I am ashamed to admit that in my 25 years on this earth I have never been away from home for longer than 2 weeks. All this is about to change. Finally after years of stalling, procrastinating and having a lack of self-belief, Eve and I are America bound.

  • We might argue: We might not.
  • We might laugh: I might not.
  • We might cry: I probably will.

Currently I am a delicate cocktail of emotion. The trepidation makes me nervous and scared, the anticipation makes me eager and excited. The two are married together in such a way that, without each other the adventure doesn't seem real. It definitely, 100 percent is though.

Day 1. From bed wetter to jet setter. Even I didn't believe we were going until we finally got off the plane. We said goodbye to the woman who read The Daily Mail as if she was contractually obliged to skim read it every 25 minutes and headed onwards. After being mentally molested at customs I tried to grab whatever dignity I had left by going to enquire about our rental car. By this time, the man at customs knew more about me than my own father and I was almost sad to see him go. I told him what hospital I was born in, how much money I had in my bank account and whom I thought framed Steven Avery. Of course the car rental company had no account of us, which meant a taxi to the hotel to the tune of $30 (but just take 40 mate, I don't want change). Me being the proud, strong-willed man I am I'm letting Eve ring the travel company up to sort things out while I nod in agreement. We've only been here 12 hours. We have no car, everyone's American and the TV is too big.

Day 2. Reluctantly I have to admit that I like sunshine. After what felt like 14months of solid 'English' winter, a blue sky and blazing sunshine is welcome. This fresh optimism soon withered and died once went to pick up the car. They drive on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car so something was bound to go wrong. In the short journey back to the hotel I must have gone in to cardiac arrest 4 times yet I am amazed and quite proud that we returned unscathed. By this time it was hot.... too hot (anything over 18 degrees Celsius constitutes as boiling) and we ventured into Downtown LA. Not much to say, the building are imposing, the streets are crowded and everyone seems to have a face tattoo and schizophrenia. What struck me most was the depravity and poverty on the streets. For a country so rich and 'prosperous' how can so many people lay in such squalor and live out of shopping trolleys? More troubling and upsetting is the fact these people have mental illnesses and need help yet they will be left to rot on the curb. Maybe, when a man asked me earlier to "buy me some shoes I'm homeless" I should've obliged.

Day 3.Too hot...again. Before going to Pasadena we decided to drive nervously to Santa Monica. The buildings were smaller and the streets less crowded but the homeless were out in their droves in the morning sunshine. I can't blame them, if I were homeless then i'd live here rather than under a motorway bridge. It's a beautiful, coastal town and after wandering around we inadvertently stumbled across 'Muscle Beach'. The sweat stained adonises doing pull ups left me with very confusing thoughts that I should bury away into the deepest recesses of my mind. Not to be bested by these gladiators I climbed a rope (to impress Eve) and in the process I think I dislocated my rotator cuff. It was worth it though. The car park was labyrinthine and we spent a good half hour trying to look for our car in the wrong building so when we found it we gave each other a look that said, "88 days left of this shit". It’s sinking in now that we are anonymous, alone and independent.

Day4.'Like like like like like like like like like like'. That's the word I'm taking from today. It's a word so over used its rendered meaningless; it makes me want to punch someone. I didn't rate Hollywood; in fact I hated it. From the moment we arrived to when we left I felt like I was being vigorously shaken and screamed at. It's abruptly forced upon you and the amount of convicted sex criminals dressed like Antonio Banderas and other such luminaries in unnerving. As a place it is vacuous, devoid of charm, character and emotion. It's a place built on false pretences not to mention it being too hot, loud and crowded. I like my skies grey and my people silent. Bill Cosby still has a star though. Tipping needs to be abolished; it's basically giving someone an extra few dollars for doing fuck all apart from intruding in your meal asking if you're okay, comfortable, happy, healthy, emotionally stable every 2 minutes. At a bar today a girl served us some drinks yet another girl ended up getting the tip and was visibly disgruntled when she felt she didn't get tipped enough...ludicrous. Arrogantly we decided we knew our surroundings well enough to walk back to our lodgings. A 5 mile walk later and we are both broken; another 8 o'clock bedtime looms for us wild youngsters.IMG_1153

Day 5. Went to the Griffith Observatory today after an early awakening. We can’t seem to break the habit of early bedtime and early rise. It's like we’re in our 80's. The observatory is beautifully located atop a hill overlooking Hollywood; it looks nice from far away. With that over and done with by half ten we drove home and spent the afternoon in Old Pasadena. Not much to say apart from it was hot and we ate a burrito. The obesity pandemic is making more sense to me. You can’t seem to buy fruit anywhere that isn't coated in enough sugar to send an 8-year-old into a coma. I would hazard a guess that we could buy Crystal Meth easier than a banana. We go to San Diego tomorrow...I bet it’s hot.

