New York New York

This entry is part of my plan for NaBloPoMo.

Then – 19 December 1991, New York City

Overall New York is very intense. Everyone is in a hurry and usually not helpful at all. Cars and trucks are always tooting their horns even if they can see that the car in front can’t go anywhere. Pedestrians cross anywhere, anytime, and usually wait in the middle of the road.

Our hostel was in a bit of a sleazy area on 42nd, 43rd street. Had absolutely no major hassles like being robbed. A few people would say rude stuff but do nothing more.

There were lots of people on the street handing out pamphlets. There is also heaps of rubbish on the street and the subway is generally very grotty, but seemed quite efficient. There are a lot of beggars on the subway and they go to every carriage, introduce themselves and tell everyone why they want, or rather need, money. For example, one had a stroke and needed money to survive.

Now

Even though I had been to Los Angeles which is also a pretty big city, it didn’t prepare me for New York City. Probably because it is quite different. New York is a lot more concentrated which is why it was full on for me. I actually liked it more for that reason even though it’s hard to tell from my ‘Then’ above.

By this time in my travels a few people that had done the States circuit were in New York to spend a bit of time before Christmas and before they headed off home or onto London as I was going to do. Therefore I wasn’t alone in New York and spent most of the time with someone while sightseeing.

I had never been so cold in all my life. Luckily I’d bought a fairly warm winter coat when I was in Florida, of all places, but I also wore tights under my jeans and bought a hat to keep my head warm. It was bitter, especially as I was traipsing up tall buildings to view the city, and I climbed the Statue of Liberty.

I couldn’t get over the cars beeping at each other when obviously nobody could move. It seemed everyone was in a hurry in this place. Coming from a city of about 1 million people it’s a big culture shock, although New York is the only city I’ve ever been to where there is this constant beeping. I could hear it in the room I was staying in.

As I mention above I stayed on 42nd, 43rd streets not far from the Port Authority Bus Station – not a very good area. The hostel I stayed in was at the top of a 13 or so storey building and there was a brothel on one of the floors so you never knew who you’d be in the lift with.

Two of the photos I’ve put on a Flickr set of New York have the twin towers showing prominently. It’s a stark reminder whenever I see them that these buildings are no longer there.

Yosemite

This entry is part of my plan for NaBloPoMo.

Then – 21 November 1991, Yosemite National Park

mountain-yosemite

Yosemite is absolutely gorgeous. Yesterday I went on a Valley Tour. Yosemite National Park is in the Sierra Nevada mountains which means, if I remember correctly, mountains topped with snow all the time. We saw El Kapitan which is the largest rock (granite) in the world. The valley is 4000 feet above sea level and El Kapitan is about another 4000 feet and it’s enormous.

We saw people climb up it. They only actually looked like dots but the people climbing it take about 3-10 days depending on which way they go. Therefore they have to sleep some time, either on a ledge or suspended on a hammock. I’d be too bloody scared to sleep.

…It’s the first time I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant by myself but I was seated right next to the group I’d met. After we’d all eaten I sat with them and talked for a little bit. ….and I was left with the bus driver [of the tour group]. He asked me if I had a boyfriend, then why didn’t I have a boyfriend because I was kinda cute. I hate it when people ask me that. His tour is going to Los Angeles, like me, and on Saturday they are touring Beverly Hills and Hollywood and he asked me to go along which I will.

Now

I know, I’ve rewound time slightly. I went to Yosemite before I went to Key West and the east coast. I decided to include this one as it was so gorgeous as I mention above. I was captivated by El Kapitan. (Click on photo above to see more of Yosemite).

I only went to Yosemite after a suggestion from some friends I stayed with in San Francisco. It was lonely being in a place like this by myself. It was more suited to the tour groups, couples and families. I had a lovely cottage all to myself though, and it was a bit decadent especially as I was supposed to be backpacking.

I didn’t write in my diary as to why I didn’t end up going with my bus driver but it didn’t feel right, especially as everyone else on the bus would have paid and I would have just been a hanger on. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been above board and another kind of payment might have been expected.

I ended up catching a bus from Yosemite to Merced and getting a cheap hotel room to wait it out there rather than at a bus station for a 4am bus trip to Los Angeles. It wasn’t that far to walk to the bus station which was really stupid of me especially as I got lost. Luckily I found some guys doing up a shop at that time and when they realised I had luggage one of them gave me a lift to the bus station. I made it to Los Angeles safely.

Road trip to Boston via Poughkeepsie

This entry is part of my plan for NaBloPoMo.

Then – 16 December 1991, Philadelphia to Boston

Oldest street in Philadelphia

I’d decided to go to Boston to kill a couple of days before getting to New York. Alex said it was okay to come along with him and Val [I met them both at youth hostel in Philiadelphia] but we were stopping at Poughkeepsie, New York so he could buy a couple of bikes. I thought that would be interesting so I decided to go with them rather than catch the bus.

I imagined Poughkeepsie to be a small town but it was quite large. We arrived after dark and we went straight to where Alex was buying the bike. He buys here and sells them in Germany. The man who was selling the bike wasn’t very friendly. He reminded Val of a squirrel, not the cuteness but just the general look. He was very weedy.

Alex was a fair while buying talking bikes with the squirrel which was pretty boring for Val and I. He eventually finished, and decided to buy the bike but wasn’t picking it up until the next day. Trying to find something to do in Poughkeepsie was hard as it’s a fairly large place and the only places to go out where somewhere called Berties which seemed to mainly consist of young kids. We ended up going to see a new movie called ‘Hook’. The movie was okay but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen.

