Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Preparations are underway!


Kirsty and I have been talking about setting up a travel blog and I remembered that I had one from my previous drive across the USA a few years back. I tried to find it and low and behold here we are. This is more of a test rather than an official post as I want to check to see if this method has the features we're (I'm) after. I'm pretty sure Kirsty is just after your bog standard Tesco value blog site (photos + text), but me being a boy I want the all singing all dancing blog with bells on. My main requirement is something I saw on TV a few weeks ago, which I thought would be really awesome and that is location tracking. I'm sure I was watching some TV show in which someone had an app that would upload GPS co-ordinates to a site/blog to create pins or a path so that family and friends could see updates as to where you currently were. Google searches initially failed me as they just showed me your standard tracking apps that people use when they go for walks/runs/bike rides, which is not what I'm after. I just want a basic little app that will let me upload some GPS co-ordinates as and when I want to, not track me constantly and result in my battery running out just as I'm about to take a photo up Machu Picchu!

So here goes...

I'm currently sat at work waiting to start my shift so I'm on my work computer, but what if I want people to see a photo of this fantastic environment!?

What a handsome figure of a man.
Voilà! Pretty easy. I just took the photo on my phone, transferred it to the computer and added it. Easy enough. Videos appear to utilise the same method so I'll assume they're just as simple. Next, how about a location?

Well, hopefully if things have been successful we should now have a location added to this blog once it's posted. I have mixed feelings about the location service. I had to manually select the location on the PC. I'm hoping that as an Android user (considering this blog is owned by Google) that there will be an ability to track location via Android's app for this blog. That's for another day. If I have to manually add locations then that's something I can handle I guess. What I would like though is a full scale world map showing where we are/were. I will have to play more...

Well! Until things progress I'll leave it here and hopefully soon we will have a full scale blog under way to let everyone track us! I hope you are all well!

Much love. xxxx

Friday, 16 July 2010

Exit signs - they're on the way out aren't they?


The next installment of our adventures is being typed from Miami Beach, FL! However, I left things in Washington DC last so I will fill you in from there onwards.

So, 13th July. We woke up at around 3:40am to set off for our drive to Miami. C offered to do the first 5 hour "shift" so at around 4:20am we set off on our way. Obviously there won't be much to tell you about this day as it was all spent on the road, boring. However, one rather funny thing that happened was just as we were leaving DC and C took a wrong turning and accidentally took us off the highway and drove us right up to the Pentagon! We had been saying how it was the one thing we hadn't seen in DC, but with dawn breaking we managed to get a peek of it. So the rest of the day was spent driving and I took over halfway through North Carolina around 9am. C pointed out that whilst I was sleeping he saw a car get stopped by the Police for speeding. However, I soon learnt that things are very similar to the UK driving over here with regards to speed. That said though, I did almost crap myself when I passed a Sheriff car and then looked in my mirror and saw it speeding up behind us. It was fine though, he wasn't after us. I won't lie, the drive absolutely sucked. Around 7:30pm and 15 hours of driving later we arrived in Miami. When we set off the Sat Nav/GPS predicted an arrival time of 9:09pm so we managed to shave off nearly 2 hours! We had been in Miami all of 2 hours and I had already fallen in love with the place. It was definitely like the beach holiday of our trip. Walking down Ocean Drive with lots of restaurants and bars with it still being hot outside was awesome. Also, for those of you Dexter fans out there, it is really weird seeing the place in person and feels like I'm in Dexter, just with significantly less homicides. Anywho, me and C went out for dinner in one of the restaurants and had steak. Some guy came to our table trying to sell his R&B CD. When he realised we were English he attempted to demonstrate his English accent for us. He was clearly very proud of himself, but in reality it was bad, very bad. We had two beers with our dinner and were dying. We took a walk up Ocean Drive to scout out the scene and walked back down along the beach front. Very shortly after getting back to the hostel we both passed out.