Day 6. Driving on the freeway with 'Girls just wanna have fun' playing was an experience I didn't know I wanted to happen until it did. I felt proud to be a woman trapped inside a man’s body. San Diego's a cool place, we walked up and down the Gaslamp District about twenty times and then I ate so much Lobster I thought I was going to split into two. Once again the homeless population was high; they were slumped amongst each other under bridges and on benches. A part of me wants to know how these people got to where they are now. Smoking here is an issue I find frustrating and perplexing. No smoking within 25ft of a public place thus ruling out the possibility of a drink and a cigarette outside. How can a country be so hypocritical? They put sugar on everything, give kids diabetes, a child can obtain a gun yet they say 'don't you dare smoke outside in the open air'. Our Air BnB hosts are nice, inquisitive and overtly friendly…. basically, very American. If we're tactical we won't have to spend too much time in the house making idle chitchat. They don't have a kettle. What kind of household doesn't own a kettle? What kind of household doesn't drink tea? After explaining our urgent need for some tea our host said she would buy a kettle and in return we would give her some Yorkshire Tea. Don't ever say to woman in her own home, "I'll give you a teabag before we go". I fear she might ring the police.

Day 7. Today there were Sea Lions and birds that were either Dodos or Pterodactyls at La Jolla Beach. I have a quiet admiration and respect for fat people now. Anybody who can consume so much food on a consistent basis has to be applauded. I feel it's as skilled a discipline as working in the gym to achieve a six-pack.
Day 8. I was going to use this chapter as a eulogy to the life changing breakfast I had but then Tijuana happened. It's been of those days that highlights what a naïve and sheltered existence I've led up to this point. Firstly and obviously, America and Mexico are two different countries and to enter another country you need a passport. Unfortunately our basic Geography let us down as well as our common sense and we arrived at the America/Mexico border without our passports but with our UK driving licenses. This is kind of like trying to get into France using nothing but your Nectar card; it's a bit dim. It turns out that the Mexican authorities aren't as complacent as we are because we were allowed to enter much to our own bemusement (we did say to the border guard we were prepared to go home but he ushered us into a room instead). As a place Tijuana is frenetic, crowded and ramshackled; like its been haphazardly glued together by a child. The people are ebullient and welcoming although their sole purpose seems to be to ply you with as much free Tequila as possible until you buy the entire contents of their shop. I can imagine it's a place where someone could easily go missing and at night, I would hazard a guess that it's a seedy, debauched place teeming with lurid activity. The Tequila, especially the aphrodisiac kind with a snake in the bottle went down smoothly yet nothing went up. On the way out of Mexico we joined a queue that started somewhere near Bolivia and stood patiently in true British fashion while locals tried to flog crisps, porcelain turtles and pictures of the last supper; all essentials. The real tale began when we arrived at the exit and were faced with the humiliation of showing a surly looking man our driving licenses. After he rolled his eyes in derision we were sent to a holding pen full of other low lives and miscreants. We were interrogated and then I no uncertain terms told to "fuck off and sort your lives out”. The whole process took around 5 hours and lowered my life expectancy to 29. This debacle was buffoonery on our part yet it would be remiss to question why the Mexicans let us in when they could have easily let us walk away. In the first week we've nearly lost a car and flirted with deportation. I don't think we're stupid people, I think we are deficient in common sense and aren't very good at life yet. Sometimes you need to realise what an idiot you are before you potentially improve yourself. No matter how hard I try, I'll never get my full cavity search at customs. In summation, we're stupid, Mexico's great. Don't build the wall Trump.


Day 9. Today was not nearly as eventful as yesterday thankfully. I don't think we trusted ourselves enough to do anything that involved conscious thought. Even the supermarkets are on a grander scale. Today we went to what was basically a warehouse filled with food in tonne bags, water in gallons and toilet paper in packs of 100. It was the kind of place you'd go if you feared the rapture and you were stockpiling for Armageddon or if you had an army of Spartans to feed. The rest of the day was idle. We laid by the pool, a swimming pool, outside, in march which surreal considering if you jumped into the local lido at home at this time of year you'd die of hypothermia before you hit the water.

