Category Archives: holiday in USA

All quiet on the western front.

I’ve been a bit quiet ay? Well I’ve just got back from my trip to Chicago and POrtland, OR.

I got back at 6:30am in Toronto. The flight wasn’t too bad, but as predicted, I didn’t get any sleep.
I was sitting right by the washroom as well, which blowed.

I’ve spent the day trying not to do very much. I had a trip to nofrills, watched some TV and edited a few pictures.

I’m off to the pub now against my better judgement.

All my posts for my trip to Chicago and Portland, OR will be up soon, I’m just arranging some illustrative photos.



We were rudely awakened by the world imploding. Turned out it was just some people noisily cutting down the trees outside the house. They were making plenty of noise about it and some of the branches were smashing into the house wall.

After finally finding Erica’s keys, Leslie and I went to hot lips for some lunch pizza.
Afterwards we took the bus to the Japanese garden for a look around. It was a bit small, but was very calm and tranquil away from the noise of the city.
The washroom had 3 different height urinals. One for normal people, one for giraffes and one for snakes.

We then went to the Rose Test garden where they test new breeds of roses.

After taking several photos we stopped off at Voodoo Doughnuts so that Leslie could buy some to take back with her.

We then met up with Erica and then took the street car back to her house.

We watched a programme on sawfish and then I had to go to the airport, via McDonald’s for a burger.

I was at the airport in plenty of time and decided to take the shorter line for the baggage scan.
Feck! The reason it’s shorter is because it’s a full body scanner. Here we go again…

Vancouver airport is bollocks. It’s massive and the connections tunnel is closed so you have to go through the X-ray scanners again.
Still, I had 2.5 hours to kill so it wasn’t so bad.

Finally, a spot of history.

We woke up wicked late, but to be honest, we needed the sleep. Griffin picked us up and we went for breakfast at some place.
After eating, we continued on to Vancouver. Not Canada, the one in Washington state. We were going to visit a fort that was built by the Hudson bay company
to protect their fur trade from attack.
We wandered around all the wooden huts. In the blacksmiths hut, the blacksmith made Leslie a nail!

After we had seen everything and felt suitably cultured, we went to Pizza Smizza. The other two had pizza but I was wanting ice cream. We went to a the waterfront cafe and we had a single ice cream… Which turned out to be half a pint!

Zack and Erica joined us and we sat around chatting for a while. Leslie and Erica then went shopping. We ended up in Nordstrom Rack. It was a disaster. We were in there for ages. Me and Zack were just stood around waiting for the nightmare to end.
We finally got away after going through 1500 shoes and we travelled by bus to Fire on the mountain. I had a buffalo salad and everyone else had wings.
For pudding, Zack and I had 2 deep fried Orios each. They were really good!

We almost made it home alive, but then we ended up getting more ice cream!! It was good though. I tried a few and settled on strawberry honey. I felt so ill afterwards!

Kava, aka dish water.

We had a trip to Pine State Biscuit where we all has breakfast biscuits. These are nothing like English biscuits, they’re more like an English muffin.
We then called in at a bar called ‘Sweet Here After.’ We had a quick drink and sat on the patio before moving on to ‘Oregon Ice.’ We ate crushed ice. I had vanilla cherry and something else.
Next stop was Eula Kava Lounge. This was the first time that we’d tried kava, some sort of narcotic. We played SkipBo and drank kava from a coconut. It tasted like mucky water and gave me a sore throat. That was about it.

We headed for the bowling alley after I lost 3 games of SkipBo. My bowling started off well with me coming second. The next game I came a miserable last and then the final game was ruined by the addition of some bloke who put every ball in the gutter and then they got stuck and wouldn’t return. I had 3 strikes and a spare, I was not giving this game up. They moved our game to another lane and I finally won!!

On the way back I’d requested that we go to the bridge to get a picture of the famous sign. Zack said that’s fine. I didn’t realise that loads of other people were coming with us. They had to wait 10 mins or so as I ran to the other side of the bridge to get some night shots.
I think it was worth it at the end of the day.

