So, the journey begins. Actually, it began at about 6AM this morning, when I arose to shower and get ready to head to the airport. Nick & I enjoyed a preemptory meal at 10 Greek Street in Soho last night, our last nutritionally rounded repast before we head to the world of deep fat fryers and ever-rising levels of cholesterol which we’ve committed to crossing over the next few weeks - Nick follows in a few days, after a brief festive sojourn to Manchester.
The meal, though very good, was not particularly noteworthy in and of itself, having very little bearing on the events of today. What does have particular relevance however, is the two bottles of wine we polished off during the course of a couple of hours - especially the (excellent) bottle of Sauternes, which accompanied dessert. Although the walk home took the edge off of what might have been a particularly dangerous amendment to my preflight routine, it did result in some of the most haphazard packing I’ve ever done - any customs official checking my bag might consider themselves looking at a new and unregarded work by Tracy Emin and be forgiven for thinking so.
The journey across London - from Shoreditch to Victoria - was uneventful, as was the Gatwick Express, although the latter was enlivened by a couple having one of those gloriously passive-aggressive ‘on the way to the airport’ arguments. It’s amazing how much venom you can transmit just by asking who’s got the passports or whether you remembered to post the Christmas cards. Still, it passed the time.
Anyway, having arrived at the airport, I waited on a friend from work who is traveling to Athens for Christmas - this resulted in an unlikely, but very enjoyable, coffee before I headed onto the monorail bound for the North Terminal. A simple trip through security and here I sit now in the No. 1 Lounge, watching people hog the wifi (I am sitting next to one person with four items online at once - even I’m not sure how that’s sustainable) and pick at the remnants of the complimentary breakfast in the hope of finding a pain au chocolat that hasn’t gone rock hard.
Much like the first post from my last time I wrote something like this my thoughts have begun to wander to the trip ahead. I’ll spend a few days with my parents, which will inevitably be relaxing and Christmas-centric, but I’m thinking more about the days following Nick’s arrival and the same strange mix of excitement and anxiety is pushing its way into my forebrain.
I am, of course, thrilled about the trip we’re about to take together, Nick and I. As with our journey around Iceland, we have planned little, with only two dates set in stone - New Orleans for New Year’s Eve and the return flight from San Fransisco. This is how we seem to like to do it: Set a route and then let the time spool away as we make our way across the country, letting Serendipity surprise and delight us as she sees fit. It worked amazingly well previously, although it meant a last minute dash to Reykjavik as we got carried away indulging our Prometheus obsession at Dettifoss.
This trip is longer, nineteen days compared to the ten spent in Iceland, and we’ll be seeing most of the southern states of America - there are some of the big names in there too; Texas, Colorado, Nevada, California. All worthy of several days at a time, a luxury we won’t have, making optimising our experience in each state much more of a priority than it was in Iceland. I think this will form an important learning curve as we continue on our agenda of yearly ‘Adventures’ - will our somewhat haphazard approach to planning pay dividends as it has previously or will we spend too much time walking snowy mountains in Vail and miss an opportunity to see Yosemite? I suppose time will tell, but I’m looking forward to those first few exploratory days when we’ve got a chance to sit in a dive bar and discuss what we want to achieve.
This hopeless optimism brings me to the other strand of my traveling dichotomy. I am a little concerned about our personal safety. This springs not from any assumptions about Southern Hospitality (which I understand deserves the capitalisation) or the lazy stereotypes often associated with the Southern states, but more from a deep and thorough understanding of what my traveling partner and I are like once we’ve had a beer or two. We can both be somewhat *ahem* provocative in the right situations and have a fondness for seeing hilarity in simple sentences or phrases that leave even our mild mannered English compatriots rolling their eyes (at best) or furious (at worst).
Whilst I’m loathed to apply any preconceptions to the places we’ll be visiting, it is a matter of record that many of the southern states rank rather highly in any ’10 Most Dangerous States’ poll a hasty Google search can deliver. Pair this statistical base with a proud predilection for weapons of all sizes and the certain peculiarities of local politics, with a pair of childish Englishmen who delight in the gentle (and not so gentle) mocking of those around us and I can foresee situations arising that will necessitate us learning how to start our car in the most expedient manner possible and identifying likely escape routes from any place we enter of an evening.
A mutual friend of ours, in responding to the Facebook post announcing this website, commented thus: ‘I expect you to be shot within three days’. I wonder what odds that statement would get from anybody else that knows us? Something to ponder, for sure.
That’ll do for my first thoughts. I’m going to try and update this daily if possible, so I’m sure we’ll speak soon.
In the meantime, I think it’s worth paraphrasing Paul Revere’s famous warning - The British are coming... Brace yourself America.