Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 24; this day in 1990

Had the best kip I've had in a long time; slept right through.

Had another shower and got ready to go for our longest journey yet (in one go) - 10 hours to Dallas. A hell of a lot of messing about with my money. They won't send me anything without written consent. I guess I'll have to send it express.


That's what I did and I got in the driving seat at 4pm. At 6.15pm I realised I'd written the wrong address on the envelope. It would be headed for Dallas instead of California (note; I'm sure I meant to write those destinations the other way around - California was a LONG way behind us by then). Stopped to make a 'phone call and the woman managed to re-direct my letter.

Then a fairly non-eventful drive until about 1.45am when I began to feel sleepy so George took over.

I fell straight to sleep.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 22 & 23; these days in 1990

Day 22

Woke up at about 10.30am after a wonderful nights sleep and said our farewells to John. Got ready and put all our stuff back in the van.

It didn't start! Flat battery, so we got a jump from one of the Rangers and he charged us $15 for it - bloody cheek! Stopped off at a Western Union to find out if my money had been delivered but they sent me to Valley Branch. Back in the van and disaster! The engine temperature and the oil pressure both soared. We took it to the Chevron garage and for just $12 they sorted the problem out; a frozen pipe coming from the radiator. Then off to the Grand Canyon for a photo's session.

Took some incredible pictures, then after meeting with a couple from Orpington, we went to a gift shop where I bought some postcards, a badge and a yo-yo. I fell in love with a this beautiful suede jacket, a bit like mine but with tassles - very USA! Gorgeous jacket but I didn't have $290 on me - never mind.

Finally got underway to Phoenix and gave a lift to a couple whose car had broken down and dropped them off in Flagstaff. The view on the way to Phoenix was beautiful. The driving was going so well that we passed Phoenix and I drove to Tuscon where we found a dodgy little campsite and as we were all exhausted, we pulled in and got straight into our beds.

Thank heavens we're out of the snow 'cos it's still freezing.

Day 23

Woke up to be told we're not allowed to stay here but we can pay anyway!

We left Tuscon and drove to McDonalds to have somne breakfast. THen to a garage to fill up on our way to El Paso, first town inside Texas.

Fairly uneventful drive down but as we got into El Paso, everywhere we looked, there were people carrying hundreds of pairs of cowboy boots. Not wanting to miss out on what seemed to be the sale of the century, we parked up and found out the source of the 'boot sale' (ahem). It was a huge sale in a hall and there were thousands of pairs of boots, some reduced from $300 down to $75.

George and Kim found a pair each and I couldn't believe that there wasn't one pair I liked out of all of them. FInally found a gorgeous suede pair marked from somewhere in the region of $250 down to $30 - bargain! They match my jacket at home and my bag - cool dude! (note; OH-MY-GAWD!)

Drove through the night until we found the state park. Had a lot of trouble keeping our fire going but finally managed to eat eggs and bacon.

Got into bed after shaving and showering and fell straight to sleep at midnight.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 21; this day in 1990

Good grief! Woke up this morning at 10.30am ans everywhere is covered in my favourite stuff - SNOW! It is freezing, literally. Kim went nuts 'cos she's never seen snow before. It was a lovely day, but it was not long before the snow clouds rolled overhead. I've never been in such a blizzard since England's bad winter 4 or 4 years ago (note; WAS it a bad winter in 1986-87?)

Met a nice guy called John from Luton. I went through murders trying to arrange for money to be wired from California to Grand Canyon. Won't be able to get it until tomorrow. S**t!

Well, it was so cold today, it looked like tonight would be a hell of a lot colder so me, George, Kim and John booked into a chalet room. $54 for a room with two double beds - good job I've got my new sleeping bag - bathroom and a TV, fully heated of course. We bought some beers - a suitcase of bud - some wine, and sat watching TV until midnight in the warm when we all fell asleep.

Absolute bliss!


"Just a little something to break the monotony ..."

' just thought I'd drop in something a wee bit more up to date, for your perusal.

Did I mention recently, that our DVD and Freeview equipment has gone up in smoke, like, literally? In order that people aren't permanently hissing the words "bad parent" in my general direction, my children don't get to watch TV from Monday to Friday.

They don't miss it, as they're too busy doing other stuff; playing with their toys, reading the hundreds of books they've amassed, not to mention doing their homework and their musical instrument practice.

Ironically, this is another reason my own mother questions my parenting skills (along with not giving them chocolate and sweets whenever they ask for it, because "all kids like sweets"). Amazing the difference one generation makes.

