A punch up at a wedding

5/01/09 1815 – somewhere over Canada. I think.

It has been a while since I was locked in a little steel tube flying over an ocean.

I got back from NZ about 2 and a half years ago. I have made a couple of trips to England and Scotland but haven’t been any further.

I put a moratorium on travelling for a while. Part by choice part by circumstance.

It is truly a bizarre experience. To be able to cross thousands of miles at 30000 feet and arrive safely and on time on virtually every occasion.

It is just such a fundamentally bad idea – flying. This is not something hairy monkeys should be able to do with such frequency, precision and safety.

The view from up here continues to blow me away. I never get tired of staring at distant cloud formations. At the sun setting over the horizon.

Yet I get to do this. Me and this exceptionally wealthy and privileged portion of the human race. It is truly odd.

I’m flying to the states for a friends wedding. I’ve never been to America. For someone who’s been pretty much everywhere else I find it odd that I haven’t been there.

I suspect it will be just like home with better weather, more fried chicken and an underdeveloped sense of irony.

I am disappointed by the selection of movies, the frozen vegetables and the fact they charge you 4 quid for a beer.

I like the chance to sit in one place for 8 hours and read books and listen to tunes and watch movies. I would prefer a comfier seat and some salt and vinegar crisps but I will take what I’m given.

1850 somewhere between Philadelphia and Dallas.

America has not been welcoming so far. We waited two hours to get through immigration. Not the most pleasant of experiences. If you’re a terrorist intent on violence it must take even longer. Maybe it’s the long queues that put them off.

We arrived in Philly to find that our bags didn’t follow us and are presumably somewhere over the mid- Atlantic right now. Better over than under I say.

We then had a further last minute dash to the gate to get to the next flight on time. That’s been a theme today.

I’d love something to eat that doesn’t come in a pre wrapped plastic packet. I’d love a glass of water. Though perhaps I’d be better communicating that to the crew than writing it here…

Chrissy – we must love you to come all this way to come to your country that doesn’t seem to want us here

6/01/10 1840 Dallas, TX

Apparently Paul Simon has a house near here. I thought I caught a glimpse of an old bald man mowing next door’s lawn but I wasn’t sure.

We have the great pleasure of staying in someone’s house here. All 12 of us or whatever. This is clearly an act of great trust and mercy.

We arrived (with no bags, a lot of stress and no sleep) to a warm house and bed with a well stocked fridge. We have been very well looked after.

Driving on the wrong/right side of the road freaks me out a bit. Even the “compact” saloon we bought is huge. It’s wider than the Volvo.

There were a few near misses and one episode of going down a 3 lane highway the wrong way. But just the once and it was easily corrected.

America is worth it if only for the pancakes and bacon and maple syrup. Immense. I found a burger called “the coronary”.

With no luggage as yet arrived, people are progressing into their second day of underwear and borrowing toothbrushes. So we headed to one of America’s great defining institutions – a supersupermarket called Target.

This place was colossal. It did everything. I think it had more staff than customers.

I bought socks and pants and more razors than I needed – if only cause it was cheaper for 10 than 2. This is presumably why our planet is falling to pieces.

I am so tired I am losing fine motor skills – struggling to get the coffee machine into working order. I’ve skipped the stag do (or bachelor’s party as they call it here) to get my head peace and a decent night’s sleep.

The challenge is to stay awake till 9 or so and then sleep proper till morning.

Incidentally the hen do is still here in the house eating chilli and drinking margaritas before they head out. I have barricaded myself in the room as a means of staying alive.

9/01/10 Dallas, TX

What happens in Dallas stays in Dallas. So the standard rule goes. So the antics of the stag and hen dos are consigned to the records of the local police departments. Or something like that. Having chickened out with a lame ass fun-killing early night I have no right to comment.

Dallas seems like one big suburb so far. Everywhere we drive seems miles of similar, wide open freeways bordered on either sides by chain stores and restaurants each surrounded by vast tracts of parking.

