Saturday, 29 April 2006

What the f**k am I doing in Asheville?

23 April - Set off pretty eartoday in order not to be distracted by the offerings of Atlanta as I had destination In mind - zipped through South carolina and made it to North Carolina and Asheville by around 2:00. At a rest stop a very big group of very big black men and women assured me I was goingthe right direction - I think I was talking to the patriarch and every time one of the women came over they would check out my California plates and say 'Ooh, you've come a longway!' - ladies, you have no idea. Arrived in Asheville and was given a bit of a advice by the guy who runs the hostel and I have to say it was a bit disappointing. I didn’t want to see real hillbilly 'squeal like a pig!' type people but I wanted to see something a little more exotic than espresso shops and objects d'art stores. You can pretty much walk downtown without any trouble unless you get accosted by a jewish christian convert who wanted to tell me the Word. He asked me what I was and when he heard atheist he got a little defensive and I found myself defending evolution for the second time in three days - it's a good thing he used the classic 'find a watch in the field and you know it was built by something intelligent' argument because Mr Dawkins shredded that one in his seminal classic, 'The Blind Watchmaker' - I think i've got to reread him again to make sure I’ve got some more coherent ammunition should this happen again. There ar mountains around the area but none within the immediate vicinity and i'm not sure if i'll be able to hang around for long enough to check them out if i'm to complete my journey in my allocattd time. In any event, asheville is great but there doesn't seem to be anything that really drags me in. There ar a few american tourists around the town but hardly any internationls, which i suppose is a nice thing for a change (the reason for their absence is pretty obvious however). I keep on thinking that an interpol traffic cop should put up a plastic police tape line across the I85 and wave all potential tourists away, saying 'Move along folks, there's nothingto see here, move along, move along...'. Its not the thingthat your supposed to do when your exploring a new country but i walked past a movie cinema that was playing 'Thank You For Smoking' so i took a few hours out to watch that, which was pretty entertaining - very amusing to see a film all about smoking and have not one scene showing a person actually smoking a cigarette.

Capital of the country to the capital of the world???

26 April - Despite searching all of the visitors websites and speaking to various groups for the past few days I still had absolutely no idea of what I was going to do with the car once I arrived at my next destination. Washington was one of the most nightmarish driving scenarios i'd ever experienced and I could only dread what New York was going to be like. The phone at the hostel could only dial local numbers and I couldn’t use the two payphones at the local 7-11. I asked the prissy little f**kwit from the hostel if I could use the office phone and offered to pay him, explaining my plight but the c**t just said 'nobody uses this phone but office' and stood up and put the phone in his pocket to make the point. I probsably didn’t help my chances of getting him to change his mind by telling him to go f**k himself but he didn’t look like he was going to change his mind nyway. Drove out of Washington very apprehensive about how I as going to deal with the upcoming city and this wasn’t helped by the multitude of tolls that came up along the way but eventually spoke to a toa welcome centre lady whilst on the New Jersey turnpike who told me to park in newark and I could get train from there. Not sure if I did the most economical thing but found a 24hr parking lot that’s a bit expensive but definitely better than parking in Manhattan. Not too much trouble getting into town to check into the hostelwhere I dumped my bag and strolled off downtown to see what the city would offer me. First impression is that it's very overtwhelming but great to see all of the places I’ve only ever seen on tv or in the movies - but soon I realised that it was just a city, it certainly thinks of itself as THE city but great to be here nonetheless. Met a few couriers whilst walkingteh streets who were pretty friendly for the most part, certainly better than those san franciscans. Walked about 2oo blocksbefore deciding to get the subway back to the hostel where I met a nice young wa guy (he's moving to london next week wherhe plans to sell his body for medical research including getting a surgery student to cut off his pinky toe and reattach it - ahh, to be young and poor again!!!) who invited me out with four swedish girls (???) - didn’t make it out until about 1 o'clock when we went to a bar in grenitch village (spelled greenwich) okay night out, girls were wa bit alcoholic, headed back to hostel around 4 to find that someone had stolen my bed and my pillow and blanket - bit of a creepy hostel, too many old transients who are probably just out of jail (seriously) but what ar you going to do?

Capital day, just capital ...

25 April - I am so glad that I found the hostel before I found the interstat texit - managed to extricat tmyself from bed at a cent hour and me and Helen, the finnish girl from the hostel, got on the metro and headed in to the capital. As soon as we walked out of the station we came across about fifty police officers from a multitude of agencies including FBI, district and city cops plus a a mass of security guards all milling around - when we asked what was going on a very nice and jovial pair told us that someone was caught trying to put their name on a monument. Seemed like a bit of overkill so I presume that they were really thwarting a terrorist act or something like that. We were consulting one of our guide books when a very nice gentleman approached us and asked us where we wanted to go - the capital building - that was where he was heading so he took us there and it turned out that he was another of those plot devices that seem to pop up every once in a while in my travels - he gave us a very detailed description of all of the places where we should go and all of the places we should avoid plus a history of all of the buildings. Very well informed for a total stranger who just approached us on the street ... Almost too well informed now that I come to think of it. Did a very good walking tour of most of the sites during the day - started at the very ostentatious capital hill and then down the mall and saw the whitehouse where I had a little chat with one of the guards (So, the president is in California now, isn't he? (he had been yesterday according to NPR) - sorry sir, I cannot discuss the president's itinerary with you! It's a crazy world out there and ... Take car of your arm.), saw the very phallic national monument and the impressive WW2 and vietnam war memorials as well as the giant statue of honest Abe (i forgot to ask him a question while I was there). Checked out the incredible Smithsonian Air and space museum (apparently the most popular museum in the world) and quite rightly because they get first dibs on so many incredile artifects - on display they had the orignal Spirit of st louis, CHuck yeager's X1, kitty hawk and even space ship one as well as numerous other knick knacks and assorted objects d'art. I also bought myself a little present - the space pen that can write underwater, upside down and in just about any conditions ever - io- I think it will make a fine courier pen until I lose it one week into goingback to work if not before. Another beautiful place was the arlington cemetery which had the reamins of about 260,ooo servicemen - all of the graves marked with simple white headstones that seemed to go on forever. Possily the most moving place within the cemetery were the tombs of jfk and rfk which were simple monuments that had some of the more memorable quotes that these two men were known for. Hung around to see the mall again by nighttime before heading back to the hostel where we played a card game that nobody knew the rules for and seemed to go on forever - everyone seemed to be quite intent on getting very drunk so I turned in at the very early time of about 2am.

Hell hath no fury like Washington's streets ...

24 April - Woke up and was out of the Arthaus Hostel before 9 - didn’t see anybody at all in the morning - some guy had left his stuff on one of the bunks but I never saw him and the manager of the hostel wasn’t to be seen when I left so I skipped out with little trouble. Stopped at 'Granny's Kitchen' for a southern styled breakfast - not as friendly as they were down in Lousiana, despite laying on the aussie charm all the locals seem to be view out of towners with a bit of suspicion. The drive towards Washington was a bit longer than expected. I don’t know what route times I was looking at when I planned the route but it took the best part of the day and when I actually arrived in Washington that was when the nighmare started. I got off at a rest stop to try to book a hostel - the one I’d planned on staying at had apparently closed down and the other one I found was completely booked and I had to take a very expensive private room - also the guy at the desk had no idea how to direct me to the place and none of maps covered the area where the hostel was at. Absolute hell is the only was I can describe driving into Washington. The sun was glaringstraight into my eyes for most of the time, the visitors centre was closed (i couldn’t actually get to it anyway) and it was peak hour. I occasionally got directions from people which sent me in he complete wrong direction it seemed and I started screaming myself hoarse to relieve the stress of my predicament (if you're doing this kind of particular stress relief it helps to ensure that you've closed your windows). On more than one occasion in the 15 hours I spent wandering I decided I would just skip Washington altogether but the hours were getting later and I had my wanderings had made it impossible to find the exit to get out of the city. Admittedly, I did get a brief view of some of the highlights on my drive through the core so i could calim to have seen the white house even if I did get out of the city on that night. However, after almost losing my voice and my nerves eventually I turned a corner and found myself right out front of the hilltop hostel. Checked in and found that someone else had arrived who also wanted the final room available there so ... They charged us both dorm rates and everything worked out okay after all and rather than sharing a dorm with a dozen people i'm only sharing it with one.
Very nice group of people at the hostel - and a very sociable atmoshpere - ended up playing texas hold em (no money unfortunattly???) with a couple of germans, a new yorker, a very swet finnish girl, a couple of guys from las vegas and a smatterinof others who came and went as they pleased.

Wher was this 10 years ago???

Trial to shine a light on eye damage
April 17, 2006
A new treatment based on a good dose of light and vitamin B2 promises to save the eyesight of thousands of Australians.
The treatment will be welcome news for the estimated 10,000 Australians with keratoconus, a degenerative disease that can lead to blindness.
The State Government will help fund a clinical trial of the procedure at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital over the next 12 months.
Keratoconus is a weakness in the corneas the front surface of the eyes and over time these thin and distort, gradually impairing vision. It usually affects teenagers and until now there has been no treatment other than corneal transplants for the most severe cases.
The new procedure involves removing the "skin" of the eye, applying drops of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and exposing the eye to UVA light to strengthen the cornea. It will not improve eyesight but it will prevent further deterioration and stave off blindness.
Tanya Wilkinson, a 26-year-old travel agent from Langwarrin, is an enthusiastic candidate for the clinical trial. Diagnosed with the condition as a child, Mrs Wilkinson was legally blind in her left eye by the time she was 21 years old. She had a corneal transplant but her right eye continues to deteriorate, raising the spectre of another risky operation.
However, the new treatment could provide a simpler, safer alternative something Mrs Wilkinson welcomes not only for herself, but for any children she may have. "It will be great for my children because if they do get the disease they will have another option," she said.
The trial will be led by Christine Wittig who pioneered the procedure in Germany over the past five years. Her tests on 250 patients have a 100 per cent success rate and there were no long-term complications, she said.
In Melbourne, 100 patients will take part in the randomised trial and the hospital expects the procedure to be generally available next year.
It is hoped the procedure will relieve the pressure on waiting lists for corneal transplants, which come second only to kidney transplant lists nationwide.
About 300 corneal transplants are performed in Victoria each year, half of which are for patients with keratoconus.

