Archive for July, 2000

1 July – far too many planes

Well, here we have it, I have listened to your complaints, and have managed to tear myself away from all of the cool and groovy things I have been doing to tell you all about it. This is the first instalment of the official 2000 North American tour commentary.

First thing I should do is introduce the stars of the show. First of all, there is Brenda “Be careful Pat”, Peat. Matt & I met Brenda a few years ago in Fiji & have kept in touch by email. I have managed to avoid pissing her off for 2 1/2 years (probably solely due to the fact that she lives thousands of kms from me), and when I said I was heading off overseas, she said, “Hey, I have holidays in July & August, why not trip around Canada some with me.” As you can see, Brenda can be a bit slow at times. Brenda lives in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Then there is Shari “phobia girl” Kolochuk. Brenda said that she was tripping around Canada for a while, and did she want to come, probably so she had some intelligent conversation. Shari is another teacher & lives in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. I would like to point out that these two made very poor tour guides, knowing the answers to almost none of my questions, and making up the answers to the others. Brenda did suggest though that if I wanted someone to answer all of my questions answered I could go on a paid tour. She suggested this on a number of occasions, I think she works on commission.

Then there is me Pat “I am being careful, relax” Clay.

Other players include Lance aka the lemon, Brenda’s 1998 Chevy Blazer & Bluebell, the 14 foot blue caravan we lived in (accessories not included, except for the fridge which kept beer nicely cold on the hottest days). And no, I didn’t name them.

1 July.

Today got off to a great start. Things were going swimmingly & then I decided that I really should head back to Andrews place because I had to be at the airport in 3 hours, and some sleep would be good. Couple of hours later Andrew was kind enough to drive me to the airport where we sat and waited forever because either Wellington or Auckland airports were fogged out. No, I can’t remember which, details were hazy ok? Eventually I got on the plane & got to Auckland at about 10:30, and began my long and unhappy involvement with United Airlines staff. I will not go into a whole pile of details here. But if you are planning a trip and would like to fly on an airline which the staff are not rude to you when you ask little questions like “where do I catch my next flight from, and do I need to pick up my bags”, don’t cancel the flight you booked on and as a result send you 1/2 way across the continent out of your way, and generally act like jerks at every possible opportunity, pick another airline.

But I did catch up with Ant in the pub in the airport, which was cool, she had not got sick of waiting for me & left. Thanks Ant.

But after a long and uncomfortable flight across the Pacific, I arrived in LA. Passed through US customs, and had to wander to some other part of LA airport to catch the next flight to Chicago. LA was overcast, ugly, hot and humid, so I didn’t bother doing more than looking out the doors at the airport before deciding to just find my gate & rest for a couple of hours.

One thing that did strike me was the number of American tourists. OK, so this is probably not surprising being the US & all. But I had assumed that the ones we got were the worst of the lot. Unfortunately they appear to be ones who have actually read all of the “12 steps to not looking like a complete idiot all of the time”, and follow a full 6 of the steps. Shortly before I left home I bought a Hawaiian shirt. It is a truly hideous thing. I felt that this shirt could not be mistaken for anything but a piss take. Looking around LA airport I noticed two things. My shirt is a particularly tasteful and restrained example of the variety, and that either the piss take look is really in this year, or these people actually thought they looked good.

Then I got on the flight to Chicago. Because of the great seats that the United woman in Auckland gave me because they had messed me around so much (not) & because when I booked my ticket & they asked me whether I wanted an aisle or window seat I said window & because I had checked in for the flight about 18 hours before, I got to look up the aisle as we flew 2/3rds of the way across the US. Anyway, I got a window seat from Chicago to Calgary & it turns out that most of the states is dull flat stuff, so I only missed the interesting part of the continent.

Someone really should lower the caffeine dose of the security at Chicago though. I wander through the metal detector, it goes beep, “No big deal,” I think. All ofa sudden there is this guy shouting “STAND OVER THERE” & “IS THAT YOUR LUGGAGE?” Someone had apparently left some of their stuff after it had gone through the metal detector. Given that the offending article had just gone through a metal detector, which is designed to detect guns, bombs etc without any troubles, I wouldn’t have thought it was such a big deal, but apparently it was. Then they did the scan thing on me and determined that the reason I went beep is that I had my metal pen in the pocket, not an AK47 under my shirt & they calmed back down some. Not sure how these people would cope in a country that had terrorists.

I eventually arrived, with all of my luggage, after 30 or so hours travelling, and was met by Brenda, her mother & Shari met me at the airport. We went back to her mothers place and I slept some.