Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sleepless before Seattle

T minus 22 days.

I woke at 6 today, which would be OK, except I went to bed at 12.30. Fortunately (a) I don’t have all the usual things filling up my time like a regular job, partner, children or much of a social life and (b) I am running on adrenalin. My head is full of America and that’s all it wants to think about. Yesterday I didn’t leave the house and mostly did computery stuff related to the trip. I also started phoning people across The Pond. I was mindful of the time difference, and on the west coast, where there is an eight-hour difference, I can only make calls at the weekend, as if they work during the week I would need to be phoning them from the UK at 2 am or later! Even I don’t stay up that late. Usually.

Anyway, the Scrabblers I spoke to were all lovely, friendly, welcoming and delighted to hear from me. Why are most Americans so happy and warm? My only slight reservation about the people I have spoken to so far is that they all sound utterly normal and I’d like to meet a few whackos. Just a few. I am spending 75 days in the US and ideally would like to play a different person every day. So far I’ve arranged 12 games. These are all with Scrabble enthusiasts contacted through and, which is the online site I play with my brothers at. There are another 14 people on the route I am still trying to contact, but that leaves 49 days unaccounted for… I know it will prove difficult to find people in some parts of The West, where, for example, between Bend, Oregon and Fort Collins, Colorado, it is 619 miles (or 10 days of pedalling + one rest day) and very few towns inbetween.

There was one cringe-worthy moment - when I phoned someone who shall remain nameless. “Do you have a place to stay in town?” he enquired and I replied, “No, are you offering?” to which he said, “No, my place is too small, I just wondered if you were staying in town.” This is not a reflection on him in any way, just an embarrassing (for me) misunderstanding. I also asked another man if there was anything else he wanted to know about me and he said, "It's not like we're going on a date."

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