Week 25: 10 July to
10 July - In Phoenix now awaiting my next bus, have spotted
the English lady across the way so must avoid her. The rest rooms are
disgusting, so typical of Greyhound. Had an uncomfortable night, not now
looking forward to my 3 night haul across country, could do with some pills to
knock me out. Had a horrid breakfast, full of additives, yeuk!
Was still tired
on the next bus, but was in one of those continual drowsy states only, did miss
some good scenery. When I came to we were in the wilderness, but it was so lovely,
I knew I must be near the Canyon. Flat shrubbed desert that suddenly
disappeared from under your nose, undulating hills o'er miles and miles of
endless horizon. I did notice the difference in the heat though, but Arizona
does look like a good state to live in. Very laid back, beautiful and friendly.
So amazing how a part of the country can change from that just a few hours
away, in such a vast way too. I think some of these large countries should
create countries within in preference to calling them states or provinces. Just
like staring out to sea, the desert type areas mesmerise me into a state of
peace and enlightenment.
Flagstaff soon enough and actually found a good clean depot, from which I was
collected by a guy from the hostel. The Motel Dubeau is a typical hostel type
place, seems to be full of English or rather British persons, either running or
staying. Had a well needed shower before hitting the town, but not before I had
met each female in our dorm, Niki, Fiona and now Mary, all really nice people
and all from U.K. We all seem to be going on the Canyon tour tomorrow, no 2/3
day ones however. I may go up to Lake Powell for a while, the area takes in
other National Parks. No problem with me working here if I want to.
Did a round trip
of Flagstaff, through the university grounds to the mall and back to Safeway
for some goodies. Had dinner from the café, was too tired to cook, no room
anyway. This hostel seems so much better than Huntington, more normal types of
all ages, I really like it and get on with everyone. Will like vegging out here
for a while, a good recommendation. Watching some slides on the Canyon later.
11 July - Some were bothered with the trains last night, but
I had a pretty good sleep, all ready for our trek today.
What can I say
about today, it was pretty amazing. We had a small group and we all got on well
and really enjoyed ourselves. These tours all include stop offs at souvenir
stores, but we mainly needed food supplies. I bought a hat to look touristy. I
did not want to get stuck in a sun trap anywhere unprepared. Our first stop was
at the visitor centre to see a slide show, it was basically an advertising
campaign for tourists, our slide show last night was better. The Canyon is in a
national park so have fees to pay to get in. It seems that in early 1800's the
wonderful pioneers and explorers tried to excavate the minerals etc that they
discovered, however, because of the sheer depth and severity of the Canyon,
nearly one mile deep, they had to abandon any such ideas. Thankfully so,
because now all is protected to its natural state and only trails intrude. The
human activity in the Canyon itself provides minimal concern, but I would say
that only self-respecting human beings attempt to go down very far. The Canyon
is 270 odd miles long and we only touched the tip of the ice berg along the
south rim. In fact most of what we saw was the same thing only at different
angles. Could and would keep going back, if I had a car I would travel further
along to see other parts. They say that out of the 4/5 million visitors each
year the average person only stays twenty minutes, crazy unimpressive people. I
was pleased with the lack of touristiness about the area, I guess further along
would be less so than at this access point. You do not need to hype up this 1/7
wonder of the world. I wish we had taken our group photo at the beginning, we
were all dumb struck at our first sighting of the Canyon, mouths open. You
cannot describe what it is you are witnessing, it is like looking at a backdrop
or a painting, it just isn’t real. Awesome is a good word to describe it. I
have seen a lot of great things and it would be unfair to pick out one as the
best because everything is beautiful in its own way, however, the Grand Canyon
is just gobsmacking. You can spend hours staring at different bits, and making
things out of them. One view is like an ancient city of stone, turrets,
pyramids, caves, step like structures, simply brilliant. One thing I noticed
were the layers of rock, so perfectly evident, it was like looking into the
centre of the earth and seeing every age of the earth unfurled to its present
day, rather like counting the rings on a tree. Sandstone, shale and limestone
form the basis today, so very soft flaky rocks, pretty scary too. Very wary,
hairy, scary, in fact. We stood in awe looking out but were advised not to take
a lot of piccies at this stage as better views were to come in better lighting.
I think we must have been at Yaki point or very close. Next was the lunch stop,
we hit a trail down to about 2 tenths of a mile to a secluded rock under a tree
and munched on our picnic, hounded by bugs. So, so peaceful, nobody around
except us. You do not need to talk, the Canyon speaks for itself, you just sit
and look out and think your own private thoughts. I kept having recurring
thoughts of jumping off the edge, just like my dream of a few years back. I
know if I got too close to the edge for a photo, I would topple over. I was a
little scared to be honest, our trail down was a bit hairy in parts, the loose
rocks underfoot could take you at any time. My thigh muscles ached so by the
time we had descended, was told I needed water. Did not help tremendously. We
lunched for nearly an hour so a good rest. The legs did not hurt on the way
back up, but the altitude got both myself and Miriam. We both had to stop on
several occasions to rest, she was worse than me with dizzy spells. I would
dearly love to go right to the bottom but I would never get out again
successfully and I certainly would not go on one of those mule trips down, too
risky. I will send Frank the brochures and he can make up his own mind. It
really can knock you for six, even fit people who hike a lot. Miriam wants to
white water raft for three days, she must have some money to spend. It would be
such a shame to think that today may be the only day I get to see the Canyon.
After making sure we were all fit we drove along to the Tusayan Ruins and
museum, site of an ancient Indian Camp, little known about the civilisation so
most facts are speculation. The Navajo
also dwelt in this area. And so to the
furthest point, our guide’s favourite spot, away from the masses, think it was
a desert view because we could see the Cedar Mountain. The sun was going down by now and gave a
different perception on the Canyon and some brilliant views, this was our main
photo opportunity. Went closer to the
edge this time. Just incredible how the Canyon meanders along the Colorado River
route. Miles and miles of turrets, red
close up and black as they fade in to the distance. The photos could never do the area
justice. We stayed here for about an
hour absorbing the atmosphere, looking, chatting, admiring, none of us could
take it in. We stopped off at a few
points on the way back, a lot of what we saw was the same just from a different
angle, so did get a bit tiresome after a while.
It is just the vastness of the whole thing that captures you.
Had a good meal
back at the hostel. I had to get out of
the smoky atmosphere after a while, was going back but got trapped in my diary,
was midnight before I knew it.
12 July – Writing this on the 13th, I desperately
need a rest day. My legs feel awful from
the hike yesterday and we hardly did any.
I think the tension from walking so close to the edge did not help.
We had a small
group again today for Sedona. Peter, a
German, was our tour guide. A very quiet
guy and not so informative as Jody yesterday.
When this guy says hike, you hike, and he does not hang around. Had the usual food supply stop before driving
to Oak Creek view point. The area was
hotter than at the Canyon, we went south today and they say it is always hotter
further down. The view was nice, a
canyon covered with pine trees and mountain oak and cactus, with a little windy
road running through it, very pretty but not worthy of a picture. We had a brief resume of the area and what to
expect, but I cannot remember too much.
Next was a view looking down over Sedona, the place where a lot of stars
live, very exclusive town out here in rattle snake country. Some spectacular views of part
canyon/mountain type structures, all red rock.
Sugar Loaf Mountain was most prominent and many other mountains that
have been turned into various objects.
Elephant, coffee pot, snoopy.
Lunch, a nice spot, in the blazing heat, so hard to find any desperately
needed shade. We plonked ourselves,
Miriram, Nicki and I, under a small tree, forgetting the warning of snakes and
scorpions. I would hope I was immune
from scorpions due to our connection. We
desperately needed our swim, so off we hiked into Oak Creek to slide rock. I am sure there must have been an easier way
down, but Peter insisted on us rock climbing and dirtying our clothes and
bodies. They should issue a health
warning with the trip, or at least life insurance cover. We couldn’t get our clothes off fast
enough. Some were straight in but I did
a bit of basking first. The rocks in the
river are covered in algae and so provide a perfect slide, just like a water slide
at a pool. You lie back and let the
current take you, it took me a little too quick and I turned over and I went
sailing, legs and arms flagging every which way, until I corrected myself and I
glided swiftly down to the creek, where Peter was waiting to give me a hand
up. Good fun. I did it once, some two or three and some
none. Quite happy to lounge around after
that and just lie in a side stream. On
the way back we stopped at another point for a swim. To get there we had a shorter hike, but was
still horrendous. More shady at the
water. I could not be fagged to get wet
again for the sake of 10 minutes. Miriam
slipped up on the way back, not hurt, but I think it made Peter sit up and take
notice that not all are like him.
I was so knackered
by the time I got back, ate at Macey’s with Miriam. Yesterday’s guide, Jody, was there, so he and
his lady joined us. In the evening,
Nicki, Miriam and I went up to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. They give a little talk about the current
planet of interest, tonight it was Jupiter and the M5 Cluster. Too above me to all sink in. However, did learn something about shooting
stars, they are only the size of a thumb-nail and are fragments of stars that
have reached the earth’s atmosphere. The
light given off is the disintegration of them, how you get that much light
beats me, but there you go. Our next
treat was to take a look through the 24 inch Clark Refracting Telescope, 98
years old, so I guess we were honoured.
We just missed getting to see Jupiter, the girl spent ages readjusting
the 7 ton telescope to the M5 Cluster, wish she had left it, the Cluster was so
small it was hardly worth it. Something
different anyway and a first. Flagstaff
does look good at night.
13 July – Miriam and I set off with good intentions of doing
a round trip. Walnut Canyon, Jerome,
Montazeuma’s Castle and Wupatki. Walnut
Canyon was only a few miles away. The
Sinagna tribes inhabited this canyon, they lived in caves formed in the canyon
side and eventually developed them in to walled houses. How they managed to successfully ascend and
descend beats me, maybe the paths were more defined then, AD600, or people were
not so wimpish. Average age 20 to 30
years of life, I would be an old lady now.
Not such a trawl, but very hot so equally exhausting. My legs are still killing me. I need to take a rest, I look like shit, the
past few days have been a rush in my itinerary, should have eased myself in to
it gently. The Oak Creek runs dry now so
guess that is why they moved on. The
trail around was 185 down, paved, stepped and railed. Could walk around the house, or rather stoop
around them, some were being repaired.
Interesting little area, I think Arizona must have some of the most
extensive historical sites of pre-pioneer times in the whole of America. Saw a beautiful Humming Bird, my first of the
wild. I admire anyone who can take a decent photo of one in flight, they are so
swift, if you blink you miss them. The
Park Rangers advised us on how long it would take to do the round trip so it
seemed then that it would be unlikely we could do it all. So we selected Jerome, because it would be
good to see a ghost town. Getting there
was horrendous, it was so hot you would not believe, all we had was window air
conditioning. Miriam is not the best of
drivers and she drives fast so I was sweating even more. Miles and miles of open desert land took its
toll on the car and it overheated on the upward hill, we were only ten miles
away. A guy stopped to check all was ok
and gave his manly advice. The remainder
of the trip was downhill so soon cooled the car down. The road in to Jerome is very windy, but
provides the most brilliant views, would not have missed this. We got there near closing time and no trace
of a ghost town. Nice exclusive shops
and very quiet peaceful town, where everyone knows everyone else. An artist’s dwelling area. Most of the houses have been restored and are
lived in now, some buildings left alone and deserted, but was
disappointing. Gave the impression
though of not being a hustle bustle place.
There is a tour of the mine, which they indicate has a ghost town area,
but we never got on it. Everyone really
hippy here and very laid back. We walked
up to the church, a Catholic one by the look of things. A little OTT ornate wise, gaudy colours and
too many Virgin Mary and Christ statues.
Paper flowers and wax-work priests.
A once thriving copper mining town was wiped out when fires swept the
mines and the land shifted, bringing houses down. It was pretty deserted until 20 years ago, is
now a national historic landmark. The
journey home was less traumatic, we were tired so quiet, well I was anyway,
Did not do much
this evening. Fairly good day, if a
little hectic and tiring. Will start
work tomorrow and veg out for a few days to get the sparkle back.
14 July – A semi-quiet day. Started work at 11am, got the room cleaning
job with Ruth and Ben. I did the
bathrooms, nice one. My new room is a
pit, not sure it is a good move, still an hour and a quarter‘s work for free
breakfast and board is worth it I suppose.
Wandered in to
town, bought my postcards and had a drink, so hot. Even a short walk has tired me out, legs are
better today. Sorted the toga out after
helping blow up the balloons for the party.
Was 7pm before I knew it and Miriam was here. We went to Perkins, a nice non-fast-food
place. Our waitress was very apologetic
at keeping us waiting, she gave us our dessert for free, nice of her, but not
really necessary. Wish I had stayed out
longer talking with Miriam, or at least invited her in to the party. I did not enjoy as much as I wanted. I couldn’t stand the smoke, so I
retired. Some people in our room, so
talked to them for a while and they disappeared. Mary was nowhere to be seen. Will do my work and potter around here and
there instead of hanging around all day.
Everyone is nice, but to know people sober is one thing, drunk is
another. Tried to write to people about
the Canyon today, but how do you describe the indescribable. A strange day, feel as though I made a back-slide
in my social progress. Decided I like my
own people to party with or at least those on a similar level as me.
Miriam went to
Montazeuma today and to Sedona, would have been nice to go. Work was over so soon, but too late to
venture anywhere. Not certain how I will
get on from now on.
15 July – A lot of heavy heads this morning and gossip in
our room, I ignored it, but did amuse me.
Had a wander around the old town before work at 11am. Got a shit job today, a full three hours’
worth. I had to do a good spring clean
job in the T.V. room, both common bathrooms and the laundry room. Gave me a blister so must be out of practice,
was glad to have finished by 2pm.
To my surprise,
Miriam was still around. About 2 miles
out she had car trouble so came back.
Some trouble, $600’s worth, made her literally cry. So after work we sat through her laundry and
then set off in a mended car to Wupatki, it was too late for her to drive to
Salt Lake. Wupatki is in the wilderness
and consists of a series of ruins on Pueblo Indians, around 12th
Century. Saw Nalakihu, Citadel, Lonaki
and Wupatki. Wupatki being the largest
complex. Each building seemed to be set
in prominent places, plenty of farming land around them. The brickwork was very neat, some houses two
storey with many rooms. Whole families
stuck together so many houses grew out.
They looked so good against the setting sun. Brilliant red brick against shadow and the
green shrubbery. Had a good view of the
painted desert in the background, quite stunning as the sun disappeared behind
the hills. Greens and reds turned to
purple and blues, very pretty. We went
at a good time of day. However, it gets
dark quickly out here so wanted to get back on the main road before then. Just made it.
Got supper and hit the decks once back.
Randall was not
around so I had nothing to stay up for.
We were the only ones out at Wupatki today, eerie in a way but so very
peaceful and beautiful.
16 July – Another shit day work wise, however, in
a good mood. Wandered the old town and
bought some nick-nacks and some feathers, in case I go tonight. Continued to the shopping centre for an ice
cream and to check out the cinema.
Seems that there
will be a better bunch at the cowboy party, so will go. Glad I did, was a rave, although not as much
as the toga’s. John Wayne was here, an
amazing look-alike, facial as well as build.
He models his life on him too.
Sad but a good gag. He was keen
to have his photo taken with most people, squaws in particular, and dishing out
Bourbon from his large bottle. Met some
good people tonight, more my sort and had a good dance most of the time. Everyone was so much more mellow, which was
probably why I had a better time. Was
wary of Peter ‘I can’t keep my hands to myself’ tour guide. Was talking most of the night to a guy from
Melbourne, very interesting, doesn’t drink due to medical reasons. Bit of a dare devil. Swam with piranhas, been stalked by cobra
type snakes – wild man. Was nice to be able to have a decent conversation for a
change. By about 1am most people were
dead, I turned in at 1.30am. Looking
forward to the cleaning tomorrow!
I think this section really highlights social interaction
and how I see others and how I see me. I
find social interaction very difficult, most people do if they are honest with themselves.
I worry about how I come across to others and whether or not I will fit in. I said I like ‘those on a similar level as
me’ and was referring to the mind-set of a person. I like to think now that I can hold myself in
any situation and get on with a diverse range of people and opinions, however I
do like to suss people out first before I throw myself into the ring. A big
downfall for me, especially at parties, has always been alcohol. I am not a big drinker (yeah right I hear some
of you say) but when I do drink I tend to have more than I can cope with if you
know what I mean, but not as much nowadays as back in the day. I realise that
getting older has its downfalls in this respect. I am a cheap date now with one drink being
enough for the evening. Anyway, once the
mouth gets going there can be no stopping and often gives the wrong impression.
I spend hours, days sometimes analysing
what or why I said certain things. I believe
it comes down to nerves, especially when in the company of strangers. I referred to ‘more normal types’, when
perhaps I should just have said, more my type.
Normal is whatever is right for you.
In hostels the crowds change daily, so you may get on with people one
day and then find yourself amongst very different people the next. We are all different and on the whole I was
able to mix in well. I just stay away
from situations I don’t feel comfortable in.
Working for my keep at The Motel Dubeau was great for a
while, saved me a bit. Not nice to clean
the rooms though, especially in an independently run hostel with lower
standards than say the YHA. I did get
moved into the main building though with better accommodation because of
I cannot recommend more a trip to see the Grand Canyon, it
is phenominal. Put it on your bucket
lists. The area has so much to offer in
terms of historical sites. Just make
sure if you drive around you have decent transport and go out prepared because it
really is a desert out there. Glad to
have had Miriam to tag along with as I wouldn’t have seen half as much as I
did, and it was cheaper than a guided tour.
The railroad runs through the centre of Flagstaff with the
Santa Fe Southern Railway passing through regularly and they do sound their
horn loudly to warn people they are coming.
The John Wayne look alike was a great addition to the cowboys
and Indians party and he loved the attention, I guess that was what he was
Two weeks is a long time to spend in one place when you are
a backpacker on the move. So much more
of Flagstaff to come
23 January 2019
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the date I
set out on my first backpacking adventure and I thought it might be fun to
share with you some of my diary entries from then coupled with my current day thoughts. I’ll do this by creating a summary of each
week rather than giving a blow by blow daily account of what I got up to. I may even throw in a few photos on the
way. My journey was 10 months in total
and took me to Australia, Canada, United States of America, (London) and India,
in that order. It might seem strange to
have visited India last of all as my direction of travel would have taken in India
first, but believe me it was a good decision.
Having built up the confidence in the preceding months this allowed me
to cope with a country that was so different to any which I had experienced
before. 10 months that helped to shape
the person I am today.
23 January 1994 - 21:09hrs - London Heathrow.
Well, this is me, departure lounge at Heathrow. Can’t really believe I am here. Salisbury has been on flood alert all of this
past week, I never knew I had so much inside of me waiting to come out. I have a feeling of deja vu at the moment;
it has been with me for the past few days. I am on a journey with a goal in
mind, but as it gets closer I realise that I do not know why I am doing it at
all. I have been searching for myself forever and looking for love. I have love now, so I guess I am still
looking for me. I ride through a tunnel, it is dark and there is no atmosphere,
just blankness. My mind has disappeared, I simply have no thoughts about what
it is I am doing here, and then suddenly I come close to reaching my
destination and I come through the tunnel. I guess I am very apprehensive and
quite simply lonely. This is something I should be sharing.
The flight is ok so far and, yes, I knew they would do this,
a full meal, they call it supper, at 12:00 midnight, yeuk! I will eat it anyway
as I have paid for it. And so to bed, for a few hours at least.
Did not sleep well, may have had half an hour shut eye.
Breakfast at 6am (2pm Singapore time).
The first leg of the journey over. It is 7pm here in
Singapore, looks like it may rain. I looked out of the window on the plane, we
were floating on fluffy cotton buds, twixt earth and heaven. A bit like my life
at the moment, all up in the air. Flight from Singapore to Perth, smaller
plane, only 4 hrs trip, but did not enjoy so much. Fewer tourists on board,
mainly locals. Still more food. More calm now and looking forward to touch
down. Although having said that, I feel secure up in the air, once down I am on
my own for real, despite being met by Ron and Celia.
25 January - 0:30hrs
Arrived half an hour early.
A little rainy, but still warm. I recognised Ron and Celia straight
away, but they did not remember me, I looked a right mess anyway so I don’t
think they would have stood a chance. Celia
thought it was cold, but it isn’t, even with the wind blowing.
I feel strange being in another person's house. I think I
would prefer to be on my own in a hostel or something. It was suggested that I
ring home tonight (morning), but I will wait until the evening of the 25th as I
do not think I could cope with it right away. 2:45am, so signing off now, I shall sleep
Did not rise until 12 noon. House seems strange, more like a
holiday villa, will get used to it soon. Went around Armadale this afternoon,
everything seems so spread out. I guess because not much is built at two
storey, all on one level, there is certainly plenty of room to spread out here.
Not too big a place, shopping malls all
under cover, a few businesses dotted around. Mainly a residential area. Much the size of Wilton probably. I do not feel able to dash off and do my own
thing whilst here, feel obliged to wait until taken to places. It may be too
secure a start, home from home type thing.
26 January - Wednesday, Australia Day! A bank holiday.
The flag was flying in Herriard Road. They all go on about how proud they are to be
Australian. The Brits do take quite a battering, don’t know why. I would not
want to live here though, despite the laid back life-style. It is too hot and
the openness and extrovert nature of the younger generation would be too much
to handle. Maybe the east side is different. Tonight on the train back from
Perth, the carriages were packed with young people (teenagers) who all seemed
to be drunk, stoned, whatever, and they were loud mouthing it and dancing to
music. I thought I was on a par with
young people but this is a bit above me and so loud. I must be getting old.
Celia told me that a lot of kids don’t stand a chance of getting jobs now, so
they just blow their dole money on having a wild time and saying sod the rest
of the world, it’s going to end soon anyway. Around 6-8 years ago jobs were ok
and most 20/22 year olds bought their own houses and most have already finished
paying off their mortgages at 30yrs old, it’s unreal. They have two/3 cars,
everything. Even Ron and Celia have two houses. We are going down to the beach
house for the weekend. There is more opportunity to make something of yourself
through schooling. Because a lot of places (towns, cities) are so isolated or
1000's of miles from the next, like everywhere in Western Australia, (Perth is
the most isolated city in the world), they tend to have everything you can
think of on their doorstep. 3 universities for W.A. alone. If it is there and
you don’t have to travel far, you make the most of facilities and work hard. I
hate myself for not being more aware or more alive when younger. Almost forgot
to say that we went to the annual light show in Perth tonight, always held on
Australia Day. Quite a big fireworks display, had some really good ones go off.
All the city's traffic came to a standstill, it was like a mass protest
marching through. We stopped off for a coffee to let the masses die down. Still
catching up with myself and the time differences.
27 January - The earliest I have been up this morning, 09:00hrs.
Celia took me around Perth centre, for shopping and to see
some sights. Experienced a slice of Princess Cake, full of calories and messy,
but we enjoyed it. Walked around an art gallery, quite contrasting exhibits on
show. One sector was all Aboriginal paintings, they are quite samey to look at,
but very colourful and all tell a story. Wacky contemporary and modern art and
quite decent fine art by Ozzie artists. All buildings seem quite new in the
city centre, very big and modern and everything seems to link into another.
Shopping much the same as in England, except more food outlets. Actually did
the washing up at tea, which makes me feel pretty good. Have now got some times
and prices for coach travel between major cities, so will map out a route soon.
I will stay for another week and half or two.
Why is it a lot of countries dislike the original natives of
their lands. With Americans it was Indians, South Africans the blacks and
Australia the Aborigines. A little ancestry still showing through perhaps,
after all most Australians are immigrants themselves.
28 January - Up early today, 08:30hrs
Busied about getting ready for the weekend. Beach house not
too far away. Stopped off at a couple's house for refreshment. It would seem
that most of them think that the world looks down on Australians and try to
defend themselves constantly. They think that Britain should adopt the same way
of life as Oz, mainly on the economic side. Why should Britain have dollars and
cents, do the rest of Europe, no, but does that bother them, does it heck. Australia is a continent and Europe is a
continent, wouldn't it be boring if everyone was the same. I think UK is unique
and should stay that way. The beach house is much the same as their town house.
Went to the beach with Ron. My first dip in the Indian Ocean. The beach was
virtually deserted, just us and one other family to start with. The sand seemed
to go on for miles either side and the sea was beautiful. Bit choppy to swim,
but had fun dodging the waves. Had Celia told me about the sea snakes much
further up the coast, I may not have gone in. Have got a little sunburn and I
hardly stayed in the sun. Must make sure I use some lotion next time. By the
way, we are now at a place called Singleton. The sea breezes are quite strong
and almost constant, deceivingly so.