Monday, 24 April 2006

I've got Georgia on my mind ... And Missisissippi ... And Alabama ..???. And South Carolina ...

22 April - Later start than planned because of the previous night's festivities but struggled to get out of the hostel and had my last southern breakfast before driving Gerry, a very enthusiastic young Melbournian to the airport and then getting on the I10 West before I realised I was supposed to be heading east. My destination was Ashville in South Carolina but it soon became apparent that it wasn’t going to happen. Went Still managed to get through four states in one day though - left Louisiana after an hour or so and had a brief stint in Mississippi where I was sorely tempted to check out a free NASA tour but managed to keep on moving and then onto Alabama where I stopped for a lunch that left much to be desired. Felt very uneasy travelling through all those states and cities where so much of american history was made but they'll be there for a while and i'll definitely be coming back to this country one day to get a better look at all of the places i've missed or only skimmed. Saw a couple of smashed cars on the interstate which didn’t do much for my peace of mind but the heavy presence of state troopers did. I really don’t like how they set speed limits over here - injust about every state i've been in the maximum interstate speed is usually 70mph but the traffic moves at around 80 - i've coasted bhind a stat ttrooper for about five miles going 10m over the limit (along with all the other traffic including him). It would be much better if they just increased the limit and enforced it. That way I wouldn’t have the nasty feeling of doing somenthing wrong when i'm doingwhat everybody else is doing). Went through another timezone somewhere alongthe way wich meant hittingAtlanta around 9pm - felt very sore and very dirty from the driving so looked up the local hostel and headed there. There is aquite a bit to see in atlanta but there's also a lot of other things to see in this country so I don’t think i'll stay around too long. The crazy Japanese guy who’s in my room is heading to see the Coke HQ in the morning but i've got a schedule to keep and i'll always have better things to do than visit the modern relics of corpamerica.

The RV Phenome

I've decided I really don't lke RVs after all. A winnebago or campervan is one thing but the sher size of these Recreational Vehicles is just ridiculous. A vehicle the size of a touringcoach is just too much vehicle for the average two people that fill them. A lot of them tow the 'city car' behind them which is occasionally a sedan but more often than not its a big-ass SUV, which in itself is far too big for anyone in my opinion. I'm hearing a lot of bitching from the Americans on the radio as well as from people who I chat with at rest stops about the soaring costs of fuel at the moment - it is expensive, especially when you consider the number of miles that you drive on a longroad trip like me and the other cross country drivers ar doing. apparently its even hiked significantly in the time i've been on the road but US three bucks a gallon is still cheap when you compare it to australia, canada and especially europe. I do feel a bit uneasy about the fact that I’m undoing all good points i;ve eard from being mostly carbon neutral for the past few years but driving across America is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and is also probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event as well. Nonetheless, i'm going to have to plant a lot of trees afterwards tcounter this particular leg of my holiday.

India House

Whilst definitely not best hostel i've stayed in in my limited travels it the India House would definitely have to be one of the most interesting. It was originally part of a small cluster of hostels in the area but the others are still in the process of being restored after last year's floods. It's a pretty nice old building with the dorm quarters in a couple of sheds in the back - they only provide one sheet and a pillow, which is okay because its so hot but after my bb experience in Gastown in Vancouver i'm always wary about any place that doesn't have a very comprehensive sheet policy. The array of crazy staff and clientele are no worse than anywhere else I've stayed (I'll take an alcoholic over a crack addict any day). The security seems to be non existent - there's usually someone at the front desk but they have no keys and the doors are always open, however, this could be because there's absolutely noone in the neighbourhood since the floods washed them away. The presence of a very cheap beer vending machine ($1) means that quite a few of the people staying never leave the hostel including one bizarre old man named Morrocco (he has another name which I couldn’t pronounce and therefore can’t rember) who hangs around the hostel all day wearing nothing but a dirty pair of jeans and does nothing but smoke cigarettes and drink beer (which everyone keeps on buying him). Apparently he's a great traveller who's seen the world and run hostels around the world and he has a lot of interesting stories I almost regret not staying anoher day to hear more of them) but he NEVER leaves the hostel. When he helped someone take some things to their truck across the street he was freaked out because it was the furthest from the property he'd been in over a month. Another guy, the swiss night manager, who doesn't seem to like us smoking 'funny stuff' needed Katrina to get him to leave the city for the first time in 14 years I'd recommend anyone who wants to stay in a hostel in new orleans to go there but three's no point because it's still the only one there and probably will be for a little while to come.

Maybe this place needs another hurricane ...

21 April - The state of the city is still something that i m havin ga hard time dealingwith. In the daylight it looks a lot worse - buildings ar sealed and have industrial strength blowers drying them out, trash still litters the streets, donated car dealerships have sprung up, everyone is using mobile phones because the fixed lines haven't been replaced (i'm of the opinion that they should take advantage of this and make a push for the telephony to be completely wireless wireless city - its a bit of an opportunity - as it is, there are free wireless networks everywherer you go - even the city is providing one (although apparently if they keep it after the state of emergency drops it will be against the law). Watched a bit of tv last night and every second ad seemed to have something to do with Katrina - it will be a long time before this city puts this isn the past. Started the day with a breakfast at a local eatery cnsisting of eggs, bacon, pancakes and grits (ive kind of developed a hankering for them rits although I pretty much suspected I always would) which was delicious although the amount of butter and fat made my stomach seize up once I finished and then wnadered back to India House and got myself ready for a day's exploring. Public transport is free throughout the city until June (i wonder whether they realise that this is the way public transport should be - another opportunity) so I jumped on a trolley and bus out to the garden district. I walked into Lafeyette Cemetery and then the heavens opened up, sending me scampering to the nearest coffeeshop so I could protect Charley . Did a bit of a walking tour around the garden district before heading back to the quarter and strolled down the mighty Mississip and came smack bang into the middle of the French Quarter Festival. Most of the time when i've visited cities thus far it's been middle of the week or on a dunday and even though there is always something going so it's brilliant to come to a city and find myself at the start of a big festival. Watched a bt of big bangd jazz before a thunderstorm opened up again (hasn't rained for 7 months and it starts when I get here) so ran into an absinthe bar to hide (i could probably have run into a coffeeshop but hey, i'm on holiday and the greene fairy was beconing). Whilst there a local girl invited me to see a countrty band at an irish pub - have to say that it wasn’t the most apealing invitation I could have been given - don't like irish pubs and don't really like country but I assured her I would be there with bells on - - lets see her try to track me down! In any event it may have been preferable to have checked out the irish pub - wandered back down to the festival for a while which was quite excellent - really good big band music and all the restaurants had little stalls out (like the sydney food festival only with food that was, I hate to admit, infinitely better) and I had a shrimp po'boy, a barbeceue pork thing and finallysampled the mystery of sweet patata pie - I think i've realised what all the fuss was about. Back to Bourbon st to hook up with a bunch of Essex boys from the hostel who brought along andrrea, a niceish 19yr old ex-Nawlins native who was a completelete alcoholic. From the moment she arrived in downtown she was drinking, drinking, drinking. She dragged us to a place she used to work which was one of the most horrible bars i've been to in my travels - real meet market, full of hopelessly drunk tourits and music that one would definitely not associat twith new oreleans. Somehow a couple of us ended up at a strip club and then lost Andrea disappeared to go find a replacement nosering - went looking for her because she waas completely uff her face but had n oluck so returned to the hostel where the usual crowd of recalcitrants were boozing up from the beer vending machine. Stayed around to chat for a while and it turned out that andrea's boyfriend, a moronically dumb (as in nothing but grunts came out of his mouth) did have something to say when the subject of evolutkion came up. I never understand how fundamentalists think that the the third law of thermodynamcs has anything to do with a proof as to why evolution is impossible. Apparently Andrea got arrested at some pooint in the night but I later heard that it everythingworked out - I felt a little bit guilty but reminded myself that one can’t take aresponsbility for alcoholic women on a bender. Had my first little toke of a joint, which was nnice, although even though we did it two doors away from the hostel the night manager threatened to call the police on us with accusations of suspected looting of the abandoned houses. This place is strange.

Saturday, 22 April 2006

The Demilitarised Zone

20 April - Upon the recommendation of several of the locals and visitors me and Val headed to Dwyers for an authentic cajun breakfast. We arrived at 10:50 and sat down and waited for the waitress to bring the menus. After 10m I went to the counter to get them bt was told that breakfast was over. You're kidding? We only serve until 11. it is 11. No, it was 11. We've been here for 10m. Well, so much for the fabled weezian hospitality. Did a little bit of town wandering and was taken to an Accadian museum and gift shop by Jackie who seems to be trying to get me to appreciate the wonders of the cajun music world (i don’t think its going to work). Steve, a native Floridian and Connecticutian (???) helped me plan out the next few stages of my trip, he's done a lot of travelling around the east coast of the country and gave me some great ideas. He came to Lafeyette to find work as a cook on an oil rig and apparently was pretty succesful today, which has gotta be a good thing. Eventually got away for the drive to New Orleans - got stuck in traffic for a while but it was a really nice drive - the highway is suspended over the bayous for miles - despite havingseen the devestation of the city on tv and being warned about it from other travellers i was still blown away by what Katrina has done to this city. There's trash all over the highways still and after a few wrongturns trying to negotiate my way to downtown (i always forget to plan how i actually should enter a city - unless its a small town there's usually dozens of entrances and its a maze to get to the bit where i need to get to) i was shocked at how bad the conditions of the city are. The French Quarter, being one of the biggest money earners for the town, has been restored and is working at capacity but even half a mile up the road the entire entire city is deserted. The street where the hostel is in is completely abandoned and still doesn't have any phone line and wont likely have one for months. There's water damage all throughout this building and just about every other building i've seen. The clientele at this hostel dont seem to be as friendly as any of the others ive stayed at but there's still the fair share of weirdos and ne-erdowells to make for an interesting experience. I took a trolley downtown with a crusty old driver wo was telling me and the other two passengers (a transient georgian and a philadelphia hooker with extraordinarily bad teeth) all about how bad the dmage to the city was and how the displaced population is holding back on returning to the city until they find out if the levees survive the next hurricane season. Wandered through the french quarter for a while which seems exactly like a bangkok's khao san road only its longer, had better music, more expensive drinks, more looters (black people) and salvagers (white people) and less thai people. Interesting, but wandering amongst drunken people was not what i wanted to be doing that night so i found a pub that served pretty amazing cajun food - ate gumbo, chickenand rabbit jumbalaya (new animal!!!), red beans and rice, creole sauce and fried chicken before wandering back to the hostel, which took a lot longer than expected and was probably not the most sensible thing to do but no incidents occurred so no harm done.

