So, I’m managing to get this finished basically 11 months after it happened. Luckily everything is still fresh in my mind. I have to make a great effort to finish typing my adventures from last year before it’s too late, not to mention my adventures from this year. In any event, here are my observations from traveling from
My last few days in Vegas
My last few days in Las Vegas before getting ready to start my journey to Canada were interesting. Not much had been happening, although I got into an argument with Bob’s girlfriend Marcia that was interesting. In an effort to encourage his younger roommates to try and find work he made a bet that they must be awake by 7:30 AND get to the welfare office before 12:00. Since they were not awake by 7:30, they lost the bet. Now Marcia was defending them valiantly but failed to understand the difference between AND and OR. She tried to say that since they did one part of the bet no one should win, not realizing since they woke up after 7:30 they already lost – regardless. This wasn’t surprising as after we got to discussing politics Marcia made some interesting opinions known. Such as people should not be allowed to immigrate to the USA unless they speak English and the Arizona law did not go far enough.
It was Zane’s friends Joe’s birthday, so I went out with him and some other guys to a casino and a random house party. Max had been annoying me recently…at just 21, he was sure he knew everything. Which is fine, a lot of people are like that at all ages. What was annoying was that he kept correcting me on shit when he was wrong. It wasn’t bad enough that he would correct my pronunciation of words because he didn’t understand that there is more than one accent, he started talking crap about me as well. I think this was partly because I had become good friends with his girlfriend Rachel, and he felt he needed to assert himself as often as possible.
This was all fine, and I was having no problem ignoring him. After the casino we ended up going to a house party, which was interesting. On the way to the house party our car was pulled over by the cops which annoyed me. Max was freaking out in the car trying to convince everyone that it was all fine; he then later reiterated the story that I was extremely nervous. I guess to try and humiliate me in front of his girlfriend. Who knows?
Now, this party was what I had wanted to go to in the US for ages. A house party straight out of a college movie, loads of hot girls and drinking games going on. Unfortunately, I was still feeling pretty down the entire time and just couldn’t get into it. I’ve never really had a problem talking to girls at bars or clubs, but when I’m not interested they tend to notice. Now Max in his typical arrogant way seemed to think I was unable to approach a girl by myself, and so introduced me to some random girl standing behind us so he could leave with Rachel. Which was fine and she seemed mildly interesting until she left. I talked to a few other girls and just couldn’t be bothered to actually hold the conversation. I don’t know what exactly was stopping me from just letting go and having fun but it’s frustrating.
One of the most interesting things that had happened since Ruddy and Bob had moved in was the shift in relationships. I was really getting on well with one of Rachel’s friends Buzz and thought there was actually a good chance we could stay friends. We still can be, but I was surprised how quickly Bob and Ruddy replaced me. I don’t know if that is the right word, but there was definitely more of a bond between those two, perhaps just due to age? Buzz even seemed to prefer hanging out with Rowan who was the eldest and didn’t like to drink.
During that party, I started to feel really annoyed and I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps because of Max talking shit about me, perhaps at my frustration that I couldn’t just enjoy myself, perhaps at wondering why Buzz stopped hanging out – a whole host of things. There was also the fact that I was convinced Rowan kept pretending to be drunk when he wasn’t. I was pretty sure of this, being as dramatic as he was and making a big deal about not drinking only to start drinking constantly…well. I don’t know why that would annoy me so much….just fakeness in general I suppose.
On the way home we stopped for some McDonalds which was awesome. I rode with Rachel while everyone else was in Buzz’s car. There was much mooning and racing on the highway which was amusing. After some food I decided to have a smoke. I’d barely been smoking the last two months but as annoyed as I felt I didn’t mind. It was during this time that Max made offhand threatening remarks which just pissed me off on top of everything else. I felt like getting out of the car and hitting him but of course it’s never smart to give in to anger. I just ignored everything till I got home, only a few days to go until I left.
It was the immediate Saturday that Joe’s amazing birthday party was taking place. I declined to go, as awesome as it sounded. Why, I am not exactly sure. Just not wanting to deal with Max and Rowan and all the shit I found annoying for the last few weeks. I’d already celebrated Joe’s birthday at smaller gatherings no problems there. I guess a part of me was sad that over the last two months I thought I had made friends and I wanted to see if they would perhaps try and throw me any kind of going away part, or even just let me know they would miss me. Everyone came back to Zane’s apartment a lot sooner than I thought, as apparently the cops busted it up. I feigned being asleep most of the night) except for when I actually dozed off) and despite quite a few different people coming in at different times to try and get me to come out, I didn’t want to budge.