14th of July. We woke up hoping to hit Miami Beach for a day in the sun, but when we got to the hostel lobby we were greeted by torrential rain. We spent a while just chilling out in the lobby then C decided he couldn't just sit inside the whole time so we went for a walk in the rain. A quick tour of the blocks around our hostel and C said about going to the Everglades whilst we were in Florida. We checked out and compared prices between different tourist places and eventually booked a $55 trip for the next day. We sampled some slices of pizza for lunch (they were HUGE) then went back to the hostel. When we got to our room we found we had two new room-mates from England, J and P. We said our hello's then myself and C went to the beach for a few hours determined to get a bit of time in the sun. There was no sun. We lay for about an hour in the wind before heading back inside. That evening we went up to the hostel's roof terrace with J and P and played some drinking games (standard British approach, if there is nothing to do then the only thing to do is get drunk!). After a while we got confident from the alcohol and invited some Swedes and Norwegians to join in. We also found another Brit, C (or C#2 to stop confusion) and invited him to join us. P got seriously screwed over in drinking games and was blackout after a while. It probably didn't help that we all skipped dinner in favour of more drinking but hey, alcoholic fun times take priority. P managed to disappear, which was only noticed a few games later. J found her downstairs in the toilets with her head under a tap, not good! We all decided we were too drunk to attempt a night out and called it a night around 11pm (I think).

15th July. I woke to notice that the brown colouring of my flip flops seemed to be running in the heat and the bottom of my feet looked like I had applied fake tan. I decided to put shoes on to save my feet for a day and also thought it would be a good idea as we were going to the Everglades. Around 9am we got the bus to the Everglades, driven by Harry, who gave us a guided tour of Miami on our way there. Harry took us to 'Gator Park' where we hopped straight onto an Airboat for a 30 minute tour of the Everglades. It was simply amazing. We saw wild alligators and random other wildlife along the way and were guided by a very croaky voiced tour guide. C guessed that it was a requirement for the job as they all had the same voice, even the woman who was shouting out advertising alligator sandwiches. Halfway through the boat ride the guy stopped for us to look around and got out of the boat and paddled in the water. He invited people to join him but we strangely felt the need to preserve our limbs from alligators. When we got back to 'Gator Park' we had a 20 minute alligator show where a guy demonstrated alligator wrestling. All very impressive stuff, but I won't be swapping Guildford and my current job for a spot of gator wrestling any time soon. After the show we each got to hold a 4ft alligator named Larry! When we got back to the hostel it was still pretty hot and sunny so we grabbed our towels and hit the beach. The beach was pretty good and we spent a long time enjoying the view. That evening we went for dinner and a really odd overweight couple in their 50's sat on a table next to us with their pram. we thought nothing of it until suddenly a bark came from the pram. Inside was no baby but a small (very puntable) yappy dog! C pointed out that it also had a hair bobble on. Crazy Miami freaks! that night we planned to go out and started off on the roof terrace again with J, P and C#2 playing 'Ride the Bus'. I got royally screwed over and got onto my 4th re-shuffle till I finally managed to get off the damn bus! Some girl came up and asked "Is this the roof terrace?"... no love, it's the bloody basement! Our going out plans failed as the constant lightning that had been flashing turned into a full on tropical storm. We went downstairs and drank some more and C did a Tequila shot with a Swiss guy.

16th July. I woke up to find I had suffered whiplash from the boat ride and had such a bad neck. The whole of this day has minimal to report as it was just spent with C, P, J and C#2 on the beach with brief rest stops for food (and cocktails!!). Myself and C seriously underestimated the strength of the sun through the overcast clouds and both got very badly burnt. That evening we checked out the bar scene and hit "The Clevelander" on Miami Beach. I called an early night (3am) as I was the one to be driving to Orlando the next day.

17th July. Me and C sadly departed Miami and our new friends and made our way to Orlando. C was feeling very rough from the night before. When we got there we got some food and then went downtown in a "taxi" to meet with L. I say "taxi" because this was probably the most incompetent taxi driver ever. He was 10 minutes late to pick us up and we had no way of contacting L who was just going to be waiting outside a bar. When he did finally arrive we got in the back and he got out to go speak to the people in the hotel. Loser. We went to a few bars with L, but just as me and C were feeling a big night was on the cards the bars closed. Boo. We experienced an interesting drive home with one of L's friends who had been drinking the whole night with us, not cool.

18th July. C and I hit Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon water park and re-discovered our childhood! It was pretty awesome. That evening we were joined in Orlando by P, J and C#2 who rented a car in Miami and drove up. We spent the evening in the hotel room playing more 'Ride the Bus'.

19th July. This was such an awesome day. We all made our way to Universal Studios and Island of Adventure. Seriously, if you think that you have seen Roller Coasters at Alton Towers or Thorpe Park then you have not seen anything! We had such a good day and by the end were ko'd. we got back to the hotel and ordered pizza for dinner and sat watching Family Guy on the TV. After food we had to say goodbye to P, J and C#2 who had to drive back to Miami :(. We both had an early night in preperation for the drive to New Orleans the next day.

