USA Road Trip - Three Man Wolf Pack

Tuesday 2nd October

Wanted to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon, missed it by an hour bt still among the first people at the West Rim site. It was breathtaking. I walked off up a hill to get a view to myself. I was gone less than an hour but I hadn't said where I was going and came back to find two angry looking girls with a security guard. They thought I might have fallen in. The security guard wasn't impressed either, apparently I'd been trespassing although there were no signs to tell me. I was forced to show him all my pictures and delete them.

At some stage Martha lost some expensive sunglasses and even though we took Ray's happy bus* back round to the places we'd been they didn't show up. Had lunch at a Cowboy Ranch included in the admission to the park where we were greeted by Geronimo's great great gandson. He is the front man in a band called Fatality and it was his last day at the ranch before going off on tour with Metalica. He told Madlen he loved her.

From the Grand Canyon it was back to Las Vegas for our last night together and we decided to book a room ahead and splash out a bit on a $150 room. Not understanding the website what we'd acually done was book three average rooms at $50 a night. They were able to rectify this and we got a good suite where we watched The Hangover ready for a night out.

Our night didn't quite match The Hangover but it was eventful. On our way to the strip Madlen spotted a stray kitten about to run on to the highway, she caught hold of it but it got free and bolted in to a gap in a concrete wall about 4cm wide. The gap was so tiny that the kitten got stuck solid in the middle. I got round the other side and tried pulling her through but her face was being squished and her eys were bulging as I did so. It would die if we did nothing so I continued to pull while a homeless lady who went by the name of Litttle Bit pushed. It's a strange feeling not knowing if you're terminally crushing an animal or saving it and fortunately she got out and pooed, it had obviously been a scary moment for the wee girl.

Madlen fell in love with the cat and christened it Miss Lucky, we flagged down a police woman who said she could take it and they would find her a home. Madlen wasn't comfortable with this and said she would take her. Madlen and I then fell out. I was too blunt telling her she couldn't take her on the plane and besides she didn't even have a place to live yet. My logic was fair, my delivery was harsh. We patched things out and then Martha and Madlen fell out and then Martha and I fell out but it ended with us all friends again back at the hotel.

*Ray was a bloody idiot who amused me greatly. I spent the next few days doing impressions of Ray pretending I was driving the happy bus.

Wednesday 3rd October

Dropped off the car, explored some of Vegas's casinos and rode the roller coaster at New York New York. Finished our time together with a barely edible meal in a Taco place. Emotional hugs goodbye as the girls got a taxi to the airport. I was going to miss the girls, it had been a week I will always remember with great fondness.

USA Road Trip part two

Sunday 30th September

Drove out to Sequoia National Park to see some big trees. The girls seemed to be getting on very well again and I managed to get an hour to myself. In the evening we found ourselves in a small town called Beatty in Nevada, it had been a week since I'd been to a pub which quite frankly isn't on when I'm on holiday so I excused myself and left the girls playing on their laptops. The pub was a whole lot of fun. I joined some middle aged locals for a couple of games of darts and shots of Tarantula Azul tequila. Because I was having fun and knowing that a drunken night out was exactly what our trio needed to bond I went back to the motel to get the girls. I was glad they came and being in the middle of nowhere Martha did get served. We were the last ones there at 2am having had a cracking night, dancing on the bar and coming together over our shared level of drunkenness.

Monday 1st October

The night out had made things a whole lot better, I was even being told 'So is your face by Madlen' something that had upset her several times when I'd said it to her earlier in the week. It was a good days driving stopping in Death Valley and at the Hoover Dam to a motel next to the Grand Canyon ready to get up and explore it early tomorrow. The Tarantula Azul took its tole on Martha who was sick several times along the way, not helped by it being 46 degrees outside.

Road Trip USA. Wobbly start.

Wednesday 26th September

Picked up the Ford Focus and Madlen drove us to Palo Alto to meet Martha's cousin Dave who is starting an MBA at Stanford. He gave us a tour of the immaculate campus which has its own golf course and is where Tiger Woods studied. Another famous alumni was Reece Witherspoon so I made the joke 'Did you hear on the news she was stabbed yesterday. Yeah Reece, Reece, Reece?'
'No with a knife'.
We had the car now, I'd paid my third of the cost, they were stuck with having to put up with this and my newly acquired knowledge of bugs for another six days.

