Today has been one filled with mild disappointment. Firstly, the 'Great Salt Lake' turned out to be nothing but a salt puddle that was inaccessible, apparently due to a drought. I feel it was a bigger disappointment than Christmas. The next logical option after that was, of course, to visit an aviary. Whilst excited at first to see a Pelican, I was disappointed that majestic beasts such as Eagles and Condors were reduced to being stationary inmates in a 'bird prison'. Two establishments refused to serve us tonight because they don't accept driving licenses, only passports. WHO TAKES A PASSPORT OUT WITH THEM? Just to highlight the differing stringency of the law in Mexico compared to Utah: We got into a country using our driving licenses now we can't buy a beer here using the same thing.

Day 22.  I can be very awkward with people, but today I was engaged in two different conversations with different people without turning bright red. I was effusive by my standards (the chat lasted longer than thirty seconds). Maybe I’m evolving.

Day 23. We have a better relationship with our Satnav than we did with Scott, our host from Salt Lake. He sat in silence, on his phone for three days while we holed ourselves in our room trying to stay mute; a bit like Anne Frank. The situation we find ourselves in Idaho is good, I'm quietly confident these people don't want to murder us; our introduction was strange though. Basically, we were alone in their house with their two young boys for around an hour before their parents came home from work. I like the sentiment behind 'trust your fellow man' but leaving your kids alone with two foreign strangers, one with a beard and no CRB check is unsafe and compromising. Their children are safe nonetheless.

Day 24. It seems as though cities in England are copying the make up of cities here. Even small cities such as Boise are teeming with hipster coffee shops and bars selling micro-brewed beer. Idaho has been a happy accident for us. We've unintentionally come to this city but in doing so we've met two unbelievably nice people. They're helpful, affable, outgoing and seem genuinely interested in what we're doing here. Their hospitality has extended further than their own home; Courtney suggested that we stay with her mother near Seattle free of charge. It's an offer we'd be stupid to refuse. It’s quite surreal as we were complete strangers yesterday. Guns must work, especially for this lot as they don't lock their house doors or cars...ever. It seems that the thought of being met by a man wielding a shotgun after you've broken into his home is a suitable deterrent.

Day 25. America has no history. Fact. We visited Idaho City, an old place by their standards. They seemed to be proud of having buildings in place that were erected in the 1870's. To put it into perspective, Skipton Castle is older than their entire country. Maybe this explains their infatuation with Britain as they can only talk about their own motherland regarding events of the last few hundred years. Idaho Springs was beautiful; a natural hot spring nestled in the mountains overlooking the verdant woodland. We indulged in a spot of whale watching and by this I mean we watched a morbidly obese man desperately try climb out of the water.

Day 26. Another day devoted to driving but the scenic route from Boise to Lewiston felt easy and serene. It’s April but evidence of winter is still noticeable. In some areas, especially Payette there was a few feet of snow on the ground and the river was partially frozen. Our intention was to visit Hells Canyon but we may have to Google it instead as the road was too much for our car and my driving skills to handle. I'd have hated myself for making Eve get out and change a tyre half way up a dangerously steep hill. The motel in Lewiston is slightly sketchy. It has a 1970's bed spread, an air conditioner than sounds like The Hindenburg and it stinks of cats. It's only for one night.

Day 27.  Any town centre in England on a Sunday before twelve o’clock is bound to be deserted. You’ll either see the elderly going for a drive or the remnants of the previous night still drinking in Spoons. Here, Sunday morning signals breakfast. Their drinking culture must be different to ours as we went to Moscow early this morning and everyone in the town was there, nobody was in bed hung over. Any plans we had were scuppered when we heard the wait to get food was two hours. I imagine for some of the families, their response to this news was "Okay we'll go get somethin' to eat then come back". We're with Courtney's mum in Coure D'Alene, a quiet, lakeside town reminiscent of Windermere. It transpires that there is a town close by with the same name.