We wanted to go and have a drink afterwards and eventually ended up at a bar which we soon discovered was a gay bar. It was quite coincidental as Val is gay. I should describe him. He’s black, very effeminate, has got sort of cute little dreadlocks, has a round cheerful face and is a bit plump. He likes very much to be the centre of attention and is quite amusing. When we walked into the bar everyone just looked. I felt like I was in a backwater country town where everyone looks at a stranger when they walk in.

… Alex I can’t work out. When I first met him he really smelled awful, like he hadn’t changed his clothes for weeks which he probably hadn’t. I couldn’t figure out his sexual orientation. He and Val seemed to be pretty close so God knows.

… The next day Alex picked up the bike from the squirrel and then the squirrel took us to another guy’s place to get another bike. By the time both bikes were loaded (one in the van and the other on the trailer) we were very loaded up. If the road was bumpy we would bounce up and down a lot. It was fairly slow progress to Boston.

Now

I will always remember this experience because it was quite spontaneous and it was one of those very spontaneous things that turned out to be great fun. It was spontaneous in my mode of transport, not the fact I was going somewhere, although from memory I hadn’t planned on going to Boston. By this stage of my travels in the States I’d met people who were going in the same direction as me but nobody was travelling to the same places at the same time as me. We just had informal arrangements like rough dates, and places of accommodation so we could potentially catch up.

Therefore an offer of a lift was too good to pass up and I really hated travelling on Greyhound. It was also an opportunity to see countryside I probably wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I must have been desperate to get away from Greyhound because I really struggle with people with strong body odour like Alex had. I must have got used to it after a couple of days on the road though, so much so that I even slept in the van with them for that one night in Poughkeepsie.

Poughkeepsie felt really strange for me. It had an unusual vibe and I was quite glad to leave. I didn’t really feel unsafe there, it just wasn’t a place I wanted to hang around in.

Visiting the gay bar was probably the first gay bar I’d ever been in so it was a real eye opener from that perspective.

Overall I did enjoy the short road trip. It was definitely one of those experiences that can make travelling great fun.

Time in Key West

This entry is part of my plan for NaBloPoMo.

Then -  7 December 1991, Key West

My first night in Key West I rang mum. I’d had a bad dream the night before that dad was really sick and I knew something had happened, so I really spun out when mum said she had bad news. Auntie B had died. Apparently she was found dead in a chair. Mum didn’t say what from. She was only about 63.

….The beaches were really horrible in Key West. Fort Zachary was full of rocks and coral where sand should have been. It was painful just trying to go for a swim because of having to step over the rocks, or pebbles I should say.

Now

The above diary entry was written on 7 December 1991, but after I’d left Key West when I was in Orlando.

Auntie B was only 60 when she died of a heart attack, and she’d only recently retired. I didn’t have a lot to do with her which I now regret because I know I could have learnt a lot more from her and had some great conversations. She was a staunch feminist and very intelligent. I know that now I’m older I could appreciate this a lot more than I would have then. She would be 75 now if she were still alive. She died before I started at university and I’m sure she would have been proud of me doing this.

I wrote about the beaches because I had never encountered a rocky beach before. We’re very lucky here with our beaches being pretty clean and mostly sandy. Sometimes we have to contend with seaweed but that rarely overtakes the whole beach – there’s usually some sand to walk or lie on. I also remember lying on a beach in front of a hotel and getting told to move because it belonged to the hotel. What? Beaches are public I thought.

Black and white

Holdingmydoll I must have been about four or five in this photo. I still have this doll as we speak. She is lying in JJ’s room on the floor with a dress on but no underwear. I call her Lucy because of the red curly hair. I guess with this photo I was dressed up to go out somewhere as it looks like good, going out, clothing.

The birthday looms ever closer and preparations for the party are well underway. On the weekend when I was attending someone elses 40th, I was asked a few times if I was excited about my party. My answer would have to be no because it’s stressful having a party. Will the weather be ok, will people enjoy themselves, will the music be great? I’m sure it will be fun on the night and I hope I get a chance to enjoy myself and not have to run around too much tending to people’s wants and needs.

Pedigree doll

My nana used to say to me that when I was a little girl that our local priest said that I was like a doll, a pedigree doll. Gotta back up this statement with the evidence.

Youngjaycee

My family

I’ve borrowed my sister’s scanner so I can scan some family photos that don’t belong to me. This photo does actually belong to me though as my sister used to work in a photo processing lab and printed this one off (among others) for me.

The three handsome devils in the back row are (L to R) Murray, Sid (my grandpa) and Alf. The four in the bottom row (L to R) are Alice, George, Eliza and Min. Alice and George, in case you haven’t gathered, are the parents – my great grandparents who I never met. I never met Alice either. Don’t know what happened to her. I’ll have to ask dad.

My grandpa died when I was about five so I don’t really remember him either. All I really remember is him driving out to the farm where I grew up in his black car and he’d bring us kids Monte Carlo biscuits for a snack. The family gossip is that he was an alcoholic which could be the reason why he was relatively young when he died.

They are all dead now, Auntie Min being the last one to go fairly recently.Myfamily

My great-grandparents are looking quite serious and this reminds me of another photo I remember from my grandparents house of them where there are no smiles to be found. I guess this photo was taken in an age (1940s?) and there were more instamatic type cameras around then, therefore people didn’t have to pose for a photo for quite as long as the original cameras. I’m not sure about this so don’t quote me.