Monday, 12 July 2010

I was taught the Aborigine word today, "Boo", which means 'to return', because when you thrown an ordinary Meringue...

Yo yo yo!I am coming to you this time live from Washington DC! Unfortunately the tower of the computer here is encased in a cage so I can't plug the camera in to upload pictures :( If you're reading this and there are pictures then I have updated it from Miami (our next stop), yay for you!

I will fill you in on what has happened up until now (roughly - I forgot to note down a few things so me and C have just been jogging our memories).
So last post I mentioned we were planning to take a boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty. Well we stuck to this plan and on Thursday the 8th of July we made our way down to the docks where C said he had taken a boat ride from the last time he was in NYC. We paid a reasonable price for a 75 minute boat ride down the river (or up depending on the time - fun fact from the boat ride, the direction of the current changes!) to the Statue and back. - Some old tart -

We were entertained by David, the rather over-enthusiastic tour guide who's gimmicky jokes were probably more in tune for the younger and extremely older patrons. I found him quite funny - read into that what you will. After the boat tour we made our way downtown to see the World Trade Centre site. Last year when I was in NYC it was still just a building site with nothing much there, but now there are at least 10-15 floors of two of the new towers they are building and it doesn't seem quite as morbid a place. The signs of the 9/11 tragedy are still there to see though and I took a picture of some of the memorials. Another fun fact from the boat ride, David told us that a campaign company who were against the building of the new towers have just won the rights to the office space inside them.... in his words "You really can't write this stuff". Technically I can, I just did. Garry, 1 - David, 0. After Ground Zero we made our way to Chinatown. It was very Chinese. All the street signs were also in Chinese and it was very weird being in Beijing, yet still in Manhattan. We decided it was too hot to carry on so stopped off for some refreshments in a typical Chinese food chain, Subway. (I'd like to point out here a fact that I had forgotten to mention before, It was RIDICULOUSLY hot in NYC when we were there and the day we arrived was apparently the hottest in Manhattan for 9 years, 103°F). OK, so that evening we planned to hit the NYC bar scene and we changed into our smartest clothing to impress: Shirt, Jeans and Trainers. We made our way back to Heartland Brewery for dinner where I had a "Voyage of Beer" - 6 samples of the Brewery's nicest beers. They were incredible. C had a pint of one and hated it, gutted. After that we made our way to the Irish Bar we found on the first night with a plan to head on to some of the bars the bar maid had given us. This is where my mighty fail occurred. I had one and a half beers before hitting rock bottom. I was too tired to continue so we had to head back to the Hostel. FAIL. I blame the jet lag and endless walking around NYC. We spent the evening in the hostel with the Frenchies in our dorm who were about as friendly as a punch in the testicles.

The next day, 9th July, we were woken early by the bloody Rifle Droppers chatting very loudly with no consideration for the lazy British who were sleeping. They eventually left and I managed to sleep another 2 hours. Me and C made our way to Evolution, a shop in Soho that I had been introduced to last year by JR. It is full of ancient fossils and more modern animal specimens to purchase. I bought one or two items that will be revealed on my return. We then made our way to Broadway between Canal St and Union Sq (supposedly a good place for shopping). We bought a few things (some new shorts for me - a week with lots of sweating had taken its toll on my 2 pairs I brought with me). When we got to Union Sq we chilled out on the grass in the sun and rested our legs. In the last week I have walked further than I have in my entire life. FACT. Whilst chilling C noticed a guy holding his baby in one arm and texting with the other hand and pointed out the need to support a baby's head. There was far more attention being made to the phone than the baby, whose head looked like it was falling off. - Father of the year, 2010 -

On our way back to the hostel we were waiting with a woman of... shall we say "ethnical difference"... with her 3 kids, one of which announced to the platform that she needed to pee. The woman took her out of the push chair and appeared to be holding her, but no. The next thing was notice is a pool of urine seeping across the platform. Ahhh, gotta love NYC! We finally got back to the hostel and chilled out briefly with 2 English girls who had arrived the night before. We decided to take an early night and C headed off to bed in preperation for his drive to DC the next day. I stayed up a little longer chatting but wasn't far behind.

