North America 2005

An incredibly amazing travel log from the unfathomable genius of James Wheare and Tessa Caldecott

Tessa relates...

Wednesday May 25

One last thing

A round of applause for James ladies and gentlemen!


Bro, you’re the best.

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The Last Log (like 'The Last Unicorn' but not quite as disturbing. Hopefully.)

Here we go finally! So San Francisco… all those weeks ago. Forgive me if I repeat James somewhat. I’m lazy and I can’t be bothered to re-write the stuff I drafted ages ago. Heh.

Tuesday 10th: The guy who lives under the Dudros, Carlos, offered to take us aroun San Francisco on our first day. As he was an art history conisseur and has lived in the city for 40 years he was a perfect guide for us utter strangers. He took us into the centre and we walked around downtown for a while and into the financial district. Then we caught BART out to Berkeley, and had lunch in a HESH (translation: super nice)Thai restaurant that Carlos knew. I don’t think I’ve ever had Thai food before, and I really liked it! Except for their obsession with peanuts. We headed to a second hand bookshop nearby and indulged in some book…ness. We suddenly realised we were running out of time, and so we walked back to BART via the pretty oh-so-californian Berkeley campus.

In the evening James and I went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant called Gaylord (yes, I know, hahaa) with James’ friends Psyrixx and Flopp (sometimes known under different names). A dude who looked like George Lucas was sitting at another table. Well? It could have been him! :P They took us down the Fisherman’s Warf to the tourist-trap Pier 39, and back up along to the beach after sunset.

You know I hope I am phrasing all these places right- you people who live there are probably laughing at me. Oh well.

Wednesday.. hmm.. it’s hard to remember this far back you know- I hope you appreciate the extensive shuffling of illegible mental notes!

Wednesday weeee… oh yes I had a bad night because my back was in agony *ahem too much baggage and curling up on planes and buses ahem* :( The Dudros were going up to the Randall Museum on a nearby hill with their homeschooling group in the morning, so we rode up with them and spent a bit of time looking at the cute rescued animals and earthquake effect displays. Then we traipsed down to Haight Street. AWESOME! I loved this- loads of classy too-expensive boutiques and hippy stuff, and Ben & Jerrys’ Ice Cream, and of course Amoeba Records. Doddy, Ruby, loads of you guys would LOVE Amoeba. It is a legend. Imagine the best music store.. and… well almost anyway. Not everything was cheap, but they had some pretty good bargains. Spent too much money. Walked home. In the evening we watched ‘What’s Up Doc?’ with the family with much appreciated popcorn .

Thursday we were feeling lazy and only dragged ourselves out mid-afternoon. We went to the post office and then caught the bus to The Mission. This is the oldest building in San Francisco I believe, built by Fr Serra and the Franciscan missionaries as they worked their way up California in the 18th century. See James’ photos. After that we made our way into the centre again and Union Square, and I took a brief look at Macy’s before heading back to dinner with the Ignatius Press community, including Fr.Fessio who had just arrived from Florida, and before that, Rome. James was going to try to meet up with some people (although he didn’t in the end) and so stayed in town to pursue adventure and excitment.

Friday was the day we went to the awe-inspiring Muir Woods and therefore drove (for the only time) and short way on The 101 ;) The lunch with Melissa was fun (so strange to see someone from Charlbury suddenly!) and the buffet food was great. Then came Telegraph Hill and the Coit Tower. On Saturday we repacked…again… and I took the Dudro girls down to Amoeba. And spent way too much money. Again. Then we had to bid the Dudros farewell and make our way to Psyrixx’s.

At Psyrixx’s we met lots of people who gethered for his birthday and the trip down to Los Angeles early the next morning. Some of us went for a walk up to a nearby hill and enjoyed the evening landscape, and got attacked by killer grass seeds which jabbed themselves into our shoes and the legs of our *sniggers* pants haa no I’m sorry, that’s one americanism I just can’t say with a straight face! Ahem sorry. Then we returned to the house for pizza and the first two episodes of Star Wars (in preparation for Revenge of the Sith). The versions we watched were a cut some fan had done in order to get rid of as much Jar-Jar and annoying Anakin bits he could- sounds great right? But not when he cuts out things like the Best Bit Ever, the ‘death-sticks’ scene! Sheesh. Anyway. Some of us tried to get some sleep before we left at about 5am, and most of us failed. Then it was hitting the road, Psyrixx driving Nini, Necro, James and me, and Flopp driving Moljnir. Seeing the sun rising and streaming across the Californian landscape was really something. We went with the others to their hotel while Psyrixx went to pick up Silverbrin, Djof and Tirion from the airport. Apon their return I whined at Psyrixx until he and Nini took James and me to Santa Monica, where the Scotts live. James has described what happened when we got there. Once we were installed in the house, I only had time for a quick shower before Jan (from down the road) picked me up for pentacost mass. Mass was an.. interesting experience. Um. Quite… liberal …with dancing and clapping and things. Er. *nervous laugh* Man was I glad to roll into bed at the end of all of that!

