A Travellerspoint blog

Overheard Phrases #2

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A few more phrases I've overheard...

  • "Who is new in this part of the zoo? I need a ticket from you." Apparently "tickets please" is not good enough for train conductors in America.
  • "You look shocked. Have you gone white under that black skin?" I'm not quite sure if the protagonist here was being racist or not, given that she was talking to a white bloke.
  • "You motherfuckers, stick it up my butthole!" Not so much overheard as shouted at us by a (presumably drunk) lady from a car. Sadly it was moving too fast for me to give chase and get her phone number.
  • "C'mon girl, heel, heel! I've got a treat for ya!" A charming gentleman to his charming lady wife.

I'm setting off far too early in the morning on my first 8 day project so don't expect any updates for a while...

Posted by MrKWatkins 08:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)


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We decided to have a hike up the mountains just outside of Reno today. Get fit for the work and all that. This was a good plan, however the execution was not. However we encountered three problems:

  • We are disorganised muppets
  • The mountains are actually quite a lot further away than they look
  • We are disorganised muppets

I realise that the third problem is the same as the first, but it's such a major one that I thought I'd mention it twice.

Anyways, we set off into nuclear free Reno before taking a sharp right and headed towards the mountains. This worked well until we ran out of pavement.

At this point we hit on the bright idea of getting a bus. So we stood by a bus stop for half hour or so hoping the incredibly old lady standing at the stop wouldn't die whilst we were there. (Having said that there was a handy mortuary near by) The stop did allow us to have a refreshment stop, pose for a few photos and generally 'chill out'.

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(Answers on a postcard for what the contraption Stu is drinking out of in that last photo)

Of course the bus didn't arrive so we decided to brave the cycle path next to the road. And we got quite far, but not far enough, eventually getting thwarted by a rather large fence. We did manage to find some local Renoians to ask directions, although they seemed to have more fun laughing at us that in aiding us with our task. The daft racists. Still we got closer to the mountains at least...

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We'll probably try to get up those mountains one day. But we might get some transport to the base first. Or just forget about it and sing in the local bar instead.

Posted by MrKWatkins 17:05 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)


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Was taught a decent card game in the bar last night, it runs as follows...

Uses a standard 52 card deck. Aces are worth 11, pictures 10, all other cards face value. Each player is dealt out three cards face down. The deck is then placed in the middle, and the top card flipped. Only cards of the same suit score. So for example if you had AC, 5H, 7H you would have a highest score of 5 + 7 = 12. Play progresses around the table similar to gin rummy; you can pick the card from the face up pile on the table or pick the top one from the deck. You then discard a card, keeping three in your hand and going for the highest score you can. Obviously you can't pick up the face card and throw it straight back down.

When you think you have a suitably high score you knock on the table. A knock counts as a go so you can't knock immediately after picking up a card. Play progresses around the table one more time, giving all the other players one more chance to improve their hand. When it comes back to the knocker the cards are turned over and the player with the lowest score loses. We were playing for a dollar, so whenever a player lost we'd fold over a corner of the dollar. If you lose when all the corners are folded over you're out of the game. Last player left keeps the cash.

There are a couple of other rules. If you score 31 (i.e. an ace and two pictures or a ten suited) then you immediately show your hand and every other player has to fold over a corner. If you get three of a kind (e.g. 9H, 9S, 9C) then that counts as 30.5.

It can get quite tactical, as you might know the suits the others are going for and therefore keep high cards of that suit in your hand to ensure your opponents don't get them. And when there are lots of people playing it can be worth knocking early in the game on a relatively low score 'cos there is a good chance someone won't have a decent score yet; you don't have to get the highest score you have to not get the lowest.

Oh and I didn't win.

Posted by MrKWatkins 13:33 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Settled In

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Think I've settled into Reno now. I'm staying in a house near the University of Reno with twelve others, which makes it cosy to say the least... There are seven of us (including four fellow Englishpeople) in our group, all started at the same time and all staying for ten weeks. On top of that there are various people in the house who've been volunteering for several months now. Everyone I've met so far is pretty cool too.

All the orientation stuff is out of the way now. I've learnt about tents and pickaxes, hiking and shrubs, trails and rocks. I was especially pleased to learn how to stay out of the way of chainsaws, falling trees and scorpions, which I figure is handy to know. Our first project will be near Las Vegas ripping up tamarisk. Sadly I don't get to wield a chainsaw; I'll probably be spraying herbicide around most of the time. We start on Monday morning and will be away for eight days in total.