Day 10. I was disappointed not to see a bungalow made of carbohydrates when we pulled up to 'The Family House of Pancakes'. I'm almost certain I contracted type two diabetes after eating an omelette consisting of what seemed like 15 ostrich eggs and a pancake doused in syrup. Everything got slightly more surreal after driving to Moreno Valley. If you ever wondered 'is there a Chinese boarding house in Palm Springs?' then the answer is yes, because we're staying in it. An elderly Chinese lady who invited us in greeted us. Then, after explaining who we were looking for, ushered us out. The man who's house it is explained to us through several text messages that everything is ok and we should go back in again and fight them off. We haven't met said owner yet so its just us living in a home full of Chinese people who, I feel are conspiring to boil and eat us. In a supermarket I tried to buy some wine therefore presented my driving license but was refused by the shop assistant because, after deliberating with her manager decided that "I cant serve you because you look too young on your photo". Funny that, how I look younger 7 years ago when the photo was taken than I do today. The concept of ageing is lost on these people.

Day 11.Today I felt as though we were in a waiting room waiting for Vegas. Finally met Yin our host and found out his favourite "soccer ball team" is Liverpool. This was surprising as I thought; with him being Asian his answer would've been Colchester United.

Day 12. Anything I said about L.A or Hollywood being too much for us country folk, I retract. Vegas has both places in The Walls of Jericho in terms of craziness. The drive itself was slightly melancholic. It was aesthetically beautiful in terms of scenery yet morbid, desolate and depressing in terms of atmosphere. Lost towns were dispersed amongst the vapid land; they looked forgotten and unloved. Firstly, the bloke we're staying with is a large, tacit Pacific Islander type who gives the impression he wants no communication at all. This is fine with me yet if I have a question, I'm reticent to ask as he has 2 swords and 2 lightsabers on his living room table. He's the type you would expect to have 'seen and done things'. Regardless of this we left our gated retirement community and headed for the strip. What initially struck me, amongst all the hustle and excitement is that everybody is on the same rung of the ladder; everybody is at the bottom. Whether you're unemployed like us or earning £150,000, you're still both drinking on the street and still both frivolously gambling away your savings. It’s as if Vegas is a ship on international waters and no rules apply: drinking in public, smoking inside, monkey knife fights and animal weddings etc. There were lost souls walking round who looked as though they went on a stag do 25 years ago and never went home.

Day 13. There's never enough dollars, always 'one more try'. This sums up today precisely. Gamblor had us both in his neon claws on slot machines for hours. In summation, everyone is loser, no matter how much you win. The illicit thrill of winning a mere dollar is enough to want to bet 5 more. Everyone has a 'hunch', a 'good feeling about this one'. We reached the dizzy heights of $68 cashed out and celebrated like millionaires. The vice is knowing when to stop or carry on. The lure of the lights, sounds and buttons is too much to resist, especially if you're borderline ADHD like Eve. A man received a massage whilst playing at a poker table; I didn't know 'gamblers neck' was a medical condition until now.


Day14. Fruit and veg are contraband, nowhere to be found. To prevent the threat of rickets we've had to resort to multivitamins. As a child I never thought I would yearn for broccoli this much. An afternoon of lifeless sun (or in my case shade) worship didn't satisfy us. We knew what we had to do: aimlessly throw as much money as possible into a slot machine for the rest of the night. My day was brightened up when it rained. It rained in a desert. I knew this would be a good omen and was ultimately proven right when we took home $188. Despite what penniless gambling addicts may preach about the pitfalls of gambling, it does pay off eventually. The further down the strip you go, the more northern the accents get until eventually you end up somewhere around Skegness. The lights were brighter and the people more eccentric and desperate, nothing says commitment to the cause like a man hooked up to oxygen whilst chain-smoking at a slot machine. He was the epitome of 'never give up'.