Found a motel in Monterey that worked out very cheap for the three of us.

Thursday 27th September

Glyn's first go at driving a left hand drive car on the right of the road. It was a success and the road down the California coast past Big Sur was fun to drive with twisty bends all the way. Too foggy to fully appreciate the views though. Bought a portable speaker that lasted for four hours at which point we realised I'd thrown the charger in the bin. Waste.

Driver swap at Hearst Castle, historic by American standards. It was built in the 1930s.

Lunch on a beach, feeding squirrels and passing an elephant seal colony on to some town near Los Angeles. At the motel we hit a snag. At some stage Martha had lost her purse containing her cards, money and driving licence. We turned the car and luggage inside out but it was definitely gone so she had to cancel her cards and where a lesser person might have panicked I was impressed to see she held it together. Comiserated by ordering pizzas and drinking beer in the room.

Friday 28th September

Down the California Coast to Los Angeles with a stop off on Malibu beach for a play in the sea with a couple of dolphins and for me to get sunburnt. As we drove off I caused a car behind to swerve because I'd left the cold pizza box on the roof of the car. Checked in to a hostel in Hollywood, walked along the walk of fame, popped in to a dull part of downtown and finished the night in a cinema watching Finding Nemo 3-D.

There was a definite atmosphere hanging over the group, I couldn't work out if I'd done something wrong or if it was a girly fall out. Guys never can tell these things but perhaps I was making too many decisions. For example it was my decision to check out downtown which was rubbish, we went to the wrong part.
Glyn: So what do you fancy doing?
Girls: Don't mind
Glyn: Shall we take a stroll around downtown?
Girls: Don't mind
Glyn: Well okay let's go. Left or right?
Girls: Don't mind.
Glyn: Okay let's go left.
And so on. This meant I was making a lot of the decisions on details but I've come to the position that if someone says 'don't mind' they will have to accept any poor decisions made on their behalf.

Saturday 29th September

Drove to Venice beach and walked along without conversation as three separate people. There was eye-rolling and sighing from the girls. Once again I'd made the plans for the day but it was that or sit around saying 'I don't mind' and 'maybe'.

After the beach Martha and I went to the Warner Bros studios tour and Madlen went to do her own thing as she wasn't willing to pay the hefty $50. At that price I needed to be impressed and to be fair I was. We sat on the preserved set of Central Perk off of Friends, saw the sound stage for the Big Bang Theory and a lot more props, memorobilia and T.V sets. It was all jolly good fun.

Thinking Madlen would be in a distant mood still I was pleased to see she'd perked up after some time to herself and we drove almost tension free to the Hollywood sign for the obligatory pointless photos.

We drove on to Lake Isabella and I suggested we have a few beers and play some cards. The girls went to bed. To me this meant one of several things 1. The girls don't like me. 2. The girls don't like cards. 3. The girls are boring. 4. The girls were tired after a busy day.*

I have to be honest it was a little frustrating that the trip wasn't turning out as full of laughter and joy as I'd hoped. To my mind I'd been trying really hard to help us enjoy ourselves but I was running low on interesting bug facts and unfortunately that is the limit of my mood-improving skills. What was really bothering me was that I still hadn't been properly insulted by Madlen or Martha. Most of my friends take a pop at me within thirty seconds of saying hello. It's four days in and there's still none of the rudeness that signifies a comfortable relationship.

*It was either 1 or 2, the girls stayed up talking and laughing in their room while I drank wine and read in the kitchen.

Pre Road Trip USA

Monday 24th September

Walked to Fisherman's Wharf where I was due to meet Madlen and Martha, the two girls who I was potentially hiring a car with on Wednesday. Although we'd sent a few e-mails to each other and they'd sounded keen I wasn't fully sure they'd turn up, but at the correct time and place, there they were. I reminded myself that the trip was not a definite and tried to be on my best behaviour (save the rubbish puns for when we've actually got the car).