Cajun Country!

19 April - Struggled a little bit to get up because of the marathon chat session th previous night and had to shake off one of the hostelcrazies, Elizabeth (for some reason she was stuck in Austin because of her sister and the evil, evil people at the salvation army ... Will you drive me to Memphis? I will pay you? - thank god it wasn't on the way). Dropped Callum off at the Amtrak and then took about 30m to get on the right highway to get the hell out of town. Another pretty gruelling drive - going through Houston is terrible, even if you don't get off the Interstate. I had a hankering for IHOP pancakes but every time I saw one the exit was half a mile back. Eventuallystopped at an absolutely horrible chain called Waffle House where I listened in on some real hard core Texans bitching about the world - these guys weren't friendly. At a rest stop I picked up a youngguy who's tyre had blown out and took him down to the next gas station and before I knew it I was in Weezieanna. I could have probably made it to my original destination of Norleans but thought i'd drop off to see Lafeyette which had been recommended by Murat (who lived there for a few months) and Callum who'd been there a couple of days before. Took the exit and made my way to the tourisinfo place which was just closing - however, the lovely lady who worked there opened up again, got my a map, called the guesthouse to sceure my spot and then drove down there so I could follow her. I can’t imagine anyone from anywhere else being so out of their way helpful. Before i'd even put down my bag I was grabbed by Jackie, a jersey girl who was down here for an Cajum music immersion camp and introduced to a few of her friends and before I knew it I was being given waltz lessons to the cajun band that was playing at the hotel's salloon. After I got settled we headed down to Randals where I had authentic cajun crawfish (kind of like a yabbie only less muddy) and saw the most bizarre little subculture i've seen on this trip. Lafeyyettte is the heart of accadia in cajun country and literally everybody at this place was dancing cajun style to cajun music - from kids to pensioners on A-frames. I have to say that I don't really like cajun music very much but it sure is catchy - we saw a weddin between two seniors where everyone pinned money to the bride's veil and I was distracted by a crazy texan from waco who extolled the virtues of the cajun people - Salt of the earth man!! Salt of the earth!
After drinking raspberry beer we headed back to the Blue Moon Hotel (where I was staying) where there was a cajun jam session in the saloon with lotsa dancin and singin and drinkin. Real friendly like people down here although once again the people I seemed to chat the most with where from any part of the country but the city I was actually in. Val, a very nice girl from Michigan, extolled the virtues of how cajun music can change one's life but I don't get it.

Friday, 21 April 2006

Lllooonnnneeee Ssttaarrrr!!!!

16 April - Woke up reassonably early in order to get a bit of as start on the driving I had to do today. Said my goodbys to the nice people at the hostel and also to John, the surly attendant who wasn’t too pleased with me because I couldn’t tie the garbage bags to the bins properly because charlie prevents me from putting my right thumb and forefinger together but I was leaving so I wasn’t really too concerned. Made my way down HWY 285 south towards Texas which was a very nice drive that took me through Roswell, home of the 1947 flying saucer crash. I met one of the survivors at a rest stop just before the town, Steven Stevens, who, according to his drivers licence was born on the day of the crash and had a very pleasant brunch at the International House of Pancakes. I sat down and ordered and my accent piqued the interest of a family sitting next to me - Kerry, the mother was very friendly alhough her cowboy husband was a little surly but still very nice. We chatted about my plans and their son who was planning to head to Australia next year. After they left I went to pay the bill and found that they'd already paid for me. I don’t have to say something about the Americans I meet over here - occasionally some are rude and a little unpleasant but on the whole I don’t think i've met a more friendly and nice nation of people in all my travels. It's not the first time i've had people just buy me lunch or breakfast over here - it's a very novel experience. After that checked out the rther kitsch but very interesting ufo museum and research centre before getting back on the road and headin' for Texas. Made a small wrong turn that placed me near Carlsbad Caverns, which is supposed to be an increidble place to visit (largest underground caverns in the usa) but knew that would result in a couple of days delay and I needed to get to the home of GWB. Almost hit a roadrunner that scmpered straight across the road in front of me (and was also narrowly missed by the coyote that was chasng him on an acme rocket) - they're bizarre little birds - very cute but probably not very smart. Crossed the state line and another t.ime zone sometime around 2 (which made it 3) and drove on until it got dark where I crashed at a rest stop for the night - the good thing about this stop was that there was no sgns posted up saying that you had to pay to crash the night (not that i've done so whenever crashingthe car before) but there were trucks going by constantly and there was also a rather creepy looking guy hanging around the rest room (i can only imagine what he was doing there). Rocicante mk ii is more comortable than the first, but not by much. Another joyful night of twisting and turning resulted but in texas noone freezes inside their car which is a very good thing.

And the lloyd spake, go jump in a lake!

18 April - Another stupeously hot day of about 100 degrees (ive forgotten what the conversion factor is si i'm sticking with Fahrenheit and the Imperial system for the next few weeks) - which seems to wilt my new English companion, Callum, but it makes me feel like i'm right at home. Despite being told by John Paul English, a local alcoholic who inhabits the hostel, to wake him up so he could buy me a cup of coffee and teach me some of the haikus he's written (he's a very strange man). He was also very insistent that I go to Barton Springs and jump in it. I instead headed off for a run where I found mdriver's bum prevented me from stretching out my left leg so every time I tried to accelerate I yelped out in pain, much to the amusement of the surprising number of other runners out in the pretty serious heat. Upon my return me and Callum headed out into downtown to see what we could see. As we were in a reasonably sized city I thought i'd try to catch up with the local courier populkation - once they realised I wasn’t there to try to get a job and steal their work they were extremely nice. The town only has about a dozen servicing the entire city and all of them looked superfit - one of them told me to go to Barton Springs and jump in it as well. After this we headed out to the stat tcapital (slightlybigger than the nation's capital building) which was very beautiful and when you stood in the centre of it you could hear an incredible echo from even the slightest whisper. Had a little look around and sat in on a senhearingfor a while which was kind of dull but interesting to see noneheless - we left shortly after the governeor seemed to look me in the eye and tell me to go jump in Barton springs (a lot of people told me to go jump in barton Springs that day). Had a look at the university which was a pretty amazing campus (historically best known for being the site where some crazy man perched himself up in a tower and killed 14 students using a sniper rifle). The heat was getting us to by this stage so after some excellent slow cooked barbeekeyoo we eventually listened to the voices in our head and decided to check out the fabled barton Springs. Its a public pool that charges for the pool but despite the no swimming signs everyone seemed to just jump into the crystal clear river. With my hand in its current sttate I could obviously not get it wet but I still managed t to completely immerse myself (while holding my right hand in the air like an elephants trunk reaching for air) - having a free bathing area in the midle of a city is an absolute godsend - it reminded me of the artifical beach in brisbane - because the heat was really getting intolerable (despite my steadfast proclamation that I was loving it because it reminded me of home). After this we headed back to the hostel and kicked around for a while before a small group of us (half the hostel's inhabitants all seemed to leave that day - at least the sane ones) went out to the continental club to see another of the city's institutions, Toni price, do her stuff. She played a blusey country style of music which I normally don’t like too much but it was an incredible show with a very dedicattd crowd. She was completely wasted on stage and was prone to flashingher underwear to all and sundry which io was not objecting to in any means. Broke the heart of the Caifornaian bartender when I told her I was leaving the next day and we got caught in a massive electrtical thunderstorm on the way back to the hostel where me and Callum ended up chatting until the wee hours. I could live in this city-

Blue Spot In A Red State

17 April - Set my alarm for 7 but for some reason my phone was still on Mountain time (it updatts automatically but I must have been too close to the border for it to pick up the new time) so I slept in a little more than i'd like. However, got back on the road and made very good time along the I10 and eventually 290 all the way to Austin, Texas (the one blue spot in a very red state). Got there a little after 1o'clock and found that all the coops were full and the one hostel I had a listing for had no checkins till 5. Abunch of people at the hostel all needed to go to Walmart for various bits and sundries so having nothing else to do I gave them a lift. Walmart is a horrible place - pretty much like Kmart or Target but huge. It was an interestingexperience but not one that should be repeated anytime in the next lifetime or two. As with all hostels there ar a couple of strange ones - one of the most interesting individuals i've met on this trip so far is John, a native Foridian who used to work as a chauffeur and now seems to be supporting himself as a stripper - the purpose for his visit at WalMart was to purchase some earrings and a thong for his work that night. Got in touch with Stacey, the friend of the two Texan lasses from Santa Fe who was going to show me the town - we headed into town to the Saxon Club (nice name, nice race) where we wereentertained by monterey jack (apparently a bit of a local institution, he's kind of the big cheese so to speak ... Hrrumph) who was probably more entertaining to me in his banter than his music but still some pretty good music. Afterwards we drank some more American beer at another of the town's numerous saloons before realising that the Austin corporate world would not stop on my arrival in the city so headed back to the hostel and was entertained by a swede singing the blues (i'm not really sure what she had to be bluesy about but she had a nice voice).


