As you may have noticed, the Amtrak trip started to not be very fun for me at some point. The combination of trying to fit as much as possible into fourteen days of travel and bad nights sleep was sort of catching up with me.
Here is one problem with couch surfing. When you couch surf, you are sleeping in the community zone of whomever you are couch surfing with, so lets say there are three roommates, this means that if one is an early riser and another is a late night go to bedder, that you are in the position of having to stay awake as late as the one roommate and you will probably wake up with the early riser. Thatâ€™s sort of how it has worked out for me anyway. In addition, since I have quite a bit that I actually am doing on the computer in terms of setting up couches, arranging travel, etc I need to find a bit of time and space to take care of this. In other words, if people want to visit or hang out, it means I canâ€™t do my writing, editing, and planning. So, I need to find a place (like Manhattan Bagels where I am sitting right now) to take care of this stuff.
Iâ€™m trying to express this without sounding like a bitch, but I donâ€™t know if it is possible or not. I think it is hard for people to think of what I do in terms of writing and travel as anything more than playing on the internet and being irresponsible. The truth is, I enjoy it, for the most part but my blog takes a couple of hours every day if it is to be any good. In addition there is a lot of work that goes into twitter and facebook and other social networking sites. Iâ€™m doing everything I can to make this into a career. I just feel like Iâ€™m not putting enough work in lately. I havenâ€™t had the time.
In any event, when I reached Philadelphia I was already on my last scheduled day of travel. I hadnâ€™t heard a positive response back from any couchsurfing hosts in Philly and I wanted to be in New York.
My main purpose in going to Philadelphia was to see the places where the United States began and to put myself in the closest proximity to Benjamin Franklin as possible and hopefully soak up some of what made him one of the greatest men to ever live. Franklin started the public library and the post office, invented the wood stove and put into words some of the most powerful aphorisms not attributed to God.
So I was in Philly to pay homage. I took a quick trip to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
I visited Franklin Court and was actually pretty disappointed with what the United States Park Service has done to honor Franklin. It was an underground, cold, and not very interesting museum.
Iâ€™m already a bit museumed out so I opted to skip seeing the Rocky Steps or dozens of other things. I did however find Ben Franklinâ€™s grave and paid my respects.
Then I went back to the train station and got an earlier train back to New York City which I had had to go through in order to get from Providence to Philly. Iâ€™d opted to stay at the Chelsea International Hostel on West 20th because of the combination of price, location, and online ratings. I got to New York at around 5:30 pm and walked from Penn Station to the hostel. The girl that checked me in was very nice and I had this sense as I walked through New York of being someplace that is safe, warm, and very familiar.
New York should be the capital of the United States. There is no doubt about it. It is the best of the best of the best that America has to offer. There are people of every shape, color, sexuality, religion, and nationality and they all live side by side. I have this sense day and night of security here that I would have never expected.
After checking in I took a walk up to Times Square and just sort of checked things out. I got a slice of pizza and a cup of coffee and just tried to take things in. Times Square is interesting but overdone I think. Maybe its from living in Hawaii and having so much access to Waikiki, but Iâ€™m not impressed by Planet Hollywoods, Hard Rock CafÃ©â€™s, Ripleyâ€™s, or any of the other big corporate boardwalk shows. The lit up screens and signs light up Times Square like it is daytime at any time of the day. It is sort of a disgusting tribute to capitalism and American waste, but it is cool. What I love more than anything are the throngs of people.
Back at the hostel, I met one of my dormmates, a Canadian named Russ. He was almost likable but not really. Abrasive, rude, loud, and obnoxious. I watched him single handedly destroy the stereotype of Canadians being nice, cool people with just about everyone he met. And yet, like I said there was something almost likable about him, a charisma that he used to pull a cute English girl named Kate into his bed within about 45 minutes of meeting her.
Russ told me he was going to see Letterman the next day and gave me the number of the lady to call to get a ticket. I figured what the hell, called and left a message. It never hurts to try. Then I went to bed. Russ set up his laptop and speakers on his bunk to watch a movie and the other guy in the room snored loudly. I was glad to have the earplugs that John Buck gave me back in Honolulu.
In the morning, I woke and showered and did a 100 block walk.
I fall in love with this place no matter what direction I go. I walked along the Hudson River, through
Wall Street, visited Ground Zero,
went to Chinatown and Little Italy, and visited the National Museum of the American Indian.