29 January –
I am coping with the heat quite well, wore my hat for the
first time today down to the beach. The breeze is refreshing but still very hot
in the sun. Slapped on the sun lotion today. Sea was much calmer. Ron came down
to do a rescue mission in case I had frazzled without realising it. He drove down
and it is only a five minute walk. I came back on foot, I am missing out so
much on exercise. Went around Mandurah this morning, very seasidey type of
place. Just off of the centre is a residential area built around man made
canals. All gardens go down to the water so that they can hop straight into
their boats. Very exclusive and very tasteful as well. Not as many swimming
pools as you might imagine in the suburb areas. Everything reminds me of holiday
villages with chalets. So peaceful strolling along the water front under a star
lit sky. We all sat and set the world to right before bed.
Current day thoughts
I’ve had to cut out quite a lot of my entries, some too
personal and some not very PC. We have
to be PC these days. Diaries can be a
dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Should mention that Ron and Celia Penny were
very good friends of my parents, dad grew up with Ron. They emigrated to Australia in 1969 with their
two children. I had seen them once in
that time when they came back to visit in UK some years later. Seems that employment issues are the same
worldwide and the young no different. We don’t always see it on others’
doorsteps. Three universities in Western
Australia, it seemed a lot. There are 5
now. I suppose not so surprising when
you consider the size of the area and the growing population. I
think more logically these days. There
appeared to be a lot of problems between the Aborigines and Australians, I am
sure there still it but I think in general indigenous cultures are given more
of a voice these days. I still wish I
had pushed myself harder when younger. Interesting
to know my thoughts on UK back then (I knew nothing about the EU and what they did). I don’t think that way now; I think we should
become more like Australia in that they use more of their own resources to keep
the economy stable. I know nothing about
the economy but it seems that way anyway.
I still don’t cope with heat well and I still burn in the sun.
30 January - It’s hot today.
Still very tired. I don’t want to get out of bed but I drag myself out
before 09:00hrs. Adrian and Shae rolled up mid-morning. Shea is 2½ years old and
she still looks like a baby, but she is a fun thing and lively. We all went down to the beach for an hour or
two. The sea seemed quite calm but the wind picked up and the waves rolled in.
I had quite a frightening experience at one point. A wave broke over me and
completely swept me off my feet. I thought I was going to drown. I think my
eyes were open, all I could see was swirling water all around me and I
somersaulted from the force. I couldn’t get out of the water quick enough. My
whole head was filled with water. I can’t imagine how surfers manage to survive
some of the big waves. After Adrian had
gone, in his 22 year old banger, we packed up and sped off home, stopping a Reg
and Elsie’s to say goodbye. Came home via the country roads. Every so often we
came across areas where bush fires had taken hold. They can happen at any time,
anywhere and if the wind is blowing you've had it. Most are kept under control
before spreading to houses. Even as we drove there was some in the distance,
probably Rockingham area. I think 20 years ago the whole area of W.A. was
mainly vegetation, now housing areas are going up everywhere. Overpopulation
will make its way to Oz sooner or later.
Tea on the veranda, I thought lunch was the main meal, oh
well, its only calories piling on. No
sea breezes in Armadale, the fan is a definite must this evening. Starting to
work out some routes now. With all that Ron and Celia have planned for me, it
will be a 3 weeks stay. I will never be able to thank them enough. Ron rang my
mum and dad tonight, I did not realise he was going to, we all had a little
31 January - One week nearly over already, certainly the
most mixed January I have ever had, weather wise. Kevin must have been sad
yesterday, I can imagine how sad and lonely he is, I hope he manages to occupy
his time ok. Have to admit that I have not been missing him as much as I
should. There has been so much to do and
see even in this short week and planning my next move as well.
Today was definitely the hottest it has been, but that
didn’t stop us going out. First the weekly shopping was done, there seems to be
much more choice available especially in the fruit and veg line. After lunch a
leisurely drive down to the Serpentine Dam. It is very pretty driving through
the vast woodland, so many shades of green with the odd touch of greyish blue.
Certainly a wildlife day. The Dam is massive and supplies most of the area with
water. However the water was very low, makes you realise how precious the stuff
is here. Stopped off at a Bar-B-Q area and fed the wild parrots with bread.
They come and land all over you, arms, legs, head, for a feed. Scratched my
arms to pieces and ruined what little hair style I had. They were so lovely and
tame. Saw my first Kookaburra, he wanted his share of the bread, only at a distance.
Also saw an electric blue coloured wren.
On the way home passed a dead kangaroo on the roadside. Nobody moves them, the
crows will have a picking or two and other small creatures. Can’t wait to see
one alive and kicking in the wild, love to see a koala too. Lots of Black Boy trees around, pictures do
not depict them very well, you have to see one to understand their given name.
Along the woodland areas you come across burnt patches, which is known as
controlled burning. If the trees are already burned the natural fires should
peter out at these points as there is no more in their path to burn. Golly I've
learned a lot today. Near to the Serpentine Dame is a garden of Aboriginal
design. It is of a snake weaving through areas of water in the hope that its
presence will bring much water. This comes from the Aboriginal period known as
'Dream Time', from which most of their art work drives. Met Celia's parents
later on. Dick is in his 80's and likes to wear loud clothes, he was all in
bright red today. Her mum makes you feel at home straight away. Nice down to
earth house with granny type furnishings. Supper outside again and a very
calming spout on the hammock.
1 February - Paid the price of sitting out last night,
covered in mossie bites. A stark contrast in the weather, 40's yesterday, only
25 today. Went to King Park in Perth had a fantastic view of the city, it
really is a massive place. Everywhere you turn in this state you will see a
barbecue, no need to go hungry or have to spend out a fortune. The barbecue is
a national pass-time. Next, to Freemantle, via Cottesloe, where we had a spot
of lunch. Freemantle is a seafaring town. The shipping docks are along this
part of the coast line. The next biggest place down from Perth I guess. The
older buildings have remained intact which gives the place more of an
atmosphere. Lots of good shopping, I will have to watch my step. Most people
would probably stick to the town centres, but there can be lots to see on the
outskirts. The Round House for instance, not a wonderful sight, but a piece of
Freemantle history nonetheless. It is an old prison where the naughty sailors
were banged up. Conditions looked extremely basic, probably only a foot square
window in the top left of cramped cells.
Some points to think about are rail crossings, it is so easy
to get carried away with everything around you that you do not concentrate on
the lines. The crossings are not well protected. Some lines run through the
middle of towns. Driving - would probably not cost a lot to buy an old banger
(cars last for years over here). Roads and freeways are very straight and long,
no banks to hide view. In Western Australia there is hardly any traffic on
roads so driving can be erratic, no stopping at junctions or when turning corners.
Again, rail crossings spring up from nowhere, no barriers or anything, maybe a
few flashing lights. It is only in the
cities that you get a build-up of traffic. On the whole people amble about and
do not look where they are going.
I can imagine some people had houses in very secluded parts
with nice settings. Now highways run close by and housing estates pop up
everywhere and the whole atmosphere is ruined. Seems every spare bit of land is
being built on. I know that there is
plenty of space here but it is a shame. And being mainly one storey the area of
land taken by one house is quite a lot.
Forgot to mention the pioneering village yesterday. A look
at Victorian life. There is a school, which we did not get to see, where the
children etc all dress up in authentic gear. Also gold panning and olde worlde
shoppes. A shame that they had to stick an amusement arcade in one of the
Something else I learned today, which annoyed me slightly.
Ex-Pats who have not taken Australian citizenship still get a British pension.
Mind you, the amount remains static from the time you leave the UK. Plus they
get full Ozzie pension as well. No wonder pensions in the future are
jeopardised. I know a lot of the people paid taxes etc. but that is not the
2 February - Thought to myself if the shower this morning,
could have used a shower gel that does for hair as well. Would have cut down on weight in the
rucksack. Glad I did not bring any dressy clothes, we haven’t gone out much in
the evenings and nobody dresses up here anyway. Casual all the way. Just one smart skirt that
folds up small will suffice. Started to
think about the format for my book. Got some good advice from Shirley Conran's
book, 'Down with superwoman'. Looking around I see a lot of second-hand
bookshops with plenty bargains. So, if it’s too hot and you fancy sitting
quietly in the shade somewhere, pick up a book and read, you may improve your
Taking a short interlude from diary type things to remark on
some useful hints. Do join the YHA, you can get a 10 per cent discount on
certain things, which is handy from travel tickets point of view. I gave bus
company two routes to work on and asked them to calculate the cheapest way to
get from A to B. Give the actual travel dates and days you wish to start at
each point. 7 day passes can be used for any 7 days (non-consecutive) in a one
month period. With YHA discount = $170.00. Before you start out, calculate and
average amount per day for travel, accommodation and food. You will find that
through searching out information you probably will not spend your total quota
each day, so do treat yourself to the odd excursion every so often. By the end of your stay you could buy a nice
souvenir for yourself. Souvenirs - the
most stupid tradition ever invented. A trip like this should be purely for your
self-indulgence. Unless you are a reckless youth who has just decided to
up-anchor, you will have spent months, even years, like me, saving every penny.
Travel light with a rucksack, that way you are restricted with space. Use the
YHA to stay in, they are cheap and are not that uncomfortable for a night’s
sleep. During the day you will be out. If you find that there is no room at a
hostel, YMCA, YWCA are in most cities. The hostel may tell you where a cheap
hotel is. Sometimes I wish I could head off and take things as they come, but
where travel and accommodation is concerned I like to be organised. If you can book all bus routes up and pay at
the start, you know how much money is left to spend and you don’t have to
worry. Forward booking accommodation means you have somewhere direct to head
for. Travel in Australia can take a day or two and at unsociable hours. If you
are a woman travelling on her own you do not want to be wandering around
bewildered once at your destination. There is danger all around. People will
also know to expect you. Every other aspect of your trip can then be taken at
leisure. Plan to spend the first day forward planning and finding your way
around a city. The rest of the time is yours.
Back to today - a very overcast dull day, but pleasantly
warm. Spending most of the day deep in thought. Finished one roll of film
yesterday, good idea of Kevin's to use masking tape to record what is on the
roll for future developing. (Post cards - if a lot in one area send in one
envelope, mark 'card only', the rate is cheaper and you save on postage).
Apologise if I waffle, my mind is all a buzz at present.
Paid a visit to Daphne, one of Celia's yoga friends. She is
part Indian and lives up in the hills on the outskirts of Armadale.
(I have some James Galway classical music on in the
background. I can concentrate more with classical music in the
background, I have found that with writing poetry, it inspires me with feeling.)
Daphne and Celia gabbled on and Ron and I sat back and ate
cake. Delicious at that, banana buns and shortcake. Nothing really to write,
about the day. A reflective, organising day. Some of the houses in the hills
look very exclusive, it gets colder in that area due to the higher altitude.
Spoke to Bridget on the phone, wasn’t sure what to say, so didn’t hang around
long. I hate talking on phones.
3 February - Learnt a helpful tip today, always carry a
spare beer in your bag. You can easily bribe an Ozzie with a beer. Walked
around Armadale Museum this morning. Apparently Ron and Celia have never taken
a visitor there before, I am the only intelligent one that has stayed with
them. The oldest exhibits are aboriginal. It is interesting to see how
technology has come on, in the past 100 years, quite sad too. Next to the
History House Museum are two buildings: Armadale's first church and Primary
School. They originally stood in 'Third Road', but were moved to Minnawarra
Parks historic precinct. Not taken in pieces either, but as a whole, quite a
haul. There are an enormous amount of parks in each town/city, very shady, very
peaceful. Drove up into the hills again to Kalamunda. An orchard/horticultural
type area. Had a nice afternoon tea. Some
of these small towns are very nicely situated, but can be all shops and cafes.
I would like more to see. But as Ron pointed out, buildings are not the thing
here, wildlife is. Some of the larger cities have some fantastic modern
buildings. Made our way to Churchman's Brook reservoir, the water is out of
bounds but did look inviting. A nice picnic spot under shade, with a stream
trickling through. I could lose myself in places like that. Good old fish and
chips in paper for tea, no messy washing up tonight. Decided to test some of my
poetry out on Celia for an opinion.
4 February – Today’s tip, (for women only), one that I
poached. If washing a limited supply of undies is a pain every other day, wear
a panty shield. Dispose of at end of the day and your undies are fresh for
Managing to keep up my exercises before breakfast, all the
calorific food I am eating, I need to.
Into Perth to book my bus ticket, glad that is all sorted.
Took a detour through the Royal Perth Hospital. A massive 13 storey building.
It seems to me that a lot of countries have a similar code in the design of the
hospitals. Charity shops, refreshment area, cashier etc. Had lunch in one of
the malls. Shopped ‘til we dropped, (not really). Stayed around the house for
the rest of day. Walked under an amazing
fig tree in Perth. It grows on the sidewalk, or rather, the sidewalk grows
around it and it spans the entire road in a kind of umbrella shape.
5 February - It rained today, very hard, but only for 5
minutes, been a mixed day weather wise. Cold to an Oz, but pleasantly warm to
me. The chores were done this morning. Felt tired over lunch so rested before
we went to visit Celia's mum in Armadale hospital.
Popped to Wongan Dam. Quite spectacular piece of
architecture surrounded by forest. Afternoon tea was at the Elizabethan Village
pub, a home from home English pub. They have Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Shakespeare’s
house, his birth place.
Sat through a plate of hot chilli con carne, a Ron special. The ice cream went down well. Got lost in my music earlier on, like a dreamer in my late teens. Jean and Malcolm came round for the evening. From Coventry, moved here 9 years ago. She would prefer to go back and live Coronation Street style.
Current day thoughtsNot much editing this week. Staying with the natives is a very good way to see the best things and get to know how things really are. I really started to get into jotting down travel tips to make life easier so sorry for rambling on. Celia was a good source for these too. It really was lovely to be so immersed in the wildlife that I had only read about in books before and the kookaburra took me back to my Girl Guide days when we sang the song about the 'kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree...' I feel warm thinking about the weather which is great as it is cold in London today. Nothing this week to compare to now.
6 February - You can tell that I have had a dreary few days, I am writing a load of drivel, maybe it’s time to move on. Feels like a two week package holiday, you eventually have enough of the same kind of living and want a change. The coming week will be a refreshing break. Much cooler today, 24 degrees. It was a Shae day, picked her up at Adrian's. He has a nice house, but could do so much more inside. Adrian wanted to snooze so would not have been much fun hanging around the house. Spent the afternoon trying to keep Shae amused.
Tired today so glad for a rest. Finished the famous Chilli for tea. My music still makes me cry a little. I associate each record with different things. I really feel in the need of a cuddle tonight.
A tip for the bachelor pad. Keep one fridge by the bed so that you can stretch over for a beer and the other under the TV, so you don’t have to move far for beer whilst a movie is on.
7 February - It definitely rained today. We got up early and headed off for Albany, approx 545kms from home on the highway. Four hours going along a straight road, it did have the odd bend in it, but we did not have to turn off once. Stopped off at Kojonup for lunch. I could quite easily have nodded off, the scenery was so boring and samey. The weather turned nice once we arrived, however, the two olds donned trousers and sweat tops, it was fairly cool, yes, but cold, no way. Saw a bunch of pelicans by the shore. It would have been good to have seen just one, but ten, it was wonderful. Had a look at the Amity, replica of a ship landed in 1826, by Major Edmund Lockyer, really quite a small and flimsy, considering the strength of the sea, the Residency Museum, depicting sea life, wildlife and the history of the area and the Old Gasle Museum, again very nautical. Middleton beach - beautiful soft sand with calm waters to bathe in, a well-adapted seaside town. Would not get too hot in this part of WA. An old town on the whole unspoiled. Dog Rock - bit of a let-down tourist attraction. At one angle the rock resembles the shape of a dogs head. It just rests along the street side, if you did not know it was there you would miss it. Hoping for some spectacular scenery tomorrow. I remember likening the houses to holiday villas, well the place we are staying in is definitely how I remember some of the chalets we used to stay in, very 60's.
8 February - Two weeks, and a hectic two weeks at that. Seems like I have been away for ages, can’t imagine how the next 7½ months will go. Maybe once I am out on my own it will go quicker. R & C have crammed a lot in, although up to now distances travelled have been minimal. Feel very tired, I will never have the strength to work again, I must try to keep my mind active. Off to the rugged coast line to the tourist attractions. First, Mount Clarence, not too much of a trawl to the top. You have an all-round view of Albany town, the Southern Ocean, the highway leading to the town and the main of the coastline. Situated on the mount is a bronze statue of the Desert Corps Memorial, shipped from Port Said, Egypt. This is only a replica, the original can be found in one of Albany's museums. Commemorates the War 1916-18. The coast line forms part of a national park to protect its natural beauty. With the main of attractions you will never find them swamped with visitors, thus enabling you to have a leisurely look. The Gap, a massive recess in the cliff side. On a fierce day waves can thunder up over the sides. Spectacular rock formations, but also extremely dangerous. Safety barriers are there for protection. The Bridge, a horizontal column of rock that forms a bridge across one section of the cliffs. Again, a stupid thing to want to climb down too close, the waves swell up so far, one freak wash and you go into the water. Just as magnificent from a distance. Observe the rules and a happy holiday is had by all. Blow holes - was not sure quite what to expect. These are fissures in the rocks which form holes into the caves underneath. The sea rushes into the caves with such a force that the pressure forces a blast of air up through the cracks and equally sucks air back through by force. Occasionally the sea splashes up through, today we could only see some spray. The sea in this area is made up of the most pretty blues and dazzling surf. The Whale Station, now thankfully dormant, is a museum, $5 to look around, only worth looking around if you are interested in yet more nautical history. The whaling stopped here in the 1970's, not so long ago. Easy to imagine the boats bringing in their catch to be butchered for oil. A barbaric way to earn a living. Sharks used to swim the waters, for a tit bit or two, the blood drew them. The waters of Albany have seen many wars. The ships that carried soldiers to war set sail from the port. How peaceful they seem now. Albany is potentially a good spot for a large port, but has little in the way of industry, agricultural exports only, tourism is now the main source of income. So many beauty spots to stop and take in. We could drive the car along the sand to Emu Point, time for a nice rest watching the pelicans on the water. Pub grub for dinner, very nice, but I hate eating late. How pretty the lights of Albany look at night, set into the hillside. Am managing money ok so far, must remember to hold back $20 tax. Have to admit it was a little chilly tonight. Tip - Out on the town, hungry, can’t drive home. Go order a home delivery meal and ask the driver to take you home as well.
9 February - Mixed bag sort of day, rain, sun, chill. It is about 21 degrees and to see R & C you would think it was the middle of winter. Even now C has put the fan heater on. You can certainly pick out the tourists - shorts, t-shirts. Arrived in Pemberton mid-afternoon, via Denmark and Warpole. Stopped off at Williams Bay, a beautiful shoreline set in national park territory. A barrier of rock provides a tranquil area to bathe, the water is clearer than clear. We walked along the massive rock formations to some spectacular surf crashing in on them, did I spot Stonehenge on the horizon? A lot of shrub areas are out of bounds to replenish the foliage. Could have brought my cossie down and stayed for a while, but for C, who was freezing and doesn’t like sand anyway, or water come to think of it. The journey to Pemberton covered immense areas of forest, sections of which housed many dead trees, a bunch together look quite stunning. Some of the settlements we pass through are quite self- contained as they are miles from the next village/town. Easy to see how you can lose touch with reality. Our unit in Pemberton is a bit more upmarket than Albany. We have towels provided and soap. Went to see the Gloucester Tree, 200 feet high, used as a look out many years ago. It still is today and many more trees surround it. Pemberton has a timber industry that dates back years. Today members of the public can climb the tree to the watch tower at the top, where a little man waits for you. Wooden slats and metal rungs provide a spiral ladder up the tree side. If it were not for the metal rungs I would have gone up, possible to the top. The wooden slats were solid, but the metal was rounded and you could easily slip, with no safety net, I would not risk it, did the first ten for the camera’s sake. Ron climbed to the top six years ago, the view must be fantastic. Judging by the visitors’ book, only macho idiots have made the ascent. Bar meal again tonight, nowhere to go for an evening stroll so back to the shack. Have to admit, the Gloucester Tree is a challenge but I thought it would look more spectacular. A lot of the trees are very tall, but spindly. I thought I might see some humongously thick ones. Have to wait until Canada for that.
10 February - We found paradise today. Followed the coast back up the west to Bussleton, much warmer day, via, Nannup, Augusta, Cape Leeuwin and Margaret River. Never seem to stay long in these places. I could quite easily have stayed in some of the places all afternoon, sitting in the sun and watching the waves roll in. If I hadn’t known different I would have said we were driving through English countryside. Walked up to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. At this point the Southern and Indian Oceans meet, how cold one side seems to the other. Some high rollers coming in today. This is timber trade country, small towns who survive on trade and tourism. You need hotels in these little places because it is such a long drive to reach anywhere. We drove for miles without seeing another vehicle. New highways being constructed everywhere, seems that roads and small towns have really expanded over the last 24 years. Real estate is big business. The Jewel Cave - Ron and I went on a tour of the cave, I am glad that we did. I have never seen such wonderful stalactites and stalagmites before, doubt I shall again. Some of the formations resembled clumps of trees, in certain light you can see a whole forest. A lot of formations were 1000's of years old and no one was allowed to touch anything, so as not to disturb any progress the tites and mites might be at. The cave has a natural skylight, which is covered with a door now, so that dust etc from outside does not spoil inside. Even people breathing and particles from the clothes we wear can affect the colour, formation etc, of the calcite columns. A very worthwhile tour that I shall never forget with stalactites, mites, straws, corals, cauliflower formations, calcite flow rocks. Margaret River for lunch, a very tranquil spot in the sun. Saw the Blackwood River, which is big news at the moment. An Algae bloom is forming and polluting the river. An awful lot of wine is produced around the Margaret River area. At the mouth of the river, at Margaret River, is a fantastic bay, a spot where championship surfing is done. I doubt the wind ever stops blowing here, the surf is an amazing sight. Today the water was full of windsurfers, very skilled ones. I could have watched them for hours, it was quite fascinating. Nothing else but sand and sea, no tea rooms, souvenirs, nothing. The Ozzies don’t seem to need any accessories to enjoy themselves. And so the Bussleton, quite a big town, and very seasidey. Walked along to the 700m pier, part of which was blown away a few years ago by a cyclone, now rebuilt with conrete and reinforced all along. A section right at the end is still to be treated, it looked very wonky, makes a nice stroll on a summer day. Very breezy today, wouldn’t trust it on a gale force day, it is not very wide and only has a safety rail on one side. Dirty stop outs that we are, stayed out until eight o’clock, nice dinner though. If it is warm first thing tomorrow, I might take a dip in the motel pool. By the way it is the 'Paradise Motel'.
11 February - Back on the trail home today and never gladder, it has been so hot, and in a car, just couldn’t handle it. Came via Bunbury, Harvey and Mandurah. No time for a dip anywhere except Singleton, too tired and drawn by then. Too late to see the dolphins in the bay at Bunbury, they come in at certain times each day, those who are fortunate enough to see them, feed them. The Greenpeace people are up in arms about it as they say that the dolphins will get too used to it and could damage their survival in the ocean. A complex is being built, so soon the place will simply become a money making venture, as per usual. Next stop was a large construction area at Dawesville. A massive estuary is being dug through from the sea to the Harvey Estuary. There has been a massive growth of Algae in the existing estuary and it is felt that a rush from the sea may clear the area and solve the problem. However, there is one problem that I can see. The surrounding area is being developed into housing, hotel, golf course, quite a complex. Don’t they realise that by clearing one sort of pollution another strain is being created......by human greed.
Australia is a relatively undeveloped country (well W.A. at least) and there has been a sudden rush to build everywhere. Soon overpopulation will come. And it isn’t just Australia, it is all over the world. Anywhere that we head for on vacation suddenly booms and the whole culture of a country is swamped. Not that white Australians have any real culture of their own, it is all imported and thus the same as any other western developed country. The Aborigines have culture, but the white man has made sure that he has taken the best parts for himself and left the natives to struggle. Celia said to me, after I tried to defend the Aborigines, by saying, that this was originally their land that has been taken from them, -
"but before them the land belonged to the animals." I found that comment very sad, not a very strong argument at all. There is plenty of land here, but the only real habitable areas are around the edges and before long there will be no natural vegetation left, because of the people who wave 1000's of dollars in the air and say, "I want this so I'm going to have it", regardless. The Aborigines have more respect for the land than any race I know. They build their lives around nature and understand it, unlike today’s white man who simply expect nature to live around them. The Aborigines are expected to abide by government rules and fit into the community, but how can they when the racists don’t want them and why should they when they know what is best. I was told that I would return home a different person and already my attitude has changed over a lot of things.
