Thursday, November 19, 2009

Golden Gate, Golden Slumbers. Dozey Navvie.

Dunno why I threw in a Beatles song title, just seemed to fit.  Anyways apologies to those who've been ignored by myself.  Sorry folks, things get a bit fractured at times but I do still enjoy reading your blogs.  Enough of the soppy crap, back to the U.S.

On the L.A. - Frisco Greyhound I was sat veside some salesman guy.  I quote here from a journal I was keeping at the time.  Remember we're back in 1986, there's no intermaweb, no mobile telephony and the closest you get to a PS3 is a game of Space Invaders in a pinball parlour. From the journal:
"The first bus, LA to SF and I had the misfortune to sit next to a salesman who was forever resorting to cocaine.  The shiftless myopia of his character was adorned by his sojourn in the bus toilet where he relieved his stomach of its dreadful junkfood contents. Throughout the night I was given an account of his recent adventures in Mexico where he managed to make fourteen dollars on a double-handed currency exchange."
Makes me kind of glad I took notes during my travels.  Was I being harsh on this bloke?  Nup.  No way.  I trusts me first impressions and original account.  Okay so I entered the world of Greyhound which I was to frequently dip into over the next few months.  I figured out later that the salesman guy was really doing crack.  It must have made him very ill 'cos he was forever hitting the bus dunny (toilet, loo, crapper).  I managed to saw some logs during the night and as the sun came up I noticed we were passing a wind farm.  There were acres of these wind turbines, a bounceback effect from a globally warmed future.
"Further north the welcome sight of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay drew closer and it was with feelings of relief that I left the coach."  Thanks Mr Journal.
I had a few nights pre-booked at the Holdiay Inn so that's where I went, via taxi.  I checked in just in time for breakfast.  I didn't really feel very hungry so I ordered the smallest meal item, scrambled eggs with bacon.  Once again the portions were generous to a fault.  Back in my room I unpacked, sat Jack next to the TV so I could keep an eye on him and tried to think of what to do next.  My head cold was barely alive so I threw down a tablet and a slug of Jack as a farewell gift for it.  Then I zoned out and sawed logs for a couple of hours.  When I awoke it was mid morning and time for a shower.  After that I wandered around and jumped on a cable car.  This was going to be a fun city.  I checked out the financial district before cable carring back up and then around and down to Fisherman's Wharf. The Bay area reminded me in some ways of Sydney Harbour.  I sort of felt home.  Frisco had a different vibe to L.A.  Its like comparing a decent beer to Coors, or a nasty box wine to a fair Merlot, say a 2006 from the Barossa Valley.  Frisco was mighty fine.
The rest of the day I spent tooling around the city, just drinking it in.  I found myself a cheap pizza joint as a dinner option and on the way back to my hotel visited a liquor shop to get some reinforecements for Jack who'd been looking pretty much used up.  That night I zooed out in front of the teev, nursing the newly replenished Jack, but made an early night of it.  I was knackered.

The morning saw me full of beans, no hangover, head cold or other illnesses so I burst downtown again and sent off letters to a couple of Candian frineds, warning them of my intention to invade their Canuck strongholds and take on Messrs Molsen and Labbatts.  I cheked out the Amex letter drop service to no avail and went on one of those city bus tours again.  The Bay was magnificent this day, a really sparkling sun drenched body languidly resting itself against a contented city in a marriage for the ages.  I ended up downtown in a ribs joint, feasting on flesh and talking to a group of Dutch and Germans.  We talked the usual travellers' talk, swapping notes, places we've been, hints and suggestions and an analysis of beers.  We pretty much agreed that the mainstream American beer like Bud or miller were drinkable, went down easily but they didn't have much kick.  So we adjusted, as any traveller should.  No use dissin' the local brew, just live with it.  Onve again I felt tired and headed back to my hotel, getting an early kip.  I figured out that a combination of jet lag, head cold and my subsequent medications had taken a slight toll on my stamina.