Anyways, on this occasion the children were watching the TV (for 'twas the weekend) and I was lying on the floor, still wading slowly through the supplements that came with the Sunday newspaper from the week previous, when suddenly, there was a loud bang (ok, a pop then, but it was a loud pop) and the screen went dark blue. I looked up from my reading, Joseph asked what had happened, but all I could offer was a rather pathetic, "I'm not sure".

Although I was still looking at the blue screen, my nostrils filled with an electrical burning (it wasn't the rosacea this time!) and I looked down at our slightly dated Freeview box, perched in the small shelf under the TV, whereby I discovered the source of the electrical burning. Smoke started to puff slowly from the vents on either side of the machine, before becoming stronger and thicker. I leapt into action, Bodie and Doyle styleee, and grabbed the plug out of the wall (having had to toss aside the kids' playboxes), gathering up the smoking machine and running down the hall, before opening the door and literally throwing the, by now "past-it's-best" Freeview box, into a puddle in the front garden, where I would've been more than a little impressed with the cooling "hiss" it let out, if it weren't for the fact that I knew we were now down to just five television channels.

Well, four really - I rarely watch anything on 5 (sorry 5!)

Anyways, just for a real laugh, fate then stepped in to really bugger things up. The very next evening, the DVD tray refused to come out, trapping one of the kids' movies inside, and refusing to play even that!! Of course, the children were quick to accuse me of not keeping my end of the bargain, with Joseph firing this at me - "you said we could watch TV and DVD's at the weekend and now (cue annoyed dance by him) we can't do either of those things" sob sob, whimper whimper, annoyed dance continuing with gusto.

Well, he did have a point, so after comparing prices between Ebuyer, Amazon, John Lewis and Argos (hey, I like to explore all avenues), I eventually ordered a PVR from Argos and a DVD player from Amazon. I could bore you with the picture quality of the DVD player but I figure I've bored you enough lately, so will endeavour to crack on and get to the point.

After installing the above equipment on a Friday evening (see what I did there? All ready for them to come downstairs to on Saturday morning, clev-verrrrr!), I asked for a drum roll and then flicked all the switches and pressed all the buttons, firing it all into life. Saturday morning means cartoons and one of Annabel's younger programmes had various animals wondering what to do for their friend's birthday.

The animal whose birthday it was was a panda, and they were discussing various facts about pandas. We were all staring at the TV, albeit for different reasons; the kids because they were back to having access to a ridiculous amount of channels to flick through, and me because I was quietly smiling to myself at our lovely new visual equipment. We all heard the facts however, which went something like this;

Did you know that pandas spend most of their day eating? (At this, Joseph turned to me and said "cooooool" 'cos eating is one of his favourite things to do). The narrator on TV continued.

Did you know that when a panda isn't eating, it is either resting or sleeping? (Joseph turned to me and let out a louder and longer "cooooooooooool, I'd LOVE to be a panda!!

At that moment, I honestly think Joseph was imagining himself being reincarnated as one of these large black and white beasts.

The narrator wrapped up their piece to camera. "Pandas stay very close to their mothers for up to the first three years of their lives (Joseph still smiling) ...... before heading out into the wild on their own".

Annabel and I looked straight at Joseph who looked horrified, turned to me with no hint of a smile on his face and simply said, "maybe not!"

Even Annabel thought it was hilarious - just not as hilarious as me!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 20; this day in 1990

Woke up at 10.30am and we were already on the move (note; George had got up early and set off - I can remember it was a very nice feeling, waking to the moving motions of the van, NOT being the one having to drive first thing).

We're on our way to the Grand Canyon!

Arizona is just like the spaghetti westerns; miles and miles of open desert with tumbleweed blowing across the freeway. We drove to 'Williams' where severn guys were acting out a gunfight. It was all a bit childish!

Anyway, we did some shopping and carried on towards the Grand canyon. We stopped off once more to get some firewood from the side of the road - George had to get half a tree trunk!

We made it to the Grand Canyon; $10 entry and $10 for the camp.

What an absolutely incredible sight. People told me what a sight it would be but I was definitely not prepared for anything like it. Without a doubt, the most fabulous sight I have ever seen.

We only looked for five minutes 'cos we're going again tomorrow to take some photos.

Well, the showers here have taken the record; 75¢ for a five minute shower. Well worth it though. Refreshed and clean, we drove back to our parking spot and got the fire going. Kim had celery and yoghurt, while George and me had spaghetti with meatballs, beans and toast, with loads of rosie. wew sat talking and laughing for a few hours before turning in for the night.

The wind is howling outside at the moment but we're all tucked up in our sleeping bags.


p.s. Came across a few patches of snow; ice really, but it was (South African) Kims' first ever glimpse of snow.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 19; this day in 1990

Good grief, my first night in the van where I didn't freeze and I slept right through. Iwas as warm as toast, so immediately I was in a good mood. We pulled into a garage and had our usual cold water-basin wash and a cup of coffee. We then walked into the heart of Vegas (in 70° of blistering heat), to check out where to go in the evening. We found the Mirage hotel and went right in. What a place! Free drinks and snacks if you play the slot machines, and the waitresses??!!