Visited a National Trust house in Wannerup, 150 years old. The Layman family lived here. A lovely house built of wood with a veranda all around. Made to last and not in a perfect way, the erraticness of the veranda was quite charming. Two buildings in all, one for general living/eating/sleeping and one for domestic purposes, cooking/laundry etc. Blacksmith, stables, barn. A self contained family life. Implements that were used as recently as 1940/50, just around the corner. Furnishings were beautifully made and made to last. Oh, to live again! how cruel time can be, and how sad for our children. The lady who works there was very interesting and a clever historian. I had a chuckle at one point. On one of the walls in the house was a picture of Salisbury Cathedral.
I am a day behind with writing this so may miss a few details. Went to Sizzlers for evening meal, it’s an American import. We spent too long travelling and I just wanted to flake out.
12 February - Hot, hot day, went to Toodjay to see some people. My patience with these ex pat, WA's has hit boiling point today. I want to move on and meet some real Ozzies. I am never impressed with people who try to impress, whilst at the same time try to degrade all that it is I am. I never came away to see how well ex pats have managed, I came to see the sights, to see some culture and in WA, unless you travel northwards, you will not get it. The majority of immigrants were given W.A. to live in, it the forgotten state. I wonder why! They get around it by saying that it is the best kept secret in the world, well I don’t want to share your secret and I certainly will not spread it. What a difference my opinion has taken on since the start of my trip. Judy and Allan have bought a small holding and it is quite a project to take on, however, Allan does not know the land, his veggies, fruit trees etc never came to be. They have moved around a lot and have now possibly settled for good. Tried to spot some kangaroos in the hills, there were two or three, but could only see through binoculars. Still, my first sighting of live ones.
Desperately wanted to catch up with my writing last night, but Celia interrupted and it was eleven o’clock before we knew it.
Current day thoughts
If I never mentioned it before, Adrian is Ron and Celia’s son and Shae is his daughter, she was 2 at the time.
I guess we are all hypocrites to a certain point. Life evolves and becomes about the survival of the fittest, it always has been that way. Plant life evolved to animals, animals to humans and everything on this earth was given so as to adapt and survive. We all live in homes that were once fields or woodland. We are all concerned about the future of wildlife but to what cost to humankind, we have to survive too, but the more we are given the more we take without any thought as to how it came to be. When I visit a country for the first time I always have a romantic picture of that country in my head of how I want it to be, derived from movies or historical cultural reference, but when I get there I find a mismatch of culture that doesn’t quite hit the mark, and the reason is partly because of the likes of me visiting the country in the first place. Every country tries to accommodate the tourists and once they do that the whole beauty of the place is destroyed. Old cultural practices are found either in museums, or specially laid on shows because the natives don’t really live that way anymore, they live in the society that has evolved around them in order to survive. Greed is everywhere. Greed is creating a world that one day may destroy us.
13 February - Sunday - day of rest. I have calmed down a bit now. Was up at 9am
but didn’t show my face until 12 noon. Finished off yesterday’s diary in peace
and quiet. Managed to pack most of my stuff into the rucksack, think I have it
well balanced out. Just want to be left alone today. Had breakfast for lunch.
It is cooler today, but I feel restless. Walked into Armadale this afternoon,
thought I would never reach it. I wanted to check out opening times for banks
in case I couldn’t get any change for tomorrow. Bought an Ice cream and drink
and settled in the park. Hardly anyone around except this weird looking guy
with a bull terrier. He parked himself quite near to me so I walked back home.
Adrian and Shae were there so that was the end of my quiet day. They stayed for
tea an soon went, Shae was getting moody. I will probably never see her again.
An evening of sitting in front of the TV, which, of course,
the Ozzies never do, but which everyone seems to be doing tonight. Ask anyone
outside of this continent to name an entertainer, or even better, a handful of
Ozzie entertainers and I bet only a couple will come out. Why, because the
Ozzies want to keep what they have and not share with the rest of the world. They
are getting a bit paranoid about losing anything of their own, they could
freeze themselves out. Somebody wrote in to a TV station and said, 'I came out
to Australia 30 yrs ago and returned to Britain in 1980 and was shocked to know
that it was not the same England’ that she once knew. ‘If Australia was not
careful it could be heading the same way by letting foreigners in.' Was she not
a foreigner herself? Where do these people come from. Enough whinging, I want
to enjoy my last day.
14 February - A day for getting sorted. I knew R & C
would not want any money for my stay, swines, will have to buy something extra
to put with the frame. Went into Perth
to sort some things out. Booked into the hostel in Adelaide, paid on credit
card. Wandered and wandered around the arcades, I find them all a bit too much
and I couldn’t find what I wanted. Did have a rest for lunch. Finally found
what I wanted in a shop that I had passed a thousand times and didn’t think to
go in. Glad that it wasn’t too hot. Felt bad about not going around to see
Celia's mum and dad, I did want to but the time just went. She did phone me
tonight though, what a nice lady, she can’t see any wrong in anyone. Not
feeling sad about moving on, not sure how I really feel, a touch excited,
nervous, who knows. I feel more confident after going into town on my own. Try to blend in that’s the trick, you will
not get noticed. Popped over to Muriel and Colin’s to say goodbye. Had a trial
run with the rucksack, hanging a bit on the bum but guess I'll get used to it.
I will have to do some more exercises to keep my strength up. The presents can
wait until tomorrow. To bed early tonight.
15 February - On the road for real now, can’t believe it. I
didn’t sleep too well, maybe a little anxious. Up at 04:45hrs, stocked up with
a good breakfast. Nearly cried at the thought of having to say goodbye again,
feels like leaving family. After a little confusion and a less traumatic
farewell than I imagined, the coach was away.
Travelled the early part of the morning through Northam to
Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. The small settlements seem like ghost towns, but
always with a hotel to rest the weary traveller before Nullabor. We put down
ourselves to water, much of the journey takes us through scrub land until we
reach Kalgoorlie, for miles it seems. A film kills a couple of hours. My
companion on this journey is a pleasant lady from Holland. She decided in her
retirement to make the most of her time left, and travel. She always travels
alone. I guess her husband has passed on or something. She has children back
home. It seems that her travels have taken her far - Thailand, Malaysia,
Indonesia, Venezuela, Australia, (her brother lives here), and Europe. Two or
so months at a time. It goes to show that you are never too young to travel.
Many friends can be met on the way and it would appear that the female will no
longer be trodden on. However, one can still never be too careful. I notice
that the youth hostels check to see if you are travelling alone and at what
time you intend to reach the hostel. With so many on the same journey it makes
you feel reassured. Kalgoorlie, a much larger town....(stop press - I have just
seen my first live kangaroo hopping over the road).....than I imagined. Twinned
with a once fending town, it is now called Kalgoorlie Boulder. Together with
Coolgardie, the region is known as the Eastern Goldfields of W.A. There is
still a lot of gold lost in them thar hills (or flats) of Australia. Mining is
still the employer of this town. Many fabulous buildings built around the turn
of the century. First pioneered in the 1890's, the town thrives and many mining
attractions would make this a worthwhile stopover. Alas, we only dropped a few
off and we were on our way.
I almost forgot to mention just out of Perth we made an
unscheduled stop, at the police' request. An undesirable character was
frog-marched off the bus, donned in his disguise and whisked away. Seems he
decided to take a break instead of attending his own court appearance.
If this is the start of the Nullabor, then I can’t
understand why people say that there is nothing to see. The erratic wooded area
is one of the most beautiful I have seen. Small Red Gums with floret tops and
shrubs and bushes of all proportions mingle together in a festival of greens.
The slightest of blue grey hints every so often. This long and winding road is
the only vulgar thing passing through. Aside from the Aboriginals this is one
of the only natural things left in Oz. A film is put on to distract. Next is
Norseman, at 16:30hrs, had a most disgusting meal that I am sure I shall
regret. Also on our coach are a few would be hippies who literally love to feel
the earth beneath their feet. Judging from their attire I guess they are the
sort who are out to experience a non-claustrophobic environment, one where
freedom can conquer the system for just a little while. I may have a back pack
but I realise that I am not a true backpacker of today’s standards. Maybe it is
my age catching me out, I like comfort, not slumming and sitting on the ground.
Nightfall came quickly, it is only 20:20hrs now and seems like midnight. We are
embarking on the longest stretch of road in Australia, 90 miles of Nullabor. I
can barely see the surrounding area but make out that it is roughly still the
same. Next stop is probably breakfast at Ceduna.
16 February - I lied, we did stop briefly for drinks before
bed. Not sure if I slept last night or not, couldn’t get comfy and there was
hardly any room. I think we must have travelled across the barren areas during
the night although not as sparse as I thought it would be. Breakfast in Ceduna.
Had some foul muesli. There are hardly any residents in these villages or
whatever they are called. Sat with a couple of girls at brekkie, one an Oz and
the other English. The Oz was working in Perth but got homesick and is going
home to Melbourne. She is known as the 'Bad Bird', she complains about
everything. Hates people who spend their lives whinging, she could probably
look after herself though. The girl from England lives in Sussex (west) and has
been travelling around Oz on her own. She has to go back home for a wedding,
otherwise she was going on to New Zealand. She sussed me out because of my
espadrilles, which are very scarce over here and expensive. I think the older
people are much more interesting to talk to, they have a lot to contribute. The
younger travellers, who are nice to meet, seem to walk around with heads down,
there is little eye contact and conversations are a bit samey. Where you from?
Where you been/going to? What do you think of? There are a lot of lonely people
wandering around the place with a purpose of their own. I am glad I stayed in
someone’s home, I got more of political incite of how Australia is becoming. If
I stayed on my own I would have looked at the sights, and be none the wiser,
just awe struck. 10 hours to Adelaide. I haven’t used the coach loo today, it
is dangerous place. You need strapping down for safety. If I were to do this
journey again I would stop off overnight, despite the cost, I hate not sleeping
at night. The public loos along the way provide good facilities to freshen up
after a long stretch, makes you feel better and ready to face another long
drive. Still scrub land, not so much now, a little more sparse but not how it
was described to me. I see the odd farmstead here and there, the land must be
useable, but so isolated. I am still very tired so not taking much in. Following
the long, long road to Port Augusta for a 20 min break, had lunch 2 hrs before
at Southern Cross. Areas of mining at various points. Thought we might stay a
while at Port Augusta, quite disappointed. And so the final leg to Adelaide, we
are all feeling a little irritable and some have to travel further. Braved the
loo, even worse today, splash city. Got to Adelaide 8pm, a little early, it
seems older in character than Perth and
bigger. The City of Churches.
I put my sweatshirt on, but it was warmer than I thought. A
guy pointed me in the right direction to the hostel and I started the 1/2 mile
trudge. Checked in ok although did not take much in. The room was full. One
quite sweet Japanese student who has been studying English in Brisbane for 15
weeks, she checks out tomorrow. An English lady below me who I do not know much
about, 2 Germans I think, they check out tomorrow, and 3 others who I know
nothing about. Feeling a bit disorientated so maybe sort myself out tomorrow
and get some kip.
17 February - Bed was amazingly comfortable, well anything
would be compared to the coach. The showers etc are quite clean, not bad for a
2 star hostel. A new recruit has just walked in, she sounds a bit butch. The
sleeping sheets they give are a bit hit and miss, like mummified shrouds.
Got myself together by 09:30 hrs (ish) and decided to get
breakfast on the way in to town. Had toast and a banana for only 70/80p, not
bad. Why do they always put hostels so far out of town. Eventually found my way
to the tourist bureau after stopping off at the post office and post card shop.
Glad all of these things run down the central street. Spent a while sifting
through the various tours on offer and whittled it down to a few possibles, so
came away with a fistful of leaflets and unfortunately had to come back to the
hostel. Must remember to take everything I need out with me during the day. It
does take it out of you having to walk so far, it wastes time too. I did notice
today how much my left hip hurts when I walk. In fact I ache all over
tonight. Was tempted to look around the
shops, but determined to get my bearings and my itinerary sorted first. Once I
have done that I can see about enjoying myself. I have been to so many places
and wasted time looking around shops I am determined to devote a short time to
look. Having said that the shopping malls are quite something here, you need at
least a day to get around them.
Decided on the excursion I want to go on after a lot of
humming and haaing. I know I am on budget but feel that I can treat myself. It
is never a good idea to continually keep a tally of all that you spend. A
mental note each day will suffice. You end up saving here and there anyway so
there is always a little left over.
Off to find lunch. Wanted something substantial as I do not
intend eating again today. There are a lot of reasonable places to eat if you
look, most can be found just off of the city centre. Stopped at Freddie's Bar
in Pultney Street, they had some Chinese specials for $4.00. Only one choice
left though, Chicken Curry. Oh what the hell, it’s cheap and you always get
plenty with Chinese.
Donned some leggings for the rest of the day, so it turned
warm again. Have to find the bus station to book my trip, the day is going by
so quick. Because I have my bus pass I got the trip at a discount, not bad eh!
Now do I have time to walk to the Cathedral. I am in no hurry so what the hell.
I could have planned my days so much better. Glad I went, despite my lack of
religion, it was worth it just for the statue of Mary in the Lady Chapel. Wandered
back through Elder Park via the Adelaide Oval. Never seen an international
cricket ground before, an all-seater stadium . The outfield looks small. Think
the tennis courts are along the top of the park, this must be the sporting
area, lots of activity on the water. Walked through the festival building
grounds, a very modern style building, with colourful sculptures surrounding
it. This looks like the business area of town. Came back to the hostel via the
Rundle Mall, this is a pedestrian shopping area, sorry had to have a peek. I
will tackle the shops tomorrow. Carried on past the mall down the rest of
Rundle Street, lots more shops and eating places. Quite a buzz going on in this part of town, a lot of young
people staying here. Nearly walked off the map in my excitement, lucky the
streets are on a grid pattern, soon found myself back on track.
Spent part of the evening writing cards and letters, got
tired early so went to bed 21:15hrs.
18 February - Slept really
well again. Still tired this morning, planning on a more easy going day.
Got the mail off. Hit the shopping centre to get it over
with, the Myer Centre was by far the best.
Seven levels in all. Because of the festival starting soon, there are a
lot of street performers and a show was put on in the Myer Centre, not for long
though. All of the security, you’d have thought someone special was
coming. Made my way to the top level and glad I did, this was the fun level.
Watched as a train rode the roller coaster and before you knew it I was on the
thing. You could see everyone shopping in the mall, this was my excitement for
the day. The food level was amazing as they always are. There is no going
hungry, whatever your nationality.
Promised myself I would be done looking by 14:00hrs, so found lunch. I
always look to see what servings are dished up before buying, I know when I am
getting a bargain. Made the mistake of
doing some grocery shopping, have to carry it for rest of day.
Found the Botanical Gardens, they would not look after my
bags whilst I wandered. It was hot today. I am not one for noting what plants
are, but the pleasure of just seeing them will do me. Palms, giant water
lilies, orchids, rare exotics, you name it, it was there. My leg was playing up
a bit today but I had a most pleasurable afternoon. Could have rested a bit more, but just kept
going, I don’t know why. Missed out on
the Bicentennial Conservatory , I think I may be being a bit tight with my
money. I might treat myself again with an excursion, perhaps the beach.
One of the women is here for the festival. She said a lot of
people were going to see the parade of arty farty's tonight, but think I will
give it a miss. Some of the girls looked
really tarted up, I don’t know what they are here for, but could do with some
packing advice. Just about to get started on this and this guy sat down with
his tea. He was interesting, likes to travel and often cycles around places.
Comes from London and is away for a few months like me, covering Oz, New
Zealand, Hawaii, Canada, and has already done Thailand and Hong Kong, but not
for any great length of time. He shares a lot of my views of Australia. We
talked for ages about all sorts of things, he liked my poetry very much. Got
out whilst the going was good so I could write my diary. A few chores to do
tomorrow before going out, I am looking forward to it. Almost forgot, I did my
good deed for the day, gave the sweatshirt to charity.
19 February - Started the day off well, did a
couple of chores after breakfast. My duty to hoover the stairs, quite an easy
one. Got the washing in. Will book for Alice today. Mooched around most of the morning forward
planning and checking time tables out. Thought I had better eat a snack before
Took my picnic to the south parklands, this is more of a
local sports area, quite pleasant though. Saw movement in the bushes so walked
back. I hate waiting around for things. I notice that the Melbourne hostel offers
a courtesy bus to pick you up. Backpacking doesn’t have to be so bad, the
hostels do like to take care of you. I would recommend anyone to join, you are
assured that it is a legit organisation. The bus was late, plenty of space,
only a 20 seater. I was the first on and hoped I would not be the only one.
Eight more got on at various points, a
mixed bunch to say the least, Barbara Cartland down to muck and brass. Got an
informative tour through town, so many areas I shall miss. Drove along part of
the Grand Prix circuit, passed the race course. Takes 3 months to set the G.
Prix up, one month to dismantle. The Adelaide Hills provide a most scenic
route. First stop, Mount Lofty, the highest point. Spectacular views across
Adelaide city. The whole city is massive, with suburbs sprawling each way as
far as the eye can see. There are walks to take through the hills at this point
if you have the time, sadly ours was a short stop. Next to Cleland Wildlife
Park in the conservation area. The guide lied, it said 2 1/2 hrs but we only
had 2 hrs. Saw my first Tasmanian Devil, cute little thing would not keep still
for a photo. Wasted time at the Dingo's. Now for my treat, the Koalas, they have
a lot here to share around, just had to have my photo taken with one. As one
gets tired of the camera another replaces it. My pleasure was Keegan, a 3 year
old girl koala, I could cuddle her forever, such soft contented animals. Could
be something to do with the eucalyptus leaves being fed. It is a shame that the
camera lights left a shadow, would have been nicer to have some scenery behind
us. This photo is definitely a good
memory. Would really like to see some in the real wild. The animals are fenced
in here but have acres of natural ground to live in. It was wonderful to be able
to walk amongst the geese and other wild fowl, kangaroos, wallabies, emus etc
and feed them from the hand. Rod Hull does justice to his emu, a lovely bird,
but a greedy one, glad to still have a hand. Dear kangaroos, you need glasses,
they cannot focus that well, so the food you feed them has to be right under
their noses. How gently the animals and birds (except emus), eat from your
hand. One kangaroo did not like the choice in my hand, so decided to take a
look in the bag, sorry mate it’s all the same. He turned his nose up a hopped
away. Sadly ran out of time and made it back to the coach with seconds to
spare. Came back through more scenic routes, via Piccadilly Valley and the
orchard areas, some breath-taking views.
Got dropped off outside my hostel, nice man.
Ate out tonight, a rare treat, again Pultney Street, Italian
Linguine Marinara, not bad, very filling with complementary bread - only $3.00.
Would like to walk along the coast tomorrow, I will see how it goes.
Quite boring tonight, no one to talk to, put my contribution
in the visitors’ book, wish I could read Japanese. Some people never look
further than the city centre and night life, they never see any simplistic
beauty in anything. Settled down to
crosswords and Daniel came along, so didn’t get to bed until after 23:00hrs.
Current day thoughts
I now understand the self-centred, self-sufficient nature of
Australia. Apart from Australia growing
as a country and the fact they have the climate and space to produce so much
more for themselves than smaller countries such as the UK, if you rely less on
other countries you prosper and sustain a standard of living.
It may have seemed a crazy idea to travel across Australia
via coach, and it truly was a bean can of a coach, but I feel I saw so much
more than if I had whizzed across on a train and would certainly have missed it
all on a plane. I would still recommend
travelling alone as it encourages you to talk to other people, and you get to
make your own decisions about things. True
freedom. I inspired at least one person to travel alone
to Australia, a colleague who I worked with in a GP surgery in Cornwall, she
said she would never have done anything like that, but hearing my tales gave
her the courage to go. She visited the
Gloucester Tree in Pemberton that I talked about previously,
and she climbed to the top too. If you
can make a positive change to at least one person’s life then it makes life
20 February - A still, warm day, the city seems quiet.
Decided to go to the beach, have no idea what sort of place I am going to, pot
luck I guess. Adelaide has a slightly different ticket system to Perth.
Getting the ticket from the machine is
the same, but as you get on the train the ticket has to go through a machine to
validate it. Didn’t realise it until half way through the journey, luckily the
inspector didn’t get on. Ended up at the end of the line in a place called
Grange, a quiet seaside town, very select in parts. Found the beach and walked
for a while hoping for the loos, there never are any loos by the beaches, so
downed tools put the cossie on and had a swim in the sea, so clear and calm.
Lots more people on the beaches in this part of Oz, but the beach goes on for
miles so all quite spread out. Laid in
the sun for half an hour, put the lotion on a best as I could. Set off for
another walk along the beach to see if I could reach the harbour. After an hour
I got a bit hot and bothered and it was still nowhere in sight. Had to pop back
in water during that hour for another pee, still no loos. Found some when it was too late. Sat for a
while to take in the view, lots of boats out today, not a cloud in the sky.
Went back to the loos to change, I was almost dry, no doors on the loos or
paper. Took a chance, good job too, I am getting worried about my urination
habits. Must have walked miles, took ages to get back to the train stop. Had no
idea what time it would come along, luckily only 10 minutes to wait. Back in
the city, seems it doesn’t sleep on Sundays, shops open all day, maybe because
of the festival, lots of street shows on. Had the chefs special for lunch,
followed by a hot fudge sundae, Mmmmmmmm!
Found out back at the hostel that I burned in places on my back, will
hold back on the sunning for a while. Quiet evening writing and listening to
music. The regular gang have gone. Got myself ready for tomorrow.
21 February - This has been a long day, had to
give my bed up first thing, so have just been playing for time. Managed to do
all of the important bits in good time, the exchange rate is up slightly, but
still poor. Got the souvenirs thank god. There are a lack of good souvenir
shops in Adelaide.
Walked around the S.A. Museum this afternoon and also the
Art Gallery. The good thing about Australia is the fact that most things are
free, and I could drop my bags at the reception to save lugging them around.
One or two good modern paintings in the gallery, rest were quite boring,
although some very well done. A lot of British/Ozzie artists around. The museum
was not what I expected, more worldwide things, animals, culture and stuff. One
of the better parts was a working bee hive they have set up inside. The bees
have an exit to outside, they looked very busy today, my sun burn is playing
Spent the last part of the afternoon in the Youth Hostel, my
things are safe in storage. Chatted with a couple of women, seems the Grimsby
lass is concerned about going home to no job. She was made redundant a while
ago. I think like me she has come away to muse over her future, as well as
having a good time. The last thing on my mind is what will happen when I get
home. I feel free and more confident about life now. Turns out that she leaves
today, may be on the same coach, one of the guys to. Can’t even imagine how hot
it will be at Alice.
The coach is late leaving. More comfy than the last one,
just. Tried to sleep to Port Augusta as had done the journey before.
22 February - It was a beautiful star lit night, makes me
think of the Aboriginals 'Dream Time'. I learned a bit more yesterday, how
rocks and river and stars etc became their myths and legends. It is 06:00hrs
now and we are dropping people off at Coober Peedy, looks like I have a seat to
myself now. Glad for the seat to myself now.
Didn’t plan my trip stay in Alice Springs that well, because
it was an overnight trip (17 hours), I would get there on the Tuesday and leave
on the Wednesday, so arranged an extra night in Alice Springs, thus leaving on
the Thursday. However, I decided on the
way up that I just had to go and see Ayres Rock as I was so close (just 6 hours
from Alice). I could not find a tour
that would fit in with my times up there, so left it in the hands of my bus
operators. I had one day left to use on
my Aussie Pass, so after one afternoon/evening in Alice (not that good a
place), I left Alice the following morning for Ayres Rock.
23 February - The afternoon we went to see the Olgas, a
mountain range nearby and in the evening stood and watched the sun go down on
Ayres Rock, however a cloud got in the way so it was not very good. I was just amazed that I was standing there looking
at the rock, it is quite spectacular, more impressive from a distance.
24 February - Spent the night at the Ayres Rock resort and
got up for 7am the next day to climb the rock.
I got so far and lost my bottle, my shoes did not have enough grip and
the surface is quite smooth, so sat with many others to wait for those heroes
to come back down. Takes approximately 1
hour up, 1 hour down. So many have died
from accidents. The climb was followed
by a tour around the base of the rock.