Day 28. "If someone dared you to jump off a cliff would you?" The answer is 'yes', if it was a small cliff and there was water, not sharp rocks underneath. People were jumping in the river yesterday so I told myself today I would, the only thing is it was quite cold but with Eve watching on, cheerleading her hero, I delivered a textbook three and a half somersault into pike position dive with minimal splash. Ten's swept the board and I made a nation proud. I foolishly thought the water would be luxuriously warm because the sun was out, I should've realised it's still early spring and it was never going to be a hot bath. Now, with my testicles lodged somewhere in my throat and thinking warm thoughts, we went to get me out of my wet clothes. It's a constant battle between sunshine and me. The yellow scourge was out in force and even with a force field of factor 150 it still managed to penetrate through and burn me. Vitamin D is not, and never will be anyone's friend. Seattle tomorrow.... pray for rain.IMG_2168

Day 29. God heard me and blessed us with a deluge. My burnt frown grew to a smile whilst Eve's smile turned to a grimace. We've had no chance to explore Seattle yet but as soon as daylight comes we'll be out of here with haste as the woman who we're living with strikes me as being slightly unhinged. She has the unsettled, intense gaze of a substitute teacher at her wit's end; she's also in constant dialogue with her dog...her non-human dog who can't speak. She doesn't do it in an endearing manner but an aggressive, maternal one. She rambles on at the poor thing as though she's berating her own child: "Come on now look, you're sleepy and you're not listening to me", as if she would ever get an answer. The room is probably bugged and our every move and utterance scrutinized. We'll keep the door locked.

Day 30. Out of everywhere we've been so far, Seattle is the place I've been most enamoured with. I could see myself living here as it harbours some similarities with England (mainly shit weather). It seems as though it's quite a working class area with a deep-rooted history in industry. Pike Place Market has been a highlight, imagine Leeds Market but bigger and you can't get your hair braided. There's all the rudimentary market folk art yet there's an excitement and rawness about the place that you feel as soon as you enter. It's a sensory overload; all the food, flowers and lights keep you stimulated as you walk around. The Clam Chowder we ate was unrivalled to anything I've ever eaten. Fish mongery may be a career I could venture in to as it involves things I enjoy such as being cold, smelling terribly and looking like a vagrant. The hunt for Marmite came to a temporary conclusion as there was a crumpet shop selling it but I've yet to procure a jar of my own.


Day 31. Seattle Space Needle; it’s like that giant Polo tower that used to be in Morecambe except its good and not shaped like a Polo. The views at the top are incredible but I’m not happy about the guerrilla photography tactics deployed by staff at the entrance. I can’t envisage having any regrets about where we’ve gone or what we’ve done but, I would say that if I return to America I’d like to spend longer in Seattle. It doesn’t feel like we’re on holiday anymore, it just feels like were unemployed and leading a nomadic, gypsy lifestyle.

Day 32. Tacoma. ‘Coma’ being the appropriate suffix. There’s a big totem pole and a shit art gallery. Move on.

Day 33. I sampled an American delicacy today: ‘Chicken fried Steak’ or as it should be known: ‘Beef wrapped in heart failure’. It’s an unhappy marriage and I doubt I’ll ever try it again. Once the palpitations receded we headed to Long Beach, not the place Dre raps about but a town on the Washington coast. It’s the kind of beach I prefer, replete with driftwood and sand dunes. I donned my rancid swimming shorts and ventured out toward the sea but, as we all know, the sea is a powerful mistress. So when I realised that the waves were powerful enough to kill me I bravely backed away. I’d rather die a coward than live a hero. That was my way of saying it was too cold and I ran away.