On Monday Nicola Scott and her youngest daughter Chloe returned home. We also met Jay, their eldest daughter Becky’s boyfriend. While they unpacked etc. James and I took the dog Daisy for a walk down to Montana Ave. and back. Nicki drove us around and down to Venice (they have mini canals it’s so cute!) for a while in the early evening, and we watched the film ‘Monsoon Wedding’ (V.good!) over supper. The next day, Tuesday 17th May, Nicki dropped us at 3rd St and the Promenade, and we went to see ‘The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (bizarrely it turned out the Scotts knew Douglas Adams!). Let me just say at one point when I was almost crying with laughter, I turned around and no one else in the cinema, except James, was laughing- which made me laugh even more! After that we walked down to the beach and along to the Pier, and then back up again to do a bit of shopping before heading home. In the evening we watched Spanglish on dvd, which was surprisingly good and not how you’d expect!

Wednesday was the day we went to the Getty. Nicki dropped us there in the morning and we hopped on the Tram up the mountain to the museum. I loved it- beautiful location, beautiful building (and I’m not usually one for modern architecture) and great simply presented collection. Becky picked us up in the afternoon and took us to Hollywood (where she lives in a flat just off Hollywood Blvd). We explored the famous boulevard and bought numerous tacky souveniers. James went off Downtown to meet the others, but I wondered back to kill time at Becky’s flat. I got a taxi around 9:30 to Universal City (this was the one with the cabby who didn’t understand me), and met up with the Psyjnir gang to wait in line for STAR WARS. I met two new members of the gang, Jester and Orion.

Star Wars was… Terribly exciting. Emotional, dramtic. Yikes. What can you say? I thought it was great so :p to it’s critics! I have a few criticisms but hey so what?

Bed at 4am. Urgh. Staggered out of my bedroom at around 2pm. We got a bus into Downtown LA and managed to find the others at the E3 convention. Picked up a pass for the convention, which it turned out I didn’t use but it was still cool! :D In the evening Jesse drove some of us back to Universal City (through the ridiculous LA traffic) while Psyrixx and some others swung by their hotel. We had dinner en-mass (with around 40 people- friends of the group who were at the convention, incl. Matt and lots of yoose other folks) in an Italian Restaurant, with much merriment, stuffing our faces and doodling on the paper menus. (That’s DOODLING not drooling just incase you miss read it.) Then came our second Star Wars showing (at 11pm this time).

Once again sleeping through the next morning was a neccessity. It was very hot and so while we worked out our plan for the day, or rather James did, I made the most of the pool. Chatted with Jan and Jay who were over. Found out Jay (who is in a rock band called The Holics) had rehearsed with Aeon Spoke! (‘Who?’ I hear you say? Only the best undiscovered band EVER!) Muchly excited. James and I then bid these two farewell and set out on our perlious quest to reach Dean’s Lan (a party thing. With computer games) via bus, metro and Psyrixx. Finally made it around 10pm and fell apon the food and ice cream. And games consoles. The others did that is- I am superbly ignorant in this department. This was an evening of much geekness and sad farewells. Or is it geekity? Whatever. Twas fun.

On our last day in America I ate breakfast out in the hot sunshine by the pool and talked to Gavin Scott who had returned after a drive down from Seattle with third daughter Laura a few days previously. The Scotts kindly dropped us two weary travellers at the airport, and we ate lunch before departing to find our flights. I arrived home exausted and happy/sad, in the rain. I had a complete freak out when we got in the car. You’d think 19 years of driving on the left would outway two months of driving on the right but apparently not!

Thank you to everyone who made this trip so special.

Now, my friends, if you’ll excuse me- I must go wash the dog. He’s rolled in cowpat. Oh it’s good to be back!

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Sunday May 22


I got distracted by things last week, what can I say?

But as of this afternoon I am back in merry ol’England! And we just had a rain storm. Ha. Aha.

I will fill in log stuff soon, my brain is not ina core..cohr… not in a clear state… too little sleep and feeling very disorientated by everything being the other way round here and stuff and… argh I can’t believe I’m home! I can now proceed to freak out all my English friends with constant americanisms heh heh

I love home. But I don’t think I ever felt as sorry to leave another country as I was …yesterday or whenever it was.

Argh the lights are flickering! What the sith?


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more photos...

James discloses...