At 2pm the same day I caught my bus back to Adelaide. I am so glad that I saw Ayres Rock, never
forget it as long as I live.
25 February - Did some washing today, so hope it dries in
time for my trip to Melbourne tomorrow (7.30am). Quite enjoying travelling around, you meet
people in one place and catch them up again in another. By the way, I did not have to pay any extra
for the Ayres Rock tour, only overnight accommodation. I have some leaflets and things that I may
send home to save space. The weather up
north was unbearable, it was pointless showering because the sweat would not go
away. Much cooler here today, only 24
centigrade, bliss. Will not bother going
anywhere, I will stay at the hostel and rearrange my rucksack for
tomorrow. Australia is not a bad place,
feel quite at ease here and everyone is very protective of tourists. Am looking forward to Canada more I think. I do not get much time to really relax from
dashing around seeing it all. By the
time I have written up my diary it is bedtime.
Having a good time but do get lonely sometimes and doing a lot of
thinking. Feels like time is flying by
but it is only five weeks.
February - Trip to Melbourne approximately 12 hours, so would have arrived in
Melbourne around 7.00pm. Because of time
difference, Melbourne is 30 minutes ahead of Adelaide. Don’t remember a lot about the journey but
was much hillier than other journeys.
I reached the YHA on Finders Street ok and looked forward to a good night’s sleep.
same ticket system on public transport is adopted worldwide now. Coming from the wilds of Wiltshire I can’t
say we were that advanced, but who knows what went on then in the big cities of
the UK. Was Australia ahead ahead of
time. I used the phrase Oz or Ozzie a
lot, suppose it should be Aussie, either way, I don’t really like the term any
more. I think my bladder habits have
improved quite a lot, although the menopausal years have been a challenge. I remember developing a system on the beaches
for when toilets were not available. I
would don a large t-shirt, did a hole in the sand, kneel over it with my
t-shirt covering everything, go and then fill the hole in. Will never learn when it comes to the sun,
but have learnt that a tan is not an essential part of life. I was blown away by the art that I found in
Australia. My trip cured me of buying
souvenirs for other people forever more.
Back then the hostels were really good for storing luggage if you were
going on a trip for a couple of nights.
I’m not sure of the facilities now especially when it comes to security.
I lost some of my diaries, covering the period from 22 February to 4 June. I posted a lot of leaflets with the diaries
back to the UK when I was in USA, just to save carrying them around. The envelope I posted them in made it back to
the UK minus the information I had put inside, replaced by some correspondence
addressed to a person in Wales, which I assume the arsehole who destroyed my
material wanted me to pass on. I won’t
go into the details of what the letter contained but it was not nice and I
destroyed it. So, the above entry, from 22 February to 25, as
will be the next few entries, is taken from letters/postcards that I wrote to people whilst I was away.
main attraction for Alice Springs is the springs themselves. I walked out to the site around 5pm, as it is
less hot then, by myself, which in hindsight was a really stupid thing to do as
unfortunately a lot of the Aborigines there get very drunk and who knows who is
watching you. I took an off-beat track
out in the wilds. Thankfully I arrived
safely but there was nobody else around.
The springs were very tranquil and beautiful and I was glad to have
gone. I read all the information
available and made my way back before dark.
I signed the book to say I was going, so someone would have known if I
hadn’t come back as you have to sign back in on return.
is fun but you still have chores to do – washing, grocery shopping – it’s not
all play. I still remember washing some
clothes out at Ayres Rock. The soil at
Ayres Rock is red, all red, and the clothes I washed were full of red
dust. They didn’t take long to dry but
as soon as you put them on again the red dust returned – a losing battle. It was very cold at night though. As I
mentioned I didn’t go well prepared, mainly because I didn’t know what to
expect or that I would be going to Ayres Rock.
I didn’t have a sleeping bag and managed to not end up with a sleeping
sack like everyone else, so covered myself with whatever clothing, towels I had
with me whilst in my bunk. It may have
been a massive temperature drop or the air-conditioning that was on but either
way I was freezing all night. I still
loved the experience.
27 February – 5 March
Was getting fed up with cities by the time I got to Melbourne.
Did not like Melbourne much – too crowded and I had to scrape the smog from my face at the end of each day.
I went to Philip Island on one of the days to see the Fairy Penguins parade in the evening. The penguins are only a foot tall and hundreds of them come out of the sea at night and waddle up across the beach to their burrows.
4 March – Left Melbourne – 12 hours overnight trip.
5 March – Arrived in Sydney. Unfortunately due to a little confusion David and I missed each other at the coach station, but we eventually met up at the house. Crows Nest is a nice area to live and their house is very nice too. They are renovating right through and hope to finish next year.
Current day thoughts
I don’t remember disliking Melbourne that much, I did quite a lot whilst there and had a good time. The city has a tram system which I used on occasion to get to places. I visited Philip Island as I mentioned in a letter home above. As well as seeing the penguins, which we had to wait until dark to see, I saw koalas in the wild just chilling in the trees, zonked out from all the eucalyptus leaves. Back on mainland I took a boat along the Yarra River in Melbourne to get a different perspective of the city and to learn a bit more about it. I always find it peaceful out on the water. I went on a trip out to the suburbs to the Dandenong Ranges, driving past the street where Neighbours is filmed and stopping for a spot of afternoon tea with eucalyptus tea, which the guide brewed himself, and vegemite on crackers. I visited the botanical gardens to immerse myself amongst more nature. Melbourne really wasn’t that bad. I remember it did rain very hard on one day, which gave me an excuse to try out my wet weather gear. Think I may have been the only person outside but my cagoule and waterproof trousers, together with my hiking boots, kept me dry.
David is married to Bridget, who is Celia and
Ron’s daughter. They moved to Sydney
from Western Australia to pursue their careers.
I don’t remember specifically asking to be picked up from the coach
station, just casually mentioned the time I would arrive, so didn’t expect
there to be someone to be waiting. I
waited for a while and then decided to get a taxi out to their house and then
had to wait on the doorstep until David returned. He did go out the coach station but arrived
too late to see me. Of course we had no
mobile phones then to keep in contact. I
feel a bit bad that he made a wasted journey but he’s a laid back guy and was ok about it.
6 to 12 March
7 March – Had a tour of the opera house.
10 March – Went to see an opera, ‘The Pearl Fishers’, was brilliant so will be making more of an effort to go from now on, it is more accessible to the common man nowadays.
11 March – Got in contact with a friend I used to work with as Friends Provident, he works for the same company here and has lived in Australia for about four years now. We had lunch to catch up on the gossip.
12 March – Sydney does not seem so crowded, may be because it is so big. The harbour areas are really beautiful, especially on a sunny day, I could spend all day just sitting and watching the boats to by. Weather is mixed but not stopping me from going anywhere.
Off to the Blue Mountains today, really nice, lots of waterfalls and stuff. Stopped off at Wentworth Falls for lunch, travelled onto Katoomba shortly after.
Will hopefully get to Bondi Beach and Botany Bay later in the week, the weather is supposed to pick up by Tuesday. The clocks went back last Saturday so winter is now on its way.
It is a shame Bridget and David are working all of the time, it would be nice to spend more time with them. They get home late in the evening so we don’t eat until 8.30 most nights, the day is gone by then. I’m not missing home too much, I am so busy rushing around everywhere. I do not get to hear much news of what is happening in the UK. I am meeting all sorts of people as I go about, very difficult to actually find an Australian though. Sometimes you can meet up with people at hostels that you met somewhere else, everyone has their own routes worked out.
Current day thoughts
So not much to go on for this week, but I can remember more and more as I read back on the letters I sent home. The internet is a brilliant tool for jogging my memory too, so many things I had forgotten I had done and seen.
I loved the first time I travelled across Sydney Harbour Bridge and I never stopped enjoying trip back and forth each day, it was just so stunningly beautiful. I would pick an area to visit each day and endeavour to spend the whole day in that area, getting as much as I could out of the visit.
Darling Harbour as a hive of activity, so much going on. I walked around the Chinese Garden of Friendship, a beautiful, peaceful garden which shuts out so much of the city. I feel sure I took a cruise of the harbour and would have taken it from Darling Harbour, though may be not on the same day that I first visited the area.
The Opera House was quite a source of entertainment throughout my stay in Sydney. I booked onto a tour of the Opera House, which was very interesting, it is quite a building. Often there were free lunchtime concerts by musicians, outside of the building, which I took advantage of. A nice way to fill an hour or two. On one evening I booked to see an opera. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but back then on the final night of an opera you can queue up early on the morning of the final night and get ‘standing tickets’ at a knockdown price. I got mine for $20, which I thought was pretty good. You have to wait until everyone is seated for the performance and then once the doors are closed you can either stay standing at the back or sit yourself in any vacant seats you see. I chose a seat, which was a couple of rows back from where Michael Parkinson and his wife were sitting. He didn’t recognise me though.
The Blue Mountains provided an opportunity to get out into the wilds for a day. I took the train out. I don’t remember Wentworth Falls or Katoomba but I do remember going out to Echo Point where we could see the Three Sisters rock formation. It was around this are that walked down to the base of the rain forest, so not for the faint hearted, of course it meant we had to walk back out again, but I remember how much darker it was in the rain forest with all of the vegetation blocking out the light. I didn’t think about any poisonous creatures that I may come across down there but I guess they must have been around.
exciting week really.
13 to 19 March
14 March – Lunched with my friend again
15 March - Went to Bondi Beach today and yes my nose did go red, but it has calmed down now.
17 March – I had a walk around the famous King’s Cross area today being informed that it is an ok place to go during the day, (it is the red light district). Don’t you believe I a word of it, I was propositioned from a doorway of a naughty establishment, must have been the stilettos that did it.
Can’t believe I am nearly leaving Australia. One minute I couldn’t wait and now I think I shall miss it a bit. Sydney is a very lively place.
Money is going pretty well, although I have just been very extravagant. I am treating Bridget and David to a meal tomorrow night. They have expensive tastes so shall probably spend a fortune. Will work out how well I have done tonight.
Weather is mixed here, not so warm now as winter has set in. You can’t compare the weather this side to Western Australia, this is an entire continent so regions do vary a lot.
Current day thoughts
Bondi Beach, the only beach in Australia I had ever heard of, so had to go there. It wasn’t as big as I imagined but the sand was very deep, almost as if some had been shipped in to build it up a bit. There were few people on the beach and not much activity around. Was nice to just sit for a while to say I had been there.
Botany Bay was a very peaceful place, with a simple memorial marking the spot where James Cook first landed, surrounded by parkland away from built up areas. A visitor centre provided historical information.
One thing I can say about Australia, back then at least, is that the historical sites away from the hub of town and city are not dressed up. The landmarks speak for themselves, set in beautiful natural surroundings.
There is something quite pacifying in listening to the lap of water against the shore and looking out to sea.
As I only had two days left in Australia and Bridget and David had been brilliant in putting up with me, a relative stranger, for two weeks I wanted to treat them to a meal out. We went to a Thai restaurant and then to a different place for pudding. I got to see the Sydney skyline at night which was beautiful.
Other places I visited in Sydney included The Rocks area near to the harbour bridge, which was a mix of markets and street entertainment. I think it may have been here that I visited The Museum of Contemporary Art, which featured lots of artwork from students in Sydney, a magnificent array of colour and talent, art that I have never seen before, the botanical gardens, as I love to escape to a garden when I get the opportunity and I also caught a ferry across from Sydney Harbour to Manly, which I don’t remember being too interesting. I had lunch and came back quite quickly.
Weeks 9 and 10
20 March to 2 April
20 March – Flew to Canada
Vancouver - 20 to 26 March
Had some lovely weather in Vancouver, the cherry blossoms and daffodils were all out and it was very spring like.
26 March – Went up a mountain, ticket was good value, it included a film show and a horse drawn sleigh ride. It was really pretty amongst the snow, plenty of skiing going on too.
27 – 28 March - I came to Vancouver Island, which is as big as England. I will never think twice about travel in Britain again. I would do Scotland in a day and back again no sweat. Stayed in Nanaimo for a couple of nights, small hostel and a s**!t place. One of the guys there, a South African, took me out to a coffee bar one evening, which was fun and made a nice change from staying in. A lot of people I meet think I am Australian. I didn’t think that much of the country rubbed off on me.
29 March – After Nanaimo I went down to Victoria and stayed one night. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. I dived into a library and read up on how the Indians accepted the Europeans into the country. It is very interesting finding out how different people look towards the natives nowadays, not a lot different to the Aborigines.
30 March – I got a lift up from Victoria to a place called Chemainus froma guy at the hostel. He does relief work at the hostel. He was taking two other girls to a ferry as well. We had a good tour around with him. Chemainus is a beautiful town. Had a chocolate bunnie bought for me for Easter, but had to eat it cause it was melting. Travelling to Banff on Sunday so will buy a huge egg for myself to pig on. From there I caught a bus to Duncan. I phoned my friend Anne from Victoria and stayed at her home in Duncan. I wish I had stayed there the whole time, the area is really nice. They are having a new house built a few miles away, so we went to clamber over the timbers.
31 March – Today I went with Anne to an Indian heritage centre and had a private guided tour, it was very interesting. Unfortunately had to leave for my ferry and she had to go for a hair appointment, but it was nice to see her and to get a good night’s sleep. The ferry is running late due to the Easter weekend, but moving off now, a 1½ hour trip to the mainland. From the ferry we are passing close to islands that are in the States. Saw an orca swimming in the sea. A lot of Canadians travel to Seattle for a holiday.
I think this time travel is starting to catch up with me. I have been so tired this week, rushing to here and there, going to bed later than normal and getting up early. I have been to a lot of places but have done little in the way of touristy things. The weather has also been hot but I am told the further inland I go it will get colder. Have talked to a lot of actual Canadians lately, even been offered a job later in the year. I think Canada will provide a lot of places to simply rest and refuel myself and just look at the scenery. I am told the hostel in Edmonton is not so nice, full of wino’s or something, so may check in for a night to see if I like it and move to a hotel if not. Some of the hostels on route will be closed or have shut down so alternate means will have to be found. Would have loved to have gone whale watching but it is mainly a seasonal thing and you have to travel along way to get to the main areas.
I lost my combination lock somewhere between Sydney and Vancouver, thought I had just not put it on properly but if you look at the zipper bits on the end it looks like somebody has cut them to remove the padlock. There was nothing in there to take but that is not the point. Failing that all I can think is that the rucksack got handled roughly at the airport – (I did have three planes to board).
Being tired like I am now doesn’t make me wish I was home, but I wish I had someone to cuddle for a while. When you have loads of things see you don’t have time to think about things like that.
It is already 1st April in England, few more hours to go for us. I wonder how may jokes will be played at the hostel. I will occupy my time with hot cross buns, had some at Anne’s last night, really yummy.
May be go to Stanley Park tomorrow. Sunday my bus leaves at 6pm so I will leave the rucksack at the hostel and go to a museum close by. It is cheaper to travel by night, you save a night’s accommodation, but you miss all of the scenery. I will get to Banff at 7.30am on Monday, may have to buy some gloves and a scarf there. Hope there is snow.
1 April – Managed to buy some hot cross buns and get an Easter egg.
2 April – Stanley Park
Current day thoughts
Bridget and David took me to the airport on the 20 March to wave me off to Canada. It saddened me that Bridget really didn’t remember me or her time in the UK. She was only 5 when she left I suppose, whereas I remember her and I distinctly remember the day she left for Australia, 24 December 1969 and exchanging Christmas presents and the kiss goodbye. My best friend gone. Somebody did say to me that whilst my life carried on the same, Bridget’s changed significantly, so many new things for her to explore, so perhaps she wouldn’t remember things in the UK so much. A bit like my travelling in a way, so I understand now.
It was a bit odd going from autumn in Australia (still warm) to the spring in Canada. I crossed the International Date Line, leaving Australia at sometime late afternoon on the 20th and arriving in Canada early in the morning on the same day, so effectively I got to do real time travel and live the same day twice.
I got a taxi to my hostel, which was at Jericho Beach. It was a little ways out of town, the air just felt fresh and mountains provide the backdrop. The hostel was a little older than ones I had been used to in Australia but it was comfortable with all the facilities required.
I covered two weeks this time as I was a little short on information for week 9. Thank goodness we have the internet now to remind me of some of the things I got up to, which included:
Gastown, one of the oldest parts of Vancouver and has a steam clock, which I don't remember steaming at the time, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, out in the beautiful wilds, which can only be crossed by people and really only safely with one person at a time as it is narrow and wobbles all over the place if too many people at one time. There were some native indian totem poles and other exhibits and trails. Horseshoe Bay is where I caught the ferry to Vancouver Island, but I did spend a bit of time looking around. It really is a beautiful little town in an amazing setting. Seeing the orca in the wild was truly a sight to see. I know there is wildlife in the UK but it really isn't as spectacular as Canadian wildlife. Perhaps we just don't see enough of it or appreciate it. Grouse Mountain is where I had my sleigh ride, the closest I have gotten to Santa so far, and apart from checking downtown Vancouver out for shopping etc I escaped to Stanley Park with its beautiful gardens and nature trails. Whilst on one of my treks downtown I happened upon Leslie Neilsen doing a photo shoot in a shiny red sports car
3 April to 9 April
3 April to 8 April - I moved on to Lake Louise in the Rockies and was up to my neck in snow, which was great fun. Stayed there for five days and had a nice rest. I do not ski so apart from gong on walks there was little else to do, Lake Louise village is very small. The lake itself was covered in ice and snow, so I walked part of the way across, some were cross country skiing.
9 April – Went to Banff for three days after Lake Louise,
the scenery in this part of Canada is so beautiful, nice to have some fresh
mountain air in my lungs. The hostel in
Banff if about a mile or so out of town so had to lug my backpack up the steep
mountain road. Stopped halfway to catch my breath. The accommodation in this area is really
quite luxurious, even the hostels.
Current day thoughts
Don’t know why I put in a letter home that I would be going
to Banff after Vancouver. Maybe I
changed my mind or something, but I definitely stopped off a Lake Louise before
Banff as it followed the more logical route.
On Easter Sunday a kind person went around all of the beds
in our hostel room and placed a small chocolate egg on each pillow. A lovely gesture I thought, but nobody was
going to get their hands on my big egg, which I reserved for my onward
What a difference travelling from Vancouver to Lake Louise,
I went from beautiful spring back to winter in one day. There was thick snow on the ground. It was still ski season in these parts and
most of the people staying in the hostel were there for just that, I was the
odd one out. I have never fancied the
experience of skiing and still don’t.
My hostel was Swiss chalet style with a warm log fire, quite
fancy for a hostel really, set amongst fir trees and the mountains, just like
the movies. It was nice every so often
just to chill for a while as backpacking involves propelling yourself forwards
all the time.
Each evening every guest would congregate in the kitchen to
cook and so many people asked me how my day had gone on the slopes. It was a conversation stopper to say I wasn’t
skiing and I think some thought it odd for me to be there for anything
else. It didn’t stop me talking to
people though. I remember having a
conversation with one man who had been to the UK and found it amusing how fast
people drive cars in the UK. He said,
‘where have they got to get to in such a hurry’, in reference to there only
being very short distances between everywhere when compared to distances in
I rarely ate out and bought provisions to cook each day, it was cheaper that way. I have a vague recollection of the store in Lake Louise being very small with basic provisions.
The lake is the main attraction but, as I said previously, it
was iced over. I was a bit apprehensive
to walk on the ice, but did it anyway for the experience. The Chateau Lake Louise was the place to stay
if you could afford it, looking very impressive from the outside. I did go and have a nosey inside and used the
toilets. I don’t think I looked out of
place in my casual clothing as people were wearing all sorts of things; they
didn’t kick me out anyway. I became quite good at sneaking into posh
hotels to use the toilets.
Five days seems quite a long time to have spent at Lake Louise but I must have filled them, as I did most places I went to.
10 – 16 April
Dedicated to the memory of Margaret Spicer
10 – 11 April - Banff
11 April - Had to get to Lethbridge via Calgary, but did not
stay long; it just looked like another city to me. Went past the Calgary army base on the coach,
so guess that is where Stephen would have stayed. Alberta, (the south anyway) is ranching land,
so very flat and full of wheat fields. A
lot of different religious communities in the area, Mormons, Hederites,
Menonites, all kinds.
Most of the things in Margaret’s house are years old, she
has some modern equipment but doesn’t bother much about things. If it still works it is good enough. She is retired from work; she was a nursing
aide in a psychiatric unit. Her sister
lives nearby and they now have the house in East Knoyle that their brother
lived in before he died. The most
interesting piece of machinery is the washing machine, which I have to use to
do my clothes, must date back to the 1950s.
It is one of those agitator contraptions with the wringing section over
the top. I have a photo to prove it. It does the job but I did find it amusing.
We had a women’s luncheon to go to (very religious
ladies). I won a prize; the theme of the
evening was travel.
12 April – Went golfing with a couple of ladies, I was the
caddy. There was a pot luck supper at
the club house, every lady bakes a dish and brings it along. We had tons of food.
13 April – Five pin bowling and a tour of the hospital which
14 April – Fairly quiet, although we went over to Margaret’s
sister’s for supper. Their maiden name
was Chubb, the Mayor of Salisbury is related, he is, or was if not mayor now, a
15 April – Shopping day. I did manage to get out in the
afternoon for a walk to a local lake.
16 April – We went to a flea market and watched some
dressage competitions; Margaret used to be a keen horsewoman.
We sat is a shopping mall and sold raffle tickets for the
Diabetic Association; Margaret is a diabetic herself.
We watched a local amateur dramatic play, so have not been a
tourist yet, more of a community participant.
Current day thoughts
I would have lumped 2x weeks together again as lacking any
material for Banff, but I have quite a lot for Lethbridge so decided to just
stick to the week.
Banff was just beautiful in its mountainous setting. Again, they had a luxurious hotel, the Banff
Springs Hotel. I just happened to be desperate
for a wee as I was going by so had to pop in to use the facilities. I may have looked a little out of place here
but who cares, clearly the desk staff did not.
I remember specifically two places I visited in Banff, one
was the library where I went into archive section to read up on the Native
American Indian treaties, and the second was a mouth-watering chocolate shop
that I visited a few times to stock up on one of their delicious
offerings. From my photographs I can
see I visited the Banff hot springs themselves and there was a lot of
historical information and displays on the Native Canadian Indian tribes of the
Another place I visited was the Bow River Falls. Not spectacular in themselves but on showing
my photographs to family when I got home, Stephen produced a photograph that he
had taken of the Bow Falls a few years before stood in the exact same spot that
I had been standing in when I took mine.
Must have been a popular tourist spot for photo opportunity.
Who is Margaret I hear you asking. Margaret was a good friend from childhood to
the mother of my then boyfriend. She
emigrated to Canada; I’m not sure when, and so did her sister, Joan. I had never Margaret before so it was very
generous of her to let me stay in her home, and for so long. Sadly Margaret has since passed away. Her ashes were returned to the UK to be
scattered at a spot in East Knoyle where she grew up.
Lethbridge was quite a busy town; it has everything as it is
so far from the next big city of Calgary, which is about 140 miles away. Not a place a tourist would necessarily visit
unless there was something specific to see, so it had a very close community
spirit, or it seemed to, may be because Margaret was a part of so much going
on, and she immersed me into so much as well.
It made a nice change from my usual routine when visiting a place. Margaret and Joan had put together quite an
itinerary for me.
The day of golfing was the windiest day I have experienced,
not the best weather for playing golf, but the ladies persevered anyway. I did notice at the pot luck supper that one
or two had cheated by buying dishes to bring – KFC being one of them.
The visit to the hospital where Margaret used to work was
fascinating. It was a secure psychiatric
unit, for people with both physical and mental health disabilities, but
Margaret just breezed in with me as easy as anything. I don’t remember being signed in or
anything. The patients we stopped off to see were
happy to see Margaret. There were quite a
mix of disabilities from dementia type illness to those who have suffered brain
trauma and need 24 hour care. I can
still see the face of one patient who had tried to take her life but was found
before it was too late, however she had been starved of oxygen for too long and
now is unable to walk or do anything for herself. She could have limited conversation with people and did recognise
Margaret, but I do wonder at what she must have thought of
life then, it
certainly wasn't better
for her. I hope
she is at peace now.
Escaping from the house to discover more of Lethbridge by myself was a much needed thing to do, I went to places that Margaret wouldn't have taken me to and was able to gage the town a lot easier. You wouldn't believe there could be so much to see in this out of the way place and I still had more days to fill.
