Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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Marco's another couchsurfer who posted a response to the road trip announcement and who's keen to see Yosemite as well as slot in a short trip to Vegas. He offered to put us up tonight and suggested hitting the road tomorrow in his 'big comfy car'. Sure, where do we sign?
So with a plan of sorts in place, we decided to spend our last day in San Diego taking a long walk over to Balboa Park whilst Andris shovelled down the hugest bucket coned heap of an ice cream I've ever seen. Every visible area of cream was smothered in nuts, chocolate, candy pieces and dripping with sugary syrup. He looked a right 'birthday boy' and lapped up every sticky bit of it the greedy shit.
With the park out of the way we decided to take a bus out of town and over to Pacific beach. This is when another incident happened. As we climbed aboard I noticed a thick-set black fella sitting confidently in the middle of the back seats, of which he'd clearly made his own. He saw us board and watched as we took our seats about half way up the aisle. Apart from a couple of randoms we were the only passengers on the bus.
We got comfortable and I fumbled around in my pack for a moment before looking up to to see him sat directly opposite on the seat to my immediate right, no more than two feet away. His eyes were filled with purpose and he looked slightly uneasy, which for me changed matters entirely. I took a long deep breath.
He started with a few random questions, and as they had no real purpose or direction I responded with a few random answers. He seemed surprised that I could freely admit that I was English 'around here'. I was surprised that he didn't know we were supposed to be best buddies at the moment. He probed and we bantered some more before he got up to make himself more comfortable across the two seats in front of us, his back moulded firmly against the window. The conversation continued. Andris periodically attempted to join the conversation and was jumped on immediately, every time he spoke, hushed down with a distancing palm. This guy clearly had a message. For me.
He asked politely if I'd bear with him while he prepared himself, before delivering a well rehearsed acappella of melodic announcement, his voice and composure laced with passion. He sang to me, or rather at me, his eyes drilling into mine the whole time. Above all it was sinister, and felt all too much like hearing the cold recital of 'Ezekiel 25:17' from the voice of one Samuel L Jackson moments before the unleashing.
Christ knows what I was thinking through all this. I must have been on autopilot. The bus pulled up and he disappeared as quick as he arrived, maintaining a bold performance the whole time as he stepped off the bus. It was the sliding doors that broke the eye contact. I can't for the life of me... Any ideas?
Pacific beach was pleasant enough, though nothing much really to write home about. Apart from the fact that it was great to see a west coast sunset again, especially one that dips beneath the Pacific behind New Zealand. In the coming weeks I'd like to think I could stand on the east cape of New Zealand's north island watching the sun rise from behind the United States. Silly maybe, but I want to join the dots and piece the puzzle as it were, my own way.
We nearly didn't get to see it, having to leave San Diego early enough to make it over to LA at a reasonable hour. It was only when Andris said that he hadn't seen a proper sunset before that secured the moment without hesitation. There was no way he could miss this. The problem was he chose reveal this crucial snippet of information while we were sat on the bus heading back into the city. The cord was promptly pulled, the bus screeched to a stop and we jumped out, running all the way back to Pacific Beach to make it in time for the light show on the horizon. It didn't let us down. Andris loved it and also discovered it's mystical ability to induce a reflective moment. I was stoked for him.
With a bit of time to kill before the next bus, we happened upon a New Zealand bar and restaurant. Andris enquired as to what 'New Zealand food' actually was, while I was immensely curious to see the American take on things. Actually, seeing the Steiny sign was enough. Two were ordered, savoured and sunk, rounding off the day (and our time in San Diego) to perfection. We got talking to the girl behind the bar who asked me if I knew of a Fergburger in Queenstown. Did I ever. Five minutes later and I'd got a piece of paper stuffed in my pocket with a personal message to the manager of Ferg 'from the gang at the Bare Back Grill' I promised I'd pass it on. Apparently, San Diego's 'bare back' menu is modelled on Ferg's recipes and has proved to be a huge success. We sampled an animal of a burger, something like a 'Maui Waui' which was sublime of course. Andris hasn't shut up about it since. Happy days.
Within minutes of arriving at the bus station in LA, Marco came roaring into the carpark in his mighty American V8 SUV thingy. We introduced ourselves, loaded 'the trunk' with our bags and climbed up into the cockpit. The thing's on steroids I kid you not, but it'll make for one long comfortable road trip across Nevada..