it?! Asking the strange girl raiding his fridge only makes things more complicated!"

Anyway, I took a really nice walk to the museum campus, with many trees and statues on the way. I went into the extremely impressive Shedd Aquarium and bought another City Pass. It's amazing in there!!! To start with there was a 90,000 gallon replica of the Caribbean coral reef with Rays, sharks, fish, etc. Even a giant turtle called Nickel, who was injured by a speed boat and swims awkwardly now. When they were rehabilitating her, they also found a Nickel lodged in her food pipe, hence the name. a diver also went in to feed the sea life and a small presentation about it all occurred.

Afterwards I wandered around looking at the huge amount of aquariums in there, with all sorts of crazy fish, eels and turtles. Some fish swim up and knock into other fish so their babies, which they carry in their mouth, fall out and can be eaten! Another type of fish as a long aerodynamic snout which is similar to an aeroplane wing and is needed as otherwise the fish would just swim downwards the whole time. Then I walked out to the Oceanarium, where they have dolphins and a type of whale that I have forgotten their name, but it begins with B. Watched a dolphin display, which was awesome, and shows how well trained and happy they were. Their environment was 63 times the size of the minimum regulations for keeping that many dolphins (5). Down below you could see underwater as well as see Penguins and sea otters.

There was even a lizard section which had some crazy looking critters in there, including some that would drop their tails if caught, and then the tails shatter. They also had a majorly huge and very lazy komodo dragon, but it can't apparently get up to very high speeds. Other sections included more turtles, spiders, another coral reef replica with some cool fishies, electric eels, huge ants and many more fascinating things besides. I took MANY photos. Whoa this entry is getting big.

In between I got a nice salad for lunch, with egg and turkey ham. I also got three cookies cos they looked the yum, plus a cranberry juice. I also scratched my head twice, fiddled with my bracelets, stretched my arms, looked slightly to my left, then back to my right, and all manner of trivial details that you really don't need to know but I seem to tell you anyway and you don't have a choice. Mwahahahaha...

26th November, 10:52

Mmmm coffee and a japepeno pretzel. Good times. Last night after returning and kinda chilling I met an Australien called Time. He lived in Vancouver for half a year but can't find anywhere to teach so is flying back to Oz. Had a really good sleep, and my South Korean chum gave me a subway pass for free as he was leaving at 5am. Jolly nice of him. Today is Aquarium day. woo! and then Field Museum if I have time, possibly with Tim though he's moving hostel today as snoring kept him up (not mine). Awesome quote I found in Barnes & Noble:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!” - Jack Kerouac

Random Thoughts
  • I should get some brain books.
  • Hopefully on my big trip I won't be nervous beforehand like with this one, just excited.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Thoughts for your soul

I am exceptionally tired. I may just lace this page with some random thoughts and words. It's also cold. At least outside. Eels are a fantastic band. I forgot to mention something I heard in the contemporary art section of the Art Institute of Chicago, said by a little girl:

"Daddy, I can do that"

so very true and it cracked me up. While I was walking around the streets yesterday a guy zipped by on a black segway. Turns out it was an on-duty police officer! Crazy. I've began to ponder how easy it is to buy things here with a credit card. Today I got a drink from a vending machine simply by swiping my card, same with the Internets. When they do sometimes ask you to sign, they've already given it back to you (the card) so they can't compare anyway.

I might get an early night tonight. Really need to catch up on sleep before the epic train journey to Frisco.

25th November, 15:25

Well after a large blogging stint I hit the sack and woke up a bit late (9am). It only feels late because most people leave at like 7.30. Shwoered, checked email and then hit the streets where I walked to the Sears Tower with a purpose. No one around, and no queues so I went straight up to top. Lift goes 18mph, which I'm told is fast for lifts. Audio tour was pretty good and the view was nice, though doesn't quite compare to New York. They had an interesting display around the observation deck about Chicago and it's achievements. There's also a cool toblarone shaped prison you can see.

After grabbing some Maccy D's, as you do in America, I began to walk to Michigan Avenue, and through a nearly deserted Millenium Park, which was a bit spooky. After some suspicious road crossing, I made it to the lake shore and harbour. This also lacked any form of life and boast. After a nice walk along, followed by a very dangerous and back-alley style ascent across the river, I made it to the Navy Pier. I took some photos of my confusion along the way to help the narrative.

Navy pier has a shopping/restuarant type plaza followed by a long building holding various things such as a festival hall and ballroom. There is also a free stained glass window museum there, which is the only one in America/World apparently. Probably with good reason. There was also an interesting display on drugs, people who had died from them and policing methods/equipment. At the end of the pier I helped some crazy people take a photo, as we were as lcose as you could get to the light house out in the harbour. There's also a very big anchor.

