Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Top ten of the trip

We fly home tomorrow and as sad as I'll be to see my trip end (mainly because it means it's less than a fortnight till school starts, boo) it will be good to be home and in my own bed, with my own closet of clothes and a washing machine close at hand.  So I thought this was a good time for a quick top ten.

1. Eugene, Oregon.  Partly because it was nice to be staying in a house rather than a hotel and to get a native's perspective on things, partly because Sarah and Seamus were such fantastic hosts and partly because I just really liked Eugene and environs, the two days spent there were definitely the best two days of the whole trip.  A HUGE thank you to Sarah for her hospitality.

2. The NYPL at 100 exhibition at the New York Public Library.  From Jack Kerouac's travel notebook to the Declaration of Independence; from anti-apartheid posters to a Klansman hood; from a draft of Eliot's The Wasteland with amendments by Ezra Pound to Virginia Woolf's diary.  This exhibition had it all and I walked from case to case with an increasing sense of breathlessness and awe.  To top it all, it was free and (so important in 42c heat) air-conditioned.

3. The train journeys, as much for the fascinating characters I met as for the incredible scenery.  Chuck and Denise, travelling with their seven year old Anthony for his brain surgery, stoic and warm in the face of the fact that they could potentially be taking their return journey without him.  Bunny who gave me pages of tips for New Orleans and has stayed in email contact with me since.  Chad with whom I talked about literature.  So many people and so many stories on those 4000 miles across the country.

4. My first walk through the French Quarter in New Orleans, gawping at the beauty and swimming through the thick, humid air.

5. Today's visit to the Nirvana exhibit in Seattle.

6. Shopping and hanging out in Portland: Powell's bookstore, great independent shops in the Hawthorne District, cool people everywhere.  I loved this city SO much.

7. The incredible natural beauty of Yosemite Valley, especially when Richard and I had the good luck to find an entirely empty trail to hike. 

8. Reading my way around America: Poppy Z Brite, A Confederacy Of Dunces and books about Hurrican Katrina in New Orleans, Strangers On A Train, a book about crossing America by Amtrak whilst on the train, Tales Of The City in San Francisco, a book about the riot grrrl scene in the Pacific Northwest whilst in Portland... reading books about the places I'm in has immeasurably enhanced my experiences. 

9. Biking along the waterfront, over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito whilst in San Francisco.  A lovely sunny day and an exhilirating ride coupled with stunning views.

10. My trusty black rubber flip flops and tatty denim skirt.  Pretty much all I've worn the whole trip (apart from days that the skirt was in the wash).  I now have black feet, aching calves from walking miles in crappy sandals and the first vestiges of a tan on my pale English legs.

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