So, Saturday 10th July, we were due to leave Lafayette Intl Hostel and head on to Washington. (Sidenote, I had noticed neither has brought nail clippers so I foraged some scissors from the hostel... OWLS!) The day before I had asked the hostel about the car that was blocking us in on the drive at the hostel and they had assured as that the owners would be leaving before us. I know where you think this is leading and we were expecting the exact same thing. However, that morning the car was indeed gone, but the gate key opening the locked gate over our drives was not in the designated "gate key" pot. The sign said that at 10am the office would be open but 10am came and went, as did 10:30am. We were getting more and more pissed off as expected. We did the only thing natural and ransacked the office for keys. We found a drawer of about 50 and tried them all, but to no avail. Eventually C took a closer look at the gate and noticed the hinges weren't quite secure. An attempted lift and the hinges came off and we opened the gate rotating it on the lock. WINNERS! The rest of the day was spent in traffic on the way to Washington DC and C had to handle our first driving in the rain, mwuhahaha. That afternoon we went into DC on the metro. I found the metro driver to be very like Ollie Williams (for the Family Guy fans:
"Tell us about the metro line we're on Ollie"
"Thanks Ollie, what's the next stop?"
Aaaaaaanywho, we managed to see all of the main landmarks by nightfall. We started with a view of the Capitol Building, then walked to the Washington Monument and down to the Lincoln Memorial. - Washington Monument with the Capitol Building in the distance, viewed from the walk to the Lincoln Memorial -

We then went over to the White House for a gander. We noticed lots of people taking "clever" pictures where they appeared to be holding the monument... so 2009! We suggested some more... "creative" pictures what with the phallic nature of the monument, but figured it wouldn't go down so well. C and I also admired the statues on the roof that were perfectly still. I insisted that I wanted to take a picture of the White House at night so we went on a search for a place to eat. We eventually came across a Sports Tavern and decided this would be the venue for the World Cup Final the next day. We had our food then made our way back to the White House. It was only then that we noticed that the "Statues" on the roof had gone. Turned out they were snipers. - The White House -

Once we had the night pictures we went back to the hostel and chilled out. We met our new friends L and R briefly, but didn't chat much as we were too tired. I attempted to e-mail LS from my phone, but during the process a HUGE bug (hand gesture necessary) flew into my face and landed next to me. Naturally I reacted the only way appropriate... I freaked out like a little girl. Nice.

Onto the 11th. We head into DC again with our new friend R. We attempted to check out an old theatre that R suggested would be interesting, but the tickets were sold out and the next ones clashed with the World Cup Final. We made our way to the Sports Tavern and got some seats. R decided to go back for the 1pm ticket to the theatre so we saved his seat. R came back 30 mins to kick off and the rest of the afternoon was spent drinking and watching Espana winning the World Cup. The bar maid that served us rather liked our British accents, especially when we said "cheers". Naturally we said "Cheers" for the rest of the night... to everything. A few free beers later and we made our way home rather tipsy. When we got back L (from Korea) asked if we wanted to go out for Korean food for dinner. We went to some dodgy place down the street that was closed, but L managed to work his charm and got us some food. A few minutes later and my mouth was burning, but it was goooooooood. C hated it (he doesn't like spice). We got back and chilled out for the evening. R left at 4am to head to Costa Rica.

On Monday 12th July (today as of writing this), me and C woke up and agreed with L that we'd meed him for drinks in the afternoon. We went into DC again and looked around the Natural History Museum. I made a huge fail and didn't take my DSLR camera out with me, one of the best times to take pictures!! After the natural history museum we went back to the hostel and waited for L. L didn't turn up so we went back into DC for lunch. We went back to our favourite Sports Tavern, but the bar maid who gave us free beer for our accents had gone. Bad times. Whilst in the bar the weather report of storms made its promise and the heavens opened. Supposedly we should get used to this. We finished our beers and then made our way back to the hostel where we met our new dorm-mate 'C from Leeds'. 'C from Leeds' was up for a night out, but unfortunately arrived a day too late as we had to be up at 4am to drive to Miami.

This is literally as far as we are as of typing this. We are planning to spend the evening with a Chinese Take-away/Take-out (British/American) and drinking a few more beers with L in the hostel. Tomorrow we are due to drive 17 hours 40 mins to Miami... JOY!

Sorry this seems very quick and to-the-point but I have only had this brief time to add to the blog. I hope you are all well and I will hopefully update again in Miami (if the hostel breaks the trend of having more than 1 PC per 30 guests!!)

See you all soon hopefully!


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

If they make it illegal to wear the veil at work, bee keepers are going to be furious!


This is my first real chance to sit down and catch up on a few things that have happened since my last post. There have been rather a lot and forgive me if my memory fails me.

