US Tour 2003
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Firstly this didn't get posted until day 8 sorry, unfortunately
we didn't get a chance to get Internet access. Hopefully the next section
of the diary will be kept up to date more frequently.
As we left our room Larry suggested I go halves with him
on the tip for the cleaner. Part of me (actually all of me) thought, "I'm
not likely to ever stay here again, so why should I care". But this
is America, and the real costs are often hidden. Tips and taxes tip the
scales when you're least expecting. This tipping subject was a topic of
conversation in the opening scene of Tarrantino's "Resevoir Dogs",
in it a group of American gangsters debate the pros and cons of tipping.
If Larry and I were in the scene I'd like to think of myself as Mr Black
and Larry as Mr
Pink...erm..White I mean. Any way we left a pultry
tip and that was only after Mr White pointed his guilt edged gun at me.
Our room ..... how nice.
The mountain air was cool, but this is a town that was built
specifically as a motorway stop off, so the legion of trucks had their
effect, there would be no genteel breathing exercises, meditation or tai-chi
just pack and run. There wasn't anything else that made it worth staying
around for from what we could see so Larry, who'd bought some fabric spray
to get rid of the cat piss smell in the motel room, thought that it'd
probably wear off about 10 minutes after we'd gone so making a quick get-away
really was for the best.
I got to drive, which is fun because when you're used to
a right hand drive car and you're in a left hand drive one, you tend to
position yourself in the same place on the road as you do normally. This
means your passenger ends up on the pavement. So for the first few hours
all I could hear was Larry srceaming "ooooooooo watch your positon!!!!"
We stopped off at a McDonalds where I made the mistake of
ordering a "large" tea. American regular is the same as UK large.
Long journeys and 2 pints of tea are not a good combination. It's probably
a selling tactic so that you have to take a break half an hour down the
line and while there you suddenly realise that the extra salted bacon
treble cheese burger has made you thirsty and a two pint triple thick
shake might juist do the job.
No not a church but a Steak House
I managed to drop off to sleep as Larry drove, somewhere
in the midst of a dream that felt quite nice I could hear Larry shouting
my name and shaking my leg violently. "What?" I said (as in
" someone better have died") Larry proclaimed he needed to know
something about the route, then a few seconds later he decided he'd pull
over anyway and work it out later. In fact I'm writing this as we drive
(Larry's driving in case you're worried) and it seems that there's suddenly
a lot of interesting things to look at, as he keeps pointing out. The
last one was a picnic area with a special design feature, how fascinating.
So anyway Larry woke me up and I was not a happy bunny. This wrong footing
left me in a bad mood, which partly led to Larry and I bickering. A silence
fell upon us, even the cats shut up. I began to feel a bit lonely so I
picked up my mobile phone and decided to text message a few friends back
in the UK, sure enough a few minutes later they sent messages back. My
feeling of isolation lifted and with renewed vigor I was able to continue
agrivating Larry further. In fact by the time we got to Larry's sisters
house the cats were busily meowing and hissing at each other and so were
Larry and I.
Larry's sisters little shack in the country
As we pulled in to his sister''s drive way I was taken by
surprise at the size of the property, and when we entered it I was amazed
further by it's decor. Until I get permission from her to post the pictures
you'll have to use your imagination, but for me this was a dream house.
Sometimes large can be impressive, especially large and good quality.
Larry's sister tells me she thinks the "large = good" mentality
that often seems to be associated with America is a problem but then she's
a psychotherapist. For the afternoon and evening we sit "out back",
which looks on to a river. The mosquitoes bite in to Larry and seem to
avoid me. That's what you get for waking me up!
The back garden
As the evening light falls I hear a sound getting louder
and louder until I almost imagine an animal will drop down from the trees
and attack us. Ths is my first experience of the awakening of cicades.I
have heard cicades before but never this loudly. Larry's sister, Kath,
tells me that some cicades metamorphosise from bugs that stay in the round
for up to 17 years. Different groups of cicades develop over different
periods, so that you'll get the 4 year group or the 17 year one and each
lot will develop together. Although harmless to humans sometimes they'll
accidently fly in to people. Another insect that catches our attention
are the fire flies. Tom, Kath's husband, brings one to the table, not
to eat I'm relieved to hear, but to watch glow. It does so once then decides
to not play ball. Tom tells me how as a kid he'd tie them to a piece of
thread and whir them in circles above his head.
During our conversations Kathy tells me that Larry and her
are directly descended from John Proctor of the Salem witch trials in
the 1600's. John Proctor was put to death and Arthur Miller, the playwright
who married Marilyn Munroe, used him as his central character in the play
"The Crucible". I'd studied this play at school so I was ever
so impressed. Aparently the real John Proctor had lost his first wife
and his second wife was not as frigid as she'd been made out to be in
the play. She too had been sentenced to death but because she was pregnant
her sentence was deffered until after the baby was born, by which time
the trials were abandoned and her sentence was commuted. I tell Larry
I want to mention this in the diary but he's a bit reticent, I ask him
why and he says that letting people know that your family derives from
early settlers is like showing off in America. I feel tempted to buy Larry
a T-shirt that has written oin it "From pilgrim stock so show some
respect new comerss" ......... I tell Larry this and he says "Gad
I'd never do that" ..... I would though!
During our meal Larry and Tom let me know how much they
love the band The Rolling Stones. I tell them my mother used to go to
see them and talk to them before they were famous. They seemed suitably
impressed which was more than can be said for my view of my mobile phone
company, T-Mobile, who sent me 3 text messages while I slept, each one
waking me up in a panic to get to the phone in the darkness. The messages
were all trying to get me to enter a competition which had as it's first
prize, wait for it,......... tickets to see The Rolling Stones Live (are
they still alive?).
Pictures from the journey today
"Hello, do you have any garden gnomes?"
Larry drove all today so I got quite bored. Somewhere along
the road I noticed our cars reflection in the mirrors of trucks we'd pass
so I decided to try capturingf this image with my camera. This may sound
easy, however as I discovered, it is not. Firstly you have to pass a truck
whose mirror is likely t be angled correctly and then you have to aim
and zoom and hope the focus is right as you take the photo. Getting the
pictures below took most of the afternoon, it became an obsession, but
in the face of boredom an obsession can seem quite attractive. Hope you
like the pix.
Our car is the silver car in the mirror. Now that's a bigzoom! Sorry,
did I just sound a bit American then.
Just missed but it was close