Final stop was Sizzle pizza where I got a slice of ‘Kevin Bacon and pineapple.’ It was excellent!

Tips and tits / meat and streak

Slept really well surprisingly.
First stop was a market by the river. It was situated under a road bridge and had loads of handmade local stuff.
Zack bought an elephant ear, a massive slab of fried dough caked in sugar. It was pretty good!

We then took the bus out to Jam bar where we had massive breakfasts. I had corned beef, scrambled egg and bacon in a sandwich served with half a plate of hash brown. I did a very good job and almost finished it.

Feeling extremely full, we walked down the street and stopped off in a few vintage tat shops. There were some interesting finds.

The mall was the next stop and whilst Leslie and Erica went shopping, Zack and I went in the toy shop. They had all sorts of really crap games. Quite literally. One was a game where you have to feed a plastic dog until he poos and then clear up the mess! I guess it’s educational.

After returning home, Leslie now sporting some seriously bright pink shoes, we watched Ace Ventura and lounged about. I was starting to get tired.

Next port o’ call was the Shanghai Tunnels at the Hobos bar. These were built as part of the white slave trade. They took us down through a metal hatch in the street and showed us around. We heard all sorts of stories about how Chinese people in particular, but mainly drunks, we’re kidnapped from bars and off the streets before being locked up in the tunnels. The prisoners would have their shoes removed and broken glass was spread around to stop them escaping. Once they were down here, they’d be drugged and sold to ship captains.

We picked up a zip car and took it to Acropolis Strip club. In most places I’m pretty sure people go to strip clubs to see naked women, but in Portland the priority seems to be to get steak! Their menu was so cheap. We mostly all got steak, baked potato and garlic bread for $6. The beer was only $4.50, but my pint was off. It was such a dive. If you’ve ever played Grand Theft Auto then you’ll be able to imagine exactly how this place looked.
We sat around drinking and chatting, then just before we left, Erica decided she wanted some breasts in her face and went and tipped a dancer. It was hilarious.

We had to get the zip car back, so after a largely unsuccessful photo outside, we took it back downtown.

Next stop was Jones bar. It was 90s night and as usual I didn’t recognise half the songs. Probably because I listened to shitty kiss105 around that time, but also, I was into Status Quo.

We were there a few hours before being escorted by Zack to a Mexican street meat vender. We all got burritos and tacos which were really good and then took a taxi home.

It’s a wolf…

Had a terrible sleep. Maybe 2 hours max cos of all the activity in my room. I got up at 2am and went to have a shower. People were up doing stuff on computers. Even at 3 when I left, people were about. I couldn’t believe it.

Another crisis with the planes again. The website for CTA says that the blue line runs ‘all times, all days.’ what it doesn’t tell you is that it’s a cut down service and only runs every 20mins! I thought I was going to miss the plane.

Luckily the train got to the airport early so I dashed to the terminal.
The wrong terminal.
I then had to take some monorail thing to the right terminal, but luckily there wasn’t many people in he queue and I got through pretty quickly. Another full body scan and I was on my way.

I boarded the plane and noticed a scratty woman with hideous tattoos on her cleavage talking to some poor bloke behind her. They were in 1st class. I bet all these people are going to be so glad they paid the extra money, I thought.
It got better. As the aircraft took off, this woman’s dog started barking and wouldn’t shut up! HILARIOUS!!

The connection was painless. On the next flight were four blokes sat behind me. They were going on a golf trip. A girl sat opposite me. She looked like Shoshannah Stearn so I was excited. She then started speaking to the blokes behind me (Shoshannah is a deaf actress). Damn it.
The blokes were drinking and joking the whole flight. One of them had a small satchel. He started off the flight calling it a saddlebag but as he got more and more ‘chin music’ for his ‘purse’ he changed his story to it being a ‘dude purse.’ I thought they’d be annoying at first, but they turned out to be very funny. The guy with the purse went to the washroom, but didn’t lock the door properly. He said, ” the door opened and this dude walked in and I’m thinking I’m about to join the mile high club or something.”
He also kept referring to the plane landing as a ‘controlled crash.’ You can’t say things like that on a plane!!

