The illustrious return

So I think this was too long in the making but I figure I have to make an update now. I'm writing to you from Boston. I'm at my super cool friend, Kelly Koskelin, 's house. It's a really nice cool breazy atlantic day. I guess I'll just start from last Wednesday.
Wednesday July 17th
I woke up at my apartment in Munich at like 5am or so. I wandered around the flat to see if Rick had come home. He hadn't. Kinda sucked cause I didn't get to say goodbye to him. So I cleaned myself and gathered everything into it's final state. 3 bags. My hiking pack, my messenger bag and a GIANT Nike duffel which I had gotten a few days before. Definitely a surreal feeling to be leaving and have no one around to say goodbye to. So I trudged down to the S-bahn station with what was now seeming like WAY too much stuff. It's odd, with the exception of 2 books, the stuff I was carrying with me was the same stuff I'd brought over 6 months ago. Heavier now. Took the subway to the central train station, got on the train to Paris and found my seat. I kept checking myself (like when you think you've spilled food on your shirt during dinner) since it seemed all too easy. As if there was some cartoon nemesis setting everything up to be easy so that later when he comes to kick my ass, the juxtaposition will be all the more stark. The train ride to Paris was nice, neat countryside, went through stuttgart and Alsace. I got into Paris around 4:30 in the afternoon. Lugged everything from Paris Est to Paris Nord on the subway. This was actually also surprisingly easy. The last time I'd done it, I'd been about 80% through 2 weeks of some of the most violent disfunction I've ever seen my body exhibit. Sick doesn't really begin to describe it since the sick part was only about half of the problem. The other half being the damage I had personally done to my body because I'm stupid and don't know how to take car of myself when I'm sick (see not eating or consuming any electrolytes, ANY, for 14 days.) Let's just say that my internal body chemistry was operating something like most of my chemistry labs did in high school. So, this time around, with everything functioning like a well oiled german car, I was fine.
This is when my little fantasy of the hitchless trip began to dissolve. I reach the passport control (the first one on my trip so far) at the entrance to eurostar (the train the goes under the english channel to get to the UK). The Brits didn't really like me. They actually hated me and we almost got into a verbal rowe. I'd been in europe too long, I was a deadbeat blah blah blah, we don't want you in our country, etc. They gave me 48 hours to leave the country (cool a new different stamp in my passport). I was happy with it since my flight was slated for the next day. So, made it through that one.
Then I'm standing on the platform waiting for the train to fill, and I overhear a brief conversation between a passenger and a conductor and hear the fateful words "..... tube strike...." The tube, being the underground subway, and strike being cause for my heart to sink into my gut (currently being cradled in my hiking packs padded weightlifter belt). Yea, there would be a tube strike starting at 8pm tonight until 8pm tomorrow night. For reference I would be arriving into Waterloo station at 7:50pm and departing Heathrow the next day at 1pm. That put me right in the middle of it. This would have been ok except for a few things. One, I'd planned all of the things I had to do, completely around the tube. Two, one of those tasks was getting out to bum fuck egypt of eastern london to get my plane ticket. A location only marginally served by the tube, but definitely by nothing else. Three, any walking I did, would be with around 110lbs of stuff.add
I take eurostar across to London and get off at waterloo. I figure I might be able to catch one of the last trains of the night to get to my hostel, and I end up getting THE last one. I get off at St. Paul's and am feeling good, since everything is familiar. I spent a number of days in this area last summer and remember the entire layout perfectly. I find the hostel with no problem and check in. The hostel is one block from the cathedral which is a pleasant surprise. I drop the bags and head down the street for a pint. A nice pub, and, for the first time in six months, I get to taste a hand pulled pint of bitter. It's called Fuller's London PrideThings were looking up. I head back and try to plan how to accommodate the strike and still get out of the UK in my allotted 48 hours.
Thursday July 18th
One of the primary reasons I decided to go through the UK while en route to NYC was for the breakfast. UK youth hostels have one of the best British Frys a man could hope for. Sausage, bacon, fried eggs, fried toast, baked beans, boiled tomatoes, cereal, croissants, fruit, coffee, hot chocolate, juice. Mind you, this is not either or, this is everything. So, I don't care if you think I'm silly for going as far out of my way as I did for breakfast, it was worth it. It actually exceeded my expectations. After breakfast I took a quick walk around the area and enjoyed the early morning on the Thames and around St. Paul's Cathedral.
At 8am I head out to the bus stop to try out my new modified plan, sans tube. The idea is to take a bus to Paddington station, take a mainline train out to Alperton (see Bum Fuck Egypt), take a mainline train back and then the Heathrow express from Paddington to Heathrow. I should have realized what I was getting into when I got out there. I am glad I got to see it though. When you take a city the size of London, with the number of inhabitants that it has, and shut down the primary method of transportation, well. Chaos ensued. I stood at the bus stop for one hour and eight busses passed by, each one so full that they couldn't pick up a single passenger, let alone the 40 that had amassed at the bus stop. It was now 9am and my plane flies at 1pm. I went back to the hostel with no plan and quite scared. I still had to get out to Alperton to get my plane ticket, then get to Heathrow somehow. I called Kahn, my bitch ass travel scammer, out in alperton and had him sent the ticket with a courier straight to Heathrow. I just have this image of a giant pelt wearing hun with a flamingly gay british accent handing over my precious ticket to some teenager on a motorcycle. 25 pounds, but that's life. So now all I had to to was get to Heathrow. A girl who'd been trying to get to paddington at the bus stop as well, but who had less patience or more smarts i'm not sure, was back at the hostel and had called a cab. We decided to split the fare and everything looked good.
The cab didn't show for another hour. In that time we picked up two more girls to join in on the Paddington station Sojourn (Germans). Finally the van arrives and we head out. We didn't get to Paddington station until 11:30. Every car, owned by every Londoner was on the road, trying to get them to work. We get to Paddington Station (shit, it's huge!) and part ways. I catch the train to Heathrow and arrive quickly, I find my ticket, and check my way out of spec bags (size and weight). I fly through security (surprise?!) and sit down with about 30 minutes remaining.