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Day 34. I must express my outrage at having to pay $10 for the privilege of looking at a lighthouse. Not an impressive lighthouse with character but an old, dilapidated one that’s not even functioning. By the time we’d returned to the car after a ten minute round trip, I was in full ‘dad rant’ mode. It’s not the amount of money, it’s the principal of paying a sum to look upon something so underwhelming; a lot like watching Leeds United. With my diatribe against the system over, we headed to Portland. We’ve only been here a few hours but you can tell already that its one of those free-love, bohemian, hipster type places akin to Camden. Everywhere is organic , there’s shops selling stuff made from hemp and the local populous look so dishevelled, you can’t tell who’s homeless or not. Unlike Camden it doesn’t come across as pompous and intimidating, it’s endearing and quirky. Eve and I have been together for three years today. It’s strange because we’ve been together for a substantial amount of time and I still quite like her; we even talk regularly. To celebrate we went to see ‘The Jungle Book’.

Day 35. 31 degrees and I’m on the verge of being both hot and bothered. We spent the day perusing local shops, mainly second hand places; purveyors of clothing with spurious stains and random crap you’ll put straight in your attic once you’ve bought it. There are some interesting people here. By interesting I mean mental.

Day 36. There’s a jovial atmosphere surrounding Portland. Eccentrics were aplenty in the city centre, one of whom told me he was “haunted by evil spirits... the disgusting kind”. I’m sure that will hold up in court. The downtown area feels sparse and vague in the way it’s laid out, as in you don’t seem to know where anything is or what to do. This is reflected in the people, who look as though they’re aimlessly wandering around with no cause or purpose. We spent all afternoon on a bus. The journey should’ve taken twenty minutes but due to a navigational balls up on our part, it ended up taking an hour and a half. It’s a fairly mundane question to ask but why, in thirty degree heat, does nobody hang their washing outside...?

Day 37. Japanese gardens are supposed to be a place for quiet meditation; they depict an image of tranquillity and zen. After waiting a lifetime for a bus whilst holding in a full bladder, by the time I got there I was ready to tarmac the whole thing. Walking around a supposedly soothing environment whilst filled with rage and anger isn’t the best way to make the most of your experience. With the addition of a chorus of digger and drill noises from the neighbouring building site, my chi was truly fucked. The garden itself was pathetic. Then it was time for the mandatory two hour dawdle looking at nothing, doing nothing and complaining about hunger. Never in England has a bus driver shouted to me on a crowded bus, after I’d pressed the button, “Do you want this stop or the one at the lights?” Surely, if I wanted the next one I’d have pressed the button after. Too English to yell anything across a crowded environment, we basically kicked the doors open and walked off.

Day 38. If anyone asks me “Do you remember where you were when you heard that Prince died?” sheepishly, I’d have to reply “Yeh, I was driving after I’d been to Woodburn Tulip Festival”. It was a boring, non event; not that you’d expect guns, drugs and prostitutes at a small flower festival. There must have been anything up to twenty six people there at one point, time to get crowd control in. There’s been a sombre tone today after Princes passing.


Day 39. Nothing says ‘Please rob me at gunpoint’ like a drive-through cash machine. They’re a stupid idea yet they’re ubiquitous, it’s as if people would rather be mugged or shot than walk a monumental distance of fifty feet to a bank. There were Sea Lions swimming freely in the Pacific Ocean; they seemed miniscule in the vast expanses of water. Eugene is my favourite place. It has no landmarks, nightlife or anything remotely enjoyable or noteworthy, but there’s a shop that sells Marmite and Yorkshire Tea.

Day 40. If there was a high point to a forgettable day it was watching Eve, with tears in her eyes, dredge a bowl of Thai Hot Pot removing bits of detritus whilst lamenting the ‘bits of shit’ floating around in the soup. She displayed the kind of adroitness a heart surgeon would’ve been proud of. After politely paying, showing no sign of unhappiness she wandered over to McDonalds and emerged with the beaming grin of a child at Legoland. She’s an anomaly; inside a petit frame belies a four hundred pound obese woman with chafed thighs and ankles.

Published by Josh Toulmin