My stamina felt fine when I woke up so I bored into the breakfast buffet and feasted. American breakfasts can be the best in the world and these buffet jobs were well set out.  I had one night left at the Holiday Inn, my last ever proper hotel before I ventured once again into the world of youth hostels.  Once again I jumped cable cars, buses, walked and spent my time checking the place out.  The gardens with their crazy zig-zag road looked very appealing.  If only I had a car.  I rested up in thehotel for an hour or so before hitting the night.  Pizza again then I went bar hopping, or so I thought.  A couple of blocks away from thehotel was a string of bars.  As I looked at one of them something started ringing in my head.  As I approached it a vision of Oxford Street Sydney sprung into mind.  I'd found the gay bar sector of Frisco.  I asked thebouncer at the first one where the gay strip ended and the straight bars could be found.  all this maongst a swirl of pretty boys dressed with gay abandon, frills, make-up and the usual badges of gaydom.  Thebouncer was cool, pointed me in the direction of an English style pub a couple of blocks away.  So that's where I went for a few pints.  It was okay as far as faux-English pubs are concerned and I struck up a conversation with a couple of Melbournians.  They were married and were on the back end of a U.S. holdiay.  Four weeks in a hire car and they'd had a blast.  They'd bridged things up a bit, staying in a mix of good hotels and cheap motels.  They'd spent more in four weeks than my budget  was for four months.  I'm glad they ahd cash because they wouldn't let me pat for a drink.  Thanks Jo, thanks Mick. I hit a couple of more bars on my way back to thehotel but didn't quite get the zoom feeling I was after in a nightspot.  I walked into the hotel, grabbed my room key and wlaked past a hallway with bars on either side.  The first one was dead, the one down the end was slightly more alive so I sat my sorry arse down and ordered a double Jack with a dash of Coke.  I noticed there were a few couples dotted around the place, some were slow dancing to cool vibes, others just keeping each other entertained.  There were also a few singles scattered around but I didn't expect to be cutting up fine in this joint.  I sat back watching a ball game, munching on some pretzels and ordered another Jack, having a casual chat with the barman who quizzed me about Oz.
"I might like one of those".  I turned around to see a curvy, comfortably overweight (not yet in the gross range) African American lassie looking with hopeful eyes at my JD.  What to do?  Was she a hooker or a player?  Oh well, one way to find out.
"Another of those thanks mate" to the barman and
"Allow me" to the girl as I pulled a stool out for her to perch on and make goo goo eyes at me.
Well, she didn't make goo goo eyes but did enjoy the JD and coke.  By the time we'd finished another I'd learned she was divorced, had just moved to Frisco and was a teacher, landing a job in the Fall term, whatever that meant.  Well, what it did mean is that she had plenty of spare time and did some part time work helping organise seminars and doing some minor presenting jobs at places like the Holiday Inn.  A few of that day's participants were at the bar and had invited her for drinks.  At one stage she'd heard an odd accent and decided to find out more about it.  This it was that we were sufficiently introduced and fuelled to start thetouchy stuff.  I rested a hand on a knee (not mine) and felt some fingers lightly dance across my inner thigh.  Ah yes, the call of the wild.
"How about we continue our drinks in a place where I can show you my collection of Drop Bear claws."
"You invitin' me up to your room cowboy?" she caught on quick
"No, we're going down to Selinas and see Mental As Anything." whoosh, straight over her head
"You talk crazy. Let's go to see this mentalist or whatever it is."
Well, we went upstairs where my bar stocks came into their own.  Diane felt like a beer, which was fine.  I had my Millers chilled and ready.  We semi undressed and lay on the bed, draping around each other, slurping on beer, groping to a background of motown classics on the radio and Letterman on the TV.  Hell, I even found some salty snacks which we nibbled off each other.  This gal was fun, especially nekkid. We romped, played chasings, laughed,  sang along to the music, did some slow dancing,  and now and then simply screwed. Bythe time we crashed out we'd gone through a couple of beers each, a half bottle of Jack and a months worth of sex.

In the morning when we woke I used the bathroom and had a shower.  Ended up Diane wanted a shower at the same time.  We made ourselves clean and dirty at the same time.  Back in bed we collapsed again, grinning at each other.  Then I remembered I  had to check out that morning.  When?  I was laready past ten o'clock check out.  I called up the desk and booked in for another night.
"That's the last of your voucher entitlement sir, enjoy the rest of your stay."  Woo hoo!  I'd miscalculated my voucher. I wouldn't have to pay for the extra night.  You bloody little ripper!  I excalimed my delight and rolled on top of Diane to celebrate my good fortune.  We eventually were interrupted by room service who wanted to clear our mess.  Win on top of win.  I could steer Diane out for a while and come back to a clean room with fresh sheets.
After we got our clothes on we walked outside.  We went to a nearby cafe and sat down to talk.  She was going to Sausalito later that day for a few days with some relatives, so we only had a few more hours together, if I felt like the company.  I thought back to the previous night and the fun we'd had, especially the laughter so I told her yes, company would be a fine thing.
She left close to dinner time so I mournfully made my way to a local pizza place and had a quick bite before hitting the same bart again.  I wlaked in and the barm,an asked me how I'd gotten on so I told him "until about an hour ago".  I loaded up with a JD, had a beer chaser and checked out tonight's attractions.  All of a sudden it seemed sleazy and dull.  There was no laughter, just a few people looking around, waitying for something to happen.  I downed my beer, feeling tired, cheap and in need of a good sleep.  back in my room Diane's scent still lingered.  Jack still sat next to the teev, inviting me to have one more.  Okey dokey, slurp, ice , more slurp and a dash of coke.  And a baseball game!  Win.  Watched a few innings then crashed, smiling.