It was the next day where I found out all the shit that happened the night before. The reason everyone came back to Zane’s apartment was because the police came to the house party and people were ordered to leave. I felt bad for Buzz as he was just trying to throw a good party for Joe…, but at the same time I guess he should have been more careful about it. It was interesting to observe the relationship dynamics after shit went down. Max left a shirt there with his name in it, went back and kicked in the door to make sure he got it and then refused to talk to anybody about anything. I understand being worried about legal repercussions and protecting yourself but if your friends with someone you don’t fuck them over just to save yourself. It’s situations like that that show who your true friends are.
On the same day it seemed like Bob was breaking up with Marcia. Young couples that last are rare, but these guys had a strange dynamic. She seemed to be with him because at least in part she liked bossing him around and he liked her because she was semi-hot and caring. Bob was interesting; he was smart and mature but purposely acted immature. The fact that they were getting married before Bob started his military service was not a great indication. What was also interesting was that Joe seemed so upset they may break up. I didn’t get why they all became friends so quickly, but then Joe was a pretty sensitive guy so it could have just been that.
Finally out of Vegas
I caught a ride with a guy to Los Angeles for $20, who turned out to be pretty cool. Many interesting topics were discussed on the way and then as we tried to find an English radio station coming into LA. I only stayed for a few days, which was more than enough in such a shitty city. It was odd staying with my host as she was very proud of LA and I didn’t care for it at all, so we didn’t really get on that well. I ended up meeting with my cougar in LA…which was odd. Met at a rooftop bar in Venice…made small talk which was kind of odd as we were both going to go back to her place for sex. She paid for all my drinks which was pretty cool…and drove me back the next morning, even offered money for a taxi. I wasn’t attracted to her that much, but I hadn’t had sex since July and wanted some…so be it.
The next day I hung out in Hollywood with the guy I caught a ride with, just going to the same places I had had my initial adventures like 7 years ago, which was kind of odd. Seeing the cybercafé where I met the first gay guy I really met and who I stayed with and who then held my stuff hostage for a while, where I was able to get free internet because they just used MAC addresses for authentication…seeing the Oakley store where I thought a girl liked me back when I didn’t know girls liked me….seeing Hollywood and highland where I saw many celebrities…I feel like I was so young then…yet I wasn’t, not really.
I wonder if I would ever go back and try acting in LA….but I just dislike that city so much…being able to make it in NYC has so much more appeal to me. I found it quite annoying that my ride to LA managed to stay with 2 girls who told me they couldn’t host me due to studies…despite hosting him when he asked after me. I get sometimes that people lie to be polite but I just can’t stand it….probably part of a reason me and Candice didn’t work out, given that all British people do the polite lying thing.
After my time in LA which was exactly as short as it needed to be, it was time to head to San Francisco. I didn’t care much for this city of hippies, but I feel like Candice had ambition to go there and so I had a renewed interest in seeing it, maybe to see what she saw in it that I missed. I ended up catching a rideshare with some cool guys, one of who looked almost exactly like Scott Bakula. I had a lot of trouble finding a host but managed to find one for the first night where we talked a lot about couchsurfing and computer stuff. There was some blues festival going on which I walked around and enjoyed….I hate walking around by myself….I went there to find people not for the festival, yet have trouble finding people. I have in the past I guess….but not this time. It’s such a lonely feeling yet being surrounded by people….I wish I could be more open and outgoing and friendly sometimes. I used to be better at approaching people but it was like I had no motivation to overcome my loneliness. I just kept wishing Candice was there with me, because I knew she would have loved it. Other times just seeing really pretty girls and being amazed how much I wanted to be with someone.