15 April - Last night's festivities made me late to do my chores and I was given a little bit of a reproval from John, the surlier member of staff here at the hostel but all was forgiven as I’ve decided to stay another day. For breakfast I had my first sampling of grits (not instant of course, because no self respecting southerner would ever eat instant grits - and they don’t come much more southern than a 'strine like me). Headed out to a place called Tent Rocks which was supposed to have some very good hikes and my route took me through Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Dropped into the Bradbury Museum which had a very one sided view of the justification of dropping the two most devestating weapons ever deployed in the history of the world upon civilian targets but it was interesting nonetheless. I'm hoping that the lattnt radiation from the constant nuclear experiments which ar still going on there will give me some more superpowers to go along with static man's already impressive arsenal but only time will tell on that front. It turned out that the route to the Tent Rocks park would be over a pretty horrible dirt road and a guy who gave me directions suggested I should head back to Santa Fe and take another route from there. Not wanting to waste any time I decided to change my destination to Bandelier, a very pleasant national park about 20m from LA. Did a very easy 5m hike out past some waterfalls and to the rio grande river. It was nice - not nearly as spectacular as the grand canyon or yosemite but also not as many people either and a very pleasant way to shake off the lingering hangover I was still suffering from throughout the day. Lots of signs all over santa fe about the importance of conservation of water because it is a desert town but it seems that the drought has ended, which has got to be a pretty spectacular thing.

Monday, 17 April 2006

Aah, Santa Fe ...

14 April - Had a very needed sleep in before I did my chores at the hostel then eventually made my way into downtown Santa Fe. I was still a bit tired from the previous day's driving so I ended up spending a bit of time just sitting around in the plaza reading 'The Child In Time'. Despite the numerous tourists crowding downtown it seems a really relaxed quiet city, which was just the city I felt like exploring. Met a few interesting local characters including the man from the carnita stand who sold me a reasonably nice early lunch and a rather refreshing hibiscus flowers drink called a jamaica - also met John, a local hippie who's been selling newspapers from the middle of the street for the past 19 years - everyone in town seems to know him by name and he had a few interesting stories to tell about his travels (and his couch potato, television addict chronic fatigue syndrome afflicted wife). The town really feels like something out of the past - with most of the buildings still low and in the adobe style which hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. Did a bit of a tour of the hundreds of tiny art galleries that line the streets - some of the art was really quite beautiful - when I make my fortune i ll probably return to make a couple of purchases - until then, they'll have to stay on the walls or get bought by the retired wall street bankers who the town is famous for. Headed back to the hostel in the afternoon for a planned nap that never happened and headed back into otown after the sun went down to sample the city's nightflife. Found myself at a relatively cheesy themed bar called 'The Cowboy Hall of fame' that played both kinds of music (country AND western) and was full of a mix of families, cowboys and tourists like myself. Was feeling a bit lonesome before I was rescued by a couple of texan girls, amber - a pretty stunning redhead (you've always got to be a carful about those redheads), and niti, a very nice ethnic indian - here on a work assignment in town . One of them is a speech therapist (so, do you teach them how to speak english or texan???) and the other a physical therapist. Basically, amber talks the talk and niti walks the We soon abandoned the hick bar and moved onto a rnb club that had dancing and whiskey on free pour, which with the high altitude soon resulted in a a rather tipsy trio. Certainly one of the most enjoyable nights spent since my arrival in the usa and looks like I may have a contact or two in some of my upcoming cities.

Saturday, 15 April 2006

I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque ... Oh, wait a minute, I did!

13 April - Rocicante Mk II proved to be slightly more comfortable than the first one sto sleep in, but not by much - and at the altitude we were at it was still freezing inside. In any event, we were up at 5 in order to catch the sunrise back at the canyon (and in order to skip out of the campsite without payingthe exhorbitant fee - we'd already paid for entry, what more did they want from us???). Headed back to the rim trail where the sun soon came up but we went to the wrong place and missed the actual sun coming over the crest by about 5m, which was a bit of a pisser. It must have been pretty inspiring because a couple asked me to take their picture with the canyon in the ckground and the girl revealed to me that they'd just got engaged. Oh really, just on this trip? No, just now! Awwww .... I bet the guy would regret his actions once he came away from such an inspiring view, maybe. Wanting to get a bit of a climb in before we left we headed down the Angel Bright trail which goes all the way to the bottom of the canyon but time was our enemy (they also warn against anyone trying to get to the bottom and back upin the same day - I bet I could do it though). Murat was fine coming down with me to the first checkpoint but couldn’t keep up on the return - chainsmoking all those camels probably didn't help. His next stop was San diego so I took him out to flagstaff where he planned to either find a ride or take the greyhound in a pinch and I got back in the car for another solid day's driving. Passed over into new mexico and hit Albuquerque, a place I was recommended not to stay in, so I turned left. after getting off the I25 to fill up with petrol it took me an age to find it again so I could head north into santa fe. Crossing into the new timezone (Mountain time) meant I miscalculated how dark it was going to be when I hit the town but eventually found the hostel, which was pretty amazing. Its a not for profit organisation and ty have free food (and good gourmet shit, not just wonderbread and margarine) ad you have to do a chore to earn your keep. I'm, not sure what i'll be getting but hopefully it won’t be too much of a strain on charlie (who also appeasr to be disintegratingslightly under the strain of travel). Was absolutely exhausted by the time I got there so after a little bit of a chat with some of my neighbours I crashed and burned (i probably shouldn’t have aimed to get so far after yesterdays canyon adventures but i'mhere there's nothing to worry about).

Ooh, what a grand sight ...

12 April - determined to at least try one buffet at Vegas I headed down to the Sahara for their breakfast. All in all, it was pretty average but my normally garguantua apettite was curiously muted upon the presentation of the multitude of comestibles. Despite my courier metabolism I could barely put away my money's worth and there was no way that I was going to be able to compete with the bg assed americans who were going back five or six times for plates piled high with saturated fats and hot fat and empty calories. Still, that's another one checked off the list. Did a bit more daytime sightseeing but apart the city really wasn’t doing much for me and I knew if I stayed another night to recoup yesterday's losses it would onlyresult in disaster so checked out and made my way south and east. At Sin City I picked up a rather interesting traveller, Murat from Turkey - he's 18 years old and has just done a bit of an exchange student program which didn’t work out to well so he's also doing a 30 day sojourn around the states with the plan to hitchhike most of it. He had some pretty interestingstories, especiallyfor someone so young and I found him to be a very hoopy frood who realy knew where his towel was at. Eventually got out of the maze that is Vegas and headed through a horrific traffic jam that was over the hoover dam (it's pretty big but I saw enough from the car). Soon after we made it across the arizone border I spied a couple who's car had broken down on the highway and they were trying to hitch. S there were two people already in the car I thought it would be pretty safe to pick them up so I did - they just needed a lift to Kingston so they could rent a u-haul so they could drag their car back to the Bisbee oa f**king long way when I looked at it on the map). Larry, Larry Jack and Blaze certainly provided entertainment for the next hour - they'd gone to vegas to celebrate blaze's birthday and the drive train of the car had fallen out on the way home. Blaze was a school teacher and larry jackj was an 'on-tray-pre-nyur' which translated to a mary-joo-ana smuggler (I live on the mexican border, what do you think I do???) - he had some interestingviews on the world but it was all a bit amusing really. After a few hours me and murat found ourselves at the grand canyon, apart from the mcdonalds and imax and hundreds of fat american families who kind of dampened the atmosphere I would have to say thtat this os one of the few times i've had a physical reaction from seeing something. It's just so big, I felt myself weak at the knees when I looked into it. Me and murat found a campsite and after scrounging wood from some of the abandoned barbecues (you're not allowed to collect wood in the park) we cooked up a little dinner and made a decent dent in a bottle of whiskey i'd bought in a small arizsone town before (the woman asked for both of our ids when we purchased it and then warned me that Murat was noto drink any or even touch the bottle ... We've got differedrinking laws in arizone, y'know? youu've got different drinking laws in the usa!) - as far as i 'm concerned he's m18 and he's old enough to rink in my country and his country so I wasn't going to lose any sleep over breaking a little state tlaw). It turns out that marat is obsessed with douglas adams, so I immediattly warmed to him and he also seemed to be a bit of a bright - getting a scholarship to the usa and then getting explelled fnot turning up then getting another scholarship to uni in turkey anyway - very interesting guy. It was full moon that night so we decided to head back to the canyon where we saw a very different view to the daytime - everything in silver tones and nobody around to spoil the atmosphere - pretty increidble sight.

Vegas Baby, Vegas!!