Okay,  time to demolish breakfast, pack up , check out and head to the hostel.  I really tried to out eat my fellow diners but by jingies they were good on the fang.  I was outclassed even though I though I was a good eater.  These people would get a large stack of panckaes, have french toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast and hash browns.  I dipped me lid after a more chaste serving of, short stack, eggs and bacon and ojay.  i was stuffed.  Then it was a cab out to the hostel overlooking the Bay and reserve a room.  Did all that then saw a notice on the board asking for people to share a hire car and go on a tour of the Napa Valley winereies the next day.  That was me straight in.  What a brilliant idea.  I check out the names on the list - Marion (Melbourne) and Caroline (U.K.).  Yep, could be interesting.  But that was the next day so I wenty down to Fishermand Wharf and chilled out in the sun.  I was really getting a groove on for Frisco, it was like a lost relative who suddenly crops up and they end up being an immediate hit with all of their cousins, part of the family crew and an automatic invitee to the family gigs.

In the early evening I ventured out of the hostel and to a pub called the Rose and Thistle.  I encountered a bloke from Cronulla who was in the final days of his three month backpacking jaunt around North America so Idecided to help him celebrate his survival.  We talked the usual crap and I updated him on how the Cronulla Sharks were crap and The Canterbury Bankstoiwn Bulldogs were aces.  We didn't come to blows but we quickly had to find common ground so that was the generakky crap nature of the Australian cricket team.  It was a fine old night but we had to get back so as not to break curfew and I hadn't done any research on how to crack the place open after hours.

After breakfast our intrepid crew which now included Alan (Irish but living in SF) ventured to Rent A Wreck to get a Dodge Colt.  My thinking was that Caroline, the organiser was going to be the driver.  Nup, not old enough.  Neither was Marion and Alan simply dodged the issue.  Fucking dozey navvie.  This was to be the first time I ever drove in North America.  On. The. Wrong. Side. Of. The. Road.  After signing the forms which absolved wrent a wreck of any guilt in my murderous attempt to drive a left had drive car on the right hand side of the road in the midst of a big fucking city like Frisco.  I took a couple of deep breaths, thought longingly of my bottle of Jack sitting hiddne at the hostel, lit up a Winston and jumped in the car.  Then got out and went around to the driver's seat. this was frightening.  But hell, its just a car, has a steering wheel , brakes, accerator, auto shift, radio and two fine looking girls to impress (plus one dozey fucking navvie).
I started her up, drove out the car lot and onto the rright hadn side of the road;
"See, no worries ladies.  Smooth as silk."  At the next corner I had to turn right.  Yikes!  Into the right hand side you buffoon!
"Just foolin' yez!  No danger.  Someone look up the map, we need to head over the Golden Gate and you'll need to direct me onto the correct exit."  Always delegate tasks, makes you look as if you know what you;re doing.  In the meantime I was simply sticking behind other cars with minimal lane swapping.  We made it over the Golden Gate and I got the right exit for heading to the Napa Valley.  Fuck I needed a drink and as we passed through some really picturesque countryside we were abuzz.  Except for the dozey fucking navvie.  We did a tour of half a dozen vineyards, me tasting as much as I could to make the drive back as painless as possible.  Sure, it might get a bit swervy but my nerves would be fine.  It was a grand day and the girls were great company.  Alan, the fucking navvie, was a total waste of space.  No spark, just dullard demeanour and dozey attitude.