We got on well, I took the girls to my favourite place in San Francisco, the Musee Mechanique which has lots of old time amusements, mechanical games and fortune tellers. Most were 25 cents a go and I went through over ten dollars. The girls seemed amused by the simple machines which was a good sign that we could get on.

Tuesday 25th September

Walked a few hours out to Golden Gate Park, got a bit over excited by a flower conservatory (perhaps San Francisco was turning me) and then came to The California Academy of Science and who should I bump in to but Madlen and Martha. We toured the excellent museum together and then took the bus up to see the Golden Gate Bridge. We did see it, technically, but only the first 30 metres because the fog was so thick. Ah well, it's a bridge, I've seen bridges before.

A few times during the day the reality of the upcoming trip dawned on me. I was about to spend seven whole days and nights with two pretty girls, 20 and 22 years old. In theory a dream come true for any man. Bu I've met girls and some of them, from time to time, have been known to be quite moody, unfathomable, irritating creatures. Coupled with that I have been known to be quite a moody, unfathomable, irritating creature so there would no doubt be a few moments along the way when we'd have our fall outs but I was confident that the experience could pull us through. Who knows. We'll see. I was nervous.

Workshop letztes WE

Am Samstag hatte die liebe Silvia zu einem Workshop eingeladen.

Als kleines Willkommensgeschenk habe ich ein kleines Teebüchlein gewerkelt.

Für diesen Workshop waren vier Damen angemeldet, von denen noch nie eine Karten gebastelt oder gestempelt hat.

Im Vorfeld frag ich ja immer, was die Gastgeberin gern werkeln möchte. "Ach vielleicht die Dreiecksverpackung und eine Weihnachtskarte."

Hmm, ich habe hin und her überlegt, was man machen könnte ohne großen Materialaufwand. Und dabei meine ich nicht den Materialaufwand, den ich hatte. Sondern den, was man alles braucht, um eine Karte zu gestalten, wenn absoluter Neuanfänger ist und noch überhaupt nichts da hat.

Beim Stöbern bin ich dann bei Jenni über einen absolut passenden Beitrag gestoplert. Die Karten gefielen mir super und man brauchte nur einen Stempel und zwei relativ kleine Stanzen. Perfekt.
Selbst der Papieraufwand war minimalistisch. Wahnsinn.

Für diese drei Karten braucht man nur den Cardstock in weiß in A5 und dazu vier verschiedene Papierstücke im Format von ca. 9 x 3 cm. Echt der Hammer. Noch ein paar Perlen drauf geklebt und fertig.

Die Mädels waren begeistert. Und wie es immer so ist, gleiches Material, gleiche Anleitung viele verschiedene Umsetzungen. Leider habe ich die Fotos von den Werken der Mädels noch nicht hier, weil ich wieder mal vergessen habe zu fotografieren. Die werden nachgereicht. Versprochen.

Und hier die gewünschte Dreiecksverpackung.
Die Mädels waren mit einer Begeisterung am Werk, dass war wieder phaszinierend.

Vielen Dank für den wunderschönen Nachmittag. Mir hat es mit euch unheimlich viel Spaß gemacht.

Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

Was für ein Abend...!

Eigentlich wollte ich euch heute wieder was kreatives zeigen. Doch den vorbereiteten Beitrag habe ich einfach mal frech auf nächste Woche verschoben. Ich muss euch was erzählen.

Vorige Woche habe ich in einem unserer Werbeplättchen durch Zufall den Hinweis auf eine Buchlesung gesehen. Der absolute Star meiner Tochter kommt direkt zu uns in die Nähe und liest aus seinem neuesten Werk. Eigentlich müsste ich schreiben, ihrem neuesten Werk. Es geht hier um eine Frau.

Seit Lisa sie im Fernsehen gesehen hat, ist sie hin und weg. Für sie steht fest, sie will Innenarchitektin werden, sie möchte auch Räume, Wohnungen, Häuser einrichten wie ihre Tine. Ja, Tine Wittler.