We paid 3$ to have a tour of the dolphins and the white Siberian tigers, with a great guide called Lenny.

We found out that the dolphins came from Florida, the palm trees were individually flown in at $2000 a piece. The volcano that erupts at the front of the hotel costs between $1500-2000 everytime it goes off. The complex cost $15 million so who knows what the hotel itself cost.

Had an incredibly cheap lunch (full brekkie $1.99). We took a slow stroll back along 'the strip' to pick up our photos we'd dropped off ealrier in the day. Not only are they very small but at $80, oh dear! Never mind; it was great looking back through them.

We got back to the van and after half an hour, we were changed and walking back into town, when we decided to have some grub. we strolled into Dunes (a very flash casino), like we owned the place. we had 12oz steaks each for $4.99 (about £2.50); what a laugh! The drinks bill was separate so we left it on the table and didn't pay $10. (note; yes, that's right, we "stole" £5 from a multi-billion dollar casino. Don't worry, it's on my personal My Name Is Earl style list).

Took some photos of Caesars' Palace and then went into the casino at the bottom of Mirage hotel. what an incredible sight. We got a drink a played the slot machines. Small stuff, admittedly, but we hadto have a gamble in Las Vegas.

The card tables were $25 - $5000, so we stayed well away and I didn't even understand craps (note; still don't). Then this incredible reggae group started up. It was like something out of Cocktail. The queue to get in to the Lagoon saloon was quite long so I waited in line while the other two went outside to get a piccy of the volcano.

A girl started talking to me in the line, then these two blonde girls start chatting too, so before long I don' t know who I'm supposed to be talking to (note; cringe).

Finally, the three of us got in and sat down just as the band came back on. It was so cool, sitting in a casino in Vegas, spending money, drinking cocktails. All the while, this rather lovely Oriental girl kept smiling at me so I decided to get up and dance. I was about to walk over, when this blonde American girl got in my way (note; why did I specify "American girl? I was in America, for crying out loud, what was I expecting??). She started talking and we got dancing. George and Kim left for the van and I sat talking with Lainey.

An hour of talking later, I waved adios to the Mirage and Lainey and Anna - her sister - dropped me off back at the van. I got address and said au revoir. straight into the van and straight to sleep. what a great night, one of the best.

Oh yeah, I nearly knocked a tray out of a waitresses hand, testing George's sight. Funn-nee!

(note; hmmm, yes, I'm sure it was hilarious. On the Lainey front - we stayed penpals for several years before she visited the UK, touring with her drama group, specialising in drama for the deaf. We met up a couple of times while she was here, and thanks to her own commitment and passion for what she was doing, I embarked on a one year college course in British Sign Language, passing my Level 1 course (with flying colours). I still occasionally use BSL now, all these years later, and I still think of her whenever I do).

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 18; this day in 1990

Woke up in a foul mood 'cos I was freezing! Went straight into the showers to warm up and spent ages just standing under the hot water.

We got underway after washing the van AND all our filthy washing, driving to Bakersfield to do some shopping; ie, a sleeping bag, so I don't freeze again tonight!! Finally, we got on our way and our next destination is slightly more glamorous than the rest; Las Vegas!!!

We drove (between us), approximately 500 miles until we saw the strip of lights in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Yee-hah, Las Vegas!!

We drove through town at about 10pm and saw all the famous names; Caesars' Palace, Stardust, The Mirage etc. What a fanstastic sight. Anyway, we decided to crash for the night so we parked in a camp (without paying) and fell straight to sleep, exhausted.

(In our new sleeping bags, woo-hoo!)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 17; this day in 1990

Had a restless night and set off early for San Fransisco; we tasted what real traffic is like! Drove across the Golden Gate bridge, bought Paul a top and took some photos, including the infamous Alcatraz.

Then we crossed the Richmond bridge, then east towards Oakland. San Fransisco (although we barely skimmed the suburbs), was quite industrial. Phooee! (note; looking at a map now, we couldn't have driven through a more built up, industrial part of San Fran' - must make it back there someday).

Took a photo across the Oakland Bridge at San Fransisco Bay. When we stopped to fill up with gas, I took over the driving and went non-stop to Kingsburgh campsite where I shaved and had a boiling hot shower.

Did a bit of reading and fell straight to sleep.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 16; this day in 1990

Had a damn good night sleep; right through to 9.35am for a change. Still quite cold though. Pulled ourselves together and got ready. The showers were free and absolutely gorgeous, loads of boiling hot water!