The NMAI was a lot less than I was expecting. They had a nice display of Native American womenâ€™s clothing from about 1860 to the present and a gallery with some of the contemporary art of Fritz Sholder who is 1/4 Native American. That was it though. I really thought there would be more.
At this point, the lady from the Letterman show called and gave me a ticket. I headed back to the hostel through Greenwich Village. At the room, I woke up Russ to see if he wanted to head up to the show together. Almost immediately I regretted not going by myself. He rubbed me so completely the wrong way with his every word since most of them were in relation to all the â€˜bitchesâ€™ he has â€˜fuckedâ€™ and trying to sound urban and cool. He had no regard for who was nearby whether they were older women or young kids and he had no conception of other peopleâ€™s space in any way. I would have preferred to have gone by myself for sure.
The Letterman Show was odd. They rammed us all into a very tiny lobby and a guy told us how important it is to laugh even if Dave isnâ€™t funny, they warned us not to call out, no hooting, and then made us practice our fake laughter again and again. The guy outside had said that seating was based on enthusiasm, so I tried to look positive and enthusiastic, but Russ and I were cast over to the far side of the stage. I think it was because of him.
Letterman wasnâ€™t very funny and then Billy Crystal came out and he wasnâ€™t very funny either. An attractive woman that is the new judge on American Idol came out next and she didnâ€™t have much to say, and then it was over. Paul Schaeffer and the CBS Orchestra were pretty solid and then it was over and we were shuffled out the door.
I tried to use a little tact to ditch Russ, but he was unflushable. He was wearing a light coat so I said I was going to walk and he should take the subway, but he decided to walk with me instead. I thought of just ditching him, but there was a part of me that felt bad abandoning this little prick in the city by himself, odd I know. So anyway the walk back was annoying and then we met up with eight beautiful Swedish girls, English Kate, a guy from California and a sodden old Australian woman.
Russ decided he wanted one of the Swedes (any of them) and began to ignore Kate and she proceeded to get hammered. The guy from California took a trip up to Harlem to score some weed and then came back and Kate, the Aussie lad, and he proceeded to get bloody eye stoned.
I ducked out to grab a sandwich from a Cuban place down the street and met an incredible Venezuelan waitress with a face full of perfect freckles. Later I dropped back by the hostel and led the entire entourage minus the weed man and the Aussie chick down the road to an old Irish Pub that is rumored to be where the cast of SNL goes for drinks. I didnâ€™t see anyone famous but made friends with a guy named Tony and stoked him out by inviting him to join me, Russ, and the Swedish shopping team.
Tony was a great guy and it was nice to have another guy that wasnâ€™t a complete ass amongst us. The night went long and Russ became more and more pathetic begging one of the Swedes for â€œa kiss, a hug, anythingâ€ and still calling them bitches, whores, and telling me and Tony how he was going to fuck them all etc etc. We tried to tell him what an incredible ass he was being, but it was hopeless. I finally ditched them and sat with a New York girl that cussed like a sailor and looked like a princess.
When I got back to the Hostel, I found Russ trying to use his key to get into the Swedish girls dorm. Unsuccessfully, thank god he is Canadian and not Americanâ€¦.what a fucking embarrassment. We went up to our dorm and even though it was around 4am, he flipped on the light without any thought to the two guys sleeping. He talked loudly, annoyed them, and finally I got up from bed and shut off the light when he began annoying me. Then he said he was going to go get Kate and bring her back up and fuck her. I figured he had blown his chances with her when he started chasing the Swedes, but much to my surprise, a few minutes later he brought the very drunk English girl up and proceeded to fuck her in the bunk bed. The Australian trying to sleep above him was not happy with the situation since he had just got in from a sleepless 16 hour flight. I just put in my earplugs and went to sleep.
I canâ€™t imagine how any woman would fuck this guy. Just goes to show that I still donâ€™t know shit about women. Iâ€™m just glad that Iâ€™m not a rude annoying fucker.
This morning, I got up at about 8am thanks to Russâ€™s alarm, which didnâ€™t wake him up and I showered and headed out of the room. Russ is supposed to check out at noon and fly to Europeâ€¦hopefully our paths wonâ€™t cross again.
Now, with all of my adventure so far updated, itâ€™s time to go see if I can get a ticket to somewhere or other. Wish me luck.