Sunday, 1 March 2009

Freedom Road: San Francisco To Boston In A Blue Volvo Called Chad

A certain someone has been bugging me to post this for ages, so I am finally doing it.
Mer has her travel blog up at the minute but hers is way more philosophical (and well written) than mine and will probably contain less snarky references to the documentary National Treasure, dodgy airline incidents and a woman wearing an oxygen mask in a Philadelphia hostel dorm. Here it goes ...

Day One – Manchester Airport & San Francisco

After a farewell Nando’s and going to bed at 1am, it was time to get up at 3.45am to make the trek to the airport. Dressed like a poster campaign for Mugatu’s ‘Derelicte’ collection (and smelling like a vagrant too by the end of the day), we boarded an Air France flight to Paris. And sat on the tarmac for over an hour.

We sat next to a fat man from Utah who explained to us all the delights of the state and how he had just stayed in Liverpool with his sister-in-law. He was also under the impression that the Eiffel Tower would be visible from the window of the plane at Charles De Gaulle airport. The delay meant that we had approximately 3.28736 minutes to make our connecting flight. In that time we had to go through security again (and were quite severely reprimanded for having a bottle of water) and make a mad dash for our gate and the final boarding call of the plane – which, as Murphy’s law states, was the furthest possible point of boarding.

And by mad dash, I of course meant that Jo ran whilst I strolled along secure in the knowledge that Jo would hold the plane for me. We then got on the plane and were literally the only people not seated. However, some clowns with a baby (on a 10 hour flight - joy!) decided they could sit wherever the hell they liked. You know, cause the rules don’t apply to them. This meant that a German couple had to explain to them that they needed to move seats and things got a tad tense.

I was pretty oblivious to this though because there was a college basketball team on the flight and they were all about 7 feet tall and sitting in economy. Were I not so out of breath, I would have laughed up a lung. They were concertinaed into these tiny seats with no leg room at all.

A German guy sat in the row in front of us proceeded to stand in the aisle for the entire flight, meaning that his arse was in my face for pretty much 10 hours. Thanks, dick. He also had an in depth conversation with an air steward about Oktoberfest – complete with laptop photo slideshow. He then revealed that he was en route to Hawaii. Which makes him even more of a bastard.

After about an hour of flying, I had already cracked out the first ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ and the classic, ‘I’m bored’. My interest was piqued by a French version of an Agatha Christie which was subtitled so I could watch that AND listen to McFly on my I-Pod at the same time. The dialogue was totally uncensored and included the line "And then he rammed his cock in me" (which I suspect may have been artistic licence rather than actual Agatha Christie) and liberal usage of ‘fuck’, ‘fucking’ etc. So liberal, the French.

We ate some Haagen Dazs, et voila we landed in San Francisco. The immigration line was MASSIVE and totally unregulated – which made me uneasy as I love nothing more than a well managed queue. We spotted the first mullet of the trip but, alas, it was a Euromullet so did not count. The immigration officer then asked us if we were sisters which Jo was horrified by but I was amused.

We waited at the baggage carousel for our luggage. And waited. And waited. Upon queuing at the most understaffed baggage desk in the history of understaffed baggage desks, we were informed that our stuff was having its very own holiday in gay Paris. At this moment in time, Air France was placed upon the Jess & Jo Airline Blacklist (which mainly consists of American Airlines). Would it stay this way or would the French redeem themselves? Only time (and a minor in-flight incident) would tell …

We then had to travel almost the same distance as we had just flown to pick up the rental car. This involved an encounter with a complete douche in an elevator and a train ride. I was extremely thankful that Jo had booked with National when I saw the queues at the other rental desks. You had never seen a more pitiful mass of humanity than the desperate souls at the end of the 2759-person long Hertz/Dollar/Alamo line.

The rental guy, when informed of our plans, seemed to think that we were insane and that if we rented the car we had originally intended to, the only certainty would be that we would never make it over the mountains and that we would surely die attempting to do so. So we upgraded to a Volvo. Which may have been his money-making plan all along.

Volvo. Washington licence plates. Was this Edward Cullen's car?

We were then directed to a dark blue Volvo with Washington state licence plates. He looked fairly new and, upon further inspection, only had 12,000 miles on the clock. He was called Chad Clinton III. Jo was the first driver and put the key in the ignition only to find that the car wouldn’t go into ‘Drive’ mode. We looked in the handbook but there was no section called ‘Driving An Automatic For Fuckwits’ so we had to ask a passer by how to start the car. Of course, how could we forget? You need your foot on the brake to put the car into gear! What fools we are! You need to have the brake on in order to move forwards. What stunning logic.

We had directions to the nearest Target and got there and parked the car without incident. We then had to buy some clothes as we had worn our bulkiest possible clothes to avoid having to shove them into our suitcases so we were boiling hot in hoodies, jeans and trainers. We also bought underwear, toiletries, a GPS, some wrapping paper and some tortilla chips. You know, the essentials.

Our luggage

We then had to find our way to central San Francisco (after literally having a physical fight with the GPS packaging to get it open). The GPS decided it wasn’t going to work, so we had to use a map. Considering that I do not know my left from my right, I probably would not be anyone’s first choice as a navigator. And I certainly lived up to my abilities in attempting to find The Mosser hotel. In my defence, we did get stuck in a one way system hell which was not of my making. The getting stuck part probably was though.

We eventually found the hotel and got into our room where we had a feast of tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole and cashew nuts for tea. After having the weakest shower in the world, we had to get into bed in the t-shirts we had worn and run around in all day and our knickers. Such a good look.


Thus ended day one of our trip. Could it have reached its nadir so soon? Time, and Montana, would tell ...


Phina said...

I haven't been bugging you to post this. I have been bugging you to post the other 22 days.

Jessclub7 said...

You have just outed yourself as the bugger. That came out wrong.

Day 2 is done - but over the next 3 weeks I have 7 birthdays, R's hair show thing (I may need to buy something 'trendy' to wear too), Noah & The Whale, The Killers, Singin' In The Rain, my new dentist, Free Money collection, the surprise thing which I need to get a gift for, going out for dinner x2, 3000 words on the 'golden rule' in Woolmington v DPP and reverse burden evidence and the right to presumption of innocence and then another 3000 words on Howard Becker and perceived deviance.

So don't hold your breath for day 3!

Jessclub7 said...

And lest we forget, Watchmen won't watch itself at IMAX will it?!