I get on the plane and we fly to, yep that's right, Iceland. What a neat looking place. Desolate and empty but neat. I hung out in Reykjavik for a couple hours, in which time I neither saw Bjork nor heard a song of hers. I was at 64 degrees north on the globe, pretty far up there. The airport had hardwood floors. It felt kind of like being at a ski lodge or something. It was really bright, outside. I guess that's what it's like in the north. It was also very flat. All directions flat except for isolated hills. Patchy gravel/dirt and grass. Oh and Icelandic sounds half way between swedish and spanish.
I get on the next plane to New York and enjoy an uneventful flight. I land at JFK around 6:40pm local time (my body clock says 1:40am). I pick up my bags and fly through customs and passport control. EVERYONE IS SPEAKING ENGLISH!!!!! I find a clean corner of the terminal and empty and repack both of my big bags. I head out and catch a taxi. We go out to the edge of the airport (industrial service roads) to the GIANT New York US Postal Service location at JFK. I head in and ship off 60 lbs of my stuff to California for 41$. Pretty good if you ask me. I also proceed to leave my manilla folder containing the logistic information for this entire trip, sitting on a desk in there back room. I get back in the taxi and go back to JFK. I go to call Lily Hetzler and can't find her number. Hell, I can't find any of my numbers, or any of the information pertaining to anything at all. Panic sets in. Where was the folder. You dear reader know where the folder was, but I at the time did not. Finally after a few conclusions and actions, firmly seated in a lack of sleep and blood sugar, I have an epiphany that it must be at the post office. I jump in a taxi with the hope of doing the exact same thing again, going out to the post office on the edge, getting the folder and coming back to JFK. We head off into the JFK exit traffic and the cabbie says he refuses to wait for me to go in and get the folder. 30 seconds I say, he won't do it. We get in a huge fight, and I jump out and walk back to the cab line. I catch another cab and we go out to the post office. We arrive and I jump out of the cab, run in and grab my folder. It is at this point that I, for the first time, am thankful for one of my bizarre obsessive compulsive mannerisms. As I'm standing idly waiting for the lady to get my folder, I pat myself down. This consists of patting all of the locations on my person where items should be stored. Left pocket keys, lower left knee pocket notes, right pocket wallet. Rick pocket wallet. Umm hello, right pocket wallet. I think to myself, "Hmm, that's odd, It must be in my messenger bag." I get the folder and run back out to the cab and glance down as I'm getting in the cab at the grimy pitch black (night) parking lot next to the door that I got out of and there is my wallet, next to the tire. I pick the wallet up and realize that I need to calm the fuck down, shake off the lack of sleep and food, and start paying a-fucking-ttention to what I'm doing. I get back to JFK, call Lily and she's at a jazz club. We decide to meet in Manhattan. I take a bus to the Subway and head towards manhattan. At this point I've got my messenger bag and my hiking pack. I get into manhattan and find the bar, The Baggot Inn. It's air conditioned, which is wonderful. Even though it's pretty late at night at this point, it still feels like I'm in a sauna. I catch the second half of a great set by Theo Eastwind. I have a couple beers and we head to a saki bar. We head back to brooklyn (Lily, myself and her roommate Sarah) and go to sleep around 2AM local or 8am my time.
Friday, July 19th
Lily's birthday today. We have a picknic in central park, some walking around, some riding the carousel (The carousel in central park has a stellar calliope) and then later go to the Yaffa Cafe for some super sweet greek food and wacky 70's kitsch.
Saturday, July 20th
Dan and Katie, who are in NYC, head up to the Hawthorne Valley Farm to meet up with Dave and Ash. I decide to meet them Sunday morning at the farm. Saturday is spent planning the house warming party to take place at Lily's that night. We get a keg and other alcoholic things. Lily's brother Josh and his girlfriend Molly come over and we spend most of the night hanging out on the fire escape chatting. I had been really looking forward to seeing them and I'm glad I got to.
Sunday, July 21st
So for various reasons, I don't get to go to the farm. I'm a little bitter about it but not too much. Lily and I have dinner at the Rodeo Bar and then see Minority Report. I liked it very much. I won't go into details, because it seems like a hotly contested issue right now, and I don't have the time or the means.
Monday, July 22nd
Lily goes to work early morning and I head into manhattan. I get some internet stuff out of the way and .... drum roll ..... purchase a ticket from chicago to seattle. Finally I have my whole trip laid out. I hang out in Barnes and Nobles for four hours or so, then some late lunch in Union Square Park. I answer a "religious questionnaire" and confuse some 16 year old Indiana school kids, out proselytizeing to the teaming masses of sin here in NYC. Lily and I head back out to Brooklyn and hand out, get some pizza, listen to music and shoot the shit till around 2am.
Tuesday, July 23rd
I take the keg back to the keg place and work up a wicked sweat. 20 blocks, summer in new york, heavy keg on shoulder, giant bucket in the other hand. I figure since Dan is at the farm, instead of waiting around for him to finish and feeling kinda like a tool, I figure I'll to to Boston to see Kelly, since that is always rewarding. I head to chinatown and catch the secretive Fung Wah bus from chinatown manhattan to chinatown boston for 25$. No chickens on the bus, but no suspension either. Combine that with a daredevil four foot tall old chinese guy driving it and you've got a recipe for fun fun fun. I get to Boston and its raining but not too bad. I meet up with Kelly and we go out to dinner. I get to have both and locally brewed Amber and IPA with my meal. Sweet heaven. We go and have some beers elsewhere, then head to see Reign of Fire. Hmm.. well there's no question, it sucked. I expected nothing more. It was mildly entertaining. Ya it sucked.
Wednesday, July 24th
Kelly goes to work (school) and I walk around MIT for a while. Grab lunch at a place called Coyote, which was good. Take the T (subway / metro / tube / underground / etc) down to the waterfront, at the Aquarium and hang out there for a few hours. A great day, probably one of the best I've had in many months. Cool atlantic breeze, no obligations, unchecked freedom. Good stuff. Met up with Kelly and went to the Allston Public Library to watch a showing of one of my favorite films, Baraka by Ron Fricke, my own personal hero. Got dinner after and made ice cream sundaes back home.
Thursday, July 25th
So now it's thursday, about 3pm and I'm finishing up the internet stuff. Not sure what's next. I'll try to update again soon. Hope this didn't bore anyone to tears. Can't wait to get home.