Then Kim and me went down to the store to buy some munchies and I phoned home; it's Paul's birthday. Had a great chat with Mum, Dad and Paul. Although I miss them, I hung up the 'phone and was really over the moon. Great to talk to them after a week (which felt more like a month).

Cooked ourselves eggs, sausages, bacon and bread with a beautiful cup of rosie. Then I had to wash up, oh poop! Covered in black grease, yuk!

Bought a Big Sur badge to start my collection again, thanks to the b******s that nicked my jacket. Then carried on north until we got to one of many vista points for some stunning photographs. After deciding not to stop at a very dodgy campsite, miles from anywhere, we settled on Half Moon Bay campsite. Took some great shots of the ocean and sunset.

Monterrey was also a stop off point today. Fisherman's Wharf was lovely (although smelly) and got some pics of sea lions and the harbour. Bought a California Dreamin' badge.

Good day.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 15; this day in 1990

Up at sparrow's fart (note; apologies once again for my crassness - this was a term coined by George meaning 'very early' and although I know it is hopelessly immature, it still makes me laugh out loud when I just so much as think of it!). It is absolutely bloody FREEZING!

We drove to San Luis Obispo where George and I took a photo' of a De Lorean (Eat your heart out Dr Emmet Brown!). Then we decided to go for breakfast and found a little village called the apple Farm where we stuffed our faces for $30.

Then we hit the road again and drove along a very dodgy coastal road on the side of a mountain for about 12 miles, reaching Ragged Point; very beautiful.

I got some photo's of the ocean and also some birds overhead while I threw bread into the air whilst taking the photo at the same time (note; ker-azee stuff eh??).

We kept on until we found a nature reserve/campsite called Big Sur where we decided to stop while it was still light. we bought some firewood (plus some wood we'd picked up along the way). Got a roaring fire going, made tea, spaghetti, macaroni and jacket potatoes. I took a picture of George accidentally setting fire to his marshmallows!

The forest is the home of the giant redwood and we should be going in search of them tomorrow.

' had a few of the beers we'd bought and sat laughing round the fire. We made a little friend we called Noodle the Cat, 'cos he ate all our left over noodles.

Went to bed very late and slept like a log.

Great day.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 14; this day in 1990

George has got a hangover this morning (tee hee). We all had fantastic hot showers this morning for a quarter (25¢) - lovely jubbly! Drove into town - Santa Barbara - to go to the bank and then we drove up State Street; a very long road, to Max's restaurant for some lovely grub. ' did some shopping and then got underway. We went through a little town called Solvang; totally Danish, all windmills and houses, really cute!

Then drove to the campsite in El Chorro. Very boring evening, nothing happening. The other guys went straight to sleep but I'd bought the new Clive Barker book so I sat up by torchlight for about four hours!!

Sleep was pretty broken 'cos it was so bloody cold.

Hardly slept a wink.


Friday, 18 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 13; this day in 1990

Up at midday today and most people had gone off to Magic Mountain. When they returned, we packed up our stuff, said thanks to Jean for the use of his floors (!) and got on our way again.

Driving along the coast, we watched the sun disappear and it was beautiful, right up to the point where it vanished behind the smog, completely! We never fully realised how bad the smog problem was.

We finally got into Santa Barbara and it is beautiful; found the campsite in Carpenteria and it just happens to be RIGHT on the beach; the Pacific ocean is about 50 yards away.

Took a walk into town (dodgy light ahoy), bought some beer - little Michelobs - and then got speaking to a guy parked next to us. He gave us some firewood and we got a pretty good fire going. George and me sat up fairly late and then climbed into the van.

I seem to have spent all day and all evening just laughing!!

A good day.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 12; this day in 1990

Up fairly late today, still feeling a bit woozy. We all watched a bit of TV and then went to a bar to shoot some pool; right on Venice Beach. Co-o-ol!

Ordered pitchers of beer then home to get changed before going to the Oar House (note: only just realised the play on words there; told you I was young and stupid, doh!).

While we were out our van was broken into; luckily most of our stuff had been brought in. One of George's bags containing clothes and his camera, my cherished jean jacket with my Beetle badges on were stolen though.

Oh well, live and learn.

(note: that diary entry ended there but again, remembering clearly, there's a teensy chance that I may have forgotten to lock the van - I did get the blame for it but managed to forget to put that little nugget of information down for prosperity!)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 11; this day in 1990

The mechanic woke me up this morning at 10.30am by bashing on the window. The guys came back soon after and I went into Gabby's for some grub; had a pastrami sandwich and Jolene - another barmaid - gave me a beer. I said she had to be joking and she told me that when she's behind the bar, then you have to drink.

