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Thursday 06 October

Awoke with a cover barely over me and thoughts of last nights debauchery.  It was a riot.  Not much to say about today.  We spent a lot of time trying to find Peter’s passport and hanging around.  “Ahhh poo, sad Peter.”  I think we just about managed to hit the town again, which I’ve noticed is a bit of a sausage fest.  San Diego is home to numerous army bases and military nonsense.  I’m surrounded by marines in every bar, giant heroic types with necks bigger than my torso, which leaves me feeling somewhat short changed.  At least I managed to make one throw up when I did my flaming Sambucca in the mouth party trick.  I’m hard as nails.

 

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Fun times

Wednesday 05 October

Sadly today we returned the Mustang in horrible weather.  Apparently rain here is really rare, yet we’re in the middle of a hurricane.   This was after some idiot woman drove into the side of the motor while it was parked.  Lucky we had insurance and they didn’t bat an eye lid.  I didn’t fancy paying up for that.

This took most of the day, or what was left of it when I awoke.  In the evening we all went out for farewell drinks to Pizza Port, my new favourite place in the world.  Great pizza and an amazing selection of beers from all around the world.  Fridge upon fridge with every beer you could imagine, stuck in what looked like someone’s garage.  True perfection.  These Americans are doing something right.

Needless to say we get plastered.  We’ve ended up in another bar with a load of Murray’s friends and a couple of really cute girls,  one of whom I can’t believe is forty.  I thought I had an edge when it came to looking young, but this is ridiculous.  I’m convinced she’s dipping her head in a vat of Oil of Ulay and sleeping in an oxygen tank.  It takes Murray to give me a kick up the arse and a kick into conversation, which he would continue to lord over me for the next few days.  I lose track of time, but I’m sure at some point the words “are you going to come back to my house and fuck my brains out” are used.  It’s not often I’m at a loss for words, but, well, wouldn’t you be?

A cougar.  A totally hot, sexy as hell cougar.  I’ve never had a cougar before.  She even drops me back at base the next day at 6am, after asking Murray where I lived.  I feel used.  God bless America.

 

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The adventure begins

Tuesday 04 October

I awake in a boat.  On a driveway.  The Boatel.  This was after our first night in San Diego meeting the rest of the charity rally team, who all seem jolly nice and up for a laugh.  I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone and the challenge of the days ahead.  Unless of course I end up hating everyone which is more than likely.  The team consists of:

Murray Johnson, American
Ryan Walker, British
Peter Cwalinski, American
Oda Heier, Norwegian
Micheal Falcone, American
Joanna Meade, British

…and little old me of course.

So a busy day is ahead of us.   We need to prepare both ambulances and get one on the road this evening.  This involves washing, maintenance, applying the stickers and decals, and arranging a photo shoot and press afternoon.  It’s all hands to the pumps, a lot of fun, and very exciting.  We are delivering two ambulances to hospitals in Honduras, both of which don’t have any, so it’s a worthwhile cause and a crazy adventure at the same time.

The first team gets underway at around 9pm, and the remaining group, including myself, head for a bite to eat and drink.  It’s a fun evening which involves me getting a little drunk and playing a bit of guitar to a generally disinterested audience.  Badly.  Still I was a damn site better than the guy who’s gig it actually was, strangling a cat and murdering every decent song ever written.  How he got a slot at a busy pub I don’t know.  My own wasted warbling was the perfect way to introduce myself to my companions for the next three weeks.  Not.

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Sinking

Monday 03 October

More of the same today.  After our first experience of scuba diving its a wonder we want to get back in the water at all.  In fact Mike doesn’t, opting instead for a day of leisure.  Lucky him.

I start to get the hang of it a bit more today.  It’s still not easy, but when it works its exhilarating.  My only problem will be if something goes wrong when you’re 18 metres down.

I spend much of the day learning how not to drown, and then we go out at night.  Again.  To be honest I’m getting tired of this place already.  Much of the crowd here consists of silly little girls and beach bum guys.  Its like a warmer British seaside resort.  All there is to do is drink, dive and sleep.  Not necessarily in that order.  I don’t really like the people; as nobody cares about anything but diving (and themselves).  I’m starting to wish I never came.  For all the times I’m on cloud nine in my round the world trip, there will be a few stinkers thrown in.  This is proving to be a big one.

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Hollywood baby!

Monday 03 October

Rise early for a packed day ahead.  There is so much to see and do here, so much to get sucked into, but we need a bite-sized slice of everything Hollywood in one day.  We opt for one of the cities open top sightseeing tours and take it from there.

LA really is a city of extremes.  It feels like you can do anything here, and yet at the same time; know your place and stay in the gutter.  All those kids flocking to the bright lights over the years and ending up filling cars in gas stations or waiting tables.  For every success story, there are a million failures, and yet, you still think; “what if…?”

It’s a wonderful buzz to see the sights.  Various special locations, hang outs, studios, the famous sign, et al.  Tourists are eager to spot a star, but most will probably be holed up in their ridiculously huge mansions dotted around the surrounding hills.  The juxtaposition of money and wealth with crime, corruption and dodgy streets is astounding.  It is a fascinatingly daunting place.  One cannot help but get pangs of desire to make it here.  There’s the spot where Brad Pitt stood handing out flyers for a take away dressed as a chicken.  My how the mighty have fallen.

After cramming in as much as possible in a city so vast, it’s time to head south and meet the intrepid rally team for the first time.  Tonight’s accommodation is a boat in the driveway of our host and organiser; Murray Johnson.  The crazy experience starts as it means to go on.

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“I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot!”

Sunday 02 October

Urrrrgh.  Probably not the first time I will enter some words about how stinking my hangover is.  I blame the three American girls who convinced me to drink Tequila.  I never drink Tequila.  It is the devils own drink from the seventh circle of hell.

So I crash out in the car and wake up in sunny Santa Barbara.  The weather is glorious and a stroll on the pier is a nice wake up call, and I begin to feel more like myself.  Then I spot something I don’t think I’ll ever forget; a dog on a surfboard!  Not just one, but two!  Two dogs on the end of surfboards as their owners paddled them under the pier.  Now I have seen everything.  except a man eating his own head…

Now there is one reason why I wanted to stop here, and I get a bit excited as we make our way into the hills.  This is wine country, and probably most famous for the location of the movie “Sideways”.  As one of my favourite films, I simply have to see “The Hitching Post”, where many a scene was filmed.  I’m giggling like a school kid as I sit at the bar and taste all the wines on the menu.  The people are friendly, the bar staff entertaining, and it really is a wonderful highlight to my travels so far.  It is topped by eating the most delicious cheesecake in the history of cheesecakes.  I decided that I would be back this way again, perhaps in later years, to explore the region further.

With options open, we come to the conclusion that as much as we have been told to skip LA, we simply have to see Hollywood.  With this in mind, we decide not to stay in the area and push on into the night.

Arriving in Hollywood late, we have time to wander down Hollywood Boulevard.  The Chinese and Kodak theater’s are here, as is the walk of fame, which is home to all the stars set into the pavements that stretches for miles.  I am eager to find some of my heroes, but it’s a challenge to walk so far with your head down, focused on the names beneath your feet, especially if you want to avoid getting assaulted by the numerous shady types hanging about.

First impressions of this place, so magical from afar, is a dirty, garish, run down resort.  It’s a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  It’s dark, seedy and you don’t feel entirely safe.  Once you’re out of the brightly lit Kodak theatre area, the bars get darker, the streets more foreboding, and the locals pretty damn strange.  We turn in on the early side for a full day tomorrow.

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