11 April - Woke up reasonably early and headed straight out towards Death Valley. Another pretty brutal drive along pretty heavy grades and very tight turns. My state of mind was not helped by the fact that the petrol guage went from 3/4 full to 1/4 in what seemed like the space of a few hours and I was also kicking myself for not getting the multi park pass when I paid for my park entry at Yose-might. However, passed through the lowest dry point on Planet Earth (which was kind of strange considering we were on Mars) and made it to Furnace Creek with enough petrol and I also found that I could upgrade the Yosemite park entry to the multi pass card for no extra cash. It was pretty warm but nothing like the killer summer heat that kills about a dozen people a year (its not called Death Valley for nothing). Because its springtime there were great swathes if greenery all over the valley (Red mars, green mars, blue mars???) which kind of spoiled my illusion of pretending to be on a different planet but it sure made the environment a lot prettier. - wanting to do at least one really good walk through the valley I as recommended to try the Golden Canyon walk which had a two mile, four mile or seven mile route. Once again, in the main centre of the valley there were heaps of tourists but once I got past the first section of the walk most of them disappeared. Met three splendid Oregonians, all originally from different parts of the country, Joey, bruce and ... Let's call him Jim, who were pretty serious hikers (Bruce leads trail walks for a living) and we climbed up to a small peak together where we got an xcellent view of the desolate surroundings. They were really interesting guys and were very curious about my story and were quite impressed with my ambition to see the country in such a limited time and they also offered me a place to stay should I return to oregon (i may do that on my return, not sure of the route i'll be taking yet). Did the full 7m with a great climb out to zibrowsky's point which had an excellent panorama of the valley and then went on to the gower gulch walk which was kind of scary because although I could still see footprints along the dried up riverbed there were no obvious trail markings. Eventuallywhen I was convinced that i'd gone the wrongway I decided to head back (there were lots of offshoost and alternative parts to explore on the way) but after backgracking about 2m I came across a family coming the other way and they convinced me to return the way I came (i was about half a mile from the end when I decided to turn back). A great walk, which unfortunatlely proved to be too much for my 10 year old bootses - I could have stayed in this place for days but the schedule forced me to keep on moving and the next stop was Las vegas. A reasonably pleasant three hour drive took me into the tackiest city in the world but it turns out that death valley was not only too much for my boots but also for my trusty steed, rocicnte. I'd checked the fluids prior to entering the national park and they’d seemed okay but shortly after entering the strip the heat shot up and smoke started coming out from under the bonnet. The coolant levels were dangerously low so I called the roadside assistance for some advice and after a little bit of a chat they told me to head to the airport to swap him out. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently it was done - I was only about 15m from the airport and I was worried that he wouldn’t make it but when I got there they were expecting me and I was moved into rocicante mk ii, a silver pontiac with california plates (i'll need to swap him out before I enter canada again) who should hopefully be a bit more robust than my last steed. By the time I made it ito the sin city hostel and had pried myself free of a very talkative irishman it was about half ten but I headed into the strip to be confronted with a world that pretty much lived up to my expectations. On the façade it's a pretty amaiong place - the lights and neon can be pretty dazzling but i've been to casins before and they're pretty despressing places. These ar the americans you read about - loud, hyperobese, some pretty nice but most I just wouldn’t want to know. All the buffets were closed so I had a subsidised steak and then hit the tables. Blackjack is a pretty dull game and even if you know the game intimattly the odds ar stacked towards the house sp after a little while of playing that I went off in search of a high stakes poker game. Where was robespierre when I needed him/ in the first round I had a killer hand but was too nervous to bet high and you can’t walk awy after one round. Free drinks were sent in my directiond they helped to steady my quaking nerves.n everything I know about poker went out of my head while I was playing - everyone else on the table were pretty seasoned and despite winning a couple of more hands I didn’t walk away when I should have and I didn’t cut out of the game when I knew I should. In any event, any hopes of subsiding my trip with vegas winnings were dashed but I managed to walk away without loising too mtuch and and having a relatively cheap adrenaline rush. This city is a pretty horrible place when it comes down to it but at least I can now say that i'ev won and lost at vegas.

Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ...

10 April - Got up reasonably eary and tried to vacate the room as quietly as possible so as not to disturb the overtly romantic italian couple sharing the room with me and an English guy. Broke my fast with a so-so pancake and said my goodbyes to Dennis (who it seems may not actually be called dennis if his email initial is anything to go by but I've been through so many names this year that I’m not really phased if I get them wrong). Headed back into Yosemite determined to see some giant trees and was directed by the ranger to go back to near where I initially entered the park a few days previously. The roads were completely snowed under but I took it very slowly and eventually made it to Tuolhome Grove, home to a few of the giants of the woods. As warned the path was completely covered in snow - most of the way there were tracks which had already packed it in enough to walk on but I was up past my knees for a fair swathe of the way. The walk wasn’t too gruelling and I eventually made it to the grove where I was confronted with some giant sequioas. Unfortunately I was alone so there was no way to get a photograph with me in it to impress the scale of these beasts but plenty of photographers far more talented than me have done the job. Tramped back towards the car and as I reached the parking lot I found a tour group making their way down there - all of them on snowshoes, which would have assisted the journey somewhat but i'm obviously of sterner stuff than them. Had my second encounter with the long arm of US law when a sheriff coming the other way stopped me and told me to put m chains on my car. I don't have any. Well, you can buy them at the gas station around tcorner. Thank you officer. Considering I only had about two miles left of my journey in a situation that would actually require them I decided to ignore his orders. Some some deer on the side of the road a couple of times - something about seeing deer in nature just puts me in a good mood - unfortuantely I was moving both times and didn't get a chance for a happy snap. Another serious day of driving resulted out through Route 41 and down to bakersfield before heading east towards Death valley. Unfortunately Route 120 which would have taken me pretty directly to the valley was closed for the winter so I had to take the much longer route but I was determined to go through the environment which to me will always be associattd with our red neighbour. Although antarctica is probably the most similar environmet to Kasei every film that's ever been made that was set on mars was filmed in Death valley. There was no way I was going to make it there by daylight and I was a bit wary of another night in the car so I stopped in a dingy little motel in ridgecrest, a couple of hours away, but it should all work out with my next destination. There was some pretty trecherous roads today and more spectacular scenery, which I could certainly wax poetic about, but, others have already done so and far more poetically than i'm capable of so i'll save my lengthy descriptions for something else. There's a lot of driving on this journey and I have a limited collection of music to entertain me (all of it kindly donatetd for the journey by my housematt, ahu) and despite enjoying the cds immensely the fourth time that I hear Down to the wire by neil young or alison by the pixies, i'm starting to grit my teeth a bit so i've turned to that stalwart entertainer of any traveller, talkback radio - the national public radio is usually pretty good but the reception always dips in an out and for the past week they've had a donation drive weby they guilt trip all their listeners isnto donating money to support the shows they like, threaten,ing to cancel them if they don't get the money they need. There's nothing wrong with that but their methods are very irritating and its almost better to listen to the ads on the commercial networks rather than be asked for money every five minutes. The other alternative for listening, which is often the only station that gets decent reception once one is out of the cities, is Christian radio - whih i've found myself listening to a fair bit - most of it is pretty inoffensive and can actually be very entertaining at times (although probably not the way they intended) but sometimes it is bizarre - a lot of these preachers ar convinced that the end of times is upon us and they work in urrent events such as the ferry sinking in egypt to support their beliefs, they're convinced that the homosexuals ar trying to corrupt their children and Europe is a godless wasteground that america should have absolutely nothing to do with. I presume that this is the only thing that a fair amount of the local population listen to and it scares me.

Top Of The World ...

9 April - Well, it appear that my theory about a comfortable sleeping arrangement within the veeheecle was not so accurate. . I'd pulled the back seats down and hopedto stretch out through the boot. Unfortunately with the esky in the way and the floor of the boot being as hard as rock and the fact that it was below freezing outside (my australian purchased sleeping bag is not for four seasons) made for a not so well rested sax in the morning. At least when I woke up at 2am busting to relieve myself the shock of going outside was not so bad because it was already freezing inside the car. Blasted the heat on the air conditioning and Neil Young on the stereo and ate some oranges and granola bars to get my strength up before heading down into the core of the park to find something to see. The visitors centre suggested that the toughest hike that was open (unfortunatetly Half dome is closed for the winter and the sequoia trail was also apparntly closed because of snow) was up to Nevada Falls. My go to guide warned me that Yosemite is always crowded and it wasn't wrong - obviously mainly american but lots of Mexicans and a scattering of other nations - but the sheer number of people was pretty overwhelming. Managed to park the car near Curry Village then took a shuttle to the beginning of the trail and it wasn’t long before I was powering up the trail towards the peak. The scenery was pretty awe inspiring - i've certainly seen big mountains before and done long hikes before but there are the gigantic sheer granite cliff faces are pretty mind boggling. I was quite grateful for the fact that it was one of the more strenuous climbs because it soon winnowed out the weaker walkers and I found myself alone for long stretches. I know i'm in one of the most famous parks in the world and I was prresented with some of the most spectacular views i've ever seen but really, for me, when it comes down to it, it's all about the walking. I love walking up mountains, it doesn't have to have a great view at the top (although it certainly helps), but there's nothing better than a good uphill trek. Nearing the top the trail became completely swamped with snow and it was pretty difficult to know which direction to go but still I eventually fund my way to the top (you just keep on climbing up until a trail appears) where I was buffeted by wind and snow and I started to freeze (you kind of forget how cold it is when you're climbing up). Was joined by an american couple who also made it up there and we tried to find the trail that continued down and we followed a set of tracks in the snow for about half an hour before they disappeard completely. By this stage the snow was up to three feet deep in places so we decided to head back the way we came. Eventually got back to Yosemite village and I was cold and wet and there was no way in hell that I was going to sleep in the car again that night so I got in touch with the yosemite Bug hostel and drove out there (it took ages to actually exit the park because a wolf was blocking the road, he kept on running from one side of the road to thje other and every car was stopped in order to get a picture of him- I could tell because there were constant camerca flashes and after wei eventually pased him it turned out there was no other road obstruction besides the pesky canine). The hostel was about 25m west of the park and upon arrival I had a much needed shower, shave and meal (the first steak i've eaten in ages and it was actually pretty good although it would have been nicer if i'd had my mum th'ere to cut it for me). As luck would have it dennis, the seattelite who i'd met in san francisco was there for a course he was doing (we'd had a vague discusion about me giving him a lift to yosemite but i'd left the previous day and all was forgiven luckily - he's very nice, 20, so he couldn’t shar a beer with me but he keeps on telling me how horrible charley will smell now that he's gotten a bit wet, how bad he will itch in a few weeksm how atrophied my previously bulging right gun will be when he comes off - are you trying to make conversation or are you just bitter about your old war wound??) and I also met a couple of old hippie ladies who suggested I take a mime course in maine if make it there, when I explained that mime wasn't really my thing she told me about some friends of hers who did pupppet shows, maybe that was more my thing. Yes, maybe.