So... the last thing I mentioned was that we were planning our 4th July day. WELL... what a day! IT began with me and C waking up very very early as you saw and then a lot of sitting around waiting for something to do. I was basically waiting for the planned "end of run" meeting at my old lab for my chance to catch up with some of the people I worked with last summer (and also get a free lunch - the woman who runs the lab traditionally pays for them all to have lunch). So I went off to have my free lunch and left C behind in the house. It was also my first attempt at driving over here, but personally I think it went fine. EM and MH were alive by the end of the journey so surely that makes it successful? Anyway, I went down to Gregg's (not the same as the one in the UK) and had my free lunch and met all the new Dement Fellows. It was all very nice, but I was still pretty jet lagged.

As soon as I got back we immediately went to a liquor store and bought beer for the day. Standard. We then headed over to some of the Dement Fellows' house pushing our collection of two 30 crates of beer, cardboard for signs and lots of meat for BBQing in a shopping cart that had luckily been left outside our house, result! When we got to the house C was introduced to people and soon after my first game of beer pong since last summer began. I sucked. I drank... a lot. Whilst this was going on EM came in to announce she had made our "you honk we drink" signs, including a comma sign and exclamation mark sign (for those not worth of holding main words). The sign had developed from last year's fun and we each had our own words to be responsible for holding. We then headed down to an intersection and the game began. It was probably the most fun I have had drinking in a long long time. WC pointed out the beauty of having individual signs as we could theoretically change the sign around ("Drink, we honk you!" was a suggestion). We realised we were all getting very drunk very quick, but it was still hilarious. We then headed back and BBQing ensued. Around late evening we made our way down to the waterfront for 4th July fireworks. Although they were very spectacular, myself and C couldn't help noticing how 'over the top' it all was. We think we managed to offend Mr and Mrs America sat infront of us. Oh well. The rest of the night included chilling on the Dement Fellows' porch and I decided to play them a few songs on the guitar. I was too drunk to play though really and messed up nearly every song.

WOW, that is a loooooot of stuff to remember and its just one day's worth. Keep up guys, you're doing well.

So, the 5th of July. Christ on a big red bike what a FAIL of a day. We attempted to go to Watchill Beach with the Dement Fellows and I decided to drive. It was supposed to be 45 mins away somewhere in Rhode Island, but 2 hours later we found ourselves VERY lost and in Conneticut. With our moods fast dropping we crawled closer to the beach in very heavy traffic only to have our hearts broken when we were within touching distance. A traffic person told us the beach had closed and we turned around and went home :( We drove for about 4 hours and all we had to show for it was a stop at Subway for lunch. Both myself, C and JL were very thirsty and pissed off so we drove straight to the liquor store and picked up some beer. JL purchased some Duct Tape from a CVS on Thayer St and we sat on the porch in the sun making Wizard Staffs. This is also a very simple game (if you can call it a game - I like to go with "drinking challenge") of taping each empty can to your new one effectively making a staff. When you are drunk you then fight with them, but mine and JL's main motive is to drink until the staff is taller than we are.- JL and his Wizard Staff -

After failing at this we moved onto "Ride the Bus", a game that was introduced to me in Loughborough, and one that I introduced to my Yank friends last summer. C got royally screwed in this game and we chuckled. That evening we headed down to the British Pub again and were joined by two of the Dement Fellows. We played many games of "Asshole" (don't worry, an innocent card based drinking game). It was a merry evening.- C losing at Ride the Bus and drinking from his fat Fosters Wizard Staff -

OK, so July 6th. C and I woke up feeling rather sorry for ourselves to say the least. We were planning to make a successful trip to the beach, but we were shocked to find our paperwork said we were booked into NYC a day earlier than we had thought. That changed a lot and I broke the news to MH who we were planning to give a ride to. She didn't take it too well as we had planned to meet up with MGF and JR. I drove MH to the lab where we spoke to our old boss for a while and went out for a coffee with MGF. It was the least we could do. MH decided she wasn't coming with us that day to NYC so me and C set off in the car. It was the first time we had been driving with no Americans. I chose to drove and practically soiled myself the closer we got to the city. We eventually got to Brooklyn and found our hostel. We gathered our things and made our way straight into Manhattan. Our first aim was to find Times Square. This ended up being a big big failure of a plan as both myself and C didn't remember New York quite as well as we thought we did. Once we got to Times Square though we felt rather thirsty again and found ourselves and Irish Pub. We spent 5 hours in there and drank a lot. We then attempted to find our way back to the hostel and took a lot longer a route than we did on the way in. Who'd have thunk it?
-Times Square-

