Sunday, August 28, 2016

Travelling Hopefully - Prelude to a Cardboard Disaster

I'm going to the United States in a few weeks.  I tell people this and they say things like,
"That's amazing, whereabouts?"
I tell people, "Cleveland!" and they say things like,

It is probably fair to say that Cleveland doesn't figure particularly highly on most Australians must see list of American tourist destinations.  However to a small but elite cadre of hard eyed, sharp witted veterans (or possibly I mean sharp eyed, hard witted veterans) Cleveland is the be all and end all of travel destinations.  Imagine the Holy Grail, in Mecca surrounded by snow leopards and humpbacked whales.  Compared with Cleveland all this is a thermos in a dung hill surrounded by skunks and tsetse flies.

Ah Cleveland, noble Cleveland glittering man made improvement to the shores of Lake Erie.  Other cities might have more impressive buildings, greater culture, richer history, non inflammable water, jobs, a future and some reason to visit or indeed live in them at all but this matters naught for you, blessed Cleveland have ASLOK.  ASLOK where the mettle of a man is tested to its limits.  ASLOK grim cauldron of combat and death where the victors take the prize and the losers are hurled into the outer darkness to be feasted on by the more impoverished members of Cleveland's population.

OK, its basically a bunch of middle aged men pushing small cardboard counters their failing eyes can no longer quite identify around a map board to the rattle of dice and the cheerfully indulged in delusion that because he has rolled a snake eyes at a critical juncture there really is no difference between the player and Albert Jacka (non Australians insert your own military icon here) but for the fact that Jacka never visited Cleveland.  I think that means I've gone one better than him.

Lest people think that I am flying in merely to sample the heady delights of Clevelands outer wastelands (sorry, I mean suburbs) I must hasten to correct you.  The Wastes of Outer Cleveland (surely a title for a fantasy novel although possibly not a good one) is only one destination on my journey across the United States. 

I fly in to San Francisco (because I cannot think of a single reason why I or anyone else would ever want to go to Los Angeles) and spend a few days recovering from jetlag and determining whether I can afford the rest of the trip.  Then its up to Portland just in case hanging out in San Francisco didn't seal my credentials as some kind of greeny, leftwing freak (which would cause most of my friends who are greeny, leftwing freaks to burst out laughing).  From Portland I trundle across to Chicago stopping in Minneapolis for just long enough to make fun of some vegans.

I've no idea what I'm going to do in Chicago but I hear that there is the occasional thing going on that might be of some local interest.  After that I travel to CLEVELAND before, weighed down with the laurels of victory (or alternatively the anchor chains of defeat), I visit the town of Niagara Falls which by all accounts was designed to prove that the greatest area of natural beauty in the world can still be an undesirable low rent address.  From Niagara Falls I roll (and I mean roll, I'm catching the train) down to New York City to give the inhabitants a brief opportunity to rob me of whatever money I may have left before I leave their country for good.

Four weeks more or less, a good deal of it sitting on trains as Amtrak hauls me about various parts of their country, occasionally letting me off in those places where it thinks I won't break anything.  Now if you'll excuse me I've heard that in San Francisco you can book a tour on a fire engine so I'm off to search the web for a booking site.

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