Found the local bar last night, and have just about recovered. (Some of the American volunteers decided to welcome us with some whiskey which contributed to a nice hangover this morning) Quality jukebox; lots of Pantera and Metallica made me happy. They randomly have two microphones in the corner so you can get up and sing along to your favourite songs if you want... Very strange. Good beer though.

Posted by MrKWatkins 13:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)


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Last impressions of San Francisco:

Nice town. Nice people. Good bars. Lot's to do. A good town.

The one thing that stood out for me about San Francisco was the high number of homeless people. I mean really ridiculously high compared to London. San Francisco is twice as densely populated as London, but I would guess there are approximately 10 times as many homeless in San Francisco; I counted 47 on a short trip out one night, whereas I would expect to see 4 or 5 out on a night in London.

First impressions of Reno:

Haven't had much of a look around yet, but it seems quite a nice place. The people are friendly, there are casinos everywhere and lots of bars. Ideal for me really. 8o)

Posted by MrKWatkins 19:18 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Travelling To Reno

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I decided to get the train from San Francisco to Reno and am very glad I did. Okay, it takes about eight hours as opposed to an hour or so on the plane, but that is because it has to travel through the Sierra Nevada mountains which look absolutely fantastic. The train even has a viewing car with a glass roof to help you see and a commentary on the surroundings.

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The trains over here are far better than in England... They run on time, are cheap, have plenty of leg room and awesome facilities. Someone should let Branson know...

Posted by MrKWatkins 19:11 Archived in USA Tagged train_travel Comments (1)

Overheard Phrases #1

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The first in an ongoing series of phrases I've overheard in the streets or bars on my travels...

  • I didn't realise Alcatraz Island was actually an island.
  • If you don't shut your bitch face bitch then I'm going to bitch slap you bitch.
  • I can't get my camera working since the dog sat on it.

Posted by MrKWatkins 12:15 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Mastering The Lingo

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I'm slowly getting up to speed with various American terms and phrases. Here are a few I've managed to pick up:

  • 'In And Out' does not mean vigorous intercourse; it is a fast food chain.
  • 'Nob Hill' is not a hill shaped like a penis; it is just a hill.
  • 'Cheese' is not a dairy product; it is an attractive man.
  • 'Red snapper' is not a sexually transmitted disease; it is a tasty fish.

Posted by MrKWatkins 12:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)


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I visited Alcatraz today. Which I was a bit aprehensive about doing to be honest, because I thought I would only be able to speak in a Sean Connery accent whenever I was on 'The Rock'. Apart from one minor slip I was okay though...


There are trips over to Alcatraz from one of the ports on the bay. They basically dump you on the island and let you look around as you want, which is nice; I hate getting shepherded around in organised tours. They have an audio tour of the cell blocks available; you bung on some headphones and an ex-guard talks you through the cell block area. It's quite well done.

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You get a great view of the bay from the island. Luckily the weather was a bit better today so I got some half decent pictures...

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A good trip all in all.


Posted by MrKWatkins 11:58 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

First Wander #3

The Golden Gate Bridge

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After visiting Aquatic Park and Fisherman's (make it so Mr.) Wharf I decided to wander down to the Golden Gate Bridge and walk over it. I made this decision before considering the following things:

  • How far it was
  • The weather

It turns out these were pertinent considerations. Given that it was about and hour's walk in the rain. However I did get to see the bridge on the way from a few good locations. And it is impressive, even in the crappy weather.

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When I got on the bridge I realised that the weather had become even more 'king pertinent. I pretty quickly realised after a large spray of water up the bum that I was walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in the middle of a class 4 storm. This is not a good idea for several reasons:

  • The rain
  • The wind
  • Even more wind
  • Lots and lots of bloody wind really near a quite small barrier and a 'king big drop. (The suicide prevention signs they have on the bridge point out that a drop from the bridge is going to definitely kill you. Why would you point this out to a potential jumper? Won't that encourage them?)

Still the weather did make it kind of exhilarating. The fear of death does that you know.

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I did meet a couple of fellow English people on the bridge. Our conversation was typically English, i.e. it only involved lying about the weather:

Me: "Lovely day"
Him: "I think it's clearing up"

It really started raining in the middle of the bridge which kinda scuppered the great views and great photos I was hoping for:

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But I eventually made it to the otherside.

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I was hoping for a bar. One of the biggest tourist attractions in the world. You'd think there would be a pub or a restaurant or something at both sides of the bridge. But nooooo... Not a sodding thing. So I got a bus back and hit a rather nice bar called Perry's in the city centre where I watched the American Football, drank several pints of Sam Adam's lager, (which isn't a lager by the way) ate some quality chicken wings and chatted to the barman and another nice chap who appeared to be a gay version of Will Ferrell.

Posted by MrKWatkins 18:54 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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