17 – 23 April
17 April – Been here in Lethbridge for nearly a week now,
have one more to go. Will take time this
morning to write to Ron and Celia and Bridget and David and anyone else I have
stayed with along the way. Only been
three months but seems longer.
Have found everything very educational so far, I find all of
the cultures interesting. Sometimes I
will dive into a library to find out any information I need on a particular
subject. I have an address of a
magazine, ‘She Travels’, which I shall write to at some stage, they want
travellers to contribute to it, however I need a computer as you have to send a
disc with everything on.
Being treated to all kinds of different experiences by
Margaret. Weather is so mixed here, we
have had in the past week, gales, snow and temperatures up in the 20s, so not
sure what to put on in the morning.
Today and the coming week I have some touristy things to see in the
area. Margaret’s sister works in a jail
so having a tour of the jail on Tuesday evening, hope they don’t keep me
there. Going to a nature reserve this
afternoon and to a concert tonight. The
group are a young family called, ‘The Rankin Family’, can only imagine they are
like Clannad so should be good. Will buy
a tape if I like them.
19 April – Local prison in Lethbridge. Had to wander amongst
the inmates at some points, it was really quite enlightening. Some of Joan’s co-workers remarked at how
calm and collected I was, apparently some people that visit the place are
Current day thoughts
With so much to do in and around Lethbridge I am a bit
confused as to the chronological order of things in the second week but I have
tried to make some order via my photographs, (hopefully soon I can post some of
those for you to see).
There was a nature reserve, which I don’t remember anything
about, but it may have contained the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump,
which is an open plain area where the Native Indians used to drive the buffalo
over the cliff, which would kill them, and subsequently they could eat the meat
and use the hides.
The bridge, which Lethbridge is named after, is a railway
bridge which is the longest and tallest railway bridge of its type in
the world. It crosses the Oldman River
but I don’t recall whether I saw the river or not, just a really long bridge
covering lots of plain.
Nikka Yuko Japanese
Garden provided a peaceful sanctuary to wander around, not that Lethbridge is a
noisy place; in fact Canadian towns and cities are all quite laid back. Again I have vague memories of it.
We went to Fort
Whoop-Up to take in a bit of culture. A once
trading post in both legal and illegal goods, (whisky being one of them,
buffalo hides another).
Joan took me to the Waterton Lakes National Park close to the
Canada/USA border, which was so beautiful and took in the Rocky Mountains. We had a lovely day walking amongst the deer
and goats and taking in the fresh air and scenery. It was just coming into spring and I always
think the air is at its freshest in the spring.
It is my favourite season.
Margaret did get me to do some chores though. Apart from helping her to sell raffle tickets
in the shopping mall she got me to use a contraption which held week killer,
which I had to administer to all, and there were a lot, of the dandelions on
the lawn. I guess I had to earn my keep
I never did contact ‘She Travels’, but I still have a
burning ambition to be a travel writer.
Watch this space as they say.
How technology has progressed. Computers were not as common as they are now
and floppy discs were the thing back then.
The Rankin Family were really good, more like The Corrs than
Clannad and I did indeed purchase a tape of their music, a cassette tape, not a
CD. I remember being disappointed that
the music on it was not the same as they did at the concert, but I still
enjoyed listening to it.
The prison was a great place to visit. It was an open prison so security a bit more
relaxed. At one point a prisoner offered
for us to go through a door before him, but Joan made him go first and he
respected her authority. I can only
imagine the danger you can put yourself into if not careful. I wasn’t too happy with all the male
attention I got but I guess not too many young ladies happen their way. We sat in a secure office for a while, where
the prison officers could observe the prisoners around them in a communal
area. On an upper level there were
cubicles but I can’t remember whether they were toilets or showers, either way
a prisoner’s feet would always be showing, so not total privacy. The water fountain had a notice attached to
it asking that nobody should spit into fountain. I don’t know why I remember that, but it has
stayed with me and I am a bit wary of water fountains now. A female had been detained for disorderly behaviour;
I think she had been drinking. I was
allowed to look through a peep hole in the door to the room she was being held
and she was giving the prison officers some lip. I was glad not to have been on the other side
of the door. Each prison officer was allocated a pepper spray to use when
required but before they were allowed to have one the officer had to experience
the pepper spray in his or her eyes, so as they know the kind of reaction to
expect from another person.
I think the prison had quite an impact on me as I can
remember so much detail of the visit.
Not something you get to do every day is it, and it wouldn’t be the last
prison I encountered on my journey.
With Margaret and Joan’s help I pretty much squeezed everything out of Lethbridge. And to think I had never heard of the place, so thank you to my ex for suggesting I stay with Margaret.****************************************************
24 – 30 April
25 April - I will always be thankful to Margaret for the time I spent in Lethbridge, it is such a friendly town, but glad to be on the road again. The days leading up to my departure were really nice and hot but the day I left it snowed. It is a very confusing country weather wise.
Edmonton was six hours away and it was sunny by the time I
Was not impressed with Edmonton to start with but as the
days went on I found some nice spots to visit.
Because of the severe weather they get in the prairie regions,
everything closes down and does not open up again until May, normally the bank
holiday weekend at the end of May, so a lot of things that I wanted to see were
Current day thoughts
So, I didn’t have that much to say about Edmonton in my
letters home, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it in the end.
I think it was in Edmonton that I managed to break one of
the window panes at the hostel. They had
a system of opening and closing windows that I never quite got used to in
Canada, anyway I put too much pressure on the glass and it cracked. No injuries sustained.
I remember one morning stepping out for the day, in my newly
washed fleece jacket that I dried in the tumble dryer, and my hair just
standing up on end like when you put your hands on one of those plasma
balls. It was a combination of the
atmosphere with the tumble dried synthetic material of my jacket. I did start to wonder about Edmonton after
So what did I get up to in Edmonton. Well, the main attraction was the West
Edmonton Mall, which is one of the largest in the world. It had everything in terms of shopping and
entertainment. I guess during the winter
months, when you can’t do much outside, it provides activities for everyone. They had a miniature golf course, a waterpark
with submarines and replica of a Galleon ship, dolphins performing tricks, an
ice rink, rollercoaster, which of course I went on, carousel, and of course
some shops and eateries. I believe now
there is much more to see and do in the mall.
I hiked around for what seemed like miles to get to things
around Edmonton. I decided one day to
make my way out to a swimming pool, again I am sure it was Edmonton but can’t
be certain, anyway it looked pretty close on the map so I donned my hiking
boots and set off. May be I didn’t have
much concept with regards to distance, but I decided that a mile in Canada was
much longer than in the UK. I walked
well off the beaten track to get to the pool and it took forever, I didn’t see
one bus go by, so it wasn’t a well serviced area for those without cars. I enjoyed the pool though. On another occasion I was keen to see some
bison, that had not been under the hands of a taxidermist, and managed to
locate an area just out of town. I took
the bus out as close as I could and ended up hiking through a housing estate to
see them. They were on enclosed farmland
so not really in the wild but they were still beautiful animals to see. They were at a distance and I felt like I was
intruding on people’s private property.
If anyone saw me they must have wondered who the waif and stray was,
wandering around in the neighbourhood. A
man did stop in his car and offered me a lift back, but I wasn’t sure of his
intentions so declined. I then had to
try to find my way back to a bus route to get back into town. I know I stuck out like a sore thumb because people
rarely walk anywhere in North America.
I also went to the Muttart Conservatory, the Peace Dove
sculpture, neither of which I have memories of despite the photographic
There was quite a distance as you can imagine in traveling
from one place to another in Canada. I
used the Greyhound bus service and often listened to music on my Walkman and
also to the local radio stations, which had some very interesting talks going
on about the political state of the country.
It was by far the best way to get to know about Canada and what was
really going on behind the scenes.
I haven’t given any time really to what I think of Canada so far. It’s not as if I haven’t spent time with any Canadians in their homes. Perhaps because we have always seen so much about North American life on the television or because I had been to the USA before and the lifestyle is similar if a little more laid back. Everything seemed so familiar. It may be because the ‘locals’ were not constantly comparing the lifestyle to mine in England. I do know that I wasn’t compelled to express my views, although I did take a lot in. I was simply mesmerised by the beauty of Canada and its people.*****************************************************
1 May to 7 May
I did an amazing thing in Edmonton. I had a pair of knickers go holey on me so I
threw them out and bought a new pair.
3 May - Things are picking up now.
Saskatoon is a nice place, friendly and a much slower pace
than the bit cities. The hostel
accommodation is in a hotel, it is comfortable but not as good as being in a
proper hostel. I have a spring loaded
toilet seat in my bathroom, can be interesting at times. Also have a nightclub beneath my room, so no
getting to sleep before dawn. They do
have a TV in the foyer with some good programmes on.
Am doing a lot more reading, nearly finished my third book
in 3½ months.
They have a good restaurant attached to the hotel called
Kars Kafe, done out like a garage. The
food is served in hub caps. They have
the closest to fish and chips shop chips that I have found.
Moving onto Winnipeg on Thursday evening, will get there on
Friday morning. May be not able to
hostel at Thunder Bay but will check it out in a few days. Luckily I have enough cash-in-hand to pay out
on some more expensive accommodation if necessary. Come to think of it I have to do the same for
Am trying to keep up with world news. Ayrton Senna was killed. Haven’t heard any British political scandal
lately so guess there is not much going on.
I am learning a lot about the native culture, finding it very
fascinating visiting heritage centres, diving into libraries. Would be good to get back into some sort of
6 May – Did not get much sleep on the coach journey last
night to Winnipeg. I really wish I could
hire a car, a lot of the national parks and wildlife are hundreds of miles out
of town, so I cannot get to them. Not
planning on racing about the place whilst here.
I have seen enough museums and galleries for the time being. Have some planning to sort out for the next
week or two, a few of the hostels are not open yet. Will be by the Great Lakes come Tuesday.
Oh, the knicker
reference. I have always been bad at chucking out old
underwear, especially knickers. I wear them to
the bitter end and, if holey, usually just at the weekends when I don’t go out
much. At the beginning of this year I
threw away 17 pairs of knickers, most of which were the wrong size and some
that had seen better days. The more you
wear a pair the more comfortable they are, perhaps that’s why we keep them so
long. In keeping them though I do feel that
I am doing my bit for the planet in saving resources.
I so remember
the pounding of the music coming from the nightclub below my room in
Saskatoon. Lucky I never had to get up
in the mornings to go to work. My
neighbours nowadays play their music just as loud, sometimes way into the
night, without a thought to who they might be disturbing.
I was never a
great reader as a child and that never improved into my early adulthood. For some reason I just couldn’t get to grips
with them. It wasn’t until I saw a TV
adaptation of a book I was then reading, (which took me two years to finish),
that things just clicked. I was able to
put visual images from the TV to the characters in the book and it was all
plain sailing from there. So, to have
read that much in such a short space of time was quite something for me. I really enjoy reading now.
proper fish and chip shop chips anymore, not even the fish and chip shops in
this country; sadly it’s all about being
health conscious these days.
When you are on
the road, doing a ‘pay as you go’ kind of thing, as opposed to a package
holiday already paid for, you really have to think ahead of the moment you are
in, so a little research into wherever you intend to travel is a good idea
before travel. I knew where I wanted to
go and that I was going to hostel, but didn’t delve deeper into the finer
details. I found talking to other
travellers and the tourist information places a great resource when the way
forward was looking bleak.
I did get back
into education again, studying with The Open University and enrolling on other
home study courses and evening courses at local colleges. I’m still keen to keep on learning new things
to keep the brain ticking over.
very prairie. Small town with lots of
open space, but not without its cultural aspects. The Western Development Museum, which as its name suggests,
provided information and exhibits dedicated to the development of Saskatoon,
including a mock up town that I can only describe as being like a set that
would be used to film a western, but a bit more modern. There was also the Wanuskewin Heritage Park which is dedicated to the history of the Native
Indian tribes and bison that used to inhabit the plain. It was very peaceful just standing in the
looking out across the open plain, imaging the bison roaming free.
Winnipeg I got to see my first Mountie, or Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, to
give him his official title. I think he
may have been planted for a picture opportunity for tourists, but may be that’s
the sceptic in me.
Winnipeg was a lot
more built up than Saskatoon, but still not a hugely intimidating city. Winnipeg is home to the Manitoba Legislative
Building, where all the political stuff of the region goes on. I didn’t go for a tour, I think I had got to
the stage where once you’ve seen one historic building you’ve seen them all. Unfortunately visiting the capital
cities/towns of a region, they all have the same stuff to see with similar
information. St Boniface Cathedral was
quite an interesting building to visit though.
Unfortunately throughout its
history the cathedral has suffered damage through fire and has had to be
rebuilt on more than one occasion because of that. The current building was built in 1972, with
the only remaining part of the previous one being that of the façade, which
stands before it. The new cathedral is
more modern but still very beautiful inside.
My hostel accommodation was much better than the last one; I had company for one thing. It was set out in the suburbs in an adapted house. No noisy neighbours.***************************************************
8 May to 14 May
9 May – Thunder Bay is in Ontario and at the start of the
Great Lakes, from the west side it rests on Lake Superior. Ontario is just full of lakes and is the last
province that I shall see whilst in Canada.
10 May – I managed to catch a glimpse of the eclipse of the
Moving on from
Winnipeg, I was now out of the prairies.
I wasn’t able to
hostel in Thunder Bay. I managed to get
a room in the university there. Most
universities rent rooms out in the holidays.
I don’t remember too much about it, but it was comfortable.
Thunder Bay is most
famous for, apart from Lake Superior, Terry Fox and the Sleeping Giant. Terry Fox was a young man with cancer, who
decided to embark on a run across Canada to raise money for cancer
research. He ran 3,339 miles before
worsening health forced him to stop, close to Thunder Bay. Sadly he passed away not long after that in
1981, aged 22. There is a monument
dedicated to him in Thunder Bay, which overlooks Lake Superior. It is coming across things like that that
inspires you to make the most of life and challenge yourself.
The Sleeping Giant
is a rock formation which resembles a giant lying on its back. I couldn’t see the resemblance from where I
was stood, which was far away, but it has its significance in Native Indian
Fort William was
also a large attraction. It dates back
to the early 19th century and was set up as a trading post. It is now ‘devoted to re-creating the days of the North West Company and
the Canadian fur trade.’
There is also a pagoda, built in 1909 on the waterfront, which is now a
tourist information booth.
I remember it being sunny most of the time whilst in Thunder Bay, which
made for great escapes into the fresh air and stunning views across Lake
I so wish I had my diary to refer to, with such limited information to
hand. Only a few more weeks until things
get back on track.
Week 17 - 15 – 21 May
15 May to 21 May
16 May – Saulte-Ste-Marie is interesting. Between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, it
hosts part of the St Lawrence Seaway, something we were taught in our geography
lessons at school. You can also see
across to the United States, but unable to cross the link bridge unless in a
17 May – The weather at the moment is sunny, if a little
windy. Still some snow on the ground and
part frozen lakes. Imagine how cold it
must get in winter.
When you see the Lake you could be forgiven for thinking
that is was an ocean in its own right.
Lake Superior has many beaches around it and many enviable properties
dotted along the shores. (Even Lake
Winnipeg has its own beach resort, in the middle of Canada).
19 May - Am staying at the university in Sudbury as there is
no hostel here. Most people at the
university speak French, it is also a catholic run joint, so plenty of crosses
about the place. Not much to do in
Sudbury, I only intended staying for three days but was cheaper to make a
week’s booking at the uni, so spending a couple more days. It is nice to have my own room but can’t wait
to get back to the hostels.
I was glad to get here so that I can catch up on my laundry,
I am running out of stuff to wear.
20 May - The further east I go the more laid back it
I have a cross hung above my bed. Feel I should be going to confession every
Today is really hot, so taking it easy. Have a huge amount of tourist info to plough
through. Surrounded by drunks in the
park here, sleeping it off. I am
sticking to mineral water
21 Saturday – Went to the Science North Centre, a brilliant
place. Spent five hours messing around
with the experiments and technology.
They have one of those huge floor pianos which was great fun. Also got to touch a live python.
So, I left Thunder
Bay feeling enlightened and moved onto the next town of Sault-Ste-Marie, which,
although it was quite small, did hold some interesting things. My
geography lessons came rushing back to me when I discovered the St Lawrence
Seaway link. I guess something must have
sunk in at school, so not all wasted. Across
the bridge in USA is also Saulte Ste Marie, which used to make up the same town
as on the Canadian side, but the introduction of the USA border eventually
separated them. I’m sure I must have
read that somewhere in the history
museum in Saulte Ste Marie, but had forgotten, (thank you Google). In fact the St Lawrence Seaway was on the USA
side of the water and not the Canadian side.
It was great walking alongside the canals and Soo locks and diving into
the visitors centre and museums to learn all about it.
I also wandered
around some beautiful parks which overlook the water and visited the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic
Site, home to Charles Oakes Ermatinger who was a businessman and trader in the
area. Another interesting place was the
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, exhibiting a lot of bushplanes through the
ages, which were used to drop water on any bushfires in the area. The tour guide was quite persuasive in
getting a donation out of me for the cause, gaining me a bushplane pin badge
which I still have today.
The size of each Great Lake is quite daunting when you compare them to
the lakes here in the UK. It really is
hard to see them as lakes and not seas or oceans.
Such a nice little
town. I left part of my heart in Saulte
Next came Sudbury,
and what can I say about Sudbury. Well
most of it I would rather put behind me but I guess all that we experience in
life shapes us as people and can make us a little wiser. The science centre was fun and there was a
nice walk out to a nature reserve, but that’s about it. The priest at the uni was a nice man who
looked after us all and gave me some of the food he was taking on a camping
trip when the shops were shut. Not quite
sure how I managed to survive 5 days in Sudbury but I did.
It isn’t until you start to explore a country that you realise just how diverse each place is and that is what makes the World tick the way it does. Not always a good thing but wisdom allows you to select in which environment you want to surround yourself, and what to look out for in those you don’t.
Week 18 - 22 – 28 May
23 May – It has been a bank holiday weekend here, Victoria
Day today, and the weather has been beautiful over the past few days, brought the
people out in hoards. Most tourist
attractions across Canada open fully now, the winter season is over for the
The porter in my residence is also a Jesuit priest and today
is a special day in his religious calendar, so he invited myself and two other
girls for lunch in one of the buildings here, saved me having to buy any.
Have had a few problems with my feet of late. My heels have developed some nasty blisters,
they keep appearing one on top of the other.
I think it is a combination of the shoes rubbing and the heat. I am hoping I can control them without
medical assistance. They seem to be on the mend quite well now. Aside from that no other problems.
So many famous people have died lately; John Smith, Jackie
Onassis, John Candy, can’t keep up with it all.
Can get the BBC World News on one of the TV channels, also on the radio,
so staying in tune with it all.
Guess the UK bracing itself for the start of the World
Cup. I may get to see some but they all
watch ice hockey here, so doubt I shall get a look in.
My hair is starting to get quite long now, doesn’t look too
bad either. I may have something done to
Less than a month left in Canada, it’s going by so
24 May - Glad to get to Ottawa, the capital of Canada. You can see most things in one day,
everything is situated in the city centre close to the parliament
The hostel is spooky, it used to be a jail up until 1972
when it was closed due to the unsanitary conditions. The floor that holds death row is not rented
out to travellers anymore because it is haunted.
I suffered a lot with my feet and blisters. I think a lot them happened where the seams
on the insides of my socks pressed against the skin. The boots I wore were quite comfortable. So much walking did take its toll on my feet,
more of which I shall talk about at a later date.
I have never been a girly girl, fussing with my appearance
all the time. I am a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of girl, and I was too
busy with more interesting things anyway, so I never really noticed that my
appearance was changing. It never
crossed my mind to get a haircut at any point, I just got up every day put a
comb through my hair and that was that.
It wasn’t until I got to Ottawa that I realised just how long my hair
had grown, and it was bleached blonde by the sun beating down on it most
days. I was never allowed to keep long
hair when I was young, was always told it looked like rats tails, and I thought
it was too fine to grow long, so never bothered. How wrong could I be. I first had my hair permed when I was 15, it
was the thing to do, and had it permed regularly for the 15 years
following. I have not had it permed
since and now embrace the natural straightness of my hair, how it is meant to
So Ottawa was a very refreshing change to Sudbury. Being the capital of Canada it is a much
busier, more happening place, as you would imagine. The parliament buildings look very similar to
ours in London. I went up one of the
towers to capture the beautiful views across Ottawa. If you walked across one of the many bridges
over the Ottawa River, which I did, you were in Quebec. I went into a town called Hull, just for a
peek. Quite a pretty place with nice
canals and locks to see. Again it was the water that drew a lot of
attention for me and the Rideau Falls proved no exception. However, not wanting to neglect the pursuit
of cultural education, the National Gallery of Canada was on my agenda, which
doesn’t stand out in my memory as having anything that spectacular. Australia is winning in that respect so far.
As I said in my letter home, the hostel was a prison. I had always been rumoured that conditions in
the prison were not good, so a journalist got himself arrested on purpose, not
sure what for, so he would be sent to jail and could then see for himself what
it was like. The rumours were true and
he wrote up quite a piece about his experience inside. Following this the prison was closed after a
new modern one had been built. The
hostelling old prison was turned into a hostel.
Guests stay in the cells, from memory I think two to a cell, which were
quite cosy. Shower facilities were quite
open, just as the prisoners used, no private cubicles and no being shy. If you were feeling brave you could stay on
death row in the cell used by the last person in Canada to be executed. The experience was just for one night and you
could only take a sleeping bag in with you, no other personal effects. If you managed to last the night you didn’t
have to pay for the night. I didn’t try
it, but did go inside the cell, which was really small and dark. I went on a tour of the prison and got to see
the gallows where execution took place.
The guide demonstrated how it all worked, with the trap doors opening
and a noose falling through. I can still
remember the snapping of the noose as it fell.
I had to seek out the emergency room of a hospital to check
out a swelling I developed. It was a
French speaking hospital but managed to cope ok. Thankfully I only had an infection, which was
dealt with by antibiotics. I had my
insurance to cover it – never forget insurance because you never know.
Although I am not a religious person I did go visit a lot of churches as most of them have great architecture and artefacts to see. The Notre Dame Basilica was lovely and very peaceful inside. I needed some reflection time so just sat for a while, filling me with a sense of calm. It is important to stop every so often to take stock of things.**********************************************************
Week 19 - 29 May
to 4 June
30 May - Orillia,
absolutely nothing to do but good to be able to relax for a few days.
4 June - Had an
exhausting day, but it was enjoyable. Mr Frenchman went this morning, cannot
remember his name, felt a bit piggish eating my huge breakfast whilst he ate
Nice day again. To hire a bike if $15,
a little steep so I walked to my destination, they said only an hour. I left
Orillia centre just after 10:00hrs and got to the Rama Reserve at 13:00hrs.
Must have been 7 or 8 miles to get there, my feet will tell you how far.
However, the scenery was wonderful and the sun was shining so it was a nice
stroll, wish I had worn my boots though. A pleasantly low residential area
exists on the Rama road, so nice to see a place that is a proper village.
Everything was lush green and peaceful, aside from the busy traffic. Should
have hired the bike though, I got a little sunburned from walking. I drank on a
regular basis but it went straight through me, so by the time I got anywhere I
was desperate for a piss. Thankfully the lady in the Rama Moccasin and Craft
Shop let me use her loo. I would have been stuck otherwise.
I bought me a dream catcher, dreams are
an important thing to hold on to, they can give your life a purpose or serve as
an escapism. I daydream more than at night. I have in the past and do now. They say if you dream about a person dying it’s
because you want them out of your life. Psychologically it could be said that
these people have become so close to you that you are afraid of their rejection
or that one day they will leave you all alone. Feelings brought on by past
experiences embedded in the subconscious.
Lately I have thought about my own passing on. Maybe I am still trying
to rid the old me, which is evidently still present, and become somebody new. I
certainly am not ready to go yet. I am passing through an uncertain time of my
life, I need redemption.
(There has been talk lately about the
wearing of turbans in the Royal Canadian Legion. Much argument to ban and lots
for. Those for it make reference to the freedom fought for in the wars and the
abolition of future wars. One man, an East Indian himself, was against it, he
made an important statement, 'When in Rome'.)
Once I had gotten back to town, well
knackered, I decided to sit back and rest at the cinema, ‘The Flinstones’ was
showing. Very well put together, so like the cartoon. Wilma is excellent as is
Fred. The effects could have been tacky but these were well researched and
studied. A big thumbs up to a pleasant 1½ hours escapism. Never been so pleased
to get to a cool house, the heat is awful. The fire has finally gone out. Think
I will sleep well tonight.
