Ten Miles

Added: 17-5-2007

Aha. back on the road. the feel of the tarmac, the roar of the traffic. yes, today was an Urban day, and with Urban days come sidewalks and dust and all sorts of cars to avoid. today’s route was from Independence, where we left off last year, into the centre of Kansas City and it was indeed pretty easy. ten miles, no problems. it even ended nicely too, with a friend of a friend we met in Missouri, the one and only Tabletop Tom, taking us to lunch at an old bar in Westport which used to be owned by a grandson of Daniel Boone. one of the bar areas was apparently where livestock and whatnot would be sold back in the days of the civil war. all very interesting, and they do a good pizza slice. Tom was good company, chatting US foreign policy and scouting with us for a couple of hours, and we got back here about two hours ago well satisfied with our day. as to how Tabletop Tom got his name…that’s a good story. so good we’ll save it for the book…

so tomorrow we cross into Kansas proper (the city sits on the state line with Missouri). Kansas is a state we’ve been secretly dreading all along, even if people are telling us (well, one person – that’s you Butch) that it will be way nicer than we imagine. having driven across the beggar last week I’m not so sure Dave and I are feeling that way but, as we can’t do anything, we are going into this latest challenge with as much optimism as we can possibly muster. it will be good, it will have plenty of places showing the Champions League final next Wednesday, and there will be plentiful Internet access all over. there will be no need to download spoken word versions of The Lord of the Rings or War and Peace for the scenery will be so interesting. there will be several varieties of tree, and not just the one telegraph pole that we have been told about. Scarlet Johansson and Natalie Portman will be crossing the state on foot at about the same time and we will run into them on the second day. we have new, bigger tents. there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

or maybe not. either way we are taking no chances. in an effort to make things more interesting we have bought a football (soccer ball) and will be kicking it across Kansas. how this will work out I haven’t a clue, but it seemed a good idea when we passed the Hispanic football store on Independence Boulevard this morning. All we have to do now is work out how to dribble the ball out of downtown Kansas City…

Stuart                               Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook


Added: 31-5-2006

I’m writing this now from our good friend Steph’s apartment in Washington DC, it’s 11.20 local time but in our heads it’s 4.21am. I’m feeling fairly chipper, if a little disorientated, Dave looks wiped (although he’s currently tuning his guitar). One thing that has struck us both though – it’s immensely hot here (the stewardess on the plane called it a ‘delightful 32 degrees’). Like, really hot. God knows how we’ll do much walking in 32 degress but I guess we’ll find out…

For now though, cereal, Irish tea (?!) and sleep. Tomorrow, shopping, Internet activities and burgers. All is good. We are here. America is out the window. Apparently we will now proceed to walk across it. Magic.

Stuart                               Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

Post-everything update

Added: 29-5-2006

Greetings from Herne Bay, possibly the most beautiful town on the whole of the North Kent coast. Today is my last full day in England and I have so many things to do it’s unreal, starting with lunch in the pub. The last couple of weeks have been extremely busy with so many walk-related things happening that I don’t know where to begin. Despite this, I shall try with the aid of a list:

  1.  First I recovered from the road blisters gained from my walk down the A23. This was done with the help of good friends Spenser and Nikki at their place in Brighton, where I was given a room and much hospitality.
  2. Then I limbered up for our benefit gig at the Hobgoblin in Brighton. Admittedly this didn’t take much apart from turning up, but when I got there I discovered I was to be doorman and cameraman all at the same time (it got a bit complex, especially as I had never used the video camera before (apparently I got some great footage of ashtrays and beer glasses) and also because I am far too polite to be on the door of somewhere charging money, inevitably greeting guests by saying things like “I’m terribly sorry, but would you mind awfully if I removed five of your English pounds from your wallet, it’s all in aid of a good cause and I promise you will have a good time.”
  3. Anyway, things worked out because we raised £200 for the British Heart Foundation and we were all very proud of ourselves. And very drunk. Many thanks to the Dials and the Crucks who played great sets, and many thanks indeed to Dave Toolan himself, who sailed the seas of stress in search of the correct arrangements for the gig.
  4. After Brighton it was back to London where I pretty much immediately left for a library conference in Wales. This was the Celtic Connections library conference in Cardiff and I was the opening speaker. Getting the paper together had proved a bit of a hassle (£4.50 for an hour’s wi-fi at the British Library?!! Please…) but it all went well and I had the pleasure of hearing Neil Kinnock give the Keynote address later on in the day. Not a bad speaker at all, Mr Kinnock…
  5.  Back to London, manic rushing to buy more kit. And to find a seat in the pub for the Champions League final. After the terrifying injustice served upon Spurs by dodgy plates of Lasagne and/or the nefarious influence of Arsenal supporting hotel staff, it was a pleasure to see the Forces of Evil destroyed by Barcelona. A good night.
  6. Next day, up at the crack of dawn to head to Switzerland. I’ll put all of our adventures into another section of the journal for those interested, and there will be shedloads of pictures in the gallery soon no doubt. To sum up though – Switzerland was fantastic. There was simply no one there, due to the fact that we arrived in between seasons. Consequently we could lord it over the Jura and the Swiss Alps like inappropriate hikers armed with expensive kit. All good clean fun.
  7. And finally, back to where I am now writing this from. Herne Bay, Coastal Leisure Town of Dreams (mostly bad ones). I’ve had a great weekend here with my old crew, out Friday in Chatham for the excellent Re:Fried (cheers Rob, you dirty man! That kebab shop…was it the ninth circle of hell?), out in Herne Bay on Saturday for curry and pool, and out in Whistable yesterday for beers on the beach, fish and chips and then more pool. I loved it.So there you go. More updates to come in the Switzerland section. Then more updates as soon as we get to the US. Incidentally, if anyone in the US is reading this and has heard of the game of soccer, could they please email me or write in the Guestbook any information about which channels might be showing the World Cup games? I am positive some people will have heard of soccer over there (it’s the one with the ball, played using the feet) so if anyone has any information, please let me know (is it only watched in dark basements in secret?).