Auch ich habe die Sendungen mit ihr immer gern gesehen. Und das nicht nur, weil man da sehen kann, wie man Räume einrichtet, wie ander wohnen oder wie auch immer. Sondern, weil mir diese Frau sympathisch war und ist. 

Sicher bin ich da einwenig eigen. Aber, wenn ich jemanden kennenlerne bzw. im Fernsehen sehe und mir die Person, die Art, was sie macht, gefällt, beobachte ich erst mal eine Weile.

So habe ich auch Tine Wittler über die Jahre "beobachtet", soweit man das eben von der Ferne tun kann. Mir gefällt ihre bodenständige Art. Kein abtriften, kein abheben wie bei vielen anderen Stars und Sternchen.

Und mir gefiel schon immer, dass sie nicht dem Schlankheitswahn verfiel. Keine öffentlich festgehaltene Diät, kein Buch darüber, um dann später doch wieder zu zu nehmen und dann zu sagen: "ist halt so, kauft einfach weiter mein 1. Buch und gebt mir euer Geld dafür."

Und mir war klar, dass das gerade als Person in der Öffentlichkeit sicher nicht leicht war und ist.

Nun kommt diese Frau in unsere Nähe und liest aus ihrem neuen Buch. Dabei las ich schon in der Vorschau, dass es sich hier nicht um eines der leichten Frauenromane geht, wo man das Buch mal liest, es kein 2. Mal lesen will und schon nach ein paar Tagen vieles, was man gerade erst gelesen schon wieder vergessen hat.

Ein Reisebericht in ein Land, wo runde, dicke Frauen als Schönheitsideal angesehen werden, wo schon kleine Mädchen dick gemästet werden.

Meine Tochter wusste bis zum Schluss nicht, wo wir hinfahren. Ich sagte ihr nur: "Du wirst Dich freuen, es wird Dir gefallen und Du wirst kein Wort raus kriegen."

Schon eine Stunde vorher fuhren wir hin, weil ich es einfach nicht geschafft hatte, die Karten vorher abzuolen.

Als sie dann das erste kleine Plakat sah, schnappte sie nur nach Luft. Kaum waren wir durch die Saaltür getreten, standen wir schon vor Tine. Lisa war baff.

Nach einer Weile fiel ihr ein, dass ich gesagt hatte, sie würde kein Wort herausbekommen. Nun plapperte sie wild drauf los, um mir dann direkt zu sagen: "Siehste, ich kriege doch noch ein Wort heraus." Nur Sinn ergab all ihr Geplapper nicht und das sagte sie dann auch selber.

Die Buchlesung und die Worte der Autorin zwischendurch waren große Klasse. Allein die Unterlegungen ihrer Kommentare mit aktuellen Artikeln aus diversen Blättern der Presse waren Klasse, aufrüttelnd, kopfschüttelnd.

Auch wenn ich nicht so ein Pfundskerl wie Tine bin, habe ich mich doch immer und immer wieder ertappt gefühlt. "So, genau so" dachte ich oft bei mir.

Ich war schon öfter auf einer Buchlesung und so kommt es auch immer wieder vor, dass ich aus so einer Lesung herausgehe, mir denke: "War garnicht schlecht, aber lesen muss ich dieses Buch nicht." Dieses Buch muss ich lesen. So habe ich es mir im Anschluss gekauft.

Tine hat jedem, der wollte sein Exemplar signiert und hat sich geduldig für die vielen Fotos, die gemacht wurden, bereitgehalten.

Ich habe nun mein Exemplar zu Hause, hoffe, dass ich bald zum Lesen komme und freue mich, die Passagen, die Tine gestern schon vorgelesen hat, noch mal zu lesen, zu verinnerlichen. Schade finde ich, dass die vielen tollen Worte, Kommentare, die sie im Vorfeld und immer wieder zwischen drin machte, nicht als Vorwort im Buch sind. Echt schade.

Wenn ihr ein Buch sucht, ein Geschenk braucht oder euch einfach nur was Gutes tun wollt, holt euch dieses Buch und lest es. Ich kann es nur empfehlen.

