i have adventures (sometimes)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Only Latter Day That Matters is Tomorrow

Hurricanes, right? I'm currently fairly trapped in my hostel (having paid a fortune to get here by cab), but I am warm and dry and have electricity and water and chocolate milk. Priorities.

But I managed to have some tourist adventures before Superstorm Sandy graced us with her presence, starting with the Staten Island Ferry on Saturday morning, which was a great way to see the Statue of Liberty for free. And from a distance. People who've seen the latest episode of Doctor Who will understand my new fear.

I'm watching you.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

I Actually Do Want to Be a Part of It

So I was moderately successful in my plan to start adventuring in earnest. I started off Thursday morning with a trip to the Empire State Building - from the bottom, because all my money is currently going on having things to eat and a place to sleep.

It's OK, I can see it from here.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Ali and the Giant Apple

I am in a big apple!

No, wait, the Big Apple. Which is for the best, because the last time I bought an apple, it cost me $1.19, so now I'm wary of fruit.

CouchSurfing has seriously let me down for this leg of my trip. I say that because I like to externalise blame, but I guess maybe I should have started sending out requests earlier to all these busy New Yorkers. So I've ended up spending way more than I wanted to on accommodation, but I am in a perfectly nice hostel, where apparently they're expanding but haven't finished doing so yet, which means I'm in a room roughly the size of the moon, but with only three beds. And two lights on the other side of the room, so I get to live in the dark corner. I guess it's a good excuse to finally use the torch I always carry with me in case of unwelcome darkness. And weeping angels.

You may notice that my bed is also surrounded by bed guards. I assume because it used to be a top bunk, not because the people running this place take the safety of 1 in 3 guests very seriously.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Problems in the LADO Interview: Abstract

I got my dissertation results yesterday morning. Having had more than one sleepless 5am and having spent far too much time staring at my inbox waiting for results, they finally arrived. My heart nearly stopped waiting for the page to load.

And again waiting for the next page to load. (Why were there so many pages?)

But the many hours of work and all the library madness apparently paid off, because I got a first! I did a little dance in my hostel. And over breakfast. And yelled about it in all caps on various social networks. The beast is well and truly vanquished. Take that, MSc.

This thing turned out to be pretty OK after all!
Following my dear friend Bri, I thought I'd post my abstract for those who might be interested. If you're reading this because you like reading about my adventures, I promise you don't have to read any further. If you're writing on a similar topic, or are vaguely curious about what ate my whole summer, here it is.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Battery Low

My battery is low.

I thought that my relatively solitary first few days in Chicago would have been enough to recharge me, but apparently not. I spent Saturday so tired and irrationally grumpy that it wasn't at all conducive to adventuring, and I had to turn down another invitation to an event for cool people because I just didn't have the energy.

I spent a few hours lying awake in the early morning when my scumbag brain decided that 5am on a Saturday was a perfect time to panic about the degree results I still haven't received, and then everything else in the universe, until I had the good sense to drown it out with Cabin Pressure and hugging the cat.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Frozen in the Windy City

The train ride to Chicago was 7 hours long, and I spent most of it either asleep or trying to be, having taken my travel sickness pills, but I definitely heard a woman at one stage asking the person beside her if she knew Jesus. Which made me a. glad I wasn't the person beside her, and b. wonder what my answer would have been. The problem is that - quite apart from it being an uncomfortable question to ask a stranger on a train - it's a question that only 'works' for other Christians, who are presumably not the target of evangelistic overtures. Because for just about everyone else, it rests on a presupposition that's fundamentally unsound, which makes it problematic. Even my hypothetical answer of "Yes, but we don't get on." accepts the presupposition. Maybe a better one would be "Have you accepted Zeus into your heart?"

GOOD DAY, MADAM. (Maybe this is my train phrase.)

I said good day!
I talked about that more than I meant to.

Anyway, Chicago! The Windy City! The one with all that jazz! And where the newspaper arrives a day early! None of this actually has any bearing on my experience of Chicago so far. I might have called it the City Where You Get Your Jeans and Shoes Soaked in the Rain on Your First Night in Town and Can't Wear Them for Two Days, but I can see how that's harder to fit on a bumper sticker.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Monday, 15 October 2012

Art, Science, & the Cowboy CEO

Art! Most of you will know that I'm not good at it and it confuses me.

But sometimes it's fun and Look Like This Guy ensues! To be fair, pretty much everything is a good excuse for Look Like This Guy to ensue, but this time it ensued at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum.

I see some art already!
I suppose?

I'm Glad We're Not in Kansas Any More

I would really like a Blogger app that isn't terrible. But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is adventures! Well, sort of.