From 4 June I am able to get back to entries from my diary,
which is a relief. Glad to have had my
letters home to refer to though in the interim and photos to remind me of all
the great things I have seen and done.
The photos – these will appear by the end of June when I have access to
Ottawa was a nice user friendly city but it was nice to get
to the peace and quiet of Orillia, which isn’t on any of the Great Lakes, but
between the smaller Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. I wasn’t sure what I would find to do,
however found some interesting sites. hostels
are generally situated in or near places of interest.
The hostel itself was disappointing
to say the least and I sincerely hope it has been closed down by now under the
health and safety act. In fact I cannot
see it listed anywhere on the internet now.
The accommodation was in a basement flat of a small block. It was dingy and damp and I don’t think
anyone came to clean it and I certainly wasn’t going to. The only things to sleep on were mattresses,
literally just the mattress, no bedding or pillows. There were cooking facilities but not good
ones and from memory I recall an open fireplace. Thankfully it was summer so no need to burn
the place down. It was an all-in affair,
no separate rooms. There were other
people staying at the same time as me and only for a short time. I could have been murdered down there and
nobody would know, it was a horrid unsafe place.
In contrast, Orillia itself
was quite pleasant. One little gem is
the Stephen Leacock Museum. Stephen
Leacock was a writer who had the house built in 1928 and, as was his intention,
it is has a feel of England about it, both in style and the garden. It was a beautiful place and I really
enjoyed have a look around.
My walk out to the Indian Rama Reserve was quite a day. It was a long trek and was a bit of a
disappointment at the end. Not sure what
I really expected to be honest. I bought
a dream catcher from the gift shop, which I still have today. As for the rest of it all I could see were
some wooden shack type houses being lived in, surrounded by fields with
something growing in them, not sure what but could have been corn as the plants
were quite high. It was quite an open
area that didn’t appear to go anywhere.
One of the residents spotted me and I felt conspicuous and
vulnerable. I didn’t know if I was
trespassing or not so turned around and headed back to Orillia.
I was desperate for a pee on the way back too and luckily
held on until I reached a gas station.
By the time I got back to town my feet were done in. I don’t know if you would call them blisters
but the base of my heels were filled with liquid and very sore.
Not sure why I put a reference to the wearing of turbans in, must have heard it on the radio whilst walking along. However, I believe nowadays it is permissible for turbans to be worn on religious ground. There are always arguments for and against with most things and I think the gentleman who said, ‘When in Rome’, has his point, but globalisation is the norm now and if we want peace and harmony we have to allow different cultural practices to exist alongside each other. As long as nobody gets hurt where is the harm. The globalisation of commerce though needs to be addressed if we are to save our own industries and economy.*******************************************************
Week 20 – 5 June
to 11 June
5 June - A much
more relaxing day. I was not aching this morning as I imagined I would be. No
definite plans so no rush to get out of the house. I only know that I do not
want too much sun today.
Took my book with me down to Couchching
Park. Sounds like something going on and
there was, a charity fun run or something to that effect. A local radio station
was there. T-shirts for sale, much picnicking and jovialities. The water looked
so inviting, however, dogs were swimming as well and I hate that. I have
developed an aversion to the sea and lakes over the years. This is the place
where all the dudes hang out and the well-off drift in their boats or show off
on jet skis. Sat for a while in the shade, reading. As well as very informative, the book is entertaining. Got tired of reading and
went for a walk down the Main Street of town. Blew my last $4 on food, not good
food either, chocolate and Danish pastry. Came back home via the park again for
my pig-out, felt sick so I didn’t finish it all.
Read some more before being interrupted
by company. Two people, girl and guy, I can never remember people’s names. She
is English , he Australian. Definite drifters searching for a corner of the
world, at least he is, she does not talk much. They went out to discover
Orillia, so I went back out too. The
weather was much cooler, went to the park again, was easier to find a shady
seat. Sat and read for an hour and continued along the boardwalk. People sat
enjoying a drink on their boats. Sat for yet another hour in the now overcast
sky, before coming home.
I settled down to an evening of music,
reading and writing. It is more like waffle today just to fill a page. Funny
how lack of a TV can make you find things to do. I was asked how I could bear
to spend five days here. I need places like this to wind down, can you imagine
a whole year spent rushing around cities as a tourist, would wear me out in no
time. I need to feel the comparison of life in a small town so as to have an
objective opinion. I am more inspired to thought in a quiet place.
6 June - Rain this
morning, typical. Had an interesting two hour journey to Toronto. An old guy,
86yrs old, attached himself to me. Likes to think he is still in with the young
scene, is too chivalrous for that one. Claims he is engaged to be married to a
twenty nine year old, sounds like a weird set up to me, if it is true. I let
him do all the talking whilst I looked out of the window pretending to listen.
Haven’t spoken to such an awful person in a long time.
Was thankfully dry in Toronto, if a
little warm. The hostel was close to the bus station, however had to wind my
way through a variety of persons to get there. Bodies lying in the street being
ignored by everyone, weirdo's staring, hoards of workers and road work men. Not
such a good area again, but nice hostel. Lockers are pay again, so nowhere to
put clothing and stuff without paying out. Looks like a lot of attractions are
out of town, think I will have to adopt my USA budget for Canada and vice
versa, will still be over budget, must check on the balance of account.
Went to the nearest mall for a bite to
eat, managed to get souvenirs and cards in one place. Spent rest of afternoon
writing cards, reading information and sorting out my G.S.T refund.
Have a few mean bites on my leg, must
be the sleeping bag.
Half go out, half stay in, so will have
a choice each night I guess.
7 June - An
overcast but humid day, set off to check the city out. Walked down to the
harbour and was fairly disappointed, should maybe hang left next time and see
what is along there. The ferries are only $3 to the islands so will take
advantage of that. Followed the boardwalk past a marina, theatre and
entertainment centre, not very exciting. Toronto is a shit city and smoggy, not
too keen on the hostellers either. They are a bunch of dossers, many looking
for work and they all want to go out and get pissed. Spongers too, my milk was
all but gone this morning. Drop outs and beggars on the streets, I crave the
slow lane away from it all.
One of the Ozzie girls in our dorm,
thinks she's something special, told me there is nothing to do in Niagara. She
was definitely not inspired by the falls, sad person.
The C.N. Tower and Skydome were close
by, so off I went. There are tours of the Dome so will choose either a tour or
a game, depending on my finances, I think I know which one it will be. The C.N.
Tower also offers a combination of entertainment, is $12, I could get in for
$6.00, but have decided it is only a tower after all and I will simply have
extensive views of a city, maybe into the States also. Will think on it. Next
thing to check out was the Casa Loma, only took an hour to walk it. Passed
through China town along Spandia Avenue. Could have been in China, the streets
were crowded with vehicles and side-walks with people and stalls. Music drowned
every other sound out. Suddenly I was out of the crowds and in the clear. Took
a few wrong turns but got to the castle eventually. My bite has quadrupled in
size and is giving me hassle in the humidity. Was desperate for a pee, but
begrudged having to spend $8.00 to get in. The inside is as decorative as the
outer, however, well restored and in the process of, the rooms lacked the
original stuff, most of them anyway. This was due to the selling off of items
in the 1920's because of financial ruin of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, owner. The tours are self-guiding with audio tapes
and headphones. Loved the conservatory and Sir Henry's suite. Strolled in the gardens and generally spent a
pleasant couple of hours there. Do get the impression that Toronto is a rip-off
city. Finally went down into the basement, wine cellar, swimming pool and the
stables. To get to the stables, which appear to be the other side of the street
and further, you have to go via a tunnel. The tunnel is narrow, creepy and very
long and, after seeing the stables and garage you have to come back along the
tunnel again. Walking back was quicker but the heat not so. Bought my tea and
the rest is history.
The Ozzies and I put washing in
together to save money. The attitude one has gone out to get drunk, she leaves
tomorrow to work at a summer camp in the States, poor kids. Will try to get a
free breakfast in the morning.
8 June - Much
cooler today but still warm. No real plans of what to do, however, I do want to
get out of the down town area. I started to walk Queen Street East towards the
eastern beaches. The first part went through some very undesirable areas,
crossed the road at one point as I could see eyes staring on the opposite
corner. Gave in eventually and took the bus, $2.00, the most expensive yet for a
one way journey.
The Woodbine Park Beach was
surprisingly larger and cleaner than I expected. Spent a leisurely three hours
strolling along the boardwalk, or sat watching the lake, keep wanting to call
it the ocean. Quite a lengthy walk if you go to the farthest most point of the
area. A popular area for mothers and babies, some push chairs being trolleyed
along by roller-bladed women. Made sure I took the bus back into town, could not
face that road again.
Have had a shit day from the diet point
of view, will try to put it back on the right tracks soon. My bite is a lot
better today. One of the girls I met in Ottawa is back here in Toronto for a
couple of days, so nice to see a friendly face and have a chat.
Am very tempted to test the theory of
some of the jet setters I have come across. Instead of sticking to a small
corner of the U.S., depending on bus routes/flights and costs, I may get a pass
and race around various parts of the country, taking in some major sights but
only staying for a couple of days at a time, whilst making sure I still get to
see Maine, Vermont etc and I will stay out of the cities as best I can, so as
to avoid the trouble. Would love to see the Grand Canyon and go to Disneyland.
Have discovered some of the baseball
tickets are fairly cheap, cheaper than a tour (the tour does not sound so
wonderful), so maybe check it out tomorrow. Left a message on the answerphone
in connection with the writers’ workshop, so if she does not get back to me
here I shall have to forget it.
Am learning the value of taking
transport too and from places in these cities.
Apart from having to walk miles to get anywhere I could have gotten into
trouble at times. However, showing your fear is often worse than simply putting
your head down and walking confidently through an area. Fortunately I have
developed a quick pace so do not look as though I am asking for trouble.
- Really did not do anything today, it was nonetheless a thought provoking day
in the worst sense. The workshop lady did ring back yesterday, I was here so
have no idea why I was not located. Does not appear to be a tannoy system in
operation. Have tried ringing today, but get the answer machine. Jenny has gone
today, she starts work in San Diego on Saturday at summer camp.
I went to the Skydome to check out the
ticket situation for Saturday and Sunday, sold out, so they say. Can turn up on
the day to see what is available, if anything. Plenty of touts outside selling
though, prices higher than the normal. If I cannot get a ticket I will go
Monday for a grand tour. Found the Metro Library on Yonge Street, massive
place, five storeys high and very modern. Had nothing else to do so I filled my
brain with knowledge, satisfied a few nagging questions.
A lot of things I read recently are so
current to me, they make me realise all that it is I have been, the way I am
seen. I hate it all. This is a time when I should not be worrying about things,
it should be only joyous. It has not only been a visual growth and mental
growth experience but also of personal growth. Maybe I am tired of Canada, I
hope the USA will stir the excitement up.
10 June - Giving
up on workshop tomorrow, will keep trying though. Feeling a lot better today,
had something to do to occupy my mind.
Went over to the islands just ten
minutes off of the mainland. Was sunny but cool with the breeze from the lake.
The centre island is the main focal point. Fun park, gardens, beach, bicycle
hire, stuff like that. The main activity of the day, which most people enjoyed,
was how to get passed the jets of water, wetting the grass. The general
opinion, old or young, was too hell with it, let’s get wet. A free tram ride
was available to the furthest point west of the island, Hanlans point, so took
advantage, could have gotten off along the way but I did the round trip. Not so
much to see but could have made a pleasant walk along the shore, the island is
only about 5km from end to end. Decided to walk to the east side, glad I did,
it was the better. Houseboats, marina
and the cutest little village you ever saw. The streets just a couple of
strides wide, a cluster of pretty little houses in one corner of the island.
Country gardens, all protected in a leafy glade. No cars evident, no need. A perfect retirement haven. On the way back I
crossed a bridge by the marina and was on a smaller island, Algonquin. Again,
another group of houses, larger but on a similar basis. No way off except boat
or bridge. Have the best views of the city skyline from the islands,
through the haze. Strolled back to
Centreville and sat for a while, not so much to do on the island, nice to laze
on the beach type of place. We all piled on to the next ferry, no head count,
just a surge all at once.
Was hungry when I got back to the city
so went for a bite and came back to the hostel. At least I can say I have been
across to the island, this is such a dull place unless you have money to throw
away. Jenny said she was glad to be starting work, she was bored and needed to
be doing something. I only get bored of some places I am in, not of being away
or not working. I feel as though I am working, from all of the things I learn.
I like to think being away from distraction helps. Sometimes I do let my
imagination get out of hand, I can understand how some people can drive
themselves mad through blind panic, worry, diminished responsibility. There is
a maniac in all of us waiting to come out, we just have to learn how to control
it, not always to advantage. I am doing the self psycho bit at the moment. I know all of the problems within me and I
can say that I am fairly sure of how and why, however, I do not know how to
deal with them effectively so as not to let them rule me.
11 June - Forget
the workshop, $95, can’t afford that much, shame really, but I can manage to
wait until I am home.
So, to the Skydome. Went prepared for snow. They said it may rain
later. The queue was small so could be in with a chance. The guy in front was
not so lucky, no more room wheelchairs. Took a $13 ticket, with partially obstructed
view, turned out to be not a bad spot, despite being right at the back. Two
kids kept edging their way along my row as ticket holders claimed their seats,
not sure they were officially allowed in. Eventually they disappeared never to
return. The crowd drifted in, some halfway through the game, most sped out
before the end when it was evident the Blue Jays were not going to win, the
decider game is tomorrow, will probably be more exciting as well. Not that I
really understand much about the game, but not a lot of outstanding play. I did
concentrate more on this game than the one in Shea Stadium, so can say that I do know a little
more on the run of play. The crowd just eat and drink the whole time and make a
hell of a mess, without any conscience. The atmosphere is good though and all
of the commentary, no waves got going today. The game is a bit long and can get
boring if not exciting enough. Over 3
hrs I was there, glad I took the lotion with me. Was quick in getting out, the
crowd just milled along, would have been a different story if the Jays had won.
Will try to get a glimpse from the tower tomorrow, if I go up. Watching the
roof go back was interesting, it all folds neatly into a bunch at one end, very
clever mechanism. Was tired by the end of it all, thankfully stayed dry until I
was almost back.
Had an evening of chatting to a girl
from South Africa, she told me her name but I can’t remember. Sounds like she
has the same ideas as me on the USA and on life in general, could travel around
the US with her if we could meet somewhere. Have a really dry throat today.
I have edited quite a lot out of my diary for this
week. You never know who’s reading and I
don’t want to give too much of myself away.
A diary can be quite a good place to let off steam and get inner
thoughts out, but not always good if other people get to read them. If I had shared everything I wrote with you,
you might want to have me locked away for my own protection. Guess that’s just me but I don’t have to work
on it anymore, so let’s move on.
When I wrote, ‘I have developed an aversion to the sea and
lakes over the years’, I was referring to swimming in them as I really do love
to sit an look out across water or sail in a boat. May
be I have watched too many movies, I just don’t enjoy being in water as much as
I used to.
I really ripped into Toronto. The area the hostel was situated in was not
the best area, it really showed the downside of how those less fortunate than
us get to live. The hostel was clearly
open to anyone who could afford to stay there, so there was quite a mix between
tourists and others who just wanted a roof over their head. It’s the same the world over. I guess I will never understand why some
people give up and stop trying to improve their situation. I hope I never get to that stage. I am a
lot more sympathetic now than back then, perhaps due to more awareness in
society. I grew up in a nice cosy
situation, not exposed to that sort of thing.
I knew about tramps but the word carried a different meaning to today We
don’t call even use it anymore. We were
taught to stay away from tramps, they were not nice people, so I guess I was a
little frightened being smack bang in the middle of so many. Being in London I see homelessness every day
and I still feel vulnerable. The rest
of Toronto was not so bad really, it had the usual stuff to see and I was able
to escape the city on occasion. Tourists
the world over are ripped off, so nothing new.
I went on a bit about the workshop. I have no recollection of what that was
about. Again, so many things I got my
teeth stuck into but cannot remember doing.
And the people I met, forget it.
I went to a baseball game in New York’s Shea Stadium in
1985. I never concentrated on the game,
it was the atmosphere that grabbed me and it was the same in Toronto. I have just learned that Shea Stadium was demolished
How could I ever get tired of Canada.**************************************************
Week 21 – 12 June
to 18 June
12 June -
Apparently the game was not so good today, but the Blue Jays won.
The library was closed so had to shelve
that idea, so hot again.
My armpits have come out in some kind
of rash so really freaking out at the moment, could not say that the glands are
swollen though, throat still dry.
Hung around the C.N. Tower until after
the game had started. Finally homed in on a group who did not want to pay the
full $12 fee, one of them came up with me on the 2 for 1 coupon. Was a waste of
time really, the weather was busy so the views were limited; Toronto is not an
exciting city to look at, all buildings and cars. Could not even catch a look
at the game, the dome was over the pitch. My new friends are all Irish and work
in Boston, been over in the States for a year now. Neither of us were impressed
so we did not stay out that long but at least we can say we have done it.
Came back to the hostel, even hotter
inside, rain outside. Had a chat with an English couple from Preston, they are
brother and sister. He went to the ball game today. They travel together but
seem to do their own thing. He has
travelled extensively, wants to be a geography teacher, she a social worker,
but does not want to have to get a job yet. Nice pair of people. Stupid film on
tonight but we are all stuck in front of the box. Glad to be leaving tomorrow.
13 June - No
breakfast this morning, had to actually buy some, made a change to see people
walk about with blank expressions instead of muffins and pastries. Got caught
by Larry so decided to leave early, on the 12 o'clock bus.
Got to Niagara at 14:30 hrs, not a very
scenic route. Hard to believe you are about to embark upon one of the Seven
Wonders of the World. The hostel was easy to find, but could not check in until
19:00 hrs, so walked off to the Falls, took about 20/30 mins or so, was
disappointed with amount of buildings and stuff close by. They say it is nicer
on the USA side, will find out sooner or later. Have to do the 'Maid of the
Mist' tour, got my plastic mac. Bumped into Cath and her brother, we chatted
for ages, he went off; don’t think he likes hanging around people. Walked back
to the bus station with her, glad I did cause it pissed down with rain shortly after, will take a longer
hike tomorrow and really take the Falls in, don’t know how they can say that
one day is enough here.
Had a bit of hassle in the grocers, but
soon sorted, had to use my last traveller’s cheque up in the process. The rooms
etc. in the hostel are really nice, using a sheet tonight to see if I cope
better with the heat. Good crowd here tonight, most moving out tomorrow, quite
a mixed bunch of nationalities. Think we may have all gone out if it had not
been raining outside. It is nicer with a small bunch of people, everyone gets
to know each other, even the girl that works here joins in. There was a guy
from Stevenage here as well, out here for a month.
14 June - Have a
guitar serenade whilst writing this, a Japanese guy is strumming away, pretty
Had a good look at the Falls today,
tried to imagine the area as it would have been before the builders took over,
just natural vegetation. Would be so much more amazing I think. They should
have declared the area a national park conservation spot and built the towns,
on both sides, about half a mile away. A few pathways for people to walk or
cycle down, no cars. Wouldn’t kill people to have to walk. They could still run
the boat trips and stuff, only on a more tasteful basis. First thing I did was
to get in line for the 'Maid of the Mist' boat trip. Should have waited for the
next one and got a better spot. They just pile loads on, some people just get
wet without seeing anything. A standard issue blue plastic raincoat in handed
out before embarking, sufficient to serve its purpose but not worth keeping,
more worthwhile to re-cycle. It is a wonder the boats mange to stay afloat,
they take you right in to the Horseshoe Falls and the swell of the water is
terrific. Looking up at the water surging over the top, it doesn’t look real,
it is just a totally unreal experience. Luckily I managed to get some piccies.
Continued to walk along to the Horseshoes and got a view of the water from the
top down, could almost stand on top of them. The Niagara river quite a ways
back is rapidy, no chance once you get caught up in them. Nice parkland if you
follow the road along. Went around Dufferin Islands, think this is where I may
have gotten my next mega bite. Just standing and looking at the Falls was
enough for me for the remainder of the afternoon. I want the memory forever,
still can’t take them in. Got some pressies and headed back home. Went back
down to see them in the dark. Tinsel
town was ablaze. All they do to light the Falls up is to shine different
coloured lights on to them to get an effect on the 170 ft drop of water. Just
another gimmick really. So hot again tonight, my legs look like a battle
15 June - Lounged
around until just after 12 o'clock, it was closer to 13:00 hrs. Wrote my
letters and tried to stay cool, difficult. Not looking forward to my trek
across the bridge. Tried to stick to the shade where I could and took a couple
of breaks, not that I sat for long, did not take as long as I imagined. Was 25
cents to go across, flaming cheek. The guy that was at the immigration was
friendly and did not give me any hassle, just wanted to get the back pack off,
absolutely sweltering underneath it. Took a little walk to get to the hostel
through, which is apparently, not a desirable part of town. Looks like most of
the town is the same. Surprised there was anything left of me, my clothes were
dripping wet with sweat. Had to wait a couple of hours to get in, was so glad
to have a shower. Hostel is better this side than on the other, very strict,
but well fun.
Phoned the Trek-America number, gave
them a few places I wanted to go and, hey presto a brilliant schedule came to
light, very cheap as well. So all I have to do is sort out how to get to L.A.
and we are all square.
Heike gave me some tablets and gel for
my bite, they zonk you out so, despite the heat, I was out like a light. Hated
having anything on, was so sticky out. Two girls from South Africa were telling
me of the trip they are doing, so many places, so I assumed they were away for
ages. Two weeks that’s all, they must be knackered.
16 June - Will not
be doing much today, its sooo hot. The 09:30 hrs chuck out in the morning is a
bit much, 6½ hrs before we can get back in. My bite is going now as are my
other ills, so feeling a lot better about myself, not so frantic, my mind is
Popped into the Greyhound Station, the
woman was so matter of fact, not so helpful. You have to know exactly where you
are going as no schedules available to view. Anyways, I have to check my hostel
book out before I decide, the trip goes off in 16 days, so have a while to sort
Went down to the Falls to see them from
this side, too hot to stay out of the shade for long. Not really that
interested in the Falls today so found a shady spot to sit under for an hour, spent
the rest of the time diving in and out of air conditioned places. I think the
pill I took today made me drowsy, could not concentrate on anything.
Eventually got into the hostel and had
a wonderful shower, was not long before I needed another.
Worked out a hostel route to L.A. not
many accessible ones in the upper States, will still only cost me $179. Phoned
the Trek America again booked my place, will be able to fill out a booking form
in Chicago and sort everything out, pretty good stuff. Looking forward to it, so much more that I
would like to see, however, I figure I am going to see more than I was
intending to, plus I get to go to Disney.
Was nice sitting by the water today,
could have fallen asleep, was mesmerising. The rushing water so cleansing
rushing through me, makes you feel good. Could be hectic for a few days but
have to click in, wake up and go with the flow.
Not so much to write about today, too
hot to think.
17 June - Just
knew today was not going to go as smooth as a baby's bum. Left the hostel at
09:30 hrs with Heike and went to the station. Only 89 degrees today compared to
102 yesterday. Was still good to be in an air conditioned place. I laid my
plans down, my ticket was drawn out, I paid my $179 to L.A. with stopovers.
Caught the early bus to Buffalo, said my goodbye to Heike, everything was hunky
dory. I went to the ticket place to reserve a space on the bus and this is
where my problems started. She re-did my ticket by computer, however, and I am
glad I checked it, I now had a direct route, continuous, to L.A. no stopovers.
Queried it, told them had made a mistake, was ushered to the customer services
office, really mad by now. I would have to purchase tickets separately if I
wanted to stopover, would cost double $179 plus. No way I am doing that. So we
worked out various routes and they still came out expensive. If I cancelled my
original ticket in favour of a new one I would lose 15% against it, all because
the Greyhound company made an error. I would be penalised. Settled for just
Salt Lake City and L.A., only another $52 dollars on top. However, and I was
fed up with arguing by now, what they did was to issue another ticket to Salt
Lake City and I have to purchase another to L.A. when there, $72, so I lose out
totally. Maybe somebody at the hostel there is going to L.A., I can share
petrol, I refuse to give Greyhound any more if I can help it. They have
obviously never heard of the 'taken in faith' policy or the 'customer is always
right'. I hope they sack the Niagara lady, don’t need no more shit. Got through
Oz and Canada, no hassle, been here less than a week and I get this. Now going,
Buffalo, Chicago, Salt Lake City, L.A. Cannot cancel my reservation in Detroit
so guess they will just let the room go, lucky no deposit paid. I will wait
until I get to Salt Lake City in the morning to book there, maybe too late. I
also have to phone Trek America to re-sort my booking, hope they have a fax at
the hostel, such a pain in the butt.
