What happened next was that I finally got around to reading an acquaintance’s book; this’ll get me in the mood for travel, I thought.
It turned out they’d already done just what I was planning to do with my trip – travelling around the USA on the magic rail ticket and just seeing what was out there.
Bugger, I thought. Bother and damnation.
Then, what happened after that was that I simply got over it. Sure, it’s a bit odd to do a very similar thing, but the motivation and manner were different, and no two adventures are the same. Everything would be fine; it was just an unfortunately timed discovery.
Variables. Excitement. Adventure.
It was time to get planning.
I have always relied on the kindness of strangers. That is how I’ve had the great fortune to make many friends.
Sometimes, all I’ve been able to repay them with is friendship. Mostly, that’s enough. A few people earnt my undying loyalty.
A long time ago, I used to be a well-liked figure on an internet radio station for an online game. I was popular because whilst the music I played was often excellent, if I do say so myself, it was mostly because I had a quirky profile picture and an English accent. I was (am) a girl who played games.
This left me with a tangible network of friends all over the states, from fellow DJ’s to listeners who seemed to be genuinely nice people.
Back in the day, I had plenty of invites to visit people, offers of spare rooms and places to visit in towns I’d never been to. I’d never had the money, or the confidence to travel alone.
Now, 6 years on, I’d decided to take up those offers. After all, I’d repay them with tales of travel in a fancy accent. Having been to the last 2 incidences of the yearly convention held in Phoenix, Arizona, I figured my chances were good. I’d gotten used to solo travel, no longer felt so out of place eating alone in bars and restaurants, and was well on the way to travelling light, even if I rarely did.
After an exciting but short-lived project ended, I had time on my hands. I also had most of the cost of a plane ticket to PHX. What I’d really wanted to do the first time I went over to the States was to ride a train. One of those massive, hulking, hurtling monsters, miles long and blowing that familiar whistle as they pelted through tiny towns heading for sleeping prairies. They’d sounded just like in movies the first time I’d heard one, floating in on an ineffectual breeze at 5am in a stuffy rental cottage in Mesa. They still do.
I didn’t ride one that time. Nor the next time. Just took some snaps and imagined what it might be like to ride the box cars just as the romanticized visions of hobos did.
A friend visiting from North Carolina had bought a magic rail ticket which meant she could travel the British isles for ridiculously cheap. I’d already discovered that the USA already had their own in kind, but once again, I’d never had the time. I’d always thought it would be cars or greyhounds that took me on a tour of the states, but why had I never thought about taking a train?
I remembered that there had been few real routes and that the network of trains wasn’t really like ours. Public transport was often lacking. The car was king.
I couldn’t drive. That wasn’t an option for me. It would be expensive and I couldn’t do it anyway. I was getting a train. Trains.
An adventurer was me.
10 years ago, this is not where I would (could?) have seen myself. But it’s awesome, so awesome. I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be blonde or wearing hoop earrings, either (they were a thank you gift from the teams I work for).
I have a badass haircut, a badass job, awesome and amazingly cool friends (both new and old) who continuously astound me with their kindness, generosity and humour.
Why, it makes me want to throw a Thanksgiving.
Managed to trip over my foot when my leg had pins and needles.
Sort of bent my foot in half, in a way it was never meant to bend.
Ice packs and concerned friends helped, and all I can do is rest it for now – there’s no A&E or Minor Injuries Unit in Whitby.
The lesson here was: Never eat chicken wings, you will damage yourself as you run in (polite) disgust to quietly dispose of the veiny, bony, greasy monstrosity. But it smelled so good…