Just as we landed he said, “remember, Indiana Jones had a dude purses.” Just then, a bloke that hadn’t spoken a single word til now decides to join in on the fun. He had a black t-shirt with a white thing on it.
“Erm, actually, I think Indiana Jones had a much bigger bag than that,” he said. The guy with the purse was not impressed. The entire cabin is silent and everyone’s eyes are staring their way.
“Look at you!” he replied, “you’re wearing a t-shirt with a cat on it.”
“It’s a wolf,” he said, sheepishly and staring at the floor.
“You’re wearing a t-shirt with a kitten on it and you feel you can give me ‘chin music’ on my dude purse.”
I can’t remember what was said next, I was facing the other way trying not to attract attention as I now had tears streaming down my cheeks from laughing so much.

We got off the plane and I went to the washroom. The golf buddies walked in. The guy with the purse announces, “I am leaving my luggage here unattended so can people please not put stuff inside it.” Just then, the poor kid from before walks in. “Hey look! It’s the dude with the cat shirt.” Everyone laughed. I saw the kid leave looking really sad and his girlfriend said, “did he say anything.” I was still laughing my head off.

I met Leslie and we took the train downtown. First stop was a place called Rock Bottom. We literally just got off the train and walked in.

I had some sort of sandwich with fries which was very nice and a couple of beers and then Erica joined us.

After dropping our stuff at Erica’s we went to a nearby bar for happy hour. 7 beers and 2 whiskys came to $24 and no sales tax!!

Erica’s boyfriend Zack met up with us and we carried on to Bunk Bar. After taking a bus, we were guided into the middle of nowhere. Delapidated industrial estates and nothing much else. We arrived and had some macca sandwiches.

We headed deeper into the devastation and arrived at Love Craft Bar. It was a goth bar and was showing terrible Japanese horror films on a big projector.

We ended the night at Voodoo Doughnuts. All they sell is doughnuts, yet there was a 50m line outside for it!

Doughnuts eaten and we were walking back to Erica’s.
Some guy on a unicycle stopped us and asked us to give him money to do a somersault off a tree. He was about 50 but he did it!!

Back at the house we went to bed. Leslie said something to me, to which I replied “I have no idea what you just said,” and then we instantly fell asleep.

Kool Dudez!!

I signed myself and Dido (not the singer) up for a walking tour led by the hostel.
We left around 10am and it was already unbearable outside. Our guide, Cathy, talked about points of interest as we went along, but I couldn’t hear most of it for the rumble of traffic. Apart from us three, there were also two Korean girls.
We stopped off on the way to visit the Preston hall. I think you’re supposed to pay for it, but Cathy blagged us in. It was very grand inside and used to be the main library.

We carried on walking North up Michigan Ave. On the way there were some people handing out Geico (insurance) branded sunglasses. We all got a pair and then found an unsuspecting member of the public to take photos of us. That will teach him to carry a tripod around. Dido and I kept making a comedy routine out of telling each other how cool we looked in our glasses.
We looked ridiculous.

Finally we reached our destination, Southerby’s. The room was very small and full of tat/art. The lady very kindly filled our water bottles for us.

We didn’t stay for very long before heading back. On the way we ducked into Best Buy and spent an hour annoying the sales staff by listening to the cinema speakers really loud. The Bose ones were good!!

Next stop was just for the hell of it, but we actually came upon a very exciting store by accident.
The Lego store!!! I went crazy and built a plane. We then played with the hologram machine. You hold a box in front of the camera and it shows you the finished model in 3D and the men move around it!

We then made a stop at the Apple store before carrying on downtown. A stop in a shop to get postcards and then after nipping in another to get a hat, it absolutely chucked it down! Luckily we managed to miss the most of it and get back to the hostel. But not before I got lost trying to find Subway sandwiches.

We played pool pretty much all night until I went to bed around 7.