In Ohio now, looks like they had rain,
cleared the air a bit. A low mist all around the countryside. Not impressed
with USA yet. Just hope my pack is on the coach, what are my chances based on
today. Had some company up to Cleveland, an 18 year old girl from Croydon.
Doing west and east Canada, going to Calgary Stampede, being met by friends in
Cleveland to stay a few days. Wish I was her right now. Seems more expensive
here than Canada. If I had known what I was going to do in USA I would have
bought a bus pass at home. I think it may have expired by now though, at least
I can warn others back home with my new found wisdom. (Now writing this 3 days
later due to horrendous journey). Reached Chicago in good time.
18 June - Today
was just the icing on the cake. No driver to take us to Cheyenne, actually it
was Omaha first. So 1½ hrs late leaving. The bus was calm at this stage. Tried
to sleep, but hardly did. So we get to Des Moines and, surprise, surprise,
delayed again. So hot and muggy. Can’t even remember if I am writing this
correctly, so much hassle. To Omaha now, new driver. Moved seats due to
families getting on board. Not much of a journey to comment on, a few stops to
refresh, hate trips like this, don’t eat or drink properly and have to keep the
same clothes on for days. The time differences do not help. Got to Omaha early
evening, no driver to carry us off, all banging our heads against each other as
well as the wall, reckon we are about 2¼ hrs late, nobody tells us anything
though, we just get left to wait. Those who have connecting buses in Salt Lake
City are never going to get them. Had a little better night’s sleep, Rajiv and
I used each other as pillows, we thought we knew each other well enough by now.
The few stops interrupted the sleep so was annoying. Morning was quick in coming,
breakfast was shit. Much farming land, however, a little more picturesque than
Canada's prairies, some quite cute farms dotted around. Maybe we will have
better luck in Cheyenne. We have the cutest baby on board, she hardly cries, so
happy and content, everybody wants to hold her for a while and she loves it. Cheyenne
was no better, the bus: actually Cheyenne happened before morning, you see I am
so confused about it all: well the bus was taken away for a wash and brush up
and the driver, what driver, they had no driver for us, we didn’t expect one.
Once all was sorted we had an express bus all the way to Salt Lake City.
‘the weather was busy’ – It must have been a mixed day with
sunshine and showers or something, lots of weather going on.
It was a shock to get to Niagara in Canada and find the town
so tacky, blame us tourists I guess.
The USA side was much nicer around the Falls, with park land, much more
tasteful. I can still remember the
roaring sound of the water, from both the Falls and from the river running down
towards them at such a terrific speed.
There didn’t appear to be any secure barriers to prevent anyone from
either jumping into the river or going over the Falls, very open. Bit scary to be honest.
I am a bit of a magnet for mosquitos and midges but have
never suffered just raging bites as the ones I got in Niagara. Thankfully my friend Heike was there to offer
advice. Heike was a German lady and we
got on well, in fact we corresponded for many years after I returned home and
then just stopped. Anyway, it was great
to find some greenery to walk amongst on the Canadian side.
Once I was across the border into the USA, the walk to the
hostel was interesting. I took the most
direct route according to the map; it was literally as the crow flies. The route was in a rundown part of town,
through a residential area. I got a
little way along the route and some people acknowledged me from their veranda,
and a little further along a guy on a bicycle (looked like a chopper from the
70s) circled twice around me and then rode off.
I didn’t stop or flinch, but kept walking. I realised then that I was not in a good part
of town and perhaps he served as a warning to stay away or get out as soon as I
could. When I checked in at the hostel I
was given a map of the area and was told which the safest places were, suffice
to say the route I took was not on that list.
There are so many travellers out there who cram a lot of
places into a small amount of time. I am
so glad to have had a much more leisurely trip.
I really wanted to get to Detroit to see the Motown Museum. I remember the lady at the Greyhound station asking why I wanted to go to Detroit, she seemed quite concerned that I should want to, so maybe it was a good thing I missed it. I don’t have the craving to visit anymore. I was really hacked of at having my scheduled plans disrupted though.
Two days cramped onto a bus, seemed like forever. Thankfully everyone was nice. I feel that going Greyhound you get to experience the real America. So much more to come.***********************************************************
Week 22 – 19 June
to 25 June
19 June - Never
made up the time though. Came through the Rockies, the scenery was so pretty,
still a little snow on the mountain tops. Salt Lake City sucked up to everyone,
they could not have been more apologetic. Coffee, sarnies laid on, those who
missed their buses would have had to wait at the depot for 10 hrs until the
next one, so hotel rooms were laid on as well. Managed to get one too, I would
get a free night’s accommodation. Chauffeur driven to the Ramada Inn, we all
settled in for a shower and sleep. Salt Lake City has some beautiful scenery
round about it, no sign of the Lake yet. The city is huge, but the actual
buildings not so built up, the roads are huge. I like towns like this, they
have character, very quiet on the streets, too hot I guess. Went out for a meal
at the Olive Garden, an Italian joint. Due to the past few days my appetite has
been suppressed so never ate very much except salad, took some home for
breakfast tomorrow, yeuky! Still very hot sun late in the evening. So knackered
just want to sleep tonight, nice bed, air conditioning, shower, television.
20 June - Still
tired this morning, don’t have to be out until noon. Got the hotel van to the
Greyhound station, have to sort my ticket out. It seems that I should only have
been charged $68 dollars for the trip so a refund was offered of $111. However
I told them that all I wanted was a ticket to L.A., so I got a complementary
one to use when I like. I am happy now, the Buffalo crowd are going to be
Walked a ways in the heat to the hostel,
not so far out of the town. Walked to the post office and got the stamps n
stuff. There was nearly a brawl in the queue, some people, no patience.
The Trek America have an agent in the
city which is good. Made the long, long walk to reach it, would have taken a
bus if I had known. So many poor people in the city. Now I really do not know
what I am doing over here, not impressed with USA at all. The 6 week trip is
$1780 plus, knew it was too good to be true. What to do now, simply cannot
afford that amount of money. To think I could be in Buffalo with Bob now.
Filtered through the brochure, but could not find anything better, came away
very dissatisfied and with the brochure.
Got some groceries and came back to the
hostel. I do not feel like eating but have to, the heat is awful and I have a
rash on my legs from it. Just spent tonight thinking about what I do now, I do
not want to waste my time here in the USA. Think I can do it cheaper on my own.
See a few things this side and go straight back across to New York City and do
something over there. If they have trips out to the Canyon I will get on one,
do Disneyland and make that do. What a bastard.
21 June - Wanted
to get an early start, however, our sweetie manager was late getting is act
together, so had to hang around a while. Got me a seat on a tour out to the
Salt Lake tomorrow at 14:00 hrs and sent my package back to UK. Those little
jobs done I was ready for my day, it was much cooler as well. Hunted the malls
for my souvenirs and then went to the Temple Square.
Today was one of those thought
provoking times, when conscience stirs. Tours of the square got going every 10
minutes, they are conducted by missionaries. I now have an understanding of
what it is Christian Stoker is doing. The girl was very knowledgeable and, I
think, would make a perfect match for Christian. The guys go on a mission,
anywhere in the world, for 2 years and the girls for 18 months. Everything in
the square is very compacted, so difficult to take any decent photos. We had a
brief history of the Temple, seems that only members of the faith can get in,
very strict on that one. The Mormons are actually of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints, the Old Testament. Then you walk through the Tabernacle
where the famous Tabernacle Choir perform, hopefully I can get to see them on
Thursday night before I leave. It also holds a magnificent organ, tried to
think of a better way to put it, just my mind working overtime. It is the 7th
largest in the world, and has over 1500
pipes, quite spectacular. Our tour ends in the North Visitors Centre. A statue
of Jesus Christ is on the top floor and the walls and domed ceiling are all painted
with the sky and clouds and stars and planets, very beautiful. We sat for a
while and listened to a teaching of Jesus. They say that the room is a very
peaceful place, but I never got anything from it. I can sit in a church and
feel the calm, but not here. Down stairs we had a short video presentation of
the meaning of life, kind of makes you think. They have touch screen videos to
answer any questions you have on religion or life. I tried one on families but
the voice over is very loud, so everyone knows what it is you are listening to.
I guess being open is one of the things they teach you. I was the only one of
our group to fill out a visitor card, the rest were just tourists looking
around, not really interested in a contribution. You have the opportunity to
have the book of Mormons sent to you, but I declined and they are cool about
that. It would be interesting to read but I have learned enough for the moment.
I think if every person were to learn just a little of other religions, then
they could understand and respect and not be afraid of something different and
then the wars would cease. The church is the main instigator of war, funny,
seeing as how god teaches us peace and understanding. I was given a ticket to
see a movie, 'Legacy', in another building, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
Joseph Smith was the original prophet of the Mormons. Had a little while to
kill before the showing, so had a snack and watched a world cup game in a mall.
The film was good, just told the story of the Mormon struggle to find their
land in the USA, not too spectacular. All the things I did today are free, the
Mormons love to share. Everything I saw today was very plush, I think the
inside of the Temple is as well. Also
sat through a selection of organ recitals, the acoustics are said to be
magnificent. Had a horrible supper, meat pit and chilli and spent the evening
writing up on this epic. The summer solstice today.
22 June - A few
hours to kill before the tour out to the Lake. Got up late and ate breakfast late.
Just moseyed around the town in the heat, the Disney store got me stirred for
L.A. the Lion King is being plugged at the moment. Wandered back to the Temple
Square to see inside the Assembly Hall, yet another organ. Sat for a while
outside soaking up the atmosphere, was bugged again for a book of the Mormons.
There is actually one here at the hostel, looks very time consuming.
Got to the Shils Inn fairly early so as
not to be all hot and bothered for the trip. Only six of us so good number, we
got away on time as well. Bit of a clever bus driver, can communicate in a few
languages, even Japanese. First went to the Kennecott open pit copper mine,
made sure we stopped at the souvenir shop first. The mine is the largest man
made excavation and only produces 15% of USA copper. I viewed the centre of the
mine through binoculars, just amazing how big the whole thing is. Reminded me
of the Flinstones. Good to see the lorries, loaded from the centre, travel
around and up to the crushing system, where it comes out as powder to be piped
to the process area. We were given a sample of the copper ore. The area is set
in the Bingham Canyon, I think it could be said, part of the tail end of the
Rocky Mountains. We only had 20 minutes there, so not nearly enough time. On to
the great Salt Lake, we stopped off at the Saltair resort, which has taken
three attempts to establish. Spoils it a lot, very tacky with amusements, camel
rides and the pavilion is not much good either. The smell in the air is
dreadful but you get used to it. Again hard to believe it is a lake. Could have
spent a whole day here just gazing out on to the horizon, it was so beautiful.
Just touched the water, would have gone for a swim if we had longer. Hundreds
of millions of tiny flies swarmed at the lake edge, apparently they only eat
the shrimp so no worries. Hated leaving, I was captured by the view. Another
world famous I have seen. Another girl from the hostel was in our group so we
got chatting, as did one of the guys, from Louisiana. He gave each of us his
address should we be in that area. He wanted to take us for a cool drink after,
think he fancied his chances. We politely declined and came back home via the
supermarket. The tour ended an hour short, a real rip off when you think about
There are credit card phones in Salt
Lake City somewhere according to the operator, so that is one of my tasks
23 June - This has
probably been one of the longest days so far. I managed to make my time at the
hostel stretch until 10:00 hrs. Over a huge breakfast I met Don, Don is a mine
of information when it came to travelling, he likes to help young people out
whenever he can. I came away with some useful information and someone to carry
one of my bags to the Greyhound station. My stomach was playing up first thing,
probably what I had yesterday and my left armpit is giving me cause for
concern. Been sneezing all day too, so hope I am not going through a bad stage
again. So I have twelve hours to kill before my departure.
Managed to find a payphone that would
charge to my Mastercard, at a discount, so was able to make my reservation for
L.A. Was hoping that it would take longer than this to sort out. I never
planned on drinking much or buying food today, I had a huge breakfast after all
and some sarnies packed away. However, when you are bored it is surprising how
much you buy in order to while away the hours and to make yourself look not so
vacant and bewildered.
Hit the shopping malls for a while,
becoming quite a regular, the workers must have wondered at the amount of times
they saw me today. Braved the heat and walked up the hill to the Capitol Building,
plays the most beautiful 12 o'clock chimes I have ever heard. Not sure of whether you could go in or not so
sat in the gardens for a rest. Found a shady tree to sit under for lunch. I
wasn’t even hungry, but now it is gone. The Pioneer Memorial Museum was just
next door so decided to kill a couple of hours there, it was free. It is run by
daughters of the first pioneers and contains artefacts from families dating
right back to 1800's. Nothing too
interesting to look at, except for the doll collection, handmade of all nations
and some of the wagons and carriages. The most amazing thing was the huge
number of photographs everywhere, 2000 or more I should say, everywhere. Back
into town again, only seven hours to go. Sat in the shade, wandered the malls
again, eventually had something to eat, crazy person. The thing I like about
the city is the number of drinks fountains everywhere, never need to buy a
drink. The fountain in the office building square is the perfect setting for
wedding photos, some going on today.
Waiting now in Temple Square for the
start of the choir practice.
So I have now seen the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir, they sang so beautifully. So many people coming and going
through, it was sometimes difficult to hear. The lower area was packed out,
glad I started to queue when I did.
Had to leave at 21:00 hrs for the bus
depot, doesn’t look like many people here for the L.A. run, maybe get a whole
seat to myself. Surprise! The bus was an hour late going out.
24 June - Not a brilliant night, but not bad. Didn’t even bother getting out for the 30 minutes stop. Got to Las Vegas around 06:30 hrs, pretty warm, lots of people up working already to beat the heat. Glad I am not staying here, looks really trashy, not quite what I expected. Supposed to be cheap to stay though.
The scenery in the Nevada Desert is
brilliant. Just sand and hills relatively untouched landscape. It oozes
tranquillity. A little further along the road and more than once, we come
across small complexes. Couple of hotels and gas station, they look like toy
town palaces stuck in the middle of nowhere. All with casinos of course. Will
reach L.A. around 14:30 hrs. A scenic journey, but too tired to take it all in,
had a creep sitting next to me at one stage.
I have never come across a company so rude and unhelpful, get the
feeling I am not the only one. The information man lacked it and the customer
services not there. Have visions of being here all night. Managed after a long
wait to get a ticket to Long Beach, hopefully there is a bus to take me the
rest of the way. Very bitty area. There are a lot of nice house settings
amongst the hills, but the freeways and factories spoil it. Could barely see
the mountains in the near distance due to smog, just covers an immense area,
face masks out. I will work out tonight my next move and get tickets from Long
Took a long time, but finally managed
to make it to the hostel, escorted by a bevy of local girls going my way. This
is definitely a young person’s hostel, not me at all. Seems like they all get
pissed or stoned every day, think I will hang out for one week only. Can’t
stand the pace, showers are very open, no door, loos are nearly as bad with no
curtains. Sharing with a couple of New
Zealand girls, twins, have one week to spend with them, bad news. May check
into another listed hostel after this.
25 June - Got up
early so as to catch the shower, can’t imagine anyone else rising before 10:00
hrs. First move was the Greyhound station in Long Beach, buses were fairly
swift so not much hanging around, had time for a lovely breakfast from Taco Line.
The guy behind the counter was a bit vague, so only booked my tickets to San
Diego and then to Flagstaff in a week and two respectively. Should kill some
time before heading east, can go directly to Lake George. Will prepare better
for the 3 night trip.
Once finished in Long Beach I came back
here, managed to get the grocery shop done in between. Not much activity at the
hostel, those around seemed dead, probably preparing for the night life. Only
one person, so far, who seems human. Not
sure if he is sure about this place either, he is just hanging around until he
starts work as an au pair. The money is not going too badly, managing to cope.
Going to Disneyland on Monday, early. Hit the beach tomorrow.
Walked down main street, felt very old
and frumpy. Full of young healthy men and women in short shorts and bikini
tops. This must be the only street in Huntington. Had an amazing ice cream, thickest chocolate
covered in nuts, resisted the chocolate covered bananas with nuts all over it.
The pier makes a nice refreshing walk in to the sea breeze. Did not look like
much surf rising itself for the surfers. Gazing out on to the ocean blue and
the golden beach you see the surf, boats, palm trees, bronzed bodies, oil rigs
and smog, the horizon completely disappears, can imagine I am walking through
it constantly. On the way back along the pier a guy went by with his pet python
around his neck, such an outrageous place.
Dinner was a little hot, too much
seasoning, have to get used to it though for India. Stephanie was telling me I
should go up to the Hollywood area and look around, would be good to have
someone to go with. The beaches are supposed to be good, but there is a lot of
pollution around. Glad I didn’t go to Venice Beach, not such a good hostel or
area, good advice there. Feel a lot more organised today. Will hang around
tonight and see what is going down.
I finally made it to one of the places I promised myself I
would go to when I was a child, Salt Lake City. I was first made aware of Salt Lake City
through The Osmonds back in the 70s.
Like most young girls I was a fan and learned as much as I could about
them. My mum bought me The Osmonds
magazine every month. They came from
nearby Salt Lake City and were Mormons, so I was very excited to be there and
take it all in. The family I stayed with
on Vancouver Island, Canada, are Mormons and their son Christian was away,
can’t remember where, on his mission to spread the word about his faith. Pretty much everything in the centre of Salt
Lake City is Mormon related and I loved every second of everything I witnessed,
however, despite always being happy to learn about other faiths, I have no
intention of taking one up. I ditched
the faith I was baptised into as a child by my parents and that is where I
The post office is where I sent my package back home
containing my diaries. I waited ages in
the queue, behind a man who had about a thousand letters to send. He stood at the counter putting things in
envelopes. Nobody was impressed, but he
became quite aggressive towards a man who complained, so we all let him get on
The salt lake was magnificent as I mentioned. I suppose in order to get as many people to
visit such an attraction there has to be something else to entertain, but does
it always have to be so tacky. Saltair
Resort just didn’t look right in such a beautiful setting.
Moving from Salt Lake City towards LA proved no exception in
the form of Las Vegas. Surrounded by the
desert, it is like a blot on the landscape.
I only made it into the toilets at the Greyhound station and that was
enough. What a disgusting place.
I misread the details of the Trek America trip, which was
disappointing as it took in a lot of great places, which I can’t remember
now. I quickly forgot about it and made
new plans, which would still ensure I got to see a lot of places, even if for a
brief moment passing through on the bus.
The Huntington Beach hostel was very much a laid back place
but well run despite everything. I
remember sitting on the loo for a pee and someone was sitting directly outside
the window, thankfully with their back to me, hopefully not peeking. When you gotta go you gotta go, no time for
shyness. It was nice to be amongst friendly people
happy to accept you into the crowd. One
thing I can say about hostels is that everyone has something to share. I felt very hip.
The town was very much like you would see in the movies, I
was near to Hollywood after all, with the feeling of a rich kid’s
paradise. More of the town to come next
It is interesting to go from the intenseness of a big city to the relaxed atmosphere of a small seaside town and see how different people can be.****************************************************************
Week 23 – 26 June to 2 July
26 June - Will get some post cards tomorrow when I go to Disneyland. Yeah! I'm going to Disneyland.
A very hot, lazy day so not a great deal to report. Feeling a bit more comfortable around the guys hanging out here and the gals, some of them anyway. Had my back well plastered with lotion and hit the beach, pretty early so not crowded. Did a half hour each side and walked around for another. Fascinating watching the surfers, rather them than me, the water did not look healthy. Would love to drive up to Maxwell's down by the beach, they have valet parking. Some real old grannies turning up who think they still have it. Thousands of bronzed bodies down main street, I strolled by in cossie and shorts so felt well cool.
Nobody doing much at the hostel, just hanging. The whole area is such a wild place, the atmosphere is alive, hard to believe that just up the road is L.A. city.
Went out for another walk to check out the bus stop for tomorrow, too hot to sit and read so came back. Still hoards of people heading for the beach. The USA lost their game in the world cup, but they do get through to the next round, flook, big flook. Could have stayed on the beach for longer but didn't want to frazzle. Been reading a book about Michael Landon, only two days and nearly finished it. Do not like the format of the literature but it makes interesting reading, he really had a shit life.
Watched a movie tonight and that was Sunday. Did not know anybody's name in the crowd but felt good to be in the bunch. Nothing to do here but veg, unless you can travel out. Seem to be a lot of amusement parks about, and Hollywood, would like to visit there just to say I did it.
27 June - (writing this on the 28th) - Well, what can I say about the day, a dream come true. Was up at the crack of dawn to catch the 07:20 hrs bus. After a little disorientation I was on the monorail, day passport in hand, for the journey into Disneyland. Would loved to have been able to purchase a three day pass, could easily go back, so hope I win the 40th anniversary celebration invitation for next year. A complimentary guidebook enabled me to plan the day successfully. The drop off point was 'Tomorrowland' . Got straight into an already long queue to ' Space Mountain', had no idea what to expect. The heat was increasing. Launched into outer-space I was glad not to be able to see the inner construction of the ride. The interwoven track was amazing, zig zagging us through the stars at exhilarating speed. Quite a mind blowing start to the day. I still have some bottle left. The Autopia car drive was unexciting, driving around a circuit to nowhere. Decided a couple of attractions at each site would enable me to get around it all. Purchased a much needed sun visor, my hat was inappropriate. Took the sky ride through the Matterhorn Bob Sleigh ride into 'Fantasy Land', one of my favourite spots. Here you meet, Snow White, Pinnochio, Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo, all magical things. Flew with Dumbo and spun on the tea cups. Turrets and castles framed the area. At this point I was hungry and hot so dived into the pizza place for lunch. Glad for the many water fountains available around the park. Everything consumable was so expensive, but the Americans just shovel it in like there is no tomorrow. Will visit to Fantasy Land later on as well. Made it to Toon Town at 12:45 hrs according to the, 'It’s a Small, Small World', ornamental clock. Toon Town was probably my favourite place of all, so wacky. The Jolly Trolley wobbled along the streets flagged by the cartoon houses. A colourful, fun image town. Joined the Queue to the latest Disney attraction, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. Once inside these attractions and out of the heat, the queue is always so long as it was outside. A brilliant ride all the way from the queue to the end. You walk through a Roger Rabbit set with voice overs and eventually hop into a car. The car spins around the set, especially in spin street. A zany ride with excellent effects, I just laughed the whole time as things flashed before my eyes, right out of the exit hole, (a clever invention). The Disney characters were out in force in their home town, Goofey (being goofey), Pluto, Roger, Chip and Dale, Donald. So sweet to see some of the tiny tots reactions as they came face to face. The characters are all fun loving, hugs and kisses. Would hate to wear all of that in this heat. Minnie was not in so went next door to Mickey's house. Such a big place he has got, very tidy too. All objects are so animated it makes you feel like you are in a cartoon strip. He was out the back in his filming studio dressing room. A small group at a time are ushered in to meet him, so silly, you become partially dumbstruck at being in the presence of Mickey Mouse. You really have to believe that it is real and not make believe. The only way to have fun here is to join in with the rest of them, be a big kid. Hung around for a while for Minnie's arrival, I was in the queue by then. She greeted her guests in the front room, just time for a photo call, just for Amy. Things to play around with in this house, not as big as Mickey's. Walked past Daisy's Diner, Goofey's house, back through Fantasy to Frontier Land, Pioneer Days, ranches and rafting. Sailed around the Rivers of America on Mark Twain's paddle steamer, which takes you through various aspects of early American life and wildlife. Catch the bear scratching itself against a tree. The port overlooks New Orleans Square, a totally different world. Beautiful houses and unique stores and exclusive restaurants, my kind of place. The shade in this area is much needed. Would love to have had the cash to buy a decent souvenir, settled for my thimble and patch and my memories. Headed back to the Runaway Train, nearly lost my hat here. Such speed through the hills and caves. So many of these high speed coaster rides, you get tired of them after a while. 'Critter Land' next, hillbilly bears. They have the log ride here, but have decided I don’t like these anymore. Saw a theatre presentation of the bears that live here. Loved the talking trophy heads on the wall. Adventure land was not so interesting to me, bazaars and tree houses. Sadly the Indiana Jones ride is not open until next year. Had a snack and a rest, decided to hang around for the parade and fireworks. You forget how much that Disney has done, I would have been happy to stay with the better known characters all day; that is Disney to me. Bought my healthy chocolate bar supper and found a good spot for the parade eventually. But not before I have travelled through Pinnochio's world and rode through Toon Town on the Jolly Trolley. Did not want to risk having to queue for anything else. Had a prime spot for the parade, on the floor but at least I was in the front. At 21:00 hrs the extravaganza began, amazingly I was still alert after twelve hours. A half hour parade of glittering lights of character, plus Mickey and the gang too amongst them. Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Pete's Dragon, the cutest little bugs. A magical display, you have to be there to get the atmosphere. Running out of time I wondered whether I would get to see the fireworks. Thankfully I saw most of them, to the tune of 'When you wish upon a star', behind the Sleeping Beauty castle. Camera film finished I made the dash to the monorail, still with the music all around me, quite dramatic. Made each bus just in time and got home earlier than expected, got in without hassle. Will never, ever forget the day. I spent the whole time with a smile on my face, laughing openly, loving every minute of the magical land. One of my best days to date. Please let the photos come out.