Wednesday May 25

Photo finale

Well, it’s the moment you’ve all been dreading. I’ve finished uploading the last ever batch of photos from the trip for all and sundry to witness and enjoy. It’s been a good run, thanks again for spectating, we’ll have to do this again some day.

Also for your enjoyment, I made another inexpertly assembled panoramic shot, this time of Santa Monica beach.

Santa Monica Beach Panorama (2804 x 431 - 437.1kb)

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Monday May 23

San Francisco Photos

Finally got another batch of shots up. This time from San Francisco. There are 115 in total, so get cracking!

I’ve also made a crudely stitched together panoramic sequence of the Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Francisco. I’m making it available to one and all absolutely free! Hurrah!

Yerba Buena Gardens Panorama (2566 x 412 - 230.4kb)

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Sunday May 22

'Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard'

So here I am in the airport lounge, waiting for my flight home to board. Tessa’s flight should have left half an hour ago but I’ve got another hour and a half till I can board. We’ve barely parted two hours and I’ve already had two notable experiences.

First of all, I was charged with the errand of delivering Tessa’s last remaining US mail. Of course, since the destruction of the World Trade Center, there are no post boxes within the entire LAX airport complex. Not to worry, I’ll just hop in a cab to the nearest post office, it shouldn’t cost too much. Yeah, nice try schmuck; like hell those cab drivers want to take you on a 10 dollar round trip after they’ve been waiting all day for that killer fare out to Newport Beach from some spoilt good for nothing pretty boy… tsch, noob.

So the first suggestion I received was to wait for the Renaissance hotel shuttle, which would take me to the post office for free. “Thanks for your honesty,” I happily chimed as I plodded over to the shuttle pickup point. I soon grew impatient of waiting for the fabled Renaissance shuttle, so returned to the taxi rank. After all, I had some US dollars to blow.

I was greeted by a slick, disgruntled, headset-donning driver who gave me a dirty look and sucked a few gallons of air past his teeth after I failed to believe his lies that there was a letter box “just over there.”

“I been waitin’ two hours, man! You better treat me well!” Yeah. Fun.

Anyway, I then proceeded to lose my Virgin Atlantic gold card going through security, having thankfully already secured a spot in the Air Canada lounge.

“Yeah yeah, stop whining, how was your last week in the US?”


Los Angeles: Sunday May 15th - Saturday May 21st

LA was fantastische. We arrived at our Santa Monica palace at 3pm to find we’d been left the wrong key and no clear way to get in. After struggling with the front door, back door and the lady’s chamber for a few minutes, we heard an ominous call from the street.

“Can I help you?”

Thankfully, the neighbours had been warned of our arrival and we were lucky to find Jan from down the road, all too happy to spring to our aid. While she headed off to enlist the super powers of her rock-climbing son, I summoned up the dregs of my spy-training and scoured the house for an entry point. I soon discovered a cat-flap and a pair of barbecue tongs, and triumphantly managed to extract the back door key from he inside lock. Then Jan’s son came and climbed into the upstairs bathroom window anyway just to show off. Ruin my glory why don’t you. Hmph.

After that initial excitement, we settled into our new paradise, contemplated a dip in the garden pool and instead collapsed on our beds, destroyed from the perilous drive down from San Francisco.

Over the next few days, we lived it up in blissful climes, winding things down at a leisurely pace to bring our trip to its finale. Amidst all the shopping on the 3rd Street Promenade and Hollywood, strolling along Santa Monica beach and star-spotting, (we only came away with Matt ‘Chandler’ Perry) we made time to get our culture fix at the Getty Center, meet up with the lads at E3 and watch lots of movies—including Star Wars on opening night. And again the next day. At midnight.

The Getty was spectacular, combining a shining example of modern architecture, wonderful works of art housed in the Richard Meier-designed complex, and a beautiful location all for the low low price of nothing! We really could have spent all of Wednesday there, but alas, we had prior engagements elsewhere, namely dinner and our first Star Wars excursion. The film was a great, classic George Lucas visual feast, with reassuringly wooden performances and a terrible script. It just wouldn’t be Star Wars otherwise.

After a series of late nights—we went to an awesome house/garden/LAN party in Garden Grove last night— our body clocks should be in a suitable state of turmoil upon our return but hopefully things will be back in order before too long.

The End?

Or is it just the beginning?

This has been such a wonderful trip, and thanks all for following along with the madness, albeit at a rather unorthodox pace. I’m still trying to get more photos up and linked in to these last two entries, so don’t leave these hallowed halls too soon. I expect Tessa has a few things to add as well.

Thank you to all our wonderful hosts and the amazing people we’ve met along the way, this tour would have been far less interesting without you. Please stay in touch and come and visit! Lots of love, peace and respect and all that yummy goodness.


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