Today we got into Manhattan early and after breakfast in the lobby of the Rockefeller centre we bought tickets to go to the top (apparently the best view of Manhattan). To be honest, the view was more than incredible at the top. - A rather dashing looking gentleman at the top of the Rockefeller Centre, New York -

After taking a lot of pictures we made our way back to Times Square and back to the Irish Pub to watch Spain vs. Germany in the World Cup. After seeing Spain defeat ze Germans we had a wander and went to Union Square to try and meet MH. We failed to meet up though so me and C had our dinner in the Heartland Brewery. We decided to have an easy night in and for a change of scenery NOT drink. I know what people must be thinking "Were you feeling OK?". The answer: No. 5 days of drinking had taken its toll and we both felt VERY rough. We have spent the evening in the hostel suffering in the extreme muggy heat that has hit New York.

Right, tomorrow we plan to take a ferry to see the Statue and do other touristy things. I hope you are all well and I will try and keep you all updated as often as I possibly can.


Sunday, 4 July 2010

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public

Howdy y'all!

Yes, I am writing this all the way from the US of A! Quick news for family and friends, we arrived here safe.... ish. All will be revealed...

So yes, yesterday at 0600 myself and C were driven to the Airport by the lovely K. Despite a spot of heavier traffic, we got there in no time. The print out of our boarding passes online saved a lot of time and we literally walked straight in and were through to departures in minutes. Nice one. We were planning to start the trip with a beer in the airport (it's Beer o' Clock somewhere right?), but it didn't work out as we prioritised by getting breakfast and a coffee. It was going to be a long day and we felt rough. Before long we were on the plane and in our seats. C pointed out that Ze Germans were behind us and that they'd probably come along earlier in the morning to put their towels over their seats. Anyway, at 0830 UK time our flight to Toronto began and the trip had officially started. Whoop whoop!

During the flight I quickly tried to get into the mood for the trip and opted to be anti-social and watch a film. Browsing through the list I came across "Edge of Darkness". Noooooo! The woman in front of us was watching it. She obviously wanted to end her life. However, a short browse through the list and I found "The Hangover" - four guys in Vegas who got so drunk they don't remember a thing - fitting don't you think? At 1250 UK time the Stewardess came round with refreshments and we cracked open our first beer of the trip. In homage to our destination I went for Coors Light. C opted for Heineken. Nice. I soon regretted my decision as I had forgotten just how shit the shitty American light beers taste. It was probably for the best though as drinking games in Providence are bound to have some of the delicious nectar that is "Natural Light" (Beer flavoured water with alcohol). I also continued my tradition of sitting at the back of a plane and not paying for drinks, a skill I started last summer. However, I was disappointed when C pointed out that they are free to all on long haul.With our drinks came a rather interestingly named snack. "Maized and Confused Corn Chips". I'm not sure what a "confused" corn chip is, but they were disgusting. -Nice-

My need to pee twice withing an hour worried C who began to doubt my ability to handle my ability to survive on our long drives. One more pee trip later and he now began to doubt whether I was a guy. C started to watch some terrible looking film about people getting stuck on a Ski lift. He was grossed out when one of them was being eaten by Wolves. A man with a baby decided this was the best time to walk down and stand near us for his baby to take in the gore-fest. I decided that the baby grossed me out more than the film, it was ginger. No-one likes a ginger baby. 7 and a half tiring hours later and we landed in Toronto. This is where the fun began...

I had decided to purchase some Twinings tea for JL, who I know likes to drink tea. C joked that I would be pulled aside at customs for having brown powder in my bags. I got nervous and decided to tick the yes box for "Have you brought any food items into the country?". I nervously approached the customs officer, but he wanted nothing to do with me or my Twinings. Instead, C got called into "Secondary Baggage Inspection", whilst I was ushered straight through the magnetic scanner bit. On the other side there was no sign of C. I waited for 20-30 minutes but still nothing. I decided to wander down to the gate and see if he was there, but alas, no sign still. I began to worry and fear the worst. I had images of small rooms and officers pulling on latex gloves. 5 minutes to boarding with still no sign of C and I was freaking out. Suffice to say, fairly brown boxer shorts by now. Eventually he appeared with his dignity intact and we boarded our flight to Boston, MA.