After going back home and doing research and was then I realized I couldn’t get my proper tourist visa as I needed to be a Canadian resident. I was considering going back to Germany as I didn’t want to go back to the other side of the world, but I hated Germany. Then I began my process to get my Canadian work visa which was in theory very easy, and a workable alternative as opposed to going back home. I discovered the idiocy of the lonely Planet forum while asking about how the VWP would apply if I were a Canadian resident and getting answers from an American who had never used the VWP yet was confident he had all the answers. I don’t really understand what it is that drives people to spend so much time on forums and try to be an authority on every issue. I had to make plans now as I did want to see the King Tut exhibition in NYC, see Emma in Texas and go back to Las Vegas at some point where I had friends and my hard drives. My plan to just get my visa in Vancouver and come back down was no longer possible so I was unsure when I would be back. Still, getting my Canadian working visa would seem to be the first step…if only I had realized that I couldn’t get it from within Canada. The next night I stayed at a hostel…$30 for an 18 bed dorm seemed crazy considering I was paying like $5 per night in Costa Rica. I hadn’t really been in a hostel since I first came to the US, but didn’t really get a chance to appreciate it.
Heading further north
I had been looking for a ride to Portland and not much was in my price range, but managed to find a guy willing to take me for free. There was a hot girl in the general area the next morning, but had to leave before I could talk to her. Met the guy who was giving me a ride….a gay guy but friendly and talkative, provided sandwiches and everything. Not sure why his being gay mattered but it stuck in my mind somehow. Had some interesting conversations on the 11 hour ride…..there really isn’t anything between San Francisco and Portland. Stopped in Springfield and saw Springfield police which was pretty cool.
Then at night I arrived in Portland and met the very cool girl and housemates I was staying with. Quick introductions and then I retired after a long day of travel. The main reason I was excited to go to Portland was to see the basis for Springfield on The Simpsons. That wasn’t too much the case or it didn’t feel so much from walking around….but it was also easy to imagine them living in one of the houses near where I was staying. I didn’t get to see the gorge Springfield gorge was based on or the elementary school, I did get to see Flanders and Lovejoy streets however.
As far as Portland as a town is concerned….I hated it. It is one of my least favorite places on earth, which was just the start of my extreme dislike of the northwest. Initially Portland seems too trendy with many people either wearing suit jackets with jeans and sunglasses, or being alternative and wearing baggy clothes and having crazy long dreadlocks. Gah. There really isn’t much to see as a tourist. One of the main things I was suggested to see was Voodoo Doughnuts. It was an OK doughnut store but the highlight seemed to be that they catered to vegans and had funny and/or erotic cake designs. I guess I’m not just impressed by funny shaped cakes, although I guess I can understand that many people may not have seen such things before. For me it was more notable that there was a market for vegan doughnuts, it fit in with the idiotic character of the city I had found to exist.
I then went to Powell’s books…which indeed is a cool book store. It seems too big to be small and independent but does have some cool policies, as well as an excellent selection of books. Several Asimov books I had not previously heard off, the new Dean Koontz Frankenstein books which I had had trouble finding, all the T2 books by S.M. Sterling, all the Buffy comics….very cool. It actually seemed to be a store worth going to unlike say staples in NYC, which seems to be just the current hipster trend.
The other thing Portland seems to be notable for is food carts. Little RV’s or the like that have been turned into restaurants, all parked in areas where stores would normally be. I don’t really get the attraction….there isn’t anything special about the food, why does it matter if it is being sold from an RV or a store? It’s hardly unique to Portland either, as they have the same thing in Austin, albeit to a lesser extent.
So, I decided to walk around town and after doing the Simpsons stuff there wasn’t really stuff to see. I went to see the statue of Portlandia and couldn’t find it, walking past it twice before it being pointed out to me, since it just isn’t really notable. Many Portland residents didn’t even seem to know about it. What I did notice when walking around was the sheer amount of homeless people and coffee stores. There seemed to be a far greater percentage of homeless people than in NYC, which seems to be supported by statistics. Portland seems to be the kind of city that welcomes the crazy and homeless and tries to help them. Which is nice, I guess.