Day 15. You can't really do anything other than swear quietly under your breath when you see the Hoover Dam. The sheer size and scale is mind-blowing; it's a triumph of engineering and mankind's ingenuity. To think that the idea was conceived by one man and built by hundreds of others makes you think we are good for some things. Carved in to the rocks of the valley, replete with towers and electricity pylons, it is reminiscent of a Bond villain’s lair. It's a shame so many loud, brash, ignorant Americans decided to turn up on the same day. I love the country but I wish everyone in it were deaf. The bridge is just as monstrous and intimidating as the Dam but without being biased, I feel it pales in comparison to Ribblehead Viaduct. Back to Vegas and 'The Heart Attack Café', it encapsulates the gluttony, greed and excessive nature of American culture. The premise is: sit at your table looking like a twat dressed in a hospital gown and order enough food to kill you whilst being served by a waitress dressed like a slutty nurse; Only in America. Also, if you don't finish your food you are paraded into the middle of the room and spanked with a paddle. These are all policies I intend to adopt once I get home; I was tempted to purposefully not finish just so my S&M fetish would be fed. So, with pains shooting down my left side and a taste of metal in my mouth, we went and blew a few more dollars. I've had enough of Vegas.


Day 16. In the space of four hours we've experienced two seasons. After toiling in the heat for the past two weeks, facing temperatures of up to 25 degrees (remember I'm English), the temperature dipped to a more palatable three degrees by the time we got to Flagstaff. To make the temperature shift even more enjoyable, it started to snow. If I had my way there would be twelve feet fall overnight and we would traverse the land via dog sled. Our bodies are yearning for something mildly nutritious so we managed to procure a salad. There's a reason vegetables are eschewed here and it’s because, quite frankly, they're boring. Gaining weight is far too much fun.

Day 17. I'm not ashamed to admit that when I looked upon the Grand Canyon, I had tears in my eyes. The enormity of it all took all the breath out of my lungs and left me speechless. To try to describe it is futile; adjectives and superlatives are useless, as they can't do it justice. In its presence you are insignificant, you don't matter. It's a feeling I will harbour forever with great sentiment, as it's a sight that will be indelibly etched into my mind forever. Without doubt it's the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life and I imagine it will take a lot surpass. It proves that nature is bigger than us, no matter how much man will keep destroying things, the canyon will remain there stoic, proud, magnificent and untouched. Now, as we sit here eating a day old salad and crackers, I find it hard to comprehend where we were just a few hours earlier.


Day 18. In a word, Flagstaff is: shit. It's like a retirement village you'd move to ten years after being retired. I imagine the pressing issue at council meeting is 'why are so many teenagers killing themselves?'. Being a young person here must be agonizingly boring until you're old enough to buy your first semi automatic machine gun. Today hasn't been great, but we were due a bad day really. Eve's so bored she's doing exercise, the last refuge of boredom. If you go to a Wal-Mart, you're shopping list could read:

  • Bread
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Syrup
  • Assault rifle.  (You can buy them in the supermarket)

You can't buy Marmite here but you can buy a gun: Priorities.

Day 19. I hate driving in England. The thought of facing road works, traffic and other road users fills me dread and rage. Here, thanks to the spectacular vistas, driving doesn't seem so bad. I drove for six hours today and apart from neck cramp, I didn't find it strenuous or taxing at all. To put this in to perspective, the furthest I've ever driven up until today was from home to Newcastle (and I suffered a mental breakdown), so there's a vast improvement. On route, the roadsides were littered with Native American's selling jewellery. It's sad that the indigenous population, who have such an intrinsic connection with the land, have to suffer this indignity.

Day 20. We were walking through Salt Lake City when suddenly we saw men in suits and women in ankle length dresses emerging from the same direction. My immediate reaction was: 'they must be coming from court or a wedding'. We then realised, 'it's Sunday and this is Mormon Country'. It seemed strange to us so we had to go and see where they were coming from, like when you want to see where a leak in the roof of your house is coming from. Obviously, they were at the Mormon temple, which is a stunning edifice no matter how ludicrous I find their religion; there are homeless people across the country who talk to angels every day but they don't get a religion named after them so why should Joseph Smith? After witnessing first-hand the hilarity of the Sunday convergence, I need to see 'The Book of Mormon'. Eve was looked on with scorn as she paraded around showing her bare shoulders on the Sabbath, there can be no redemption. The place is spotless and unblemished, which I find disconcerting; it's 'Holywood'. I salute the homeless man begging outside the church. It's a brazen approach capitalizing on their need to be good Christians and to help their fellow man. Use god as bait; well played. It will buy him a Mercedes.

Published by Josh Toulmin