Parking is never an issue there is just always so much space.

Driving is more of an issue. Sat Nav has it’s uses but sometimes tells you the turning just as you pass it. Would be quite literally lost without it otherwise though.

The wedding itself is tonight.

I look forward to hitting the road proper and get out of the city and see why GOD is more interested in this country more than any others… I expect great things.

9-01-10 Dallas TX

Tried to go to a Dallas mavericks basketball game the day after the wedding.

Had a bit of a mare trying to get tickets online and ended up just driving down to the arena to try and get some at the door.

Unforunately only the 70 buck tickets left and while I was keen on experiencing some truly American culture I wasn’t so keen on paying 70 bucks to watch a sport I had no real interest in. What sort of country would make me pay so much to come and insult one of their national sports while lambasting their excesses…

However it turns out that Dallas does have some kind of a city centre and is not just large stretches of suburb connected by vast motorways.

Ended up in a smoky bar watching the Dallas cowboys game with a bunch of baseball cap wearing baseball fans who thought we were just great.

I’m not entirely sure why but listening to odd accents mispronounce commonly known words such as Armagh and Smithwicks is still funny.

In fact this may be one of the things that stopped various groups of human beings wiping each other out at their first meetings – everyone laughing at how the Persians mispronounced toga.

Maybe not.

10/01/10 Clear creek cove, Burnet, TX

Cleared out of the salubrious Mansion we’d been squatting in this morning leaving a trail of dirty sheets and a nicely wrapped bottle of Irish whiskey and Irish tack in our wake.

Rarely have I felt myself more welcomed and looked after than in that house. While Dallas may not be the most inspiring city in the country (or even the state) then at least the hospitality put a positive spin on it.

So with an hour or so getting lost round Dallas-Fort-Worth airport (it has two toll motorways dedicated purely to the airport, it is a colossal and scary place…) and having dropped off one of our party and picked up a new one we were on the road south.

Via a Waffle House of course. We hadn’t had our daily ration of eggs, bacon and saturated fats yet. We sat at the bar of a diner. Nice.

Driving is fun. Directions not so much. GPS gives you more confidence than you should have. You presume it’s bringing you the right direction and you assume you’re on the interstate even when you’re on a two lane highway with traffic lights and junctions every few hundred yards. I was sure I saw tumbleweed at one point.

Problem was the car on front had the GPS and the car behind knew we were going the wrong way. Cue comedic light-flashing-horn-hitting-overtaking-gesture-making-manoeuvres-that-are-misinterpreted-as-some-kind-of-joke…

We worked it out in the end. Good old fashioned maps are sometimes more useful.

Finally we found ourselves beyond the endless suburbs and chain restaurants, finally able to see the glorious rolling Texas landscape… Well sort of.

There doesn’t seem to be that much of a glorious rolling landscape. There’s just parched grass and endless fields, occasionally interspersed with grey scraggy trees and bush – these reminding you that this was more like it always looked.

And so we arrived at our quaint little lake house just after dark to find the heat already on and the world’s comfiest sofas. We have landed.


1 Response to “A punch up at a wedding”

  1. 1 Roads January 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Enjoy America. Texas is something of a special place to start. It’s more like it is than anywhere else.

    I know what you mean about Dallas-Fort Worth airport. I spent an hour on the metro there (two different lines) and that was only to find the car rental. And when I did leave the airport, there were signs to Deerfoot, and Honeybourne (or some such) but no signs to Dallas at all. Or even Fort Worth — which at least would have pointed out the wrong direction.

    Once off the freeway, the fourway stops were terrifying, too. I can remember asking a few Texans what the rules were. And every single one of them gave me a different answer. Priority to the first to arrive there / the one on the right / the one on the left / the biggest / the bravest ? No one knew.

    That immigration queue gets longer every time I go. All ten fingerprints required as well, last time. Presumably the forensic experts spend a lot of time dusting the endless expanses to find out exactly where you’ve been.

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