Oh well, I figured we weren't going very far, never mind!

Watched MTV for a while and then challenged this guy to a game of pool. Then George comes running in. "Our van's fixed!"

Okey dokey, said goodbye to the very friendly people of Upland and we got on our way. Three days and $1500 later, we're finally heading for LA; yee HAH!

We had a little trouble finding Santa Monica but when we did, wow! Met up with John V.H, Brett, Steve, Rod, Etian and Jean; what a crowd!!

We all went to the Red Onion and had a great night.

(note: it's funny how some things stay so clear in your memory - I can remember everything about this evening out - great club, very exciting. Also, every time I hear Sheryl Crow sing about the Santa Monica boulevard, I remember this shot and this night)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 10; this day in 1990

Well today was more or less spent in the same way as yesterday. I opened a bank account with the Bank of America, then went for a walk of about four miles.

Went into "Gabby's" at about 4pm and introduced myself to this guy called Jay; a really nice bloke. We played pool against him until about 1.30am the next morning.

I found out that on Tuesday night, his brother had been beaten up and a Mexican guy had pulled a 9mm pistol and taken shots at the bar, so we ended up waiting for them to come back but they didn't show.

(Note: WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING??? I can remember this night vividly - I can only put it down to the stupidity of youth, stand by your (new) mates and all that clap-trap!)

Anyway, took some photos; me, Jay, Monique and their dog.

George and Kim stayed at John and Paulette's and I kipped in the van on my own.


Monday, 14 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 9; this day in 1990

Oh well, up again at 7.50am and Ronnie and his boys were not over the moon at seeing us, as they had been working overtime on our van. Anyway, Ronnie gave us his brother-in-law's garage address so I drove it down to him; looks like another long day.

He sent us to another garage - his brother-in-law!

We sat in the van all day until about 5.30pm, when this guy John stopped to talk to us. He and his wife invitied us back to their motel room to wash up and brush up. Then they dropped us off back at the van and I went with them for a beer while George and Kim stayed 'in'.

Made a few friends, including the barmaid Monique - she never let my glass get empty - which was nice of her! At 2am (when the bar closes) she made me some spaghetti and said goodnight.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 8; this day in 1990

Woke up at around 6.45am absolutely freezing. Drove to a garage, had a wash and brush up, then to a restaurant for brekkies. Sorted the van out for license and smog check but it looks like we need a new carburettor.


Well, the above was all written at midday. We sat in the garage until 7.30pm - a whole day wasted on absolutely nothing. We drove the van around for a bit and then it died on us again. We got it back to the garage and got ready for a nights sleep. I walked back to get some drinks and when I got back, George and Kim had hung all the curtains around the van, giving us a little more privacy.

An hour or so later, there's a knock on the window; oh oh, it's a cop! We explained our predicament, showed him some ID and he seemed satisfied.

A few beers and then sleep.

What a day!

p.s. - I had a 'cadenza' then slept like a rock. (note: although cadenza is a musical term, my travelling buddy used it when someone was freaking out or having a fit - can't remember why I was having one on that day, but had one I must've done!!)

p.p.s - fifty nine, seventy nine, ninety nine - our new theme tune. (note: it was the jingle for fast food diner Taco Bell. It played endlessly, regardless of which frequency we were tuned to in the van. When things got a bit tight financially, we spent a LOT of time - not to mention loose change - in Taco Bell)

p.p.p.s - phoned home at midday

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 7; this day in 1990

Woke up at 10am and hung around the house.

We've more or less agreed to buy this van off four Swedes; Christina, Lisa, Michael and Stephen; they got to Laguna Beach at about midday. The van is great - we've nicknamed it "The Milly Mobile".

We dropped the Swedes off at Upland and then drove to George's great auntie Margaret. What a COOL lady; 82 years of age and still bopping around in shorts and trainers. She gave us a big picnic dinner, we chatted for an hour and then we said our goodbyes.

Even though it was only 8pm, we were all shattered, so we parked the van and made the beds up in the back. Talked and laughed for an hour and fell asleep.

A good day consisting of; buying a Laguna beach t-shirt and buying a van for $1000.

By the way, Mountain Avenue is the LONGEST road I've ever seen - 10 miles long!

(pic to follow)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 6; this day in 1990

Woke up at 10.30am and got ready to go and meet Denise but everyone wanted to go and look for a van. Necessary, of course, but I was still a bit miffed all the same.

Got back into town late afternoon and I took the bike to see if she might still be on the beach. No luck!

Took a walk into town on my own - jeez, it's a hell of a long way and it is PITCH black - scary! Still no sign of the girl so I walked back up the hill at 2am and went to bed knackered.

A nothing day really.

