So where was I when I last wrote? So I reached Virginia, picked up my equipment and film that was waiting for me, packed another wheeled suitcase, bought a rather large army backpack that’s even bigger than my North Face bag (which happened to be North Face’s largest backpack!), bought Captain Crunch in Walmart to fulfil my special Pitcairn request…
and travelled across the Bay Bridge Tunnel to Norfolk to replace my Mac battery which was on the blink. Better to replace it now than end up on Pitcairn with no computer battery!
Then began the schlep back to New York on the Greyhound. It was slightly concerning as a huge snow dump had been predicted in Virginia, but luckily for me it started pretty much as I left and I got away in time. The ride back was much more eventful than the way there. One arrest, and two people locked in the bathroom. I wish I had recorded the argument that caused the arrest because it actually was quite comical. A woman got on, I think in Wilmington, and was rather shirty with the driver over her bags and was making her displeasure felt as she grunted and puffed down the aisle and took up her seat two rows behind me. The driver took great offence at her new passenger disturbing the peace and waking up those around her and told her she wanted a word outside, which didn’t go down well and an argument ensued where the drivertold her to get off the bus. She refused to move, and then the driver said “ok m’am I have a solution to our problem”… at which point she headed downstairs off the bus and found the state police. Meanwhile our fellow passenger was calling customer services on loudspeaker and trying to cajole those around her to testify to her good character. No one was forthcoming. The state police, who were at a rest stop busy getting their fill of midnight grease, then boarded the bus and promptly handcuffed her and took her away for disturbing the peace. Don’t piss off the bus driver.
The journey was even more eventful because two people got stuck in the bathroom – I don’t think their of them understood the concept of sliding the lock instead of just panicking and punching the door, again, much to the driver’s displeasure. On the first occasion she headed up the bus to give “instruction”, bellowing “is thatachile in theyer? Sliiide, no maaan don’ push that dawer. What part of this cain’t you understaind? I’mona leave you in theyer all’otha way to New York City in yer awn stink”. Eventually the poor guy figured it out, and exited, and no, he wasn’t a child but a man of around 30 who was about as red as a black man could possibly turn. The lady in front of him loudly berated him for his “stink” which prompted her to take a spray can of deodorant out and blast the bus aisle, which then brought the driver stomping down to give her a ticking off about people’s allergies and made her clean up the slick of coverage that the deodorant had left on the floor.
About few hours passed and then another person locked themselves in the bathroom. The driver didn’t bother this time just shouting “I’ll teyl ya th’same as t’other mayn – sliiiide don’push. Ya’ll know whatodo, ya’ll cain get haim outta theyer. I’mmanot getting involved”. On this occasion, the toilet overflowed, which had to be fixed at the rest stop – thankfully we were pretty close and it didn’t take long!
So that was my journey back to snowy New York. Once I got into Port Authority, I suffered a mini stumble, and tripped over my suitcase wheels which flipped me onto my back because my army backpack was so heavy. And then I had to roll from side to side to right myself, until a lady came and helped me up. I think it was once of those moments when everyone was too tickled to actually help! Apart from my ego, everything else came out intact.
Then I headed off to my friend Rachel’s apartment (hi Rachel!) to drop offbags before heading out to run some errands like buying a spare camera battery, plus seeing my dear friend Rommel Pecson (a supremely talented instant photographer himself!) who showed me some interesting new kit he’d acquired and made sure I had all the finishing touches to my kit bag. I had great plans of going out for food somewhere, or going for a drink, but once I got back into the apartment at the end of the day, and faced the task of consolidating and repacking my 3 large suitcases, I couldn’t face it and flopped.
My flight to LA was at 11:39 the next day and so I spent the evening phoning up Delta airlines trying to get them to allocate my bags as media bags (therefore a cheaper excess baggage rate), which after an hour of being on the phone via Skype seemed successful.
Getting a cab to JFK didn’t prove so easy. I left the apartment at 8:00 as the baggage thing takes so long as each airline has different requirements, and stood on the corner in the bitter cold trying desperately to hail a cab. I now know what Carrie Bradshaw meant about cabs in Manhattan – easy to get when you don’t really need one and nearly impossible when you do.The three that did stop all refused to take me because of the amount of luggage, so before I caught frostbite and missed my plane being frozen like a Medusa statue on a street corner, I caved in desperation and sat in Starbucks and called a cab which ended up cheaper anyway, and I wonder why I didn’t just do that in the first place. Maybe doing it the authentic way had been part of the challenge…I had a really nice Peruvian driver who couldn’t have been nicer, despite the fact his rather nice Mercedes had cream leather seats and my bags were basically ruining them. He asked me if I’d ever been to Peru, and I said I hadn’t, but then told him about Paddington bear, and that Peru was rather beloved in Britain because of a small marmalade-eating, talking bear in wellies and a duffel coat. He seemed a bit confused but pleased that Peru had entered the realm of pop culture.
When we got there I was pleased to say that the “here’s one I prepared earlier” media pass did the trick and I paid the media rate for my bags. As an added bonus, that meant I didn’t have an airport repack to do. So for future reference photographer/filmmaker friends – do try and get the media rate with Delta – they’re accommodating and charge a flat rate for overweight bags when you get the media rate, plus they’ll carry up to 200lbs per bag, more than any other airline I’ve come across.
Moral of the story: it’s always worth asking.
Right, so my next blog will probably be when I land in Tahiti – I can’t imagine there’ll be much to say about my LA leg, as I’m only there for a day, and judging by current patterns, I’ll be too wrecked to leave my hotel, but if anything eventful happens I’ll write sooner!
Once the LA flight is out of the way, I’ll feel like I’m really on my way, as I’ll be completely on my own. New York never quite feels like I’m on my own, it just feels like an extension of London, but LA is where I’ll start to feel that it’s started, once i see that first glimmer of the Pacific Ocean.
No more equipment to buy, no more errands to run, just me, and my journey to reach Pitcairn…
Hasta tarde! Rx
I wanted to thank my rather lovely supporters – Powertraveller – because as I write I’m plugged in via their rather ingenious power pack which comes with every attachment known to man. Silly me forgot to charge my laptop last night and I’ve been saved from the communication abyss – so thanks guys!
Here’s a bonus pic or two from Virginia…