Giant Sequoias

R: Looking at these titans of the forest, their sheer size is just mind blowing. It really makes me feel insignificant. What about you?
M: Yes, I agree. I think you're really insignificant too.

Hostel Chats

I forgot how annoying it is that every conversation that starts when meeting another traveller always involves:
1 - Where are you from? If you have been to that place then - oh, that's a great place; if you haven't been there then - oh, I want to go there one day.
2 - A lengthy recounting of every place you've been to on your journey - always interrupted by the other if they've also been to that place.
3 - A listing of all tplaces that you've still got to go on your journey - once again, interrupted by a mention if they've been to that place or are also going to that place
4 - Description of profession
5 - Bitching about transportation
6 - Then, and only then, can the conversation drift onto something else ... Usually politics, which isn't so bad but I'm yet to meet someone in a hostel who isn't a rabit leftist ...

Monday, 10 April 2006

Yo-sammity Sax

8 April - San Fracisco was very enjpyable but after a having a bit of achat with one of my cohostelliers over a map of the USA I started to get a queasy feeling in my stomach when I once again realised how big the USA actually is. So, today it was time to move on again. I checked out of the hostel and relocated all my gear to Rocicante but didn’t have to move him until three so me and Mark, the Australian PHD guy headed down to the markets to see what there was to be seen. I've got my doubts about Mark, i'm not 100% certain but I believe that he is actually Hugh Jackman who is travelling around incognito - possibly trying to get deep into the persona of a PHD student in order to be able to get into the role for a future fillum or so. Afew things about his tory seem kind of doubtful - he's way too cherful to be a student in my view, and also seems to be far too successful as well. Super nice guy, apparently pretty smart (i presume youhave to be be able to do a PHD), incredibly successful family (apparently his brother just got a half million pound bonus at his job), really good looking (if you think that Hugh jackman is good looking - a photo will follow one of these days) - I hate him. We had some luncheon and a beer at Union squar before he headed back to the hostel and I headed out to the car and out of san francisco. Despite Somehow managed to negotiate the labyrinth of the city to get onto the I80 freeway and over the bay bridge and onto the 580 heading east out of the city. My map is not incredibly detailed and I was not completely sure that I was taking the right route to my next destination. Got off the 580 at one stage to refill the car at one of the most frustrating gas stations i've ever been to. Firsti took me about five minutes before realised that you had to prepay for the fuel and when I finally managed to do that (obviously prepaying means you can’t just fill up the car) it turned out that they'd loaded up the wrong pump and the incompetent attendant started to give me bizarre instructions to go and speak to the driver of a completely random pump to stop fuelling up his car before his supervisor interrupted and sorted it out. Somehow when I tried to get back onto the freeway it had given itself another number (Universe without a J!!!) but eventually saw a sign leading me onto Route 120 and into Yosemite Nationl Park (pronounced like vegemite). I'm certainly not the most prepard traveller because I just drove into the park without organising accommodation or food (besides the staples in the esky) and by the time I got there around six everything was closed. Afriendly ranger told me I could just park in the campsite and sort it out in the morning but as it is i'm in a pretty reasonable site, think I may have sorted out a semi-comfortable way to sleep in the sebring and I should be able to get a decent bit of a look around the park on the morrow.

Sunday, 9 April 2006


The whole 01:02:03 on 94/05/06 reminds me of an old digital watch I had when I was a kid. I would always get really excited whenever I caught it at 12:34:56. It had a month and year display as well and even though I was given it in 1986 I couldn’t wait for that fateful day in August of the year 1990 when it would have the display of 12:34:56 7/8/90. I've been given and bought myself and lost or had stolen a lot of watches but I knew if I saw that display on that digital watch I would die a happy boy. And what happened? One day I looked at that watch and saw 12:34:40 8/8/90 and there was much anger and gnashing of teeth. Sure I could have reset the watch and just changed the date and time and waited for that magical display to appear but that would have been cheating. I've never gotten over that particular loss and I don't think I ever will.

Dogs Are Barking

7 April - My alarm woke up my two roommates in the morning and eventually woke mup as well. Wanted to get an early start on the day to do some exploring - eager to walk around a bit after the lethargy of the automobile. San Francisco is not a big city as cities go but the steepness of some of the hills is verging on the ridiculous. Saw a fair swathe of the city on my journeys including The Mission, the infamous Castro District (the Castro theatre is currently showing 'Adam And Steve' so I guess the would be Aussie pope was wrong) and I also made it out to Chinatown and Fishermans Wharf where I saw a gigantic seal frolicking in the filthy harbour and got a decent view of The Rock but unfortunattly all of the tours are booked out until Sunday and I don’t think I will be hanging around for that long. 1 Post Plaza is the hangout for the city's numerous bike messengers and like the Art Gallery opposite 885 it fairly stinks of weed. The few couriers I spoke to were not particularly friendly but as I recall most of Vancouver's lot ar a fairly miserable lot too. On my travels did see a replica of Baby Blue, obviously kitted out differently but the same frame - there ar quite a few of his brothers in Vancouver, which isn’t surprising as Simon probably sold a few of them - but its nice to see one all the way down here in San Fran - still, putting a rear view mirror on a bike just seems faintly ridiculous to me. Charley seems to get a lot of attention wherever I go and i'm thinking I need to get a better story than 'i fell off my bicycle'. The obvious alternative is to say that I got into a fight and an even better version would be to say that I did it whilst bxing - that story could afford me a bit of protection from people who might want to mess with me but I think that anyone who talks to me for more than five minutes would know instantly that i'm no boxer - in any event, the bike thing is just not working for me. Went out for dinner with Mark, an australian guy in town for an education conference (apparently its the biggest one of its type in the world which explains why all the hostels in town are completely filled up) and Dennis, a young guy from seattle who's in town for an interview for something or other. Got back to the hostel and chatted for a few hours where time got completely away from us and before I knew it the night was over. Was giving my humble but well informed opinion as to why Crash didn’t deserve the best picture award and was interrupted by an Albertan girl who proceeded to inform me that Crash was a great movie that was addressed real issues and it wasn’t about luck and that brokeback mountain was a typical hollywood portrayal of gay relationships but Transamerica was the best film of the year. I was annoyed by the interruption but grateful for the excuse to set a misinformed individual straight about her misperceptions as to what makes a good fillum. The nerve of the girl.

Where's Cisco?

6 April - Just east of San Fran. These headlines ar going to write themselves. Crashed out a camping ground in my little vehicle. An RV it ain't, I alternated several times between the front passenger seat and the back seat - both of them ridiculously undersized for a colossus such as myself. I'm not sure if I can tolerate another night in the car which is a pity because I was hoping to offset a little bit of the cost by using the veeheecle as a makeshift hostel. The camp sites ar all dominated by gigantic recreational vehicles, a lot of them the size of coach. As an alternative to a house I suppose its a valid lifestyle choice, they must truly burn fuel like a motherf**ker but I would guess that they're pretty efficient in other areas. I'm sure i'll come across many more of these over the next few weeks so i'm not quite sure of what my opinion is of these behemoths of the road yet. Another very long day of driving down the coast. Apart from stopping, reviving and surviving at a few places on the way I zoomed down through Oregon and into California. Took a few small detours through a couple of giant redwood lined scenic routes which were pretty amazing but after a while when you've seen one giant tree you've seen 'em all. Bought a hamburger from Carls Jr which managed to jump out of my hand, unwrap itself in mid-air and splatter itself on the ground but it was replaced with little fuss (after eating the replacement I felt that it may have been improved with some of the floor's extra flavour though). Went through a tunnel and on the other side I found myself staring down the Golden Gate Bridge - i've flown under it, over it and into it on many occasions on many different flight simulators but this is the first time i've driven across it and it was pretty impressive. Once iwas over the bridge I found myself in one of the most alien cities 've ever come across. My first impression of San francisco was that it's completely overhwleming. It took a while to find a hostel that had a vacancy and a very harrowing drive through the incredibly steep maze of one way streets to get to it. Ine thing i've decided on is that the car chase scene with a Hummer and a Ferrari from The rock would be absolutely impossible. Like most hostels, it's smack in the middle of one of the dingiest areas in the city but it was an incredible relief to get out of the car and I am sorely in need of a shower (sleeping in a real bed after almost 36 hours straight in the car will be very welcome as well). Put the car in an overnight parking lot and ate something from jack In the box, a dodgy fast food chain whose TV ads seem to be aimed exclusively at stoners. It was pretty late by this stage so I didn’t get out to do any exploring but met some interesting people at the hostel and also found a paper edition of The Onion, something i've only ever been able to experience in its online form. Tomorrow will be my first day to properly experience a US city so I want to try and mke the most of it. Have a gnawing feelig that this trip is going to be very expensive but i've told myself that its going to be a long time before i'm back in this neck of the woods so I should probably just try to hold back on buying gold plated toilet seats and hope for the best.

Friday, 7 April 2006

I shouldn't have taken that left at Portland ...