(Note: a "nothing day"? How quickly I forgot that it was winter back home, I was young and carefree and I was just setting out on a walkabout - as Mick Dundee would call it - starting in California! What a dope!)

(pic to follow)

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 5; this day in 1990

Oh well, up again at a ridiculous hour of the day - 8am (note: did I really think that was so ridiculous?) - and started lugging the crap out of the garage for the sale. We got the Honda 250R going and George and me took it in turns to cruise up and down, trying to look cool!

We hung around the house until midday and then hitched our way to the beach and started to bake. It was gorgeous.

George and me spent a good half hour in the ocean before forcing Kim to join us; she refused so we basically threw her in! we found out pretty quickly how see through her costume really was!!

We carried on throwing ourselves around in the water and bodysurfed for a while. The girls in Southern California certainly live up to their name; they are GORGEOUS! If only Paul was here (note; my brother). He'd have a ball. We left the beach at 3.30pm and went up to the cafe on the plateau where we had breakfast on Thursday.

Oh, by the way, I bought a pair of shorts from Claire's garage sale - pretty cool man! George and I have sand in our shorts which makes walking rather uncomfortable. We made sand models which proved to be a riot and then went for a 'pollo dog' which was like a curry inside a hot dog. We finally headed home and ate tacos with the family.

Then a shower and we went out at 10pm for a couple of hours. At the Mariner rooms, this guy was doing his very best to get talking to this girl. Luckily for me, she seemed to be looking at me instead of him. At about half midnight, she walked past the guy, came over to me and introduced herself. I chatted with Denise and we went for a drive in her Saab (very nice) and for a couple of drinks.

Anyway, she gave me a lift home and we arranged to meet tomorrow.

Went to bed and crashed.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 4; this day in 1990

Woke again at 6.40am on the dot but this time went straight back to sleep. Sid woke us all at 8.45am and asked if we wanted to go to the Del Mar Grand Prix; a friend had given him free tickets and he invited us to go with him. Of course we said yes!

On the drive there we stopped off at two more of Sid's restaurants (I think he collected some takings!) and after about an hours drive, we arrived at Del Mar. The atmosphere at the race was incredible - loads of cars to look at including a 1974 Porsche 911 that had been converted into a 959 - wait 'till Dad sees the photos!

We watched a few of the races including one that had a three car pile up. One of the drivers had to be cut from the car after the fire marshalls had erected a screen so that people couldn't see exactly what was happening. We had something to eat and then made our way back home.

On the way home along the coast, we saw the most incredible sunset I have ever seen. It hung just above the sea for as long as it could before disappearing below the horizon. A bit further on, the sun (even though it was out of sight), sent up it's rays making the sky look just like a five-year olds drawing of the sun.

We got home and ate BBQ style on the patio and talked about our day and about how many photos we'd taken. Then we all headed into town for our first proper night out. We hitched all the way down, realised we had no ID (no ID, no drinks), so we hitched all the way back up, grabbed our passports, then hitched all the way back down again.

Had a great laugh with George (Kim stayed home), spoke with two very nice girls, before hitching a lift all the way home again and crashed out.

Totally. Like, TOTALLY!

(note: "totally" was quoted in just about every American film around this time. Actually, I think it still is!!)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 3; this day in 1990

Woke up at 6.35am feeling wonderful after a fantastic nights sleep on a sofa bed with a quilt. Amazing!! George and Kim awoke at the same time and we chatted for about an hour before going onto the patio at the back of the house. The view of the sun coming up at 7 in the morning, just above the mountains was breathtaking. Kim stayed in bed and George and me sat out the back for about an hour and half.

we saw a humming bird coolecting nectar a few feet from where we were sitting and then a couple of young deer strolled past. A really lovely sight first thing in the morning.

Anyway, finally everyone in the house was awake and we were offered a lift into town from Sid. A quick shower and change later, we were strolling around Laguna town.

The first thing we all agreed on was breakfast!!

We had eggs (scrambled), sausages, toast served with grapes, strawberries and melon. And of course, a Michelob (note; this was my beer of choice for much of the late 80's and early 90's). It came to $48 altogether. We finished our breakfast and as we had already bought our postcards, we sat where we were to write them all, sat on a plateau overlooking the beach.

Then we went back into town, bought a beach towel, I finally bought my Ray Bans (yee-hah!) which were $68 and then hit the beach. After an hour of burning up, George and me decided to brave the cold Pacific Ocean. We ran straight in, then ran straight out again, then headed home.

We got changed and Sid took us to one of his restaurants and treated us to pizza and a beer. Then we drove to Donna's school to watch them beat another team at volleyball. A bit of college football foolowed (crap, although the cheerleaders were pretty good!) and back home.

