Memories of America #2

The first twenty-four hours of the trip were a bit stressful, and not just because of the usual mental upheaval involved in beginning any big trip.  I'd prebooked a hotel room in Irvington, NJ, on the grounds that it was:

a) cheap, and 

b) close to both the airport and the premises of the shipping agent where I would be uncrating my bike.  

It soon became apparent that Irvington wasn't exactly a nice neighbourhood - the main clue coming when I went out for a walk to try and find some food, and within a few hundred yards was accosted by a policeman who was absolutely incredulous at the sight of a white guy, from England, just walking around on his own.  Sufficiently unnerved, I bought some crisps from a petrol station and fled back to the hotel room.

I'd initially planned to stay two nights, giving myself plenty of time to retrieve the bike and get everything packed up just right before hitting the road. However after a sleepless, stomach-churning, doubt-ridden night listening alternately to sirens outside and headboard-banging bedroom gymnastics from the next room, I was in no mood for hanging around.

Returning to the airport and finding my way to the Continental cargo building, I had the bike cleared through Customs within an hour.  All I needed then was to phone the shipping agents and get them to pick me and the crated bike up, as pre-arranged by my shipping agent in the UK - except that the guy with whom it was arranged was out of the office and no-one else knew anything about me.  Several hours later, having burnt about £30 of phone credit calling the UK, LA, and the local agents, a truck finally turned up.

This is the crate containing my bike being taken out of the truck in the shipping agent's yard. This was my freedom, my escape capsule, the real start of the trip.  Everything would be OK just as soon as I tore all that cardboard off, unstrapped the bike from the pallet, put the front wheel back in, and turned the key.

For the first in this series, and an explanation of what it's all about, see this post.

Memories of America #1

Firstly, Happy New Year and all that jazz.

2013 was a big year for me - the year in which I planned to take twelve weeks off work to ride the Trans-Am Trail and generally do a bit of motorcycle touring around the USA.  In the end it didn't quite work out like that, but I did spend eight weeks out there and had a great experience.

I blogged the trip as I went along, in a fairly half-arsed fashion, determined by how much I could be bothered to type on a 10" tablet in the evenings.  I do still hope to write the whole trip up in long form - possibly even as an e-book - but I have no idea how long that will take.

In the meantime, since the New Year is a time for beginning projects, I thought I'd start with a fairly simple one - make at least one blog post a week, reliving the trip through the best of the four-thousand-five-hundred-and-ninety-nine photos I took while I was out there - the ones I'm proud of as photos, and the ones that drag me back to that moment in time.  Hopefully most of them will fulfill both criteria.

Having said that, I'm going to begin with something that certainly isn't, of itself, a particularly good photo - a hasty, arms-length self-portrait with my sixty quid 'backup' compact, taken in an airport car-park.  It's not even in America.  Perhaps it's appropriate though, taken in the year in which 'selfie' entered the dictionary.

Sarah and I have pretty much done everything together for as long as we've been a couple.  Lived together, played together, travelled together.  We spent four weeks apart during the University Easter holidays immediately after we started going out, three weeks once when Sarah went to Turkey on business, and a little over a week for me to go on a work trip to Boulder, CO.  I'm pretty sure that's all the times we've been apart for more than a few days at a time.

A minute or two after I took this, I put the camera back in my pocket, took my bags out of the open car boot in the bottom left corner, and walked alone into the terminal, to begin the longest period of time we've spent apart in our (at the time) nine-and-a-half year relationship.  The trip had been a couple of years in the making, but I still wasn't quite ready for this part.

I didn't dare look back on the way across the car park.