Despite the unfriendly lady's friendly gesture of putting is in seats next to each other, the flight turned out to be a mass free-for-all and seemed to be a Mother's outing day with their babies. I was asked to sit at the back on my own. When the stewardess came round with refreshments I opted for Coke purely for the caffeine. I took another gamble on the "confused corn chips", which tasted rather good after 12 sleep deprived hours. I scoffed them down almost as fast as the Michelle McManus look-a-like sat next to me. I tried to get some sleep, but it wasn't happening. I was sat next to the toilet and it is very hard to sleep in those conditions. A few minutes later and the corn chips clearly weren't enough nourishment as Michelle tucked into a large pack of sweets. Standard. It was only a short flight and within 90 minutes we were in Boston.

We planned to meet MH at the airport, my good friend from my work here last summer. I soon realised I had no way of contacting her, but had only told her to meet us at our baggage claim. Luckily that was easy and we got on a shuttle bus to get the car. At the Hertz depot the guy took our reservation and asked where we would be dropping the car off. When C said "San Francisco" the guy looked as though we'd just told him his Mum was dead. Anyway, the fright of our answer must have shocked him as he threw in a free Sat Nav and didn't charge us the $800 under-age driver fee. Nice one! We were given a white Toyota Corolla and C won the coin toss to see who drove to Providence. -Our pimp-mobile for the next 5 weeks-

I'll be honest, the Sat Nav was shite and almost made us come off at the wrong exit on the I-93. C tried to merge back into the freeway and nearly pulled out infront of a car. We got to Providence with no other mishaps though........ which was nice.

We parked up and got let into JL and EM's house by some random guy who didn't know who JL was. There didn't seem to be anyone at home, but after poking my head around the door to one bedroom I saw JL lying there on the phone. Just how I remember him. We embraced (in a manly way) and JL showed me his fridge and what was inside for the 4th July plans. Two packs of minced Bison and one large pack of minced beef. Bison burgers were our speciality last summer. We decided it was Beer o' Clock and went out. We started our first evening in America by heading down to a British Pub. I pointed out to JL that we had not flown 3 and a half thousand miles to go to a Pub. When he told me that there were abour 200 beers in the pub I soon shut up. The four of us (Me, C, JL and MH) drank steadily and chatted. I felt a bit sorry for C as we were mainly talking about last summer stories and Sleep Lab stuff. A little bit later PZ joined us and insisted on buying C and JL a shot of Jack Daniels. I opted out. Whisky is Satan's liquid as far as I'm concerned. We also had the rather nice looking waitress bring us over some free shots because she saw we had to go to the bar to order one of our drinks and was sorry. You don't get that sort of service down in Wetherspoons! We also had some food and it was a pleasant mildly drunk evening. We went via the liqour store to get beer for 4th July celebrations. When we got back JL tucked into a cup of Twinings and C and I had a beer.-JL is clearly confused by my Gorillapod-

A little later EM came back from work! We called it a night though and everyone went off to bed. Me and C thought we had done quite well lasting until 2200 US time (0300 UK time, 21 hours awake) and hoped it would stop us getting jet lag.

At 0500 this morning we both woke up. FAIL. Since then I have been sat here writing this on JL's laptop (he started work at 0400). The plans for today's 4th July are as follows: I am off to my old lab to meet the new Dement Fellows and go for lunch with them. C is staying behind I think, which I feel a bit guilty about, but then I'm getting free lunch. From then on it is off to PZ's house to spend the afternoon drinking and BBQing. We are also planning to play "You honk we drink". A simple, yet fun game we played last summer (but JL missed out). It consists of getting a bit of wood and making a sign saying "You honk, we drink" and sitting outside in the street with a crate of beer. Epic. I'm not sure what I'm going to do until then, it's currently 0640, but I'll probably let C use the laptop soon.

Take care everyone!


Friday, 2 July 2010

I won't take gates from fields that don't belong to me. It's not my style.

Well hello kind Sirs and Madams,

I thought I would be stereotypically British with my greeting this time as it is my last chance to retain any "British-ness" before I fully adopt the American culture. Soon I'll start gaining weight sitting infront of the TV drinking cheap beer and shouting at poor quality sporting events. Hang on.....

Right, I'll be honest people. The rest of this post will be written completely from memory as I have written up to here in England, but am now in the US. Therefore, it will be a little bit short. Basically, myself and C went into town on Friday to do some last minute purchasing before embarking on our journey. We each spent a hefty amount buying clothes and a few other essentials. The walk back from Guildford town centre to my house nearly killed us, but I think it was worth it. We then spent the afternoon and evening watching Andy Murray, Netherlands vs. Brazil and then Uruguay vs. Ghana with K. A rather nice sports filled evening before the big day. We opted out of a Movie as the night before we tried to watch "Edge of Darkness". Possibly the worst film ever! K didn't last long before going to bed and I gave up not long after. C managed to sit through the full thing torturing himself for some reason.