  • didofoot says:

    “I head to chinatown and catch the secretive Fung Wah bus…”
    This sounds like a line from a Dylan song.
    Reading that you “stopped in England for breakfast,” I was suddenly hit by the you-ness of that and had to sit down. I mean, sit down more than I was already sitting.

  • michele says:

    man you are having so much fun. i am jealous. baraka looks really cool. i will have to see it some time. and i’m glad you did not lose your wallet.

  • Gene says:

    Hay! Thanks. And I know it’s a big entry, I suck. I just haven’t had internet access so I’ve had to take notes in the hopes that I would, one day have access again. So there it is. I get to see Dan today!

  • didofoot says:

    1. your entry is awesome, both in length and content.
    2. I should be camping and instead am on the internet. where did my life go wrong?

  • Jacob says:

    Hmmmm…why *aren’t* you camping, Kristen? How are you posting when you should be in Big Sur?
    Speaking of Baraka, I preordered Koyaanisqatsi (and Poyaqqatsi), Godfrey Reggio’s project that Fricke did the cinematography for. If you liked Baraka, I highly recommend catching both of the “Qatsi” films.

  • michele says:

    i like yahtzee. oh you said qatsi.
    yeah, don’t apologize for the length. i mean, what else would i have done at work if i had not been reading your page? really you saved me from doing anything actually productive. and for that i thank you profusely.
    ps. i was still camping! where did MY life go wrong?

  • michele says:

    hmmm looks like gene.

  • michele says:

    sounds like gene.

  • mishie says:

    smells like gene.

  • michele says:

    but where is gene?

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