First off, Google adventures! It's slightly more fun than it sounds, although spending time Googling things is fun too. But deciding to give the outside a chance, Bri and I went to Google HQ to play some Look Like This Guy and be watched by the Google squirrels.*

Ermahgerd! Gergle!
I am here!
Android operating systems.

Looking like this guy.

We got to discussing the many ways Google is taking over the world (I for one welcome our new confectionery-based overlords), and came up with the genius idea of Google Companion, computers/real dogs who give you love and affection, and also monitor your health and tell you when to go to the doctor (and give you driving directions to get there). Of course, as we were discussing it on Google property in front of the Google squirrels, we imagine we've lost all rights to the idea. I may be committing a felony just by talking about it here.

The weather had turned grey, and by that stage we were pretty much all adventured out, so we spent the next two days having exciting indoor adventures. Shopping for cereal! Skyping Hannah! Watching Doctor Who! Crying at Doctor Who! Playing cards! Doing all the puzzles in the paper! Eating cereal!**

Although we did venture out to drink smoothies in a train park.

And so that was California. The morning after our train adventures, Bri drove me to the airport at the ungodly hour of 4.45am, we said sleepy goodbyes, and off to Missouri I went.

Why Missouri? Because my friend Vicky from the internet lives there!

Vicky looks like this guy.
Vicky and I met on Livejournal, so far back in the day that I kept forgetting we hadn't met in real life already. And now we have! The future is fun!

She met me at the airport, and we went straight to Atchison, the most haunted city in Kansas. Because at some stage while I was planning my trip, Vicky went "Hey, do you want to go to a seance?" And I said "Sure, why not!"

It turned out to be not exactly a seance, but a medium at the Amelia Earhart museum having a chat with Amelia about her last flight. I rolled my eyes only quietly. But it was a good story, even if presented as one being presented via vague details sent from beyond the grave (the number 3 is important? She can tell you that, but she can't tell you why?). The medium seemed very sincere, so either she was a great actress or she really believed she was having a chat with Amelia Earhart. Who knows? Still, it was a fun evening, and we got a tour of the museum, and I've discovered that Amelia Earhart was awesome and I want to read everything about her and learn to fly planes.

Atchison being a spooky place in Halloween month, we went on a tour of cemeteries and creepy houses while listening to Vicky's Halloween playlist.

Tee hee.

And the spookiest thing we saw in the most haunted city in Kansas? The Romney/Ryan signs on the lawns. SCARIER THAN WEEPING ANGELS.

I'm glad we're not in Kansas any more. Not too worried about the ghosts, but the Republicans have me sleeping with the light on.

*We're assuming the Google squirrels have camera eyes.
**Have I already enthused about peanut butter cereal? Because OMG peanut butter cereal.

Friday, 12 October 2012

If You're Going to San Francisco, Be Sure to Wear a Jacket

San Francisco!

It's so big and gay and colourful! And it has houses with bay windows, so now I want to live there. Except that I'm scared of earthquakes and tsunamis. I don't know if they have tsunamis. But my nightmares lump them all into one category. Maybe I'll stay safely in the middle of my tectonic plate instead, and just have bay windows there.

Anyway, San Francisco!

Bri and her mom and I made a road trip there yesterday, and they let us in even though we weren't wearing flowers in our hair. We wound our way up to Twin Peaks, and with the famous San Francisco fog nowhere in evidence, we could see the whole city, famous bridge and all.

Taking flight!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

California Dreaming

I had to apologise to Portland on my last day there for being so grumpy at it the day before. I walked to Paradox Cafe in the relatively early morning, and I saw cats and squirrels and adorable little overgrown gardens, and I had to admit that it was quite nice after all. Or at least, before the trendy hour at which the hipsters get out of bed.

I couldn't find the weird cat when I left my host's house for the station. It wasn't behind the stove, and wherever else it was, it was being there very quietly. I haven't heard from Veronica yet, so I'm going to assume she doesn't blame me for losing stove cat and everything is fine.

But you know what's not fine? RACISM.

(I'm good at segues.)

While waiting at the very beautiful old station in Portland, an apparently friendly woman sat down next to me and started talking, as people seem to do in this country of friendly strangers who make eye contact. She seemed shocked that I was travelling alone (I explained that I was 23, but it didn't make a difference), and we chatted about England, and everything seemed fine until she said "All those Arabs over there not bothering you?"

And I said "... What?"

And then I realised that she had said exactly that. Better still, she went on to talk about "those Muslims", and how they're always fighting each other over there, and they shouldn't come into her country and try and impose sharia law. Luckily it was a day on which my words were working. Once I got over the shock of meeting such a casual bona fide racist, I mentioned the joys of multiculturalism, the many and various ways people kill one another over here, and the much more pressing and real threat presented by Christian fundamentalism, and was relieved when I wasn't seated next to her on the train.