I would have thought that Portland was just another town with a hippy vibe like San Francisco with its claim to fame being beers, coffee and having been the basis for the Springfield of The Simpsons. Alas, it is much worse than this. I noticed in Portland a deplorable willful ignorance that stretches roughly from Portland all the way to Vancouver. Portland was the start of noticing a horrid trend of Super-Hippies everywhere. An unusually number of vegans, people who believe in homeopathy, a misplaced faith in nature, a deference to groupthink under the guise of common sense….and crazy crazy feminists. It was from traveling from Portland to Vancouver that I saw where my friend Sarah got some of her crazy views from. What these people think of as progressive seems to be, objectively, simply a different type of regression. Is it any surprise that Portland is where What the bleep do we know was filmed? A film that defines quantum physics as the ability to manipulate reality with your mind? That film says pretty much everything you need to know to judge the city.
I went for dinner and later a drink with my host, a girl who was very cute and seemed interested in me despite having a strong fireman boyfriend….who also hung out with me on occasion. I liked this girl as well….but I didn’t see anything happening. Plus, I could have been reading everything wrong. I left Portland on First Thursday, a showing of museums and food and such that sounded quite interesting, however I did not realize it was at night and already bought my train ticket. I bought a bullshit train ticket to pretty much the next station over with the intent of investigating if it were possible to purchase a ticket for free on board, however Amtrak was having none of that. Out of all the companies to have real time credit card verification in place I would not have thought it would be Amtrak. I left Portland on First Thursday, a showing of museums and food and such that sounded quite interesting, however I did not realize it was at night and already bought my train ticket. I bought a bullshit train ticket to pretty much the next station over with the intent of investigating if it were possible to purchase a ticket for free on board, however Amtrak was having none of that. Out of all the companies to have real time credit card verification in place I would not have thought it would be Amtrak.
I had to find a place with wifi, as I had forgotten to write down my hosts address. I found an excellent Irish pub called Fado’s on 1st and Columbia, where the waitresses were very helpful and friendly and didn’t even charge me for my coffee! I decided to walk a ways since the busses didn’t seem to have transfers, and I didn’t want to pay for 3 different busses. Everything was closed, even the Walgreens at 11am, which made it frustrating to get my fix of Dr Pepper. I managed to find somewhere, and then get to the bus stop. There had been quite a few dodgy characters on the way but no trouble; I figured it was probably a similar city to Portland with a lot of homeless people. At the bus stop a guy was insistent on selling me his transfer for $2 so he could save money…it turned out to be legitimate, but he didn’t seem to understand why I would be skeptical of such a deal. I don’t mind helping people out, but I guess in his world
I arrived at my hosts house who were very friendly however was disappointed to find out they study and believe in naturopathy which is OK, but also homeopathy. As well as astrology which I guess isn’t surprising. It was in keeping with the character of the northwest I had seen so far. I didn’t do anything the next day except relax and recovery, and then went to a naturopath party of all the students the next night. This is where I learned that there is actually a university that receives federal funding that offers courses in homeopathy. What the fuck.
I didn’t really end up exploring much of Seattle….I didn’t care about the space tower…not for $20 or whatever, and there didn’t seem much else to see. I started to look for a ride to Vancouver. I found a rideshare but had not heard back in a while, so started to look at public transport. It turns out Amtrak was cheaper than the bus options, how very odd.
I arranged to meet with my host the next morning at a coffee shop. After hanging out for a while and waiting, they arrived. Two young guys who seemed pretty cool and wanted only $10 for the ride, so we embarked on our quest to Canada. First however, we had to pick up one more guy, who turned out to be strange. Seemed to be in his 40’s, dressed in a cowboy hat, overcoat and pants and a shirt that provided him with something like 50 pockets. As well as far more luggage than he should need for such a short trip. I joined the two other guys in deciding to smoke some weed before crossing the border, which was dumb but turned out fine. At the border crossing despite my lack of onward ticket or funds, I was actually the fastest to be interviewed and approved. Experience with knowing what to say I guess. The Americans got through easy enough, probably just stumbled over being asked if they had drugs. Oddly the Canadian and his 50 pockets took the longest. Oddly enough I didn’t get a stamp, so had no proof that I had left the USA except for my debit card bills.
They were surprised that I told the guard that I had smoked weed but did not have any on me. It made sense to admit it, satisfying his need for the truth and well as ensuring I had nothing on me. The Canadian who had apparently been to 42 countries said you never told them anything, ever. No wonder he took the longest. After we dropped him off, it was time to get a beer. Delicious Guinness. Then I got dropped off to meet my new hosts and was safely in Canada. The next leg of my adventure starting.