Bit of TV, few beers and then to bed, absolutely shattered.

p.s. Sid's restaurants are called "Z-Pizza".

Monday, 7 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 2; this day in 1990

Woke up at 6.45am 'cos it was bloody freezing. Met our roomate. Nice guy but a bit dodgy.

The view from our $8.25 a night dormitory was absolutely fantastic and the weather was gorgeous. Only a few clouds, and the sun was beautiful hanging over the sea.

Anyway, we didn't fancy the sights or sounds of San Pedro very much so we told George to get in touch with his Aunt in Laguna which he promptly did. She said it was fine for a few days, to go and stay at her place. No sooner said than done! We caught a bus to Los Angeles Amtrak train station and only just caught the train to San Juan Capistrano. An hour later we were there and we found ourselves waiting once again for a bus. After a trip on a No.91 followed by a No.1 we were in 'Laguna Beach, California'.

George's Aunt came and picked us up at the bus station. After a trip round the supermarket we finally made it to her house "On Top Of The World"; 3064 Nestall St.

We hung around the house for the rest of the day admiring the view from the back of the house, overlooking a valley, and met the rest of the family; Donna, Seth and Sid (not forgetting Kayla the dog).

George and me drank a few of the beers that we'd bought at the supermarket and realised that our jet-lag had caught up with us.

George and Kim crashed at 7.30pm and I followed at 9pm.


(confused? click here for an explanation)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cannonball Run Day 1; this day in 1990

Well, we left a tearful family behind at Heathrow at 10.30am and went straight through to customs and passport control, boarding our plane almost immediately.

The 7½ hour flight to New York went pretty smoothly on a 747 (the beef casserole was not too bad). A few beers on board, a few hours sleep and we were ready to land.

New York looked great (from inside the airport!) and it was our first sight of limo's and yellow cabs. We couldn't believe how easy it was getting through passport control and customs. Not one question asked. Phoned home and spoke to Ma, Pa and Paul and let them know everything was ok.

Then a four hour wait for our connecting flight. George and Kim (note: the two South Africans I made the trip with) told me they'd seen Debbie Harry - my idol!!

Ha ha, I said, very funny.

Then another flight of 6½ that went fairly quickly 'cos I slept all the way, even though I'd paid $4 for some headphones to watch the in-flight movie they were showing.

We got to baggage reclaim and who is standing right opposite me?

Debbie Harry!!

Took a quick photo' of her!!

Anyway, we took a van (called a cab here) to San Pedro where we checked in to a youth hostel. Very dodgy. Got in a few hours sleep but not much 'cos the place was a bit iffy!

(confused? click here for an explanation)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

“Oh my Gahd! Space aliens!! Don’t eat me! I have a wife & kids; eat THEM!”

Aah yes, of course, the effortlessly quotable Homer Simpson, the funniest of all yellow characters in Springfield. Whenever the kids (mine, not the ones at school) ask me to impersonate Homer, the title of this post is the line I throw at them.

By merely pulling a slightly funny face, I can pretty much nail Mr Simpson first time. Pulling faces is a pre-requisite to nailing any impersonation, come to mention it.

What, you didn’t know?

Well, there you have it, there’s a tip for you; scrunched up face equals success.

Check out any decent impersonator on TV and you’ll see they contort their faces in varying degrees, in order to get the pitch and voice just right of whoever it is they’re taking off.

And although the jokes are way above Annabel’s head and, for the most part, still above Joseph’s, he is starting to ‘get’ some of the humour of the comments, rather than just the slapstick of Homer dropping a hammer on his foot, or his skateboard jump not quite making the other side of the canyon.

(It’s still funny).

Only earlier this week did I realise that the Simpsons currently airing on our (UK) Channel 4 is a brand new series. I joined mes enfants in the TV room to catch Marge reminiscing when she was younger, and how she’d spurned Homer for the advances of a smooth, equal rights and feminist-supporting activist. As the two of them embrace, he comments in disgust on the lighthouse on the beach where they’re standing, explaining to Marge “how it’s phallic shape is penetrating the sky”, and that anything “penis shaped” is designed by men to hold power over women throughout history.

Now, I know there’s nothing wrong with the word penis, but I thought I’d take a look at Joseph and Annabel anyway.

Well, Annabel just returned my look, smiled slightly and then turned back to the TV. At roughly the same time, Joseph burst out laughing, hitting the sofa for added effect and sat back up to watch the television.

I looked back at the screen, wondering if he was laughing at what I thought he was laughing at, when he piped up, “oh, it’s so funny isn’t it Dad? “Peanut shaped”. It doesn’t even look like a peanut!”

Cue my laughter, louder than his was!!

