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Day 4 – First day of work, and Bowling! January 31, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Wooo….firstly, 163 in my first game of bowling in the states. Wooo! That included a Turkey (3 strikes in a row) as well baby!

It was a top night. Went out with A to a night out with some of his friends he has met since being in DC (been here a year and he is sleeping in the room next to mine). $15 for unlimited bowling all night, and we had 6 games. 163 was easily my best game ever I think. The rest wasn’t so good!

Work was good. A LOT to take in, including learning every step of how to receive, receipt, confirm and produce a passport. Fun fun! I think it’ll work out well though because the team is nice and that is the main thing. I could be piling shit in a corner for 7 hours a day, but it the people you are doing it with a nice and friendly and make the day go fast, then it’s all good with me!

It’s damn late cause I only just got home, and I have to get up in 5 hours, so I am not going to write any more tonight, but I promise more detail soon, including the possibility of going to a NBA game next week! WOOT!

Hope y’all are going well!

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Day 3 – U Street, Fuddruckers and the Caps! January 30, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Woke up to an overcast day in Virginia, USA. But still the temperature was hovering around 45F (7C) and got to a nice 55F (13C) or so. Little bit rainy, but nothing to write home about….although…that’s sorta what I’m doing right now!

Today, I went and met up with my mate Dougall and we went and had my first true blue yank American Burger at Fuddruckers. Weird name for a shop, but their Southwest Burger with Guacamole and Bacon was damn good! You sorta have to build it yourself. You get the basic burger, (cooked to taste. I had it Medium Rare) and then you can put in tomato, lettuce, salsa, jalapenos or whatever you want in it. Then you close it up, try and fit it into your mouth and chew.

I would be taking photos of all this stuff, but I have not yet got my dream camera. Hopefully this week!

After the burger, we wandered up F Street to the MCI Arena to see if we could catch the afternoons hockey game. We got 3 tix and went in so I could experience my first US Team Sport on my checklist of Ice Hockey, Baseball, Basket and Football (Gridiron). I saw the Washington Capitals (Caps) squeeze past the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 with a goal 2:20 from the end of the game. It was fast and there is non-stop entertainment! There’s Smile Cam, Dance Cam, Play of the Week, the Circles of Fortune (where you have to slide the puck into the 4 penalty circles and the centre). Overall it was a damn fine day!

Panoramic shot of the MCI Arena

First day at the Embassy tomorrow. Always nervous when I start a new job, but a new job in a new country….man….

Day 2 – Sugarloaf Mountain January 28, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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My wonderful hosts took me and their kids on a drive to Maryland on Saturday where we stopped off at Sugarloaf Mountain for a bit of a stroll.

It’s a nice place. Very scenic and some great views of the state. Lots of huge houses and barns!

You may think it was strange that I went climbing up a mountain on my second day in a new country, but it was excellent and I felt fine. There has seemed to little or no jetlag, so that is damn good. Although maybe it’ll hit me on my first day of work 🙂

I also visited a Borders today. Damn it was huge, and I could have browsed for hours, but I am sure I will get more of a chance next time!

Day 1 – I made it. Finally! January 28, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary, Travelling.
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It was a long day.

The 27th of January, 2006 lasted 41 hours for me and 28 hours of that was travelling on planes and trains, sitting in terminal and bus stations, and walking around looking for transport.

The plane trip was good. I managed to get an exit door seat on the window and could stretch my right leg out, and could (thanks to a suggestion from the crew) sling my left leg on the exit door and sleep pretty well. I reckon I got about 4 – 5 hours on the plane as well as watching 40 Year Old Virgin, Four Brothers, some Vicar of Dibley, and Everybody Loves Raymond. QANTAS now has the little individual screens to watch, which was nice, but it runs on a 2 1/2 hour loop, so if you sleep and miss the start of the movie, it’s hard to catch up!

So anyway, the flight from Sydney to LA was the long haul. 12 hrs and 55 minutes to be exact, We rolled into LAX at around 7am and the fog was thick but the weather was fine. Then came the Customs and security lines. I was expecting a lot of rigmarole, but it was so smooth and easy and I didn’t even have to get fingerprinted or photographed. (thanks to the job!) I didn’t see much in the airport other than a couple of shops before boarding again and doing the 5 hours to JFK Airport, New York. I slept for half the flight, and read a little bit before landing in New York at around 5pm. I tried to see some of the city in the landing, but the window was just above the wing and I didn’t see much! (downside to the exit seat!).

So, I had arrived in New York, and remember has I was trying to decide how to get to DC from there? Well I had decided to fly, but then I went to buy the ticket online and i couldn’t becase I didn’t have an American credit card. So I thought I would just buy the ticket when I got there.

Mistake No 1! When I got the American Airlines desk, they kindly informed me that the ticket I could have bought for $130 online, was now $400. He told me that I should have pre-booked. Oops.

So, there I was in a big-arse airport trying to figure out what to do next. I went on the AirTrain around the circle a bit and then somehow i ended up on the train to Howard Station, and then left the AirTrain and went onto the New York City Subway. Holy crap. I wasn’t expecting to do that. The trains all seemed to come straight away. i hardly waited and they were always the right trains. The subway took me all way through Brookyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, past Broadway and on to Penn Station. I then bought me an Amtrak ticket for the first train to DC. $85 was a decent compromise even if it was a 3 1/2 hour trip. I bought a Chicken Salad roll, some Nacho Cheese Doritos and a ‘Classic’ Coke as my first meal in the USA. They were good, and I was damn hungry after the ordinary airline food (crap chicken and beef dishes for all!). So I read ‘The Alchemist’ on my trip to DC and went through around 5 states on the way (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland).

I arrived in DC at about midnight of the 28th of January. I dragged my 26kg bag from the Amtrak to the Metro and came across my first beggar in the US. He asked for a buck and said he’d help with my bag. Although I could have done with help with the bag, I didn’t think his puny muscles would really be much help. I gave him a couple of bucks anyway, and then got my ticket to Huntington and headed off to the platform. Getting on that final train,I had the biggest feeling of relief. Mostly glad that I didn’t have to drag my 3 heavy-arse bags any further.

My lift arrived and then we drove to the house and to the bed. I was finally here and I could finally settle into my new country for the next 11 months.

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Welcome to my America Blog that I will be using over the next year to record my life and my travels. Sometimes I will just report shit that happens to me, sometimes I will give you some of the amusing parts, or the far out parts that will blow my mind is this extravagant country.

I am looking forward to hearing from all of you as well. Let me know what is happening in your life. Send me email to mick{AT}blight{DOT}com and I will reply!

Check out the page on the right hand side as well with reports on other quirky things from my time over here