… And it all ended in Vancouver

Had an early train to Vancouver, which proved more eventful than we might have liked at 7.40 in the morning. An inept Amtrak employee named Jessica nearly got in the way of us and Canada (she just couldn’t work the ticket printing machine), but my charming of the train conductors and CB’s cool head in a crisis enabled us to jump on the train sans tickets, only delaying its departure time by a few minutes.

Once in Vancouver, I was relieved to discover that at our absurdly cheap $9/night accommodation (booked by CB as a way of negating the expense of our Seattle sponger) was not just a cardboard box hastily erected over some sleeping bags, but a real, bona-fide, fully-bricked building. Stepping into the massive, creaky house, we soon realised that the man in charge had the faintest whiff of body odour about him. (I had the distinct sense that this odour would only ferment as the hours went on).

Handwritten notes adorned the walls, such as: THERE ARE FRIENDLY PEOPLE IN THIS HOSTEL. DO NOT HAVE SEXX IN THE ROOMS. HAVE SEXX IN THE SEXX ROOM (…the ‘Sexx Room’ being where I inadvertently showered the next day). Non-plussed, we went upstairs to our dorm, where we discovered stained sheets and pillows, and a sharp metal edge that had the potential to gash thigh on CB’s bed frame. Continue reading


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Filed under 16. Vancouver, Uncategorized

A sojourn in Seattle

Had a longish journey from San Francisco to Seattle. Made a friend on the train called Clayton Molloy Leston, a 25-year-old American dreamer/singer/songwriter/person-type-thing, who had a small guitar poking out of his rucksack. After an earnest man approached him to enquire about his instrument (who soon pranced off only to return with his flute), Clayton asked us if we wanted to hear a song. Continue reading

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Filed under 15. Seattle

San Francisco

Another italicised note… what excuse this time? OK: I must have been flagging at this point, because my notes from the time for San Francisco (which, for the record, I absolutely loved) read as follows:

“Went to City Lights Books. Headed to Alcatraz on the second day, where we got to play around in the cells and meet an actual Alcatraz inmate, who sat in the gift shop behind a large desk waiting to sign copies of his book. (He didn’t say much. Not that this was his fault as initially nobody was going up to him. I felt sorry for him until he grunted at a little girl.)” Continue reading

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Filed under 14. San Francisco

Las Vegas-lite

All I can say is: I must have been having so much fun in Vegas that I forgot to take notes.

Briefly, we definitely ate a substantial number of ‘all-you-can-eat buffets’ – thus why we had to order extra airplane seats on the way back. If we weren’t merrily chomping away on the array of delights that bedazzled us on the buffets, we were gorging on McDonald’s. Continue reading

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Filed under 13. Las Vegas

Living La Vida L.A

“At the corner of Hollywood and Western, the sweet smell of crack cocaine lingers in the spring night air. Around the corner, chronic masturbators slip away from the local porn arcade, where video-booth cruisers look for love — or at least a quickie handjob. Nearby, drug dealers and prostitutes are hard at work, while the homeless slumber with their shopping carts in abandoned storefront doorways.”

This is where we stayed in Los Angeles. My own tuppence worth on the Gershwin Hotel: very hospitable. Anyway, moving on… Continue reading

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Filed under 12. Los Angeles

Choo-choo to LA

Had a 36+ hr train journey from San Antonio to LA – perhaps most notable for our acquaintance with one Gerald W. Smith, a 69-year-old Texan. We made friends with Gerald in the observation deck (read: a train carriage with big windows and lots of booths, so people can chat to each other) after his wife interrupted a game I am proud to say I devised, entitled: “Which celebrity corpse would you rather spend 24 hours in a lift with?” Continue reading

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Filed under 11. En-route to LA

Sauntering around San Antonio

Boarding the Texas Eagle in Fort Worth, we had a substantial train ride to San Antonio, arriving there around midnight. San Antonio is beautiful, with a supremely pretty river-walk.

If I had to efficiently summarise our time in this Texan mecca using two words only, it would be as follows: food and telly. Tackling the latter category first: Predator Raw. Its basic premise is this: paedophiles are tricked into thinking they are about to meet a 12-year-old in an abandoned house (filled with hidden cameras), all for our viewing pleasure. “Crazy shit”, as CB said. Continue reading

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Filed under 10. San Antonio