GOOD DAY, MADAM. (is something I did not but conceivably could have said.)


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

I Will Not Blog There, Sam I Am

Dear the internet

I bought a Google tablet, which is very exciting, and I assumed that it would be perfect for blogging while travelling. I would blog on a train! I would blog in the rain! I would blog on a boat! I would blog with a goat! But quite apart from the fact that I'm so bad at typing on a touch screen keyboard that sometimes even the autocorrect can't save me, I haven't yet managed to connect my camera, and all the Blogger apps seem insufficiently awesome.

So while I figure those things out, here is an Instagram picture of me in Bri's panda room.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Day of the Experimental Roses

I went to the laundromat and the machine texted me when my laundry was done. It texted me. We really do live in the future. To my disappointment, I just had to wait for the dryer in the normal way.

With my clothes clean and my day off to a slow start yesterday, I decided to have lunch before going adventuring, and walked down to the Bay Leaf for a disappointing sweet and sour mango tofu.

Less sweet and sour, more mango and tofu please.
Then it was off to Washington Park for adventures in trees and roses! I started at Hoyt Arboretum, which is like a great big zoo of trees, which makes it better than other zoos in several respects, and I loved it.

The road goes ever on and on.
ADVENTURE. (In my new second-hand magical pixie adventure dress.)
Dead or just sunbathing?

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Dream of the '90s is Alive in Portland

Portland! Where the dream of the '90s is alive (or so the song says - all I really remember from the '90s is Saturday morning KTV and Princess Diana's death). I really should start asking hipsters if I can photograph their beards so I can start a collection. To be fair, I think I saw more bearded hipsters in Seattle, but Portland's definitely in the contest with a fighting chance.

(via Eugene)

I left Seattle on Wednesday morning after arranging a lift to Portland through Ridejoy. I'm not quite brave enough or a free spirit enough to hitchhike on my own, but I reasoned that riding with a strange man from the internet was probably safe enough, so off to Portland I went with Phil from Sacramento and another passenger who was setting off travelling for as long as no one minds looking after her dogs.

Phil is a nice man.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

More Vegetables, Less Scurvy

There's nothing like travelling to make my already temperamental back and neck seize up. Maybe if I travelled like a grown up instead of carrying a backpack and sleeping on tiny sofas it would be better, but I do like this way of travelling. Maybe one day I'll stay in hotels and have a suitcase, but right now it's just not me. I'm more comfortable when I'm less comfortable. Or something.

I am one with the tiny sofa. Partly because I can't turn my head enough to move.
I had a bad first night on the tiny sofa, which I think was more a problem of being in a new bed rather than that the bed in question was the tiny sofa, but either way I woke up sore and tired.

BUT I AM AN ADVENTURER. And today was my last full day in Seattle, and I'd set it aside for Downtown adventuring (which meant that I've had this song stuck in my head all day). The day got off to a good start when I found this garden and aggressive passive-aggressive note outside the apartment.

The angriest gardener?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Sore Feet and Dinosaur Feet

Yesterday I went back to Fremont to visit the Sunday Market and track down the elusive dinosaurs.

I was determined not to spend too much money, but hopefully find something cool to wear to the concert, because I hadn't packed anything weird and interesting, not having planned to see Amanda Palmer while I was here. I ended up finding a cheap second-hand wallet, excellently fluffy socks, and a $5 dress which fits me like it was made for me. There is no logical fallacy in assuming that, therefore, it was made for me. By magical pixies. Who also made my fluffy socks.

These are the second coolest socks I own. I have dinosaur feet now. (Pictures of dress to come.)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Come Here and Let Me Love You

Seattle, I am in you!

My adventures in Seattle started just about as soon as I got off the bus, looking like the easiest mark in the world, with my backpack and too much hand luggage and a notebook in my hand from which I was trying to understand the directions I'd written down from Google Maps.

It's the start of the directions I always have trouble with ("Continue in a cardinal direction you don't know in the direction of a street you won't know until you do or don't pass it"), so I had just picked a direction at semi-random, when a grubby-looking guy hailed me from where he was sitting on the pavement and asked if he could help me. I told him the intersection I was trying to get to, and he said he'd walk me to where I could catch a bus to take me there. Since it was broad daylight and with my backpack on I'd be too unwieldy to put in a bag and kidnap, I decided to accept his help. I realised I didn't have any American money, so he walked me to an ATM and stood back while I put in my PIN and withdrew cash, then gave me change (in fact, slightly more than the $20 note I'd given him to break) so I could pay for my bus ticket. He then saw me onto the bus and told me when I should get off, and that was that.