Friday, 25 May 2012

Road Trip! Part 1: San Francisco - Crescent City

As promised, here is the first instalment of my Great Big Adventure diaries. I have spent some time squinting at all the pieces of paper I scribbled notes on, and have decided that the best option is just to try and replicate them here, as best I can, for posterity. I will attempt to make some sense of them as I go along.

Error. Massive error.
So. We began in San Francisco. Well, technically, the adventure began at Heathrow Airport, where we boarded the plane in great excitement. Within 37 seconds (a personal best), I had managed to change all of my seatback entertainment controls to Japanese and had to make SO fix it for me. I then watched 4364623423 films, including War Horse, which was rubbish.

My notes for San Francisco read as follows:

  • Mechanical Monkey Band
  • Terrifying laughing Sally thing 
Both of the above are from our trip to the 'Musee Mechanique', a truly fabulous rainy-day outing of a place featuring a collection of antique coin-operated machines. Many of them utterly terrifying, such as the giant Laughing Sally puppet mentioned above. If you click on the link (which I wouldn't advise), you will be treated to a glimpse of her which will ensure you don't sleep for a week. The Mechanical Monkey Band, however, remains one of the best things I saw all holiday. Or ever.
Best. Game. Ever.

  • Deathstar (Star Wars Arcade Game. See above)
  • Clam chowder
  • Cablecar (obviously)
  • Pirate Shop
  • Baboon with wings
The pirate shop refers to 826 Valencia - San Francisco's only independent pirate store. It is exactly as brilliant as it sounds. The last point refers to the shop next door to this, which stocked the most incredible array of bizarre taxidermied animals I have ever seen. It was purely import laws and luggage allowance which stopped us from spending the rest of the trip carting around a full-sized angry baboon with peacock wings grafted onto its back. Because I don't have enough of those.

  • Aquarium with chinchillas.
  • Hotel smells of chinese soup.
  • Scary Christmas shop (SO insisted we buy cable car Christmas tree decorations. Sometimes I worry, I really do).
This last point is written in SO's writing. Due to the fact that I went down with the Worst Cold Ever as soon as we landed and was basically flu-ridden for the first week, SO was designated driver in San Francisco. You've seen Bullet, right? It's just like that in real life. Only scarier and with more screaming.

  • Hat shop (didn't go in)
  • EPIC hat shop (hat regret).
The hat regret was because - for reasons I can only attribute to temporary insanity brought on by an overdose of cough medicine - I decided against buying this:

I'm choking up a bit now, just thinking about  what might have been
Man I loved that winged horse hat. *sigh*

After San Francisco, we followed the Redwood Trail north along the Pacific Coast and through endless forests of ENORMOUS trees. The minutes of this journey look like this:

  • Many big trees.
  • Bendy roads.
  • Smoke in trees.
  • Bored of trees.
Occasionally they are punctuated with moments of excitement, such as:

  • Elk.
  • Gualalalalalalaalala (I think this was the name of a town we stopped in to buy crisps. I can't be sure)
  • Drove through a tree!!!!! 
See? Drive-through tree.

The rest of this page of notes is one big scribble, pertaining to the fact that SO walked into a glass door and that this was 'my favourite thing so far, better than the Monkey Orchestra'.

I leave this instalment with a picture of our view from the Crescent Beach Motel window. The Pacific is beautiful to look at, but bugger me it's noisy to sleep next to.

Pacific Ocean - a noisy neighbour

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...

Crumbs - I've been away from this place so long Blogger has completely changed its interface since I was last here. Apologies if this turns out upside down, or bright pink, or accidentally in Comic Sans or something... [EDIT: I just previewed this post and it genuinely had turned my template into Comic Sans. I nearly had a conniption]

Anyway, the main reason why I've not been boring you with my exploits recently is that I have been on a Great Big Adventure. Having got married last year, the Significant Otter and I decided that for our Honeymoon we would take a real trip of a lifetime and do a road trip around Mid-West America, seeing places we've never seen, seeking out new life and new civilisations, boldly, hang on, that's Star Trek. Well, you get the picture.

Aw, the route looks a bit like a heart. I did not notice this, but this is because I have no romance in my soul.
We knew we wanted to start in San Francisco then visit Portland, Oregon (mostly for the beer), before striking out East towards South Dakota so that we could go and be sweary in Deadwood before heading down to Colorado and flying back from there to Los Angeles at the very end. We booked nothing but the car hire, our flights there and back, and the first night's accommodation. Oh, and a cocktail bar for the first evening in San Francisco. Because thirst is a dangerous thing.

What followed was three of the most amazing, fullest, busiest, most exhausting but wonderful weeks of my life. My intention to document all this in the form of a mobile blog as we went along failed almost immediately, mostly because a) I couldn't type in the car because I'd be sick and b) I'm very lazy. Instead, every night at whatever dodgy motel, diner or saloon we found ourselves in I would fish out of my bag some stolen hotel paper and a stolen hotel pen and we would write a bullet-point retrospective of the highlights of our day. I am going to use these beer-stained, garbled, badly spelled notes as the basis of my attempt to record our Great Big Adventure for posterity. 

Bear in mind we did go through eight different states, three different timezones, and drank our bodyweights in strangely-named American micro-brewed beers with pictures of wildlife on the bottle, so I'm not going to try and recount everything in one go. These posts may be sporadic, but I promise I will get there in the end!

A few statistics to start us off:

States we travelled  through: California, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado.
Miles driven: 3349
Number of different hotel/motel rooms stayed in: 17. I think. Might have to come back to that one.
Amount of toiletries stolen: lots.
Local wildlife accidentally killed: almost one duck.
Horrible colds caught within hours of landing: 1
Acceptable cups of tea: One. On the last day.

I will be back with an account of our first week, which took us from San Francisco to Portland. But for now, here's a picture of me pointing at a buffalo. You're welcome.