On the way back we stopped in at Mini Wood which had the vestiges of the original Red Wood forest including one of those big fuck-off trees, the sort you could live in if you felt so inclined.  Should have left Alan in one of them.  We toured back through Sausilito, a pretty little fishing village which was at the time housing one Diane.  I drove around trying to catch a glimpse but it was a forlorn hope.  The girls were interested in what I was up to and thought it quite romantic.  Good, I'd have to play on that later.  We got back to Frisco and I drove down the gardens on that crazy zig zag street.  Fuck it was fun, trying to gun a Colt down a zig zag track.  We then headed around to Fishermans Wharf and had beer and pizza.  By this stage I had early hangover symptoms and was feeling the stress of my first day driving on the wrong side.  My bad side came out and snapped at Alan.  Called him a couple of things like being a dozey, needy navvie.
He got upset, the girls got upset and I piled them all into the car and drove Alan home.  He didn't even invite us in for a coffee or a beer.  Dozey fucking navvie.  I drove thegirls back to the hostel where I accosted them in the lounge room over illict JD in coffee mugs.  Uncivilised I know.  They both gave me a hug and a kiss, with Caroline starting to warm things up before pushing away, looking at me and asking about the girl in Sausilito.  Duck me fed, things get complimicated at times don't they?  We walked outside and did a bit of canoodling but that's all that happened.  She felt a bit unnerved by the whole thing.  I jsut reckon it was all the fault of The Dozey Fucking Navvie!  If he'd driven I could have made some moves.  Dozey. Fucking. Navvie.

Next time we venture further north, via Eel River.  See yez round like a rissole!


  1. Great stuff Therbs. Love the highly literal style of your journal, can't imagine the entire tale being told in that vein.

    The Cronulla Sharks were crap - could have been any time between 1978 and last week, of course.

    DMDY was in San Fran last year for a conference and did most of the same touristy stuff - not the shagging curvaceous African-American schoolteachers bit, at least not that she told me about.

  2. Frak remember 1986, I can’t even recall what Ihad for lunch last week or what year I read which book

    I truly believe when you ride the pooch (take the greyhound bus for those unfamiliar with Douglas Couplands neologisms) you enter a parallel universe like our in many ways but certainly weirder. In such environments it is essential to maintain the right pharmaceutical regime or all sanity can be lost.

  3. More gold, but this blog seriously needs a theme song. Something like the theme to South Park's Russell Crowe show "Fighting around the world".

    Some small adjustments and we could call it Rooting around the world!

    Oh and I would love to catch you for a beer, it would have to be the arvo of Sat 28th somewhere near the Amora Hotel. Don't know how convienient that is for you, but if you think you can make it email me at


  4. If we do catch up I am bringing the frog and getting him in a photo with you!

  5. GAWD this is better than Kerouac's 'On the Road'.

  6. Dr Y - thanks mate. I'm not necessarily a stylist but it is helpful that I kept a journal at the time. I'd forgotten how I'd slagged off that crack smoking salesman.
    Mr Barnes - in the next entry you'll find suitably drug charged Greyhound riding.
    Naut - Its within spitting distance of the Metropolitan. Saturday arvo? Yeah, we could hit the Metro or go to the Edinburgh Castle for happy hour jugs (of beer - its not a tits out place). If you bring the frog be warned he may not make it home!
    Nat Darlink - high praise indeed! Even though Kerouac was a tosser, On The Road wasn't too bad. I still reckon he flaffed his own doodle too often.

  7. Therbs, you're banging your way up the West Coast, I see.

    A great write-up as usual! I do feel bad that you had to ride the Filthy Fido (Greyhound, not referring to the lovely Diane) up the Golden State.

    Amtrak and the State of California now have decent passenger train service from LA to San Fran via the Central Valley (vegetable garden of the world). Doesn't help you now, though, does it?

  8. Ha! Yes I'd say he did a lot of 'flaffing'. Him and his mate were awful horny for the young uns.

  9. Hey! Wait a minute! Are you saying you - or were - in Northern California and didn't contact me? Are you out of your fucking mind? I am a compulsive social host. Just ask JB.

    Sheesh. Another lost opportunity to show those from other lands we aren't barbarians...

  10. Paul, I sent you a card in answer to your notice posted at the SF youth hostel, July 1 1986. That one which offered a wine bottling afternoon in exchange for a wet suit.
    Nat, maybe I was a bit harsh on ol' Jack. He certainly did much better with the lasses than myself.
    YD - I was running a very skint budget. If travelling the Dog meant more booze money then that was that.

  11. 1986?!? I was just out of college and starting my exciting career in product design back then. 23 years.

    Seems like a long bloody time ago in some ways, yesterday in others.

    Where the hell'd the time go?

  12. YD, it fucking flew out the door when someone left it open, thats where it went.

  13. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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