5 April - Was very surprised to find that the do it yourself continental breakfast at the hostel was not just a couple of slices of bread and instant coffee but involved several different types of fresh fruit, eggs (which I was unable to cook), bread for toastin and they even mixed up a batch of fresh batter for real waffles. Unfortunately instead of milk all they had was non dairy creamer powder, which is kind of like having dehydrated baby vomit mixed in with the coffee. I had to move the car before 8am so I was pretty much straight on the road heading south. Crossed into Portland after a few hours and decided to take the scenic route along the coast - got a little bit lost and but saw a sign for visitor info so got off the highway but couldn’t find the info so walked into a mcdonalds to get directions. Whilst there a short dirty but very friendly man named Dennis took pity on my fractured wrist and insisted that he buy me my meal. I hadn’t intended on eating at McDonalds, especially in this country (i've read Fast Food Nation) but he insisted so I got the least offensive thing on the menu which turned out to be the most offensive thing i've ever received from Micky D's and he proceeded to give me directions to where I needed to go. I don’t know if he was drunk or crazy but he took about an hour and I had even less of an idea of where to go after his explanation than I did before. Eventually got free of him and headed back on Route 26 where I soon found out that the speed limit was no longer 70 but was actually 55. I found this out from a state trooper who seemed to be more angry that I had an Australian driving licence than the fact that I was speeding (this is the first time i've ever been pulled over for speeeding). If America had any backbone I'd be able to arrest you for this but because its just a fine you'll get off with a warning. I was going along with the traffic and had just overtaken someone but I know its no excuise. I told him that I was very sorry and would definitely go at the speed limit. No, don't do that, - it's too dangerous to go that slow, it causes tailgating and backups, go at 60 to 65. Right .... My petrol guage was looking a little low but there were stations every 5m for most of the way so I wasn’t too worried but I passed one and then saw a sign that said next gas 40m so I spent the next hour paranoid that I was going to have to push my car through the mountains. However, did get a good idea of the range of a full taank of petrol in this car (about 650k I would guess). Eventually got onto route 101 which is the southern highway through Oregon along the coast. Some absolutely spectacular scenery on both sides (trees and mountains on the left and the ocean on tehe right) and got a very nice Clam chowder (it's Chow-da!!!) at Depoe bay before carrying on south. Its a prety slow road and its also a pretty big state but I should hit California tomorrow. Had a homestyle cooked meal from some lovely christian ladies named Katherine and nina who gave me some travel advice and some sage lessons on the sanctity of marriage. The café restaurant was hilarious - American flags on every table, support the troops posters on the walls, pickups in the carpark - its the America i've only read about.

Thursday, 6 April 2006

Travels With Charley

Well, i've read Lolita (if it wasn't for the lure of illicit hot pre-teen action it would have been unfathomably dull), Zen And The Art of Motorcyle Maintenance (another struggle), Travels With Charlie (from the mighty pen of the incomparable Steinbeck). I've seen Rainman, Midnight Run, Easy Rider, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Joyride, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which has also been appreciattd in its literary form) and a multitude of other films that celebrating an automotive tour of the great United States of America so I think i'm ready to give it a shot. Did a bit of cost comparisons on the best way to spend these next five weeks and while it would be a bit cheaper to go via rail there would be some excruciating travel times where I’d be stuck on a train or a bus with only myself for company (i'm not very good company). Well, driving around by myself is a little bit more expensive and the problem of entertaining myself still remains but i'd certainly have a lot more freedom and I can probably sleep in the car every once in a while offsetting some of the cost (although my collosal frame may have trouble getting comfortable in the backseat of an economy car i'm sure I will survive). Well, my Charley isn't a poodle but is a plaster cast who I can’t wait to be rid of and my Rocicante is not a house on wheels but is a Chrysler Sebring. I also don't have the great American novel behind me but I do have a silly hat so I think i'm in good stead. Headed into downtown to pick up the vehicle, an economy wasn’t available so I got upgraded to the Chrysler. Besides a few minutes behind the wheel of Mo's sportscar I haven't really driven since Sydney - I told myself that dealing with downtown traffic for the past six months should give me a little bit of an advantage but the problem with being a bike courier is that most of the time one is actively breaking the road rules. However, apart from a few issues with centering the car in the lane (in Australia the driver has to put themselves on the right whereas over here to centre the car you have to be on the left) there didn’t seem to be too many issues. Getting home was the first task but once I was on my way it seemed to be pretty smooth sailing. Border crossing was pretty simple - my finger prints ar now on file with the USG from now until the end of time or the end of the empire, whichever comes first). I've been warned that once you cross the border you immediately notice the difference but apart from slightly better roads and everything in miles rather than ks ididnt notice anything too signifcant. Got to Seattle around fiveish and made my way into downtown where I got stuck in my first traffic jam for ages - not very pleasant when you need to go to the toilet, you have no idea where you are and the whole place is a maze of one way streets. I couldn’t even find a place to pull over - i've never seen so mny paid parking places iin my life - they were charging even for a 20m stop. Eventually drove out of dontown and settled myself before finding a very expensive hostel (back in downtown). Everything seems to close really early here, perhaps because its a Tuesday. Will probably not stay here for very long because I want to get on my way and i'll be coming back through seattle anyway on my return. First impressions of the city ar okay but not great - the homeless here seem to bee as prevalent as vancouver and there gangs dressed in colours hanging around on the corners (at least where I am - it would almost be comical if it wasn't for the fact that this is the USA annd they're probably all armed). As i m not planning on hanging around the city for too long on this leg of the trip I decided I should make an effort to check out whhthe nightlife had to offer and after wandering around for a little while I came upon the Crocodile Bar, a grungy little saloon that aapparently is oone of the best small live music venues in town (that's according to some of the mods I met in there anyway - apparetly Niirvana and pearl jam used to play there regularly altough consering the city i'm currently in I would guess that most live music venues could also claim that honour). Jam packed ith lots of people who were way cooler than me but friendly enough nonetheless. Was given a CD by a struggling local band whch I shall listen to at some stage in my travels and was subjected to some of the best Elvis costello covers i've ever heard.
In any event, the road trip has begun but there's a long way to go so next stop ...

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Counting The Day

3 April - Called WCB on the pretext of giving them an updat on Saturday'S appointment with Dr D but really to remind them that I was supposed to have received my salary protection in the mail the previous week. All seems to be in order according to my case worker. I went to the Black Dog video store to return 'A Sound of Thunder'. While there I asked for a refund of the cost of the movie, failing that, I would be content with them giving me those two hours of my life back. Got some interesting photos and vdeo of Bob, a little local guy who likes to do BMX tricks on the freshly laid concrete, no doubt trying to find a wet patch where he can leave his mark for posterity. I wandered into downtown where I had a coffee with Victoria, my favourite security guard from 510 Burrard and like a moth drawn to the flame I found myself at the art gallery sharing a pivo with a couple of the couriers. Me and Ozzie Marcus headed out to Kitsalano to eat sandwiches and drink more beer woth Chris (the other courier who went to Whistla wiv us) and despite the attraction of the Canucks game on the television I found myself dodging raindrops (at least trying to keep them off charley) home because i've got a big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Joke du JJour

Q - How can you tell a fighter pilot at your party?
A - Don't worry, he'll tell you.

Dropping Like Flies

31 March - Morning ablutions were particularly difficult today as they involved not only the usual shower but washing of hair, shaving and preparation of my pre surgery breakfast, all of which ar rather dfficult with only one hand. Pulled Ashu out of bed to come downtown to see Inside Man with me. I love a good bank robbery film and I love a good thriller ;and sometimes they can be worked in to make a great fillum, which this was. Spike Lee can make an epic out of anything, except maybe New York cereal killers (though why anyone would let a dog tell them to kill a bowl of coco pops I don’t know). I assisted Ashu in the purchasing of some courier weed and he was amazed by the revealing of the courier subculture and how they completely infest downtown, something which has until now completely slipped under his radar. Bumped into Owen outside the art gallery who informed me that hed walked off the job a few hours previously leaving Novex with a sum total of two full time bikers (jason and stu) and two part timers (Reno comes in after 1 and Flowers only works Fridays). Did see Jason for a few seconds but he was bouncing before we even could have a proper blether - apparently he broke my record today which is kind of disappointing but the circumstances in which he did it was pretty exceptional and he's really fast when he needs to be. On the way back we stopped in at the Amsterdam Café (which really wasnot on the way home but we made it so regardless). I’m sure all the proprietors say that its just like a café in amsterdam and the locals probably say that its nothing like a café in amsterdam but in my opinion it was exactly like a café in the red light district of amsterdam except it had better coffee. The haze of pot smoke obscured the far wall and the clientele were all red eyed and puffing away on immaculately constructed joints ranging from tiny twists to giant Cincinnati carrots. They weren't selling dope there (at least the sign said that they didnt) but everyone was smoking and rolling completely openly and smoke was pouring out into the street. I can’t understand how I could never have noticed it before - i've heard of the place and passed by it a thousand times while working but have never gone in. The smoke was killing my eyes so i couldn’t stay in there for very long so we soon trundled home where I watched On the waterfront and tried to tend to the creeping bird flu. Today also marked the end of rene's tenure at 1949. I've very mixed feeling about his departure although for the most part they are reasonably positive - I don't want to live with someone who has the capacity to explode like he does and his fuse s very short and unpredictable. We never had any real beefs but I don't think it would take much to ignite him. If I see him around great but I don't think i'll be doing the seeking.
My native friend Puh-La-Neeks is off to Vancouver Island tomorrow and from twill be heading off to the Dominican Rpublic so will not be seeing her again for the foreseeable future. She invited me over to watch a native themed (surprise, surprise) road movie called 'Pow Wow Highway' which was not the worst movie i've ever seen but ... Well, it wasn’t the worst movie i've ever seen. It did star the two stalwarts of the Indian actingworl, Grahame Green and the always incredible Wes Studi (although not so incredible in this one). It was the third full length movie I’d watched that day so perhaps I’d just reached my limit of movie watching or maybe it was just a pretty awful movie. Puh-la-neeks is a very interesting girl but we really do not have anything in common. She's completely one track about her native people which is important but I find it difficult to agree with the way she sees the world. The plight of natives in this country is terrrible - there ar so many parallels with Australian aborigines that its scary. Stolen generation, alcohol problems, land issues, children growingup in neglect etc but there ar lots of people who ar working to fix these problems but when she tells me about the methods I fail to see how they can be effective. She's a leader in a youth group who teaches others to advocate to resolve problems and this involves discussing issues and making people awar of those problems. There seems to be very little action actually taken to fix the problems - everyone is aware of what is wrong, the problems have been identified, what needs to happen now is actio. It's just talking and discussing and talking and discussing. But, i've no real experience in this kind of world so I’m not reallyone to talk. The other thing bout her ius that she is a profoundly optimistic and spiritual person and ... i'm not. She believes literally in the mythology of her ancestors, which is something I can never give any credence too - i'm not a complete disbeliever - I think there ar a lot of things in tis world that we don’t understand and I think there might be some fom of an afterlife but I think just about everything will eventually be explained by science. I don’t know what is out there but I can categorically state that any person who tries to describe specifically what happens will be wrong. There ar no pearly gates, no reincarnation, no pit of fire or lake of ice. All of these things ar constructoins of people and they were people who had a very limited knowledge of the world. Whatever is out there is almost certainly beyond description in material terms.