You can pretty much rely on the Simpsons to make you laugh. However, you can guarantee that your children can make you laugh, of that there’s no doubt.

On the Simpsons though, this is their 23rd season, having first aired on our screens way back in 1989, just before Christmas. I never really got into it straight away, until an old friend explained it’s magic.

In fact, this post coincides with something else I wanted to say.

My wife, M, is sure I’m going through some sort of a mid-life crisis. She is of course completely wrong, but I shall humour her here, for your reading pleasure. The thing is, I’m not ageing all that well, that’s the upshot of it.

I’ve discussed hair loss on several occasions and we’ve (well, I’ve) decided, that it’s boring to mention it – I’ve even chastised Chris Evans for banging on about it on his breakfast show). But, for the sake of this post, I must make another quick mention.

So, hair loss?

Well, ok, I s’pose I don’t have much choice, so go on then – hair loss it is, it’s a go-er.

A-hah, but what about wrinkles and crow’s feet – or the nice way of saying it – laughter lines?

You know, I really don’t mind those. When I see them on other people’s faces, I think it gives them character, helps tell a story about that person. Yeah, wrinkles and ‘laughter lines’ are in, good.

Wait for it, wait for it …… bags under your eyes! What about those?

Wha’? Bags?? You’re kidding? Oh, bloody hell, is there nothing I can do about those, other than sleeping with cold sliced salad pieces on my closed eyes at night? The thing is, if I go to sleep on my back, there’s a teensy chance I might snore, thus waking up M, not to mention waking myself up with bloomin’ apnoea or whatever it’s called. Fine, begrudgingly, the bags can stay.

Ok? Is that it? Can I now please slow down the ageing process, please? Thank y …..

Not so fast laddie, not so fast, we’re not done with you yet. Ready?

*deep breath*

Rosacea, heh heh heh ……. checkmate!

Lemme hear y’say it. That’s right ….. ro-zay-sha!

WHAT? Not the …..?

Not when your face flushes and ……?

Not the occasional red nose and cheeks and all that ……?

Ha-HAAAAAH, YES, that’s the one!!! How d’you like THEM apples???!!

Hah, WE WIN, the ageing process wins.

Ageing – 1

Dad – nil.

Get IN, result!

Yeah, they’ve all got me. I’m going down, and going down fast. Not without a fight though, no sir-ee Bob!

So, taking all this into account, I can kinda see why M feels I’m having that crisis she mentioned.

For me though, what I want to write about for the next few months has nothing whatsoever to do with a crisis, mid-life or not.

It was the Simpsons start date that got me thinking. I said I didn’t really get into those genius yellow inhabitants of Springfield until I actually went to America, way back at the end of 1990.

November 6th to be more precise.

And then I was thinking, oh my goodness; that was 21 years ago, I’m forty-two now; my US trip was half my lifetime ago.

Holy cow!

I went up into our attic and had a rummage through our considerable boxes of “stuff” until I found two things.

One – my album of photographs I took in the United States (they were still called photographs then, not digital pics).

Two – the diary I kept during my three-month road trip there, which I called The Cannonball Run (explanations all in good time).

Boy oh boy, reading that diary sure brought back some memories for me. Some good, some a bit cringe making, but it was interesting to see how a twenty-year gap in noting down “stuff” didn’t really change my style of writing; I still write very similar to how I did as a ‘lad’.

(Make of that what you will!!)


Now I’ve brought it all down, what shall I do with it?

Well, M has been on at me for months – nay, years – to sort through the attic, so I thought I would make a start with this item, my USA trip diary. I know, I know, it’s a small start but a start nonetheless.

Now I know it’s a big ask, but if you could humour me for the next 12 or so weeks, I’m going to just copy out what I wrote all that time ago, when I was wrinkle, laughter lines and eye bag free. When my long, thick hair blew all around my face while I stood by a snow covered Grand Canyon to have my photograph taken.

And good grief, didn’t I look young?

(If you’re really unlucky, I may include some photos with me actually in them!)

Flicking through it, there were days that I missed; there’s even a couple of missing weeks – it’s possible I may have been on some kind of bender – so hopefully it’ll be over before it gets too tiresome.

I’ll write truthfully, even if what I’ve written makes me want to curl up and die.

However, if I want to mention something more up to date, more current, more in the here-and-now, I’ll probably just tag it on either at the start of the post or at the end.

In other words, I haven't a clue if it will work or not, but what’s the worst that can happen, eh?

If I’m honest, I seem to be sailing through one of my “busy doing I don’t quite know what” periods right now, but I’m painfully aware that I’m not keeping these pages as updated as I like to.

Am I being lazy?

Possibly, but I’m looking forward to it anyway.

As they say in New Yoik – have a nice day!