The night was awful. At least every 30 mins, someone would come in and make loads of noise. I perfected my stare of death and they soon shut up

Independence day

This morning I decided to join Dido and a Chinese girl at the beach. The navy pier beach. Dido thought it would be a good idea to walk. It wasn’t.

The chinese girl had to be back for 11 and so she gave up half way and sat in the shade. I put my CVS suncream on and instantly turned bright white. The tube claims, ‘goes on clear.’ My arse.

We left the girl and carried on to the pier. We walked a total of 40 minutes and the temperature was already 38C.

The sand was so hot I was worried I’d burn my toes. But the water was perfect and surprisingly full of fish!

We hung around for an hour and then decided to move on to Garfield park, a place that I’d picked from the guidebook. The description made it sound idyllic and enchanting.
We walked for ages so that Dido could buy a transit pass and ended up in a Starbucks. This is apparently a medium from the attached supermarket deli:

We rode the ‘L’ (eLevated subway – it’s one L of a ride! Hahahahha) for quite some time, plunging deeper into ghetto and dilapidated housing. After leaving the subway and getting down to street level, we crossed the road to Garfield Park. There were several small encampments of black delinquents drinking and setting off fireworks (at 1pm.) The place was scary as hell. A mosque loomed ominously in across the road. The other two looked at me and kept asking why the hell I’d brought them here and started talking about how crazy the English are for thinking this would be fun.
I wanted to find the fabled conservatory, but the other two wanted to get the hell out of there. We asked a passerby and found that the conservatory was just on the other side of the road.
They humoured me and followed me inside. It was a lot more pleasant in here and the other two actually really enjoyed themselves.
I got to go down the slide. It was just as shit as the one at the Corus TV place.

Once we’d seen all the flowers we could put up with, we risked the outside world again and got back on the platform for the ‘L.’ the fireworks sounded like gunfire and it seemed like the wail of police sirens had never stopped from the moment we arrived there.

We went back to the loop and transferred to the red line. We’d planned to go to a different beach. Dido wanted to get off near the pier but I convinced him to go further North to Sheldon station.

Once again I’d led us to the ghetto. Also, the road we were one appeared to go to the sea, but instead went to a fenced off golf course. I then relived myself of all decision making duties and they chose the beach.

By now it was 40 degrees and we’d be walking a good couple of miles.

About 3 miles later we finally arrived at the beach. I wasn’t feeling too great and I wa worried about burning. I stayed in the shade applying suncream whilst the other two walked down the beach. A woman sobbed nearby as coastguards searched for her two kids. The beach was massive and absolutely rammed with people.

After an hour or so we went to the bus stop. We got talking to some locals and a girl showed me pics of her holiday to Seattle. Surprisingly it wasn’t raining in any of them. We decided the bus wasn’t coming and to walk a mile to Wilson station. We just missed the train and had to wait about 25 minutes for the next one.
We sat down on the train and then they announced a mechanical failure. 5 mins later they kicked everyone off.

Another train came and we forced our way on, but half way along it switched to express mode. We got back much quicker, but we were dropped off too far south. Everywhere here was shut, so we had to go to a crappy pizza take away. I ate half of a 14″ pizza. I was starving from all the walking, plus no one else liked Hawaiian pizza; or ‘hula’ as they called it here.

We walked back to the hostel, but they’d left for the fireworks without us. We still have an hour to get there so we should be OK.

We never made it to the fireworks. We were waiting for Salim in the room, but he never showed up. Then Dido spoke to some Chinese girl (different one to the one in the morning) and asked if the three of them wanted to come to the fireworks with us.
They started buggering about so I sacked them off and decided I was leaving. We missed the bus anyway.
The first one drove right past as it was full to the brim and the second one stopped but only had room for about 8 people. The Chinese girl and friends showed up.
I took charge and we went to the Buckingham fountain to watch them. So had about 3000 other people. Everywhere you looked there were people sat on the steps or crosslegged on the floor.
The Chinese girl started getting excited by the fountain, lit up in all it’s glory.
We dumped her again and proceeded to the lake shore.