Um welches Buch eigentlich geht? Tine Wittler, wer schön sein will, muss reisen.

Für den Moment
liebe Grüße

Great weekend at Racha Yai (Raya) Island

We've been waiting to do this for a while! Racha Yai island, also called Raya or Raja island is about 20km south of Phuket and I've been there probably 100 times for diving, as it's a popular dive spot, with clear water and easy diving, great for first time divers (for diving, contact me at Sunrise Divers!) But this weekend was not about diving, it was a family weekend with friends who run a travel company (Easy Day Thailand) - they book these Racha Yai trips, either day trips or overnight (or longer) stays, and we'd been planning a trip for months, but other things kept getting in the way like sick kids, other plans, work, and of course the weather! Finally we fixed a date at the end of September and crossed our fingers for sunshine. We all met at Chalong Bay to get a speedboat over to Racha Yai, about 30 minutes away. We were all booked in at Ban Raya Resort, one of just a few accommodation options on the island - the hotel provides transfers. We left Chalong about 9:30am and were at the clear blue waters of Raya island just after 10am...

Racha Yai Pier

(above) The landing pier at Racha Yai island

Raya Island Blue Sea

The water really is this colour. This is on the east side of the island which is nice and sheltered at this time of year with winds from the west. Unless there has been a week of rain and bad weather, you're going to get beautiful blue water on the east coast of Racha Yai. We were lucky. We did pass through a 5 minute rain shower on the way, but for the whole weekend at Racha we had blue skies and hot weather. We heard from people on the mainland that Phuket was pretty wet that Saturday. I often say this to divers - never mind a bit of rain in Phuket, if you go 20km south you'll probably get sun!

At the temporary floating jetty we were met by Ban Raya transport. The resort is less than 1km away and the transport of choice for guests is .... tractors! Well, trailers pulled by tractors anyway. Not much in the way of paved roads on the island. On a wet day, a tractor would be your only hope!

Transport to Ban Raya Resort

Driving to Ban Raya Resort

Ban Raya Resort is mid price, rooms from about 1800 Baht in low season. We'd all booked in the standard rooms and mostly all wished we'd booked the nicer deluxe rooms! Actually it was pretty decent and cool in the night time so aircon was not essential. The resort is spread over a huge area with lots of coconut palms providing shade. We were quick to have a look around as soon as we checked in.

Raya Island Pool

Ban Raya Resort

What a great pool! The kids were off to play there before we could blink. We all gathered a bit later in the restaurant for a set buffet lunch, which I think would be very tasty for tourists but if you are used to "real" Thai food, it was somewhat lacking. The beer was nice and cold though, but beer on the island is not so cheap - remember that everything has to come by boat.

Fried fish with sweet and sour sauce

Tom Yum with Prawns

And then, off for some snorkeling. Below the pool is a small bay which they call Kon Kare Bay. We divers just call it Bay 3! Dive boats and snorkel tour speedboats stop offshore. At the resort there are some sunloungers and you can walk in from the beach. We went in with our kids and at one point followed a swimming moray eel for about 5 minutes. Our son had 'leaky mask' problems, I think the mask I bought for him was just a tiny bit too big, but he enjoyed his time in the water. I am a diver but can happily snorkel for hours especially in clear shallow waters like those at Racha Yai. There is a small dive shop at the resort too, so a dive can be arranged.

Snorkeling at Racha Yai Island

Snorkeling at Racha Yai

In the late afternoon we all took a walk to the west side of the island. At a bay which we divers call Bungalow Bay (also called Batok Bay or Patok Bay) you find The Racha Resort which is a more luxurious hotel, but the beach is public. Being on the west coast, with a west wind blowing in the low season, we could not snorkel there, but the kids could still jump!

Kids Jumping at Racha Yai Island

The sand on this beach is really nice. I'd like to come back. Anyone from The Racha reading? I took a walk down the beach photographing footprints. Always trying to find the perfect footprint....

Footprint in the Sand

On the same beach as The Racha, some broken down but rather photogenic shacks ...

