California Soul

26 June 2008

California Soul

Today was the start of a journey of a lifetime, although I hope that doesn't mean that it's going to be either the only amazing journey I make or even the only lifetime. For the only time in this journey we headed west, to San Francisco. After the next few days in the city to get ourselves acclimatized to the local time zone, we'll be heading east and have the sun on our backs, chasing us all the way across the United States to New York City, between two oceans.

The flight from Manchester to London and from London direct to San Francisco was tiring but uneventful. It gave me a chance to see Heathrow Terminal 5 for the first time, but despite its grand scale it seemed pretty much like any large airport terminal. As seems to be common when I hang out in UK airports, the first order of the day was to find coffee and play hunt the power outlet. I’m always amazed that UK airport designers can accomplish huge architectural achievements, but fail on the tiny details that matter to me as a laptop carrying traveller. Almost unbelievably there were no AC outlets within the main seating area and Alex and I ended up sitting hunched on the floor around what appeared to be the only two visible sockets on the far outer wall.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but when I fly long haul these days I seem able to put my body into a state of almost hibernation. For at least nine out the ten hours in flight I stayed motionless, staring at the tiny, eclipsed by iPhone, touch video screen in the seat back in front of me. I can hardly remember anything of the movies I watched. 10,000 BC hardly raised my pulse despite the best efforts of the herds of CGI mammoths, The Bucket List was neither the tear jerker or inspirational story I’d hoped for. Only Alan Parker’s classic The Commitments got my toes tapping, which was probably good for avoiding DVT.

San Francisco is one of my favorite places on the planet. I’ve visited the city more times than anywhere else in the US over the last few years and I’ve had a lot of wonderful times with wonderful people. Many of my friends live here in the city and I’ve often thought that one day, given the right circumstances and paperwork I could end up living here. When I’ve been in San Francisco before it’s been largely because of work and I’ve usually travelled on my own. This time it’s going to be different and I’m looking forward to playing tour guide.

By Andy Clarke

Your messages

  • Suzi
  • June 20th 2008

I love the web site Andy! Wishing you a happy, fun filled trip! Speak soon.


This is exciting, thanks for sharing! I took a similar journey in 2001, but looking at the spots on your map, in the first half you are taking a more southern route than me. Bummer, because for me the national parks in the north west were the most valuable experiences. But I bet the south is equal. I’m eager to hear about your stories!

So how are you travelling ‘between two oceans’? Car, Penny Farthing, Motorcycle, Sinclair C5, hitch hiking, greyhound? Go on spill the beans, and fill us in with the details.

Very nice site. I’m going to be following your exploits for sure!

(Andy says: “We’ll be flying on to Phoenix Arizona where we’ll pick up an RV and driving it to Minneapolis. From there we’ll be flying to NYC.")

  • Stephanie
  • June 26th 2008

Fly through Montreal some time if you get the chance.  There’s a bank of power outlets for each row of chairs and they are all marked by lit signs.  Now if only the wi-fi was free.

Looks like a cool trip, how are you travelling?

  • James Donovan
  • June 26th 2008

Hope you three have a great holiday! You’re lucky, when my Mum went to T5 she was delayed for 7 hours! Have a great trip and I will speak to you soon!

  • lowri ward
  • June 27th 2008

Glad your journey was ok.Will be following your journey every day.
Love your best niece.

Lowri x

This sounds like an amazing trip for you and Alex. Too bad you’re not venturing up here to Seattle.

I’m so jealous. I’ve been wanting to do this kind of trip since I was 7 years old and met some previously unknown relatives who’d emigrated to the US when they were wee.

They promised to take me to Disneyland in California if I ever made it across. Sadly, they’re dead now, but I still want to to a cross-country trip catching up with both friends and long lost family on the way.

Ha! i just sent you a text message asking if you got my little present that I sent you in the post ... now I realise why you haven’t got it yet! I shall be watching your travels, collective Clarkes :-)

Catch up with you when you get back in old blighty.

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