2 April - Daylight savings has ended, hurrahQ It doesn't get dark until 8pm now but it does mean that I have to get up an hour earlier. There ar definite advantages to not working although they can’t be fully realised on a Sunday, which today was. Thought i'd relax my boycott of Fets to see if they still had waitresses who don't like me and pancakes that do. Right on both counts.
Finished Enduring Love by Ian McEwen which was also an excellent movie with the shaggy guy from Notting Hill and the smooth guy from the new Casion Royale (well, hed better be smooth if he wants to beat international criminals and bed an comically named lady of mystery) - an intriguing thriller and scientifc mystery both on paper and on film. The rain had gone away so I headed out to do some errands (spacing them out so I can stay occupied during the day) which involved a lot of walking. I hate using public transport and I forget how quickly being on a bicycle can get me around - a lot of things that were all 'close' are now very very far and although I prefer to walk to moderately offset the lack of exercise i'm getting during the recuperation i'm getting very annoyed with the amount of time it takes to get anywhere.

A Sound Of Thunder

It was always going to be a difficult task to put Mr Bradbury's classic to the screen and Peter Hyams has failed miserably. Perhaps it was only ever going to work when it was spoofed like the Simpsons did in the Halloween special so long ago. I remember downloading the preview almost two years ago and wondering why it never appeared in the cinemas. Tonight I learned why.
Amongst its numerous crimes:
- Having two scientists argue out the ethics and risks of time travel giving away the entire plot in the first ten minutes (i am aware that its a plot device but come on, ten minutes in?)
- Using shockingly cheap bluescreen effects to simulate a bustling 2055 metropolis
- Having Ben Kingsley whore out his talent by playing a greedy morality free billionaire (although by 2055 I would presume he's a trillionairre or even a quadrillionaire)
- In order to have a bad guy they make te billionairre turn off the safety net 'biofilter' to save running costs - why does there ALWAYS have to be a bad guy? Isn't the fact that they're playing around with time travel justification enough that something is going to go wrong?
- Having a scientist use Heisenberg's uncertainty principle as justification of uncertainty in life
- TAMY is one of the most irritating AIs I;ve ever witnessed
- One easily pushed around guy is the only regulation that the time travel venture has
- Sticking with the original plot of the book for the first fifteen minutes then going on the most bizarre tangent involving some of the worst time travel themes ever - the time wave??? What were they thinking?

To tell the truth its a pretty crappy short story to begin with and it was always going to be a crappy film, even if they did stick to the original plot. Th's not to say that elements of the short story could not be reconstructed into an exploration as to the dangers of hypothetical time travel, especially the butterfly effect (which is what this story purports to do, even having an actual butterfly as the mechanism that starts off the spinoff parallel universe)., but basically, this film is not it.

Bike Wars?

1 April - Dr D always seems to be running ahead of schedule. Yesterday I got a call from the surigcal centre telling me that my appointment was brought forward due to vacancy, this morning I got another call telling me that he was running fast and could I come in early. When I actually had the surgery I was called at noon asking if I could come in straight away, three hours early, making the apple juice I’d consumed at 9 a concern (i'd drunk it at 9am in order to have the 6 hour window for the op at 3). In any event, everythingseems to be going well for Charlie the Cast. The swelling seems to have gone down and there's nothing to be done for another five weeks until it comes off. I've also been assured by Dr D that I will be able to play the piano after the cast comes off, which is excellent as I wasn't able to before (very witty m'lud). Did some window shopping for a while before heading down to Strathcona Park to witnes some ill conceived bike wars. Its kind of like a smash em up car rally but with all of the participants on bicycles. The rain seemed to have scared most of the participants off so a few other comps were lazily organised but the rain wasstarting to seep into Charlie's skin so it wasn’t long before I I was scared off too. Did some reading of books and watching of television and discussed the virtues of going out but this did not result in me going out.

Back To The Future

It is very difficult to make a good time travel movie. The filmmakers don't only have to cope with the consistencies within the plot itself but they also have to try to manage the consistency within the whole space-time continuum. And most filmmakers fail at this enormously.
Some crimes of the film and some other thoughts ...
- One of the little injokes thrown into this homage to the 50s is Chuck Berry's cousin (the black guitarist from the dance) calls up Chuck Berry and plays Chuck Berry's own song to him. If this little scenario is extrapolated to its eventual conclusion we must conclude that Chuck Berry completely ripped off a small-town American time traveller by writing that song he heard word for word and taking it for its own (one might wonder how how he managed to get all the words for the song despite only listening to part of it and also why he didn't throw in the Van Halen esque conclusion that the movie portrayed). So, either this is just sloppy filmmaking or its an easter egg with the subtle but undeniable message that Robert Zemeckis thinks that Chuck Berry is a song stealing crook.
- Always nice to see a 'who were they then' with the breathtakingly handsome Crispin Glover playing the quintessential loser kid comes good father. Before he was playing a host of psychotic symbols of evil he was just a nice young kid who couldn't ask out a girl to the prom.
- Why the director chose a car as the time machine is obvious. As a vehicle, it's certainly a hell of a lot cooler than a police box, a laboratory or even a spaceship. I would even edge it over the Terminator principle of arriving naked in the position of a Rodin sculpture because of the sheer ridiculousness of that particular reason (metal can't go back in time - unless its covered with skin, of course - so why didn't they keep a gun under the skin as well???). But the technobabble that explains how the whole thing works is offensive. 88 miles an hour sets off the time travelling mechanism (light speed or the generally well explained Warp 10 is always an acceptable speed to set off a fantastic voyage - 88 miles an hour is not). The fact that the car's speed shows its speed accellerating despite it just spinning its wheels is another woeful oversight.
- Disappearing photograph? Not even going to get into that one.
- Flex capacitor, what the f**k was that?
- Jigawatts ... Who would have ever thought that the word 'giga' would have made its way so insidiously into the cultural lexicon - at least it will be there until it gets superceded by tera.
- Marty's parents name their third son after Marty? If he had such a big impact on their lives wouldn't it be their first? If he had sucha small impact on their lives why would they have named him after the mysterious stranger at all? ... Surprising when their son starts to turn into the man that introduced them they don't seem to give it much thought. You'd think Biff would have remembered at least
- The ethics of improving your lot through time trave are very iffy. Jean Claude Van Damme's time cop would have executed the Doc and Marty for their meddling with space time.
- Did the clock that was struck by lightening have a second hand? I don't think so.
- Doc and Marty watch the movie of the experiment and the doc is happy to fast forward through the 'boring bits', hardly the kind of behaviour you'd expect from the guy who invented the machine (and had probably never seen himself on TV before!!!)
- The protection the doc has from his assailants at the end of the movie? A bulletproof vest ... He just presumed they wouldn’t take him out with a headshot???
- What are the chances of everyone's lives being changed for the better yet marty still has the same girlfriend?
- Biff's tracksuit ... Priceless
- The symbol of Marty's life having been turned for the better is ... A 4X4 truck!!!

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Coon Wars

30 March - A couple of raccoons seemed to have made their home somewhere in the back yard. This is certainly not a bad thing although one has to be careful as they have a deserved reputation for being disease carrying vermin, very cute disease carrying vermin, but disease carrying vermin nonetheless. Sometime over the past week dozens of garbage bags have appeared in the back yard, possibly due to the vacation of one of the basement flats underneath the main house. The garbagemen won’t take that much stuff away so they've been left there and the raccoons have started to have their way with them, which hasn’t helped the amenity of the household. AM hoping the cleaner will be making one of her impromptu visits over the next few days as i'm incapable of doing much and the rest of the household also seems to be suffering phantom injuries of their own preventing them from doing anything to raise the place from squalor. We shall see.
My ability to sleep in seems to be improving somewhat of late but this could also be interpreted as my ability to wake up early seems to be getting worse. I'm certainly glad to be getting a bit of rest from the strains that have been accumulating over the past few months, which was not helped by the past few weeks of non stop activity but I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of lethargy. 1949 is, or at least can be, a great place but its not the location I want to be spending the next few weeks of recovery.
A rather tasty breakfast in a rather unsanitary establishment was the first order of the day before I headed back to the core to do some errands. Apparently Novex is on a recruiting drive in a desperate attempt to replace their lost star. They're offering very generous rates including a minimum daily rate that is well above what some of the other couriers make (it would have been nice to see this kind of financial altruism when I was there but its the same with any company - they only ever offer more money when they're desperae - ask for a raise for three years and you'll get knocked back but quit and they're always going to offer to match the new offer). Lee even came downtown to recruit while I was there although his methods left much to be desired (chain smoking and bitching about how crap the company is and then making the offer isn't going to be a successful selling strategy). Did a lot of catching up despite my absence being only a couple of days but did catch up with Herb who was a bit hesitant as to whether I was still eligible for a sunshine muffin (it turns out that I still am). They're not the best muffins in the world but they're made with love and they are very dense and digest slowly making them an excellent source of afternoon fuel. Plans to go to a beach party at one of the downtown nightclubs were cancelled by the onset of a mild case of the disease known as the common cold (or maybe it's just the early warningstages of avian flu, I don't really know, i'm not a doctor) and King Kong was assigned to be the entertainment for the night. It sure is a big screen movie but it was still entertainingenough. Did a bit more future planning but need to speak to the doctor before specifics can be set.