28 June - (Now to today) - Not much to do today, Had a lie in until 08:30 hrs. Sat outside and wrote the postcards, would love to see my brother's face when he gets it, should have phoned him yesterday. Wandered to the post office to get them off, the cards that is, and went to the pier to finish reading my book; Was not in the mood for sand everywhere. Whilst enjoying the sun a couple of girls came up with a questionnaire, so I invited them to question me. We started off with sport, soccer to be exact. How the conversation got on to religion I will never know, but this is what they were about. A crusading sect from Colorado, very cunning approach. Don’t know what it is about me, but I always attract these people. I am beginning to think that my trip has been a crusade of my own, to convert me into a born again Christian. They wanted me to sit and say a prayer with them to let god in to my life or rather Jesus. I declined and came away with a booklet instead. If I want religion I will do it in my own time not by pressurisation on the spot. Read some more and came back before I burned too much. I am finding that I tend to come out in a rash from the heat at the moment. Finished the book, very touching, very sad. Should have had lotion on today. Lazy evening, think a lot of people are going to an opening of some bar, can’t afford it though, after yesterday. They will only get rat arsed anyway. Should read the bible tonight.
29 June - One of my lets walk and get nowhere fast days. Decided on Newport, glad I took the bus, long walk otherwise in the heat. Sunburn is playing up. Got off at Fashion Island, an extravagant, quite exclusive shopping complex. The Hard Rock Café is in the area, somehow managed to miss it on the way back. Indulged in a slice of chocolate cake and fresh juice, a contrasting lunch. Wanted to find the beach so walked, the wrong way. After winding my way down through some very nice houses I happened upon Balboa Island, wasted more time than I intended. Still I did mean to go there. Mainly a marina on the north side, very pretty houses and holiday homes, reminds me of Devon or Cornwall. All of this stretch south of L.A. is resortish and flash, no poor people evident here. Took the ferry over to Balboa, again quite quaint little place. What greets you is a promenade of amusements and cruises, whilst the south side is all beach. Weather was overcast so able to have a pleasant half hour sitting and watching the world go by. Not a very eventful day but I felt happy and free, must be the sea air.
People seem to be having their navels pierced around the hostel, would annoy me no end. Another T.V. night no doubt. Apparently there was a demonstration of dog owners on the beach yesterday, complaining that they are banned from walking their dogs on the beach. So they all did their business, sad people, what do they expect. How would they like it if I went and crapped on their front lawns. What I would do is designate a patch of beach and let them run wild with the dogs and not bother to have the sand cleaned at all, the crap would pile sky high and the owners would soon understand. San Diego looks nice.
30 June - What was the point of today. I walked north on main to see what was abound. Came across a small shopping centre, not a nice place, so had a doughnut and brought a Muffin for tomorrow’s breakfast and came back. Really would have loved to have seen Hollywood, but too risky on the buses. Still overcast first thing. Went back to the hostel, mooched around and went out again. This time purchased a book, a classic, 'Emma', by Jane Austin. Sat on the pier reading until the sun came out, my shoulders are still too painful to sit out.
Very weary from the heat, so took a half hour rest. Our room looks empty now that Stephanie is gone. Read some more, sorted my gear for tomorrow, ate tea and packed my bags. The book is so written that it is fairly hard to take it all in. Will be glad to get going tomorrow, so boring here unless you surf or are able to sit in the sun. Martina is in to the final, surprise, surprise. Put away my other book this morning, my passion is not so great. I was thinking today that Kevin will be mad at me for going to India, but I fear that he will never have the courage to go away for any length of time to dash around a country, let alone afford to. I want this for myself, selfish maybe, but I have the energy to do it now, I may be too busy with my career in the future. Now is most important to me at present, hmmm. Think about that one.
1 July - Left Huntington without incident. Somebody puked last night down our landing to the bog, wonderful stench to greet me. Linda, if it was her in the bunk below, kept me awake with her constant snoring, I really get mad when I want to sleep and can’t. Buses got me to the Greyhound Station early so had to stick around, no comforts there to depend upon. Journey was uneventful. Some nice hilly areas coming in to San Diego, gets much more Mexican like the further down you go.
San Diego itself looks ok, nothing special in the bus depot area. Walked the wrong way so had double the journey necessary. I was almost up to the door of the hostel when this guy jumped me. I imagined he was touting for business for the Y.M.C.A., not knowing at that time the hostel was in the same building. However, turns out he was on the bus from L.A. but did not talk to me because I looked tired. Do I look tired? He was just gushing and gushing, planning my next few hours and being a total jerk. I kept walking, think he got the message, some people like to catch you unawares. Forgot to do the Flagstaff ticket.
First thing I did was to get all of my washing out of the way. The laundry is part of the complex of the building and fairly cheap. The lobby here is very nice, reception desks for the Y.M.C.A. and hostel, barbers shop, café. Hostel is ok, mattresses a different story, at least we have our own showers and loo. A key operates the elevator to our floor, very security conscious. The Y.M.C.A. looks very military, however, we are well situated. I am tired tonight so may be an early night. 'Emma' is coming along nicely. Only problem in the kitchen, no hobs, microwave is the best they could come up with.
2 July - Had a wonderful time at the Greyhound Station this morning, the ticket queue was already out of the door when I got there so resisted taking my purse out of my bag until I was inside. Don’t know why, there is just as much chance of crime inside as out. Once inside the entertainment began. One coloured guy grabbed another, from behind, around the neck, in what seemed to be a playful banter. However, the victim was soon knocked to the ground and the attacker was joined by another, whence they proceeded to kick the shit out of the victim. The crowd remained calm, apart from a stupid Mexican in front of me, after all the fight had nothing to do with us. A security guard turned up minutes later to break the brawl and that was it, exciting stuff. Tempers were now beginning to rise is the queue, there only appeared to be one window open, very Greyhound America. Eventually got to the window, my ticket, I thought, was not as urgent as some but I refused to get out of line. Looks like 20 days advance was not enough. Right up until 27/7 the buses from Flagstaff, east, are booked solid on the cheap deals. No way was I paying another $179 to go back. So I have a wonderful 2½ weeks to kill in Flagstaff. Think I will take advantage of the work for my board deal.
Stopped off at the hostel and headed for the water’s edge. Strolled pass the 'Star of India' tall ship, now a museum, the harbour cruise booths and ended up on the boardwalk. This is a very naval based area. Stopped off for a snack, not necessary really, and stumbled into Sea port Village. Glad I did, such a nice place, full of atmosphere with live music. Reminded me of Disneyland, so quaint with exclusive shops and eateries. Quite a Covent Garden with the street entertainers. On the way down to the Enbarcadero Marina Park I was distracted by a guy getting a crowd together for this magic show. Craig Stone was his name and he was such a funny guy, even before his show started. Quick witted and very visual, eat your heart out Paul Daniels, this guy deserves the big time. There was yet more to the village, so after visiting some rather sad toilets I wandered around the rest and sat to read for a while. The hostel does not appear to be doing anything for 4th July, so really stuck now, not bothered about the daytime, just the evening. A bit better evening than last. Have learned that it doesn’t take much to spark tempers around this city, have heard a lot of mouthing off today. Martina did not win Wimbledon, but I guess she must have gone out on a high. I feel on a high at the moment despite my travel problems, the sun does us all good.
Current day thoughts
So I felt frumpy in the town of Huntington Beach but hip in the hostel. It was like two worlds colliding. I clearly remedied that by wearing my swimming costume into the town so as not to stick out like a sore thumb. I’m sure nobody noticed me anyway. With the exception of Disney I had little choice but to chill most of the time. My brain was very active which can make chilling difficult because you just want to be out doing something and not just sitting around. The sunny weather got me out and about, but there is only so much sun a person can take. My skin was tanning (burning) and my hair was bleached out by the sun. I was glad to have caught the reading bug, I never did so much reading in my life. I am not really much of a shopper, I buy if I need and that is that, not really a materialistic person, but it was nice to look around, and there was so much to look around, and see what could be if I were wealthy. Note: The wealth of a person in not measured by how much money they have.
Disneyland – can’t really say much more than I did already. Loved it, loved it, loved it. A tick off the bucket list.
I didn’t appear to be eating a very healthy diet - doughnuts and muffins for breakfast! Was I becoming too American and letting my standards drop? Whatever, I still had pulling power, even if some of the guys were not up to my standard. Perhaps all that sugar was making me look tired.
I got to witness my first every fist fight, and in the wonderful setting of a Greyhound bus station too. I remember the poor victim already had some kind of bandage on, so was obviously a glutton for punishment. I also still hear the Mexican woman shouting her mouth off at them for fighting. The rest of us just watched and did nothing, perhaps out of fear. I’m not sure what I could have done anyway, except for run away and I wasn’t about to lose my place in the line.
San Diego was starting to look like a better place than the Greyhound station might have suggested. You just can’t say Y.M.C.A without singing it, can you, and with actions too.
Craig Stone still seems to be going strong and good for him.
I was living in the present, which is a good thing, but I still look to things in the future, always have a goal to aim for, something to live for. It is not selfish to want to experience life, we are here for such a short time and should squeeze as much out as we can. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
Week 24: 3 July to
3 July - Got the
hair up out of the way, did not realise how long it has gotten.
Managed to get to Balboa Park, via Jack
In The Box, after I had watched Pete Sampras win Wimbledon, easily. Not quite
how I expected the park to be. Museums adorn the south west corner, not the type
to lure me, aviation and motor. It is
not a park with grassy areas, but more of pathways to wander and buildings to
happen upon. Found the Spreckels Organ, a quintet were playing a spot
there, not such a good place in the
heat, all open unless you can get to sit
around the edge. Will come back later when the organ recital is on. The house
of hospitality provided shady cloisters
to walk, alongside a courtyard. From my map looks like a fair bit of the
park I missed. Not really in the mood for going into museums, prefer the
visual/outdoor side to touristing at the moment. Down the pedestrian mall, past
street acts and, I noticed, palm readings and tarots, very tempting. Lots of
palm trees and botanicals to make a tropical atmosphere and a photogenic one.
Just across the road, over a bridge were the formal (and only noticeable)
gardens. Beautiful roses at one end and a cactus desert at the other.
I had so many things I wanted to do in
a short space of time, but I gave in and went to the tarot lady, haggled her
down to $5, she fancied her talents to be worth more. She was very accurate; or
rather I was in card selection. I was predicted as new job, new move, home
building, marriage soon, good health. (the most encouraging part though did not
push it), she said to go ahead with a check-up. Food for thought - no meat,
bump up on vitamins and B's. There is also a back stabber in the midst, not
sure who, could be back home, but it is they who will have the last laugh. My knight is helping me to proceed, for us
both I think. Good omens good decision.
The zoo was on a cheapy $6 from 3 to
11pm. Got me a big drink and went to the Spreckels Organ. Not forgetting the
Spanish village art centre and cool jazz band. Had to dive in to the shade for
the final ½ hour. A few jolly tunes that’s all, nothing special. Couldn’t bring
myself to stand for the Star Spangled Banner, no reason to.
Walked back, not so far. The scroungers
about town these days have a new technique in their objective to obtain money.
They try to strike up conversation and get you to like them, to make you feel
good about giving cash, however, I nipped him in the bud and he walked on. I
have to spend my money on replacement milk. My dorm mate was cream cheeseless
also this morning.
It is Tom Cruise's birthday today,
celebrated by Tom Cruise movies on T.V. You just have to see these adverts, so
funny, especially the one on plastic. Struck me that I haven’t been writing
anything too deep and meaningful of late, must get back into that instead of
just plain facts.
4 July - Just like
a bank holiday at home, except there will be fireworks tonight. Had a later
start than anticipated, due to our strange Australian psychologist messing
around, as usual. She gave me a book to read, Byron, Shelley and a host of
other poets, should read more poetry but preferring straight literature at the
Wore a short sleeved blouse, big
mistake, and headed for Sea Port Village. Got bored very quickly as nothing
going on until afternoon, so, decided to stroll along to the Old Town part of
San Diego. Surprise, surprise, I took the wrong road and ended up walking miles
along the harbour-side, past the airport to Harbour Island. All I wanted to do
was find a café to have a drink but all there seemed to be were hotels, posh
restaurants and nothing else. Eventually
came to a dead end, this isn’t how it was supposed to be today. I was going to
sit and listen to music and read my book. Took another road, which I thought
would go back in to town, fortunately there was a café along here, however,
another dead end. So had to walk all the way back again, a waste of time and my
arms were burned up again, I am so stupid at times. T shirts from now on until
I am certain it has cleared up, who cares about a tan, I think I will try to
preserve my good complexion instead. Tired from walking I still continued back
to the village, but got bored again, besides my arms were hurting. They have a left
handed shop here, which basically takes the piss out of us, I hate people who
are ignorant of a good thing. It also annoys me that people make such a big
deal of it all, what the hell would right handed people know about it.
Came back to nurse my wounds, the sun
burn that is, and change before going out tonight. Was very chilly tonight, may
have had something to do with my sunburn. Got some French fries and took a
place along the water’s edge, pretty big crowd about. As coincidence would have
it a girl, Lorraine, from the hostel was alongside me so had a
conversationalist whilst waiting. She is very intelligent on political issues,
bit of an activist if you ask me. The fireworks were ok, nothing spectacular,
source of a major disappointment of the whole day for me. I imagined everywhere
in America to be all street parades, flags and ticker tape. They do have that
in some places, but San Diego not. I was really looking forward to today as
well. There were a second lot of explosions, which were better, but by then had
moved from the water’s edge so missed some of them. We went to the Upstart Crow
for a coffee, at least I had one. Makes a change to have somebody intelligent
to talk to, even if I cannot return it in the same capacity. We are going down
to Mexico on Wednesday, so should be good fun. Not so sleepy tonight, not sure
of what to do tomorrow, must write to Kevin.
5 July - Not much
of a day. Got some cream for my sunburn, has come out in blisters today. Ouch!
Spent most part of the morning wandering the Horton Plaza mall, quite nicely
planned out. Had a mega lunch, cheap too and wrote to Kevin to let him know
what was going on. Trying desperately to keep out of the sun, hope I do not get
paranoid about it. Could have taken in a movie, maybe later in the week, so
many to choose from. The day was young so I opened my map and thought I would
go to the Old Town, walking, naturally. Got to a point on the map and was
totally confused, can’t be that far away. Stopped off at a garage and was told
it was another five miles away, so shelved the idea until another day.
Came back to the hostel and stayed
here, had the tiny tots jumping all over me, not good for the arms, so bailed
out quick. Lots of us gathered for a movie downstairs, The fugitive, so took up
most of the evening. Full dorm today, hope our sleepless friend stays put, she
is a real pain, feel sorry for Zoe. Not sure about tomorrow, a little
apprehensive, am sure we will be Ok. No
6 July - A mega, more interesting day. Caught the trolley
down to Mexico with Lorraine. Weather cool and not too many people
around. Had no hassle getting in to Mexico, nobody there to check us in. Have
no idea why the city of Tijuana is the most visited in the world, it is hardly
an-interesting place to see, just shops and restaurants and men trying to get
you in to their taxis and street vendors showing their wares up your nose.
Walked the length of the main shopping street, stopping to do the window
shopping. Found a bar for a drink, Lorraine was on the Margaritas, whilst I
stuck to juice. She paid as well, said it was her treat for me going with
he. I was coming down anyway. Discovered
she is 42 years old, has 2 kids, one 20 years old, one 14 years old, I thought
she was only in her 20's herself, well shocked. We went for a little walk to
the tourist centre and got a better map, even if it was in Spanish. Across the
road was about the only attraction in Tijuana, no parks or anything, a wax
museum, few statues and sports arenas. The cultural centre held some
interesting pictures and artefacts which take you through the history leading
to Mexican independence. After that we were hungry so wandered back to the Hard
Rock Café, my first, Lorraine's many timeth. Had burger and fries and to my
embarrassment, was Lorraine's treat again, she has some money to burn. A guy
there told us of a place to see not far away, called the Mexitlan, so off we
went. Not sure of what to expect we went in and up to the roof, looks more like
an entertainment centre. However, it was like a model village, only the
exhibits were of significant buildings in various parts of Mexico. Some
beautiful architecture too of Aztec right through to modern day. Makes you want
to take off and see the country. My favourite was of the World Cup Soccer
Stadium, brilliant stuff. We spent nearly two hours walking around, it was very
interesting. Time to go after that, walking back across to the border was a
different case this time, the beggars were out in force, tiny kids with plastic
cups expecting money from the rich tourists. I gave once, it was all I could
afford. However, Lorraine came armed with change, she gave to almost everyone,
very generous lady, very wised up on things. The only problem with giving in to
them is that they grow up with the impression that they have to beg for things
and does not encourage improvement in their lives. The parents exploit their
children so much they can have no hope for their future. Very sad.
Moved in to Lorraine's room tonight,
will be able to get some sleep and not suffer interruptions throughout the
night from the psychologist.
7 July - Got going by midday, just. We
went to La Jolla on the bus. Doubt I shall spend any more time than today in Lorraine's
company. She is a nice lady but our attitudes clash sometimes, so not sure that
we could get on long term, maybe moving in was a mistake. La Jolla is a very
exclusive beach resort, but the beaches are more secluded and the water clear
as crystal, lots of snorkelling going on. The pelicans are strange here, if in
fact they are pelicans, they are brownish in colour with much smaller heads and
bills. Some seals basking on the rocks, quite a change of scenery. We looked
around some very nice shops and Lorraine spent a lot of money, mainly on other
people. We ate lunch in the Hard Rock Café again, not so good as the food
yesterday, but had desert today. Was very tired by the end of the afternoon so
glad to get on the bus home. Will just slouch as usual tonight. My shoulders
are improving, the blistering has dried up and looks good underneath.
July - Got my act together early this morning. Decided on the zoo, but wanted
to wait until 17:00 hrs to get in on the cheap rate.
However, took the bus to Balboa Park by noon, so had a few hours to kill. The
weather was not so hot and it was fairly overcast making it pleasant. I read a
few chapters of my book in various parts of the park, looked at buildings I had
not seen previously and ate lunch very slowly so as to kill time. Surprisingly
it went quickly and in no time I was at the Zoo.
I guess the zoo is well laid out and, in
some cases, they have done good things with the endangered species, but I could
not help but look at the sad faces of the animals and birds and feel sorry for
them. Nothing to do except loll about all day, in confined space. They all
looked tired and drawn and meaningless. The brown bear did a brain washed
dance, up and down his pen, the polar bear must surely be too hot. The only
ones who it does not matter so much to are the koalas, they do nothing anyway.
The older ones of each species had that captivated look about them, whereas the
babies brought happiness, they know no different, if only they could be freed. They would not survive on their own because
they do not know how to feed themselves. There are some animals that you like
to see up close because you will probably never see them in the wild, but you
cannot get the true benefit from seeing them caged up like this. It is not how
the animals really are; their behaviour is adapted and not natural. I did not
spend long looking at each animal. I could not, it was too depressing. Do not
know why I went, I do not like zoos anymore, I find them uninteresting. It is
said that the zoo is world famous, I had not heard of it before, perhaps the
treatment and research on animals is one of the reasons. Spent nearly three
hours walking around, that was enough for me, did not see it all. Wanted to get
back before dark. Must phone the motel tomorrow, will want to pack in the
morning. Long live wild life, in the wild.
July - My last day in San Diego, left my luggage in the room so no hassles
there. One of my
main objectives today was to get my thimble. Had a rummage through those at the
Holiday Inn, again, but they were not very good quality. Glad I did leave them
because I found a nice one in the nautical gift shop at Seaport Village. This
is where I spent most of the day, not such a warm one as it has been of late. I
packed my lunch, prepared over breakfast in the kitchen, hounded by a much
nauseating English lady, who likes travelling Greyhound. Was glad when she
finally adopted our Australian friend, you could sense his despair, most
amusing. My arms are peeling quite rapidly now, however, still very sore.
Lots of side shows on at the village, the
most charming being at the bandstand. Whilst the jazz tones of Sweet Georgia
Brown filled the air, a group of tasselled Charleston ladies danced along. An
elderly group, however, charmingly elegant in their attire, with parasols. I
felt it necessary to treat myself to ice cream after that.
Hanging around for 22:00 hrs was a bit of
a chore, especially as Lorraine went out at 17:00 hrs for a couple of hours.
Brazil v Holland was on, in Spanish. Brazil won. This followed by endless mind
boggling drivel was my entertainment. Finally at 20:30 hrs I walked to the
station and the bus was ½ hour off schedule, it broke down, so we off loaded to
another. I had to make sure that I beat my horrible co passenger, Tom, to the
window seat, I hope he has a really bad night.
There is something about the sea that
draws. You can sit and ponder, or do just about anything whilst by the water’s
edge and feel the tranquillity. Nobody wonders about you when looking out to
sea, it is one of those acceptable pastimes.
I know I said that there would be photos soon, but my plan
went a bit pear shaped. No scanners
available to do the job. Soon though,
Jack In The Box is a fast food chain. I really can’t have had a care in the world.
I do like to have my cards or my palm read every so often
just to make sure everything is tickety-boo.
She was good value at $5.
I do enjoy a good advert, sometimes more than the
programmes, although these days I find the advertisers can spoil a song
forever. It is a good advertising ploy.
Have you ever listened to a popular song on the radio but find you can no
longer concentrate on the song because it has appeared in an advert and you now
only think about the product being advertised.
I had great expectations for the 4th July, which
never came to fruition, very low key to what I imagined. I did however get to meet a nice fellow
hosteller, and got to stay in a better room for no extra cost. It was great to have someone to visit places
I cannot begin to tell you how bad the sunburn was on my
shoulders, blisters coming out on top of blisters bad, probably second
degree. I went to the pharmacy and asked
the chap for something for my sunburn and couldn’t quite believe it when he saw
how bad it was. He sold me a cooling gel
that had an anaesthetic element to it to help with the pain. Great stuff that I have never seen
since. I had to dress my burns every day
and whilst it was a painful experience I just got on with things and they did
heal well. I have to say though that
nowadays these are the spots that always gets burned up the quickest and I have
never learned my lesson in this respect.
I need to keep telling myself that it just isn’t worth it for a
I am left handed and if anyone has a problem with that, tough.
It was nice on the occasions when everyone in the hostels
got together to do something, even if only to watch a movie, it created a bond
and a belonging.
I went to Mexico, just for the day, which is a bit sad
because I really would like to see more of Mexico, and it was so easy to get
across the border. I understand it is
less easy going from Mexico back into the USA, but I never experienced any of
it. An American tourist obviously
doesn’t attract as much attention as a desperate Mexican trying to get into the
USA. It was fun but I can’t say I felt like I was
in Mexico, perhaps because Tijuana is so close to the border it has built up
quickly and looks like an ordinary town.
I don’t know how it should feel to be in Mexico. I watch too many movies and have a romantic
image of how I want it to be.
A different type of poverty experienced here, so easy for me
to judge and I shouldn’t, because I don’t know what it is like to be in their
shoes or what is going on in their country.
I tend to hold back a bit with regards to overseas charity giving
because of this.
I don’t remember La Jolla at all; I think my memories
intermingle with those in Tijuana so I haven’t got the full picture.
I appreciate that the larger zoos do a lot in terms of conservation
work and sometimes are able to release animals born in captivity back to the
wild, but I am still not a fan.
So that was San Diego, quite a jolly city with plenty of
entertainment. I appeared to have lost
my map reading skills in San Diego right from the start. I did at least strengthen my legs from all
Tom was a creepy man who wanted to sit by the window on the bus. I was by the window and I wasn’t moving. I met a lot of weird people on the Greyhound buses.******************************************************