Anyway, I shall leave it here as my memory has failed me in regards to anything else that has happened.

Goodbye England, I will see you again soon.


Sunday, 27 June 2010

Chasing the American Dream does not count as exercise!


I spent a lengthy period of time trying to think of some clever and whitty American themed title for this blog as I had originally only planned to write it for my upcoming travels for friends and family to keep up with how things were going [Sidenote: If you don't know about my imminent 5 week road trip of the USA then I am not sure what you are doing here - so do one!]. I had also been inspired by my cousin's blog, which is simply brilliant. I then thought to myself "Hey, what if I take to this blogging lifestyle and want to continue after we get back?" hence the generic blog title and USA themed post title instead. Also, I don't want to even attempt to compete with cousin L's blog, if I do then I have already lost the battle, and I hate losing!

So, down to the nitty gritty. In 6 days time (3rd July), myself and C will be embarking from London Heathrow bound for Boston, MA, equipped with our rucksacks, a car hire reservation, sat navs and our natural ability to sniff out a brewery from miles away. It's a gift that comes naturally to two guys from Kettering. Here's the low down of our trip: We will drive straight from Boston, MA, 40 mins down to Providence, RI, where I worked last summer to catch up with some of my good friends, including JL, MH, P, MGF, EM and EF, for drunken antics and 4th July celebrations. From there we take a 5 hour drive to NYC, where we'll be for 4 days. We then take a 4 hour drive to stop in and say "Hi" to Barack in Washington DC for 3 days. Then comes the mahoosive mother of a drive, 17 hours and 20 mins down the east coast all the way to Miami, FL, where we'll be for 4 days. To be honest, I am dreading that drive, but the thought of Miami and its beaches (and the "perks" that come with them) is creating more excitement and anticipation than I thought was possible for a 23 year old guy.

OK, breather... this paragraph is getting too long!

Right. Once we have recovered from Miami we take a 4 hour drive back up to Orlando, FL, where we stay for 3 days. We then head on to possibly one of the most musically historic cities on the planet. A 10 hour drive will bring us to New Orleans, LA. We'll be there for 3 days and will hopefully check out some blues, jazz and anything else on offer. Now... here comes the real ball ache of a drive. A 24 hour drive (yes that is 24!) will take us to Phoenix, AZ. I know what you're thinking... "Shit. The. Bed.". Don't worry, so are we. The only comfort (I use the word "comfort" very loosely here!) comes from the fact that this drive is spread over two days with a stop in some sleazy middle-of-nowhere motel. Can anyone say "Psychopathic Southern Redneck Rapist Axe Murderer?". I will definitely be sleeping with an eye on the door and my back against the wall. Either way, whether its for better or worse, there might not be much sleep that night. We're only in Phoenix for for 2 days and it is simply so we can nip up and see the Grand Canyon. Epic. From there we head straight to Las Vegas, NV, where we're booked into the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on the Vegas strip. I cannot wait for Vegas!! It's been dubbed an "Adult Playground" so the mind boggles as to what we'll find. From Vegas its on to San Diego, CA, where we stop in to see my good friend T!!! After 4 days of partying it up, more beaches, and the promise of enough Mexican food to make our next drive rather... "uncomfortable"... we will drive along the famous Pacific Coastal road up to San Francisco, CA. From here we sadly come to the end of our trip and fly back to London. Bad times.

So there's 6 days left. Unfortunately for me, that includes 4 days of work. Now, my work is very secretive and for that reason I can't really talk much about it. However, after much discussion over numerous coffee breaks about what is acceptable to talk about, I have concluded that I can say anything I like as long as it doesn't include where I work, who with, the companies we work for, the products we use or who I work for.... so basically nothing. OK, this isn't strictly true, but it's pretty close. However, I'll give it a go. I work in a centre that primarily researches sleep and human pharmacology. At the moment we have an alcohol & drug study that is nothing short of crazy. People get paid good money to take part in these studies (£900 for 4 days) but there is a reason. My remaining 4 days in this country will be spent with people who are so drugged and boozed up that they'd give Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty a good run for their money.

Right, I think this has been gruesomely long enough for a first post. C heads down on Thursday and Friday will be spent in Guildford attempting to get some last minute neccessities. I will try and post a quick update before we leave, but I will leave you with a picture I took on my last visit to the USA that epitimises my love for America:

Only in America...

Take care,