    And one more thing, before I go. We’re beginning to get a little momentum regarding sponsorship for the British Heart Foundation, so please please please consider clicking here to pledge a little cash towards this most worthy of causes. Go on, we’re walking across the US so you don’t have to…(PS: Cheers Ed! Great donation 🙂

    All for now. We start the walk on Saturday. Amazing…

    Stuart                                                  Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook 


Added: 5-5-2006 1

OK, if you’re reading this I would like you to start the music to Foreigner’s ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ in the back of your head right now. Why? Well, because it’s only the best soft rock tune of the 80s (excepting maybe Chicago’s ‘Niagara Falls’ (“As long as Niagara falls, as long as Gibraltar stands…” genius), but that’s another discussion) and it also was the tune, for some reason, of my final week in Denmark, a week that has now sadly, come to an end…

Yes, for the last week I have been back in Blighty, busily pumping money into the London transport network and generally enjoying the mini-heatwave while preparing a final conference paper for a gig in Wales next week. I left Denmark on Monday after the four hours of unconsciousness (I don’t believe it was sleep) that followed a marathon farewell party at Café Salonen, site of our regular Sunday DJ sessions for the past few months. A seven hour DJing spectacular, all the hits that Sven Vath never dared play, all the things that most floated the boat for my multi-talented DJ partner Mikkel and myself over the past four and a half years. It was a lot of tunes, a lot of smiles and quite a lot of that good weissbier they serve in the café. Loads of familiar faces from my time in Denmark including library people, flatmates old and new, people I met on planes, people I met in bars, people I danced with at parties, people who set their hair on fire while trying to avoid that mad street woman who came in the café once and put her legs behind her head, football team mates, unlucky customers who got caught in the crush at the back of the café and couldn’t leave, thus having to listen to us play, er, Foreigner, again and also such greats as La Ritournelle (thank you Sebastian!) and Breathe Me (final scene of Six Feet Under, oh my god)…yeah, it was quite a scene.

(if you’re doing the Foreigner tune still, this should be the bit where he goes “whoa, whoa, whoa-oa-oa”. Hang on, the first chorus is coming)

The whole four years were quite a scene really. Denmark is a great place, a place I really enjoyed and one I’d consider going back to, if I am not still lost walking East to West in the US. The people were fantastic, the herrings quite tasty once I had gotten over my fear of curried fish in jars, and the beers eventually (well done Denmark!) got a bit more varied than three types of Tuborg and three types of Carlsberg. I had the good fortune to work and play with excellent people and I don’t regret a moment. So there.

Yes, tears are freely dripping down my cheeks now. In the background, Foreigner are rising to a chorus. Perhaps later I will write a more relevant journal entry that relates to the fact that in less than a month I am apparently supposed to be walking 5057 miles across a very wide continent aided only by sturdy Dave and some quality underwear (Oh, and some amazing GPS equipment – thanks Garmin, more on your kit soon!). For now though, in the style of the most marvellous Alanis Morisette, I would like to say thank you India! Thank you terror! thank you disillusionment!!

And now, if you have your lighters ready: “I wanna know what love is….I want you to show me!”

Stuart                                        Have a comment? Please sign the guestbook

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