Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Apparently the reason it was so hard to escape from Alcatraz not only because it was a maximum security prison, but also due to the freezing temperature of the water surrounding it and its dangerous currents. It is a known Tiger Shark Territory. And those things are mean. There is no known successful escape.

Al Capone was one of the highest profile inmates, he got 11 years for tax evasion.

There is a great audio tour of Alcatraz that I would recommend to anyone going. I stood in prison cells and saw the methods of escape that were implemented. I also stood in one of the punishment cells where it was completely dark and all you can do is sit on the floor for days.

The funny thing is that the families of the wardens actually lived with them on Alcatraz island, and the children would take the boat to school every day.

After that we were in a cool aquarium where I got to pet baby leopard sharks, and bat rays. I was terrified to do it at first. But then I did. I could not leave the place without being able to say I had done that.

That pic above is old Elaine in a tunnel aquarium looking at a giant shoal of fish. There were giant fish in there. Awesome.

This blog is more like a diary because it's not very likely that people actually read all this shite that I write. haha. I'm ok with it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

San Francisco - sound place

If you come to San Fran after 2 months in South America minding the pennies, you are gonna be shocked. Pints are up to 10 times the price of those in South America. But you just have to accept that you're back in the developed world! There were other people obviously coming back from the burn. When you saw them, the thing you greet each other with is "Happy Re-Entry."

For 3 or 4 days after Burning Man I felt as if I'd had my heart removed. I was so sad not to be there anymore.

From a bus station full of absolute MENTALLISTS in Reno, we got the Greyhound to San Francisco. I was in and out of sleep for the whole journey and when I looked out the window into the desert at night I thought I was still at the Burning Man. I could see lots of colourful lights and camper vans. I don't know if it was a mirage or not.

It was lovely to have a real bed and a shower in the hostel we stayed in. We walked around on our own for the first day. It's a lovely city. Obviously full of money, but that's not a resentful statement. It's just that when you were in an earthquake wrecked town in Ecuador a few days before, you notice a slight difference in budgets!

Next day we were in the area where Will Smith's 'The Pursuit of Happiness' is based. A poor area of San Fran where a preacher helps the needy. This preacher is actually in the movie. Surprise surprise. Lots of hills in the city, actually. You'd be a fit cyclist. A ROIDE. The tour guide said he was bringing us to 'one of the most beautiful sights in the world'. And he brought us to a hill overlooking the city. It was nice, like. But it makes you think how open your mind becomes from travelling alot. It was just another city view to me. It was nothing like the views we saw on our long journey. It makes me sound like a spa, but that's how it was.

We saw Janis Joplins old house, across the road from The Grateful Dead's old house. Brilliant! The whole area was made famous by the Summer of Love. There are still some hippie type people hanging around there, trying to hold onto that dream. When will there ever be an occurrence like that, again?

We went though areas that had places owned by Sean Penn, George Lucas, Lars Ulrich, and Francis Ford Coppola. The guide told us that San Fran is a gay area because of all the sailors and navy that came to live there after spending so long out at sea. It's plausible.

Some of the tallest redwood trees in the world are preserved outside San Fran. All thanks to John Muir, otherwise The Unthinking Majority would have come in a cut them all down after the San Fran earthquake to rebuild the city.

I wish everyone in the world had the same mindset as John Muir.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Out to the Burn

I got caught doing 35 in a 25 mile/hour zone. We were happily driving down this desert road and a cop car comes along with its lights going mad so I pulled in. And he didn't pass me, he parked behind me. And I nearly died. It's a good job I don't drink and drive. He said if I had been speeding in a school zone he would have had to fine me, but all in all he was a nice old man and he let me off warning us both to drink plenty of water for our duration in the desert. Thank feck!

We had stopped at thrift stores and bought bowls and cutlery for the burning man festival. We brought a HEAP of drink aswell, and gallons of water. We reached the 'playa' after dark and had to look for a camping area by driving around. Scald.

As a welcome to Burning Man 2008 we had to bang a giant bell and scream "I am not a virgin anymore!" and then roll in the dusty sand (which destroyed us). We also ERECTED our tent in the dark. We had nothing to hammer the pegs in with and I tried using a can of Carlsberg like an idiot and it busted all over me. One can down, 59 to go.

Going for a walk that night we were very out of place. Because we looked like normal people. Everyone else was dressed up and painted or just naked. We just had normal clothes on. So we made plans on how to look like mentallers for the next few days. Grand.

That night we met our neighbours and we all drank and shared all our stuff it was amazing. They were from England, Canada, USA and N. Ireland. A good mix!

Next day we woke in our tent which was probably 40 degrees inside. Horrific. We cycled and walked around the place, looking for the giant man that was to be burned. I had body paint on but it didn't stop me from getting blasted by the sun. It was so important to drink loads of water.

That night we found an absynthe bar. You could smell the place from 100 metres away, because they actually brewed absynthe in there in front of you. That stuff was a killer. Next morning I spontaneously spewed and didn't know why. It was either the intense heat, the ingestion of loads of dust, or else the absynthe.... not sure...

Then I went off on the bike to get loads of brilliant photos. And I did. Then we did another cycle trip with a few of the gang. It turned out there was a huge women's topless cyclathon. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. haha.

A big party called 'Road Block' happened on our street and they gave out free drinks and I played the guitar, Elaine chimed along on the tamberine! The organisers kept giving out drinks and snacks, they said I really improved their party by playing the guitar for everyone. But I think they really improved my Burning Man experience by having such a brilliant party. They wouldn't even let bicycle traffic go by without taking a shot of something.

That night we all got dressed up again. I had a crazy jester type hat that I bought in Ecuador for such an occasion. I made my face up like the Joker in The Dark Knight and I carried around a Joker card. I really freaked people out. Elaine was a locked Marilyn Monroe type character! or snow white or something. Carl Cox played that night. He was ok.

When everyone went to bed I decided to go for a walk. I woke up in a museum type place the next morning. A Persian family woke me up to tell me the sun was coming up and inviting me to come and see it. Classic. Imagine waking up The Joker to tell him that the sun is coming up.

A terrible 'white out' occurred that day and we were in the RV with the Tyrone crowd and it turned out to be excellent. ACDC was the music of choice for Burning Man. Fantastico! Old Sue was looking for us for 2 hours in the heavy sand storm and when she turned up, her hair was grey from the sand! Mental. You couldn't see your hand in front of you that day. We had to wear big WWII gas masks.

Sadly Elaine and I got separated for the burn of the giant man but still it was an amazing sight. A giant wooden man on fire and fireworks all around. It was a magic time! 'Fat Bottomed Girls' by Queen came on giant speakers after the man collapsed in a giant explosion of flames. Me and old Angus went mad!

That was the end of the Burning Man. I would go back every year if I had the time and money. I cannot explain how brilliant this festival is. They were some of the happiest days of my life.