At Bungalow Bay, Racha Yai island

On the way back to Ban Raya, we found another side of Racha Yai. There have been claims in the local news this year of over-development and we did see building going on, and a couple of cleared areas, but a lot of the island is very rural. This buffalo was enjoying a bath...

Buffalo at Racha Yai Island

I like early mornings when I'm traveling. I skipped the late night drinks at the restaurant after dinner and after a good sleep I awoke not long after sunrise. Always a good time of day to have a place to yourself. Since the resort is on the east coast, I figured that sunrise would be pretty. It was.

Racha Yai Sunrise

There was a big buffet breakfast after which we had more time for snorkeling and playing in the pool. I should point out .. you are not alone at Ban Raya. The resort has some local residents. Monitor lizards. Here's one we found after lunch before we headed back to Phuket, and this was not the biggest one we saw...

Monitor Lizard at Racha Yai island

A great little family weekend break, I think we might do this again. Or maybe just a day trip. Racha Yai trips of any length can be booked with Easy Day Thailand who can also arrange plenty of other tours. Racha Yai island is just a short speedboat ride away from Phuket, but for sure the water is clearer, a great place to snorkel and to relax. Here's another view from the pool at Ban Raya Resort ...

Contact Easy Day Thailand for Racha Yai island trips :)

Racha Yai Island

Hotels on Racha Yai Island

Ban Raya Resort
The Racha

Folsom Street Festival

Folsom Street Festival is the largest BDSM festival in the world, it stretched over seven city blocks and was rammed by the time I left in the afternoon. For those of you who don't know BDSM stands for Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism.

I've not counted how many penises...peni?...willies I've seen in my life but after entering the festival and walking for five minutes that number was now many times bigger. I was prepared for a fairly liberal and perhaps shocking experience but at 1pm on a Sunday in the street you don't expect to see a short fat man, naked save a cowboy hat, boots and cock ring tugging out a gentle Tommy Tank. In. Sane.

There was spanking and torture, people pretending to be dogs and a whole shed load of nudity and messed up costumes. I was definitely under/over dressed in shorts and t-shirt, one guy in yellow hot pants and a leather harness even stopped me to ask if I'd stumbled in to the fair by mistake. I felt a bit out of place (which I think is the correct state of mind in the circumstances) but another man told me my top was cute and a lady (possibly, it had breasts) gave my bottom a slap with her whip so that made me feel better. The full on gay porn film being made in one of the rooms overlooking the street was a bit much but it was all so confusing I wasn't sure where my boundaries for taste were for the day. I may never be shockable again.

Another Greyhound, Another Nice Person and Phoques.

On to San Francisco a good likeable woman called Tammy was sat next to me and we chatted easily, although the main topic was not an easy one. Tammy's son Jason, who was born in the same year as me, had died a year earlier. He'd been mucking around with his fiance after a few beers, he picked up their gun that he had emptied of bullets the previous day, put it to his head and pulled the trigger. It wasn't empty.

Tammy recounted stories of how much her son enjoyed his life rather than lingering on the death although understandably she was never going to fully get over it. When Tammy got off we hugged for longer than you normally do with someone you've known for two hours.

Arrived in San Francisco and teamed up with another lost looking backpacker, a Parisian girl called Chloe. She was a two seat hog and initially came across as stuck up but we ended up getting on well. Found myself a bed in a friendly hostel then helped Chloe find the place she'd booked, it was miles away and looked like the sort of hotel where you can pay by the hour. We had lunch in an organic vegetarian restaurant which was predictably crap and then I left Chloe to go and explore San Francisco and see some sea lions.

Chloe and I had arranged to meet for drinks in the evening on a random corner we picked on the map. It turned out to be a dodgy corner so I was stood under a sign for XXX DVDs and was offered drugs and women by several people whilst checking my watch wondering how late it would be before I gave up. After twenty minutes I noticed Chloe on the other side of the street. the cheeky cow had gone in to a bar and got a beer and I only saw her because she came out for a fag. She made up for this poor behaviour by flirting with a man who bought us expensive cocktails. Went for dinner and decided that for all her Frenchness I liked Chloe, mainly because she laughed when I used my French to tell her I had a crocodile in my pencil case. Her English wasn't great and I was impressed that we could just about communicate in French when needed. We hit a dead end when I tried to tell her about the sea lions so I had to do the clappy hands Aaaaarrrr aaaaarrr seal impression which drew some funny looks from other diners. Apparently seal in French is 'phoque'. Getting down to what the difference was between a seal and a sea lion I gave up and concluded that a phoque is a phoque.


