“I’m going on an adventure!” said the young man to the drinks machine while it dispensed his necessary morning bottle of caffienated sugar syrup.
“Whirrr….Bzzzzzt…..Clatter… Clank” said the drinks machine, spitting out the beverage in question and wondering, in the non-plussed way machines do, why this human was bothering it at 0448 in the morning.
The young man collected the drink, and after saying a polite but cheery “thankyou” to the machine, wandered along the platform towards an uncomfortable looking bench.
Watching him walk away, the machine rolled its eyes – or it would if it had any – and after the regulated couple of minues turned off its lights and went back to sleep.
And so begins my three week adventure to the United States of America, Land of the free, Home of the brave, and still – bewilderingly – the only country in the industrialised world where your medical bills might kill you. However that’s a discussion for another time.
As I write, I find myself whisked through the inky black of a Devonshire autumn morning on a South Western Railways train in a carriage where my only company is a couple of early bird commuters making their way to London for another long working Friday. Although why anyone would commute from the other side of the country for the sake of a single day of work is a little baffling to me. Anywho, the trip upon which I embark this morning is a long one, in fact it’s the longest “holiday” I’ve had since I was 11, when my mother took my brother and me on an eight week epic journey around a sizeable portion of the anglosphere. It’s also going to be one of the busiest, as I am attempting – foolishly perhaps – to take in as much of the contiguous united states as I can given the time and funds I have available. In order to do this I will be enlisting the help of two stalwarts of Americana… AMTRAK (that’s the US’ cross-state rail system) and the Road Trip (kindly driven by my good friend and up-and-coming thespian, Tom, who we shall perhaps meet in later blog posts).
The plan, then, is for a week to be spent in New York, where I’ll be taking in the normal touristy things, and hopefully being introduced to some other non-touristy places by Tom. I’ll also be – perhaps predictably – visiting some museums; I’m particularly looking forward to the Hayden Planetarium although I doubt very much I’ll get to meet Neil DeGrasse Tyson, as much as it would make my holiday.
After this initial stay in the Big Apple, it’s on a flight out to San Francisco to board the California Zephyr which will take me through the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, and the Great Plains back to Chicago (the city, not the Musical) where I’ll be changing trains onto the Lake Shore Limited back to New York. I figure this way I can cram as much of the US’ wonderful blend of scenery as I can into my stay. My only real regret is that I won’t get any time actually in San Francisco, other than the eight hours or so overnight between my flight landing and the train leaving, (just an excuse for another trip I suppose).
Then once I’m back on the East Coast, Tom’s once again taking up the baton and the road trip begins… this part of the trip is – as yet – unplanned, but as long as we get back for the first days of NY Comic Con, I’ll be happy.
I’m now passing through Axminster, giving me a last chance for a brief farewell to my childhood neighbourhood before the epic adventure begins! I’ll bring this first post to a close here though, but as I’ve brought enough Camera Equipment to supply a low budget documentary crew… I imagine you may see more of me in the coming days.
Makes a change from the dearth of posts over the last year or so though right!
Ben D Brooks
16 Sept 2017