After that I went up to the roof where there is a ferris wheel & spinning ride, but as i was winter there were very few people around. Next to the little theme park is the crystal gadens, which is a huge green house with big palm trees and awesome "jumping" fountains. After that I started writing this and get dodgy chinese all over my book again...

Saturday, 24 November 2007

24th November, 20:35

Well today was full of disappointment, but I still enjoyed it, so take that Santa! After bursting through the doors of the Art Institute of Chicago, I cleaned up the strewn glass and ran around like a crazy mad man on my Hopper Hunt (TM). After 30 minutes I asked someone where it was and it turns out it's not on display at the moment... but don't worry it's back mid feb...

DAMMIT, I was extremely distraught and exceptionally upset. Then I realised I was getting far too dramatic over a single painting, even if it is the best in the world, so I spent the next 3 or so hours enjoying the museum. Not after first getting steak, 2 cookies and a smoothie too cheer me up. There are some very good paint and Asian pieces in there, and also some extraordinary bad contemporary art which looked exactly the same as some other stuff I've seen in the past art galleries that I frequented.

After that, I walked around Millennium park in the sunshine and went into dunkin' doughnuts for a bagel. Where I had a chat with a guy about black-on-black racism, and how he'd been shot and beaten into a coma. It would appear he didn't fully recover, but it was still a nice chat even if he did tell me he was a black muslim called Kahlid about 30 times as I think he kept forgetting he'd told me.

After rollin' to the hostel I utilised my sensual n810 to check for stuff for tonight on Timeout and also talk to Stu. Turns out The Academy Is.. was playing tonight!??!!!!!


Then I found out it was sold out. Blast. Nothing else took my fancy so I decided to just walk down state street and the magnificent mile. Grabbed a salad in Macy's and took some pretty night time photos. I walked into bloomingdales and my wallet promptly died from shock. $165 for a random shirt, $20 for a hot chocolate! I formed a plan to use my poshest English accent and claim to be a duke of Antioch (yes I know it's in Turkey) if my raggedy presence was questioned. After that, I did my normal borders patrol. Haw, haw, get it? I don't. I decided I might get into Manga, but the choice was immense and I knew nothing. So I ran. I need to actually type some of this up as I am days and days behind.

To the hostel ->

Oh I may try and get tickets for theatre or something of equal night excitement. I still can't upload photos, *shrugs* maybe I'll do it when I get back to Orp.

24th November, 10:00

Woke up, showered and rolled down stairs. Called my Mummy *waves at mum* and then utilised the free coffee here, woo! Chicago Institute of Art time.

mmmm NightHawks.

Friday, 23 November 2007

23rd November, 23:00

Well that was frustrating, after exploring Chicago up State Street & down Michigan Avenue, which was awesome, blue skies and all, I came back to check in, only to find Sta Travel had failed to pay for my hostel. And so I won the international award for longest sentance. After two hours of waiting it was all sorted out, I showered and cruised down to Jimmy John's or something, that made really nice sandwiches and was scaring away all the custom with heavy death metal playing. After that I went back and chilled at the hostel as I was bushwacked.

Hostel is EXTREMELY nice, very clean, like all of chicago and people here are quite friendly. In a 10 person dorm room with some nice peeps. Chatted to a guy from South Korea for a while, he's 27 and studying a year abroad here (in Microbiology). In South Korea they have to do military service for 2 years, which explains his age. He was stationed as a medic in West Tameria in the UN peace keeping force with people from Australia, Portugal, Japan etc for 6 months. Amazing difference in lives we have. He supports Liverpool, as apparently the premiership is big over there, more so than their own league.

Also met a guy called Adam (what a stupid name) from Ohio who is just here for weekend and majors in Digital Design. He was cool but also tired and a bit ashamed he only came from Ohio.

Argh I forgot to really talk about town. Book shops are dope, I had to restrain myself from buying all of them. I got a foolish looking hat from Seas and bought a new memory card (4gb) from Radioshack, which then spent rest of the day setting off all the store alarms. Down the magnificent mile I saw a cool ice rink and crazy sculptures. Finally, I wandered randomly into a comic store and bought the first Angel: After The Fall comic. Woo.

23nd November, 10:44

Chicago you say? a might nippy but quite excellent. I easily walked to hostel and they let me store my bag there for the day. As it's Black Friday I thought I'd hit State Street and then the Magnificent Mile. Been distracted by a Barnes & Noble, it's coffee, a jalepeno pretzel and a free copy of the chicago reader.

