This entry is part of my plan for NaBloPoMo.
Then – 16 December 1991, Philadelphia to Boston
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.
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.