Wasn't overly enamoured with Seattle, it's a city. It's fine. On the greyhound on to Portland, Oregon I met some normal, nice people for a change, Madlen and Martha who I discovered were hiring a car in a week from San Francisco to go down the coast of California then on to Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Within a few minutes they had invited me to join them on their road trip to share costs and driving which sounded very good to me. We'll see if it pans out.*

Portland was much more agreeable than Seattle, especially the people, the hostel and the bar that became my local for the two days I was there. On the first night I chatted baseball with some sports fans which resulted in me giving a one hour tutorial on the rules of cricket. The night continued on to a house party to celebrate a girls birthday. The house had three residents plus two others renting the sofas, one of these sofa residents was passed out very drunk, people were stacking various objects on him and I learned that the rule is 'If you pass out with your shoes on, you get a penis drawn on your face'. When the man woke he got very stressed at the girl who drew the penis saying "I work for a charity raising money for kids so you'd be responsible for kids not getting any money". He also had a job interview the next day which I hope he didn't get. Despite his charitable work he seemed like a dick and his response also suggested he wasn't planning on washing before heading out the next day for his interview and fund raising. Another questionable, very stoned looking character offered to become my weed dealer, I declined and then an albino rat woke up and came out of the hood of his hoody. The rat was passed around and seemed happy enough until he bit a chunk out of the birthday girl's ear. She thought this hilarious even though it bled badly for the rest of the night.

Day two in Portland was spent in the best bookstore I've ever seen, Powell's books. Promised myself I'd come out with one book but the excellence of the place meant I got four. As the sun came down I went to a part of the city where thousands and thousands of swifts slowly gather to form a bird tornado before all diving in to a school chimney tower to go to bed. A hawk came in for some supper but the flock of swifts all chased him off, it was an amazing display of nature.

Back to the bar in the evening I chatted to Gentry, a guy I'd met at the party who has a chip on his shoulder and with good reason. He was born in Newcastle and moved to Portland when he was thirteen. When he arrived no-one could understand his geordie accent and so he was held back a year by his school and forced to attend speech therapy classes. He now spoke with an ugly American accent, I felt bad for him.

*It did pan out, I'm three weeks behind in this blog.

Double Rainbow

Back in Vancouver I was picked up by my friend Vicky and her house mate Nadia. Vicky and Nadia have their own language consisting of sayings like 'Double rainbow', code for both of them having an orgasm. They are both perverts who talk endlessly about men and sex, there was plenty of laughter all weekend, I like them and their hosting very much.

On the Saturday night we went to watch Hot Chip in concert and on Sunday I was taken on a sight-seeing tour to some great views over the city followed by dinner and drinks in a quiet bar. Because the bar was quiet I did a forward roll and we argued whether or not it was different from a roley-poley. Either way the location was in my top ten places to do a forward roll.

Monday Vicky drove us to Seattle, crossing the border we were made to wait in line for an hour because of me. When we arrived at the front of the line the man looked confused, told us we hadn't needed to line up and sent us on our way. I thanked the girls for a fun weekend and went in search of a hostel, I found a crap one in Chinatown and spent very little time in it. Spent the evening watching Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles for $6, most people left early as the score was 10-1 to the Orioles after seven innings but they missed a nearly dramatic turn around... sort of, they got back to 10-4 in the ninth innings.

Prime Buffet, Williamsburg, Virginia

In September 2011, I wrote about a Chinese buffet in Williamsburg, Virginia called Rainbow Buffet. We were in Williamsburg this August and we went to have dinner at Rainbow Buffet and discovered a new name on the front of the restaurant- Prime Buffet. Looking in through the window, everything looked exactly the same. We went in for dinner. We actually went to this buffet twice in one week and my