They have an interesting "I Saw You" section where if you saw someone you liked but were too shy to tell them, you can post an advert about it. On an unrelated note, people in chicago seem nice, it's quite quiet right now though.

23nd November, 06:16-07:50


I can't get no sleep


Argh. Sun rise pretty. Old man next to me has vanished. Strange. Hope he didn't die in the loo or that I threw him out of the window while I slept...


Holy moly, Christmas pudding and pie. Father Christmas and an elf just came down the carriage...

23nd November, 03:15

If I wasn't so awesomely tired right now I would write something exceptionall poetic about the full moon shing down on the rail yards and highways of North East USA. But I am too tired, so I hope you can just imagine something that's pretty amazing, and similar to what I stumbled to describe.

Things I'm seeing include lots of rusty cars, piles of gravil, SNOW!, large suspicious looking complexes, a selection of patrol cars glistening and covered in snow, distance neon lights, toll gates, a wind mill, some form of big sports stadium for the Cleveland Browns which I think are an American Footie club, woodland, a harbour, more piles of something, and many more things beside.

I finished A Catcher On The Rye, good book if somewhat of a limited vocab, but that was part of the point I think. I really need to try to sleep.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

22nd November, 21:20

I'm learning a lot from this trip, including that it's hard to write on a train. You should never judge people, as although 95% of the time you'll be right, the other 5 will surprise you. Though better advice may be to be wary of your judgements and allow for amends.

Doors between carriages here appear to have buttons at the bottom that you can kick if your hands are full, or have been lost in an unfortunate previous door related incident. Very cunning. The snack bar is pretty cheap, I got a pot of hargan Daz (spelling?) for $2 and then got a huge turkey and cheese sub, bottle of water and a mountain dew for $9.25. And because I put 75 cents in her tip thing she gave me a free small can of "mist", or something of equal chemical content.

Was just wondering what smokers do on massive journeys like this, apparently some stops there are opportunities to smoke. Those crazy addicts. Talking of long journeys, I'm destroying my latest book, The Catcher on the Rye. Much good. I can't remember if I gave you my conclusions of Breakfast at Tiffeny's. But it is this: "meh".

Sort and meh.

22nd November, 18:22

Oh Albany Rensselaer, how you mock me, bringing our train to a halt with no explanation. How tiresome. Seems we're accepting a load of passengers from another train *shakes fist*.

To Do In Chicago?

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • The Field Museum and Underground Adventure
  • Adier Plantaerium
  • Museum of Science & Industry
  • Hancock Observatory
  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • The Chicago Culture Center
  • The Sears tower
  • Millenium Park/Buckingham Fountain


I'm really worried that I'm not apprieciating this trip of a life time. As in, in X years I'll look back and be like "wow, that was amazing, why didn't I do this or that". I mean, I'm taking the train across the entirety of the United States of America. That's epic! Not many people have done that! or maybe they have and this is all a trick *waves hands mysteriously*.

When I tell people I'm doing this solo, they always also if it's lonely. Surprisingly it hasn't been, although I can, and have, identified things that would be better with someone, I haven't actually been lonely. I don't know if that's because I'm always doing something, there's lots of people in NYC or I'm just comfortable with my thoughts.

There's no cats in New York.

22nd November, 16:06

Currently on the train, it appears to be running on silent. I can only presume to avoid bandits, or some other form of crazed outcasts or misfits. My seat is so large I could store a zoo under it. Extremely spacious and very few people on here. Probably as a 19 hour train train, to chicago, over thanksgivings night is only for people with no friends, family or cyborg pets. Turns out there is a power outlet as well, tho it may not work and I only have my n810 charger. And as there is no wifi I'm not sure how useful it will be.

There's a jolly nice Indian guy from chicago on the other side of the isle, who has crazy fantasies of the lounge carriage being entirely glass. I am suspicious. We're currently following the bank of a river, which in turn is following the railway track. There is a large amount of autumnal magic all around.

Although New York was amazing, I'm happy to be moving on now. I retract my earlier statement that I could live there, I love it, but it's just not England.

Even if we can't play football.

Hit it Norah.

22nd November, 15:30

I rolled back to the hostel where I walked in and grabbed my stuff from the apparently "locked" luggage room. I then proceeded to Grand Centrla station, got horrible confused, realised I was going from Penn Station, caught subway back to there, checked in my bag, had some crazy pizza and got a few supplies for the journey.

Then I basically did what anyone does at a station.

Wait -> Train.