The display was very good. Excellent quality fireworks. They are put on by the pier company itself as the council washed its hands of the whole thing a couple of years back.

I then came back to the hostel finally to sleep and found 3 foreigners in my room. One sat on the floor with a laptop and another walking round in just his tight underpants.
Not something I wanted to see.

Radio gaga

I started this morning at the museum of broadcast and communications. To be honest, I feel robbed. The $12 entrance fee was far too high for the sparse collection of surf inside. The ‘museum’ is on two floors. The first has around 40 old radios and hundreds of small boards along the walls depicting people they’d inducted into their hall of fame. The next floor had a collection of puppets used on some kids show, a tv camera and a load more boards talking about specific shows and presenters.
I met the director of the museum. It was obvious that he’d never heard of Calrec (a company I used to work for) who are probably the biggest name in TV equipment in the USA!

I then spent about 15 mins in the washroom putting on sunscreen. Some bloke came in and had a massive shit. Which was nice.

Stuck for what to do next, I looked at my map and decided upon the Navy Pier. I walked along the river path where I saw a few different fountains. One was a huge arc of water that sprayed across the river for ten minutes every hour.
This was a waterfall that I shot at 1/8000 of a second!

I headed for shade the moment I reached the pier. It’s still really hot today, but the breeze from the lake is helping.
I saw a red bull car pull up. It was in the shape of a can of red bull. Not one to turn down free stuff, (and I was craving a cold drink, ) I made a beeline for them.
I can still feel my teeth rotting…

I sat in the shade for a while at the end of the pier watching a small child chasing seagulls. Just as I was about to leave, some bloke started chatting to me about his son.
I managed to get away and stumbled upon a strange exhibition. The navy pier is basically a pier full of fairground stuff and here I was in a stained glass window exhibition!

I wandered for a bit through the exhibition and then up to the ferris wheel. The first ferris Wheel was built in Chicago and designed by George Ferris to be taller and as a rival to the Eiffel tower. This isn’t the original ferris wheel, they destroyed that with dynamite…

I eventually found myself in a huge greenhouse of sorts. The fountains were simple but quite cool.

I then got the bus back to the hostel and spent ages trying to decide which restaurant I should get ‘true Chicago pizza’ from. I picked the closest one.

It was pretty good, but the service was terrible.

I came back to the hostel and played the Bulgarian at pool again. Turns out his name is Dido, not the singer, it’s pronounced ‘Deedo.’

I won again. Then some other guy showed up and asked to play after our game. We were speaking to him and Dido asked, ‘oh, so you’re American?’ and he replied, “erm, well I guess. I mean the way I see it is, the world is my home.
What a load of meaningless bollocks!

Head in the clouds.

I woke up pretty early cos some dick in my room doesn’t know how to behave when he’s sharing with 10 other people and kept pressing snooze on his alarm.
It didn’t help that every time anyone moves in their bed it sounds like a donkey.

I had a shower and went to breakfast. I met a girl in the lift and had a conversation. Well it would have been if she could understand what I was saying and I could hear what she was saying.

First stop today was the kidney bean by Anish Kapor. It was fairly at 9am. Every time I’ve ever seen photos of it, it’s been far too busy.

I then took the bus to the museum of science and industry. Once again there was standard admission plus a load of top up exhibitions you could add on. I could only just about see everything and I was there all day, so I don’t know how you’re meant to find time for the other stuff.
They had a really good exhibit on WW2 submarines.

There was also the biggest train set I’ve ever seen:

I nosied round the back of the museum but there was just a lake.

After getting the bus back, I went to Epic Burger. It’s just a rip off of Hero burger, or vice versa. It was good though and filled a hole. I then took a few photos of the print works area before returning to the hostel to beat a Bulgarian at pool.

I’m now 103 floors up in the Sears/Willis tower waiting for it to get dark so I can take some night photos. On the way up to the top, they forced everyone to have a photo taken against a green screen. She could tell that I wasn’t bothered and didn’t even look through the camera, just pressed the shutter release.
Not impressed to be honest, they don’t clean the windows up here.