Thursday, 8 September 2022

Day 1: Larrington Towers - Modesto CA

 O hai and after a three year tour of South America, Asia and the Sub-Continent1 the Automatic Diary resumes - bulletproof and with inhuman strength.  Though not containing much in the way of travelogue this year, because Plague, something whose ravages have mercifully passed me by.  As you may deduce from the thread title I did not travel via Fort Larrington this year, partly because the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London's Famous London means I have to pay £12.50 a day every time I want to drive the Fast-Appreciating Future Classic anywhere but also because Miss von Brandenburg have a Plague-delayed appointment with Canadian post-rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor the day after I return.  Thus I need all the time I can get between touching down a LHR and rocking up at the Electric Ballroom, and anyway...

 Apart from having to get up at Stupid O'clock to flog out to LHR by bus and tube, getting to San Francisco was unremarkable.  Save that on the same flight were London South Bank University's Barney Townsend and former LSBU rider turned Man-Inna-Sheds builder Russell Bridge.  Indeed, Russ had bagsied the seat next to mine, which were supposed to be right at the very back of the Shiny Metal Birb but weren't because BA snuck an extra five rows of seats in there while we weren't watching.  No, the rot set in when we shuffled off the Shiny Metal Birb and into SFO's US Border Control area which, unlike some oher airports, has not yet been equipped with clever SCIENCE that reads you passport automagically, no, it's all done by hand.  Almost, but not quite, two hours later we were admitted to USAnia.

 To the Rental Car Center (sic) on the little Toytown Train - think DLR but without seats.  More queues.  I think it was about another two hours before I got the documents in my grubby little paw because, with a queue like unto a very big Snek Messrs Budget had but five of their ten positions staffed.  Which rapidly shrank to three and then - effectively - two because one trio of Swarthy FOREIGNS took about an hour to get processed.  But finally 8ZXY208 aka the Blackstang awaits my pleasure.  "The keys are in it" said Mae, who was terribly efficient once she was finally able to process this Unit.

 Problem was, the "keys" - actually a sort of make-it-go/lock/unlock gadget because it starts with a button - were nowhere to be found.  They were clearly not far away because doors could be opened and the engine started an' t'ing but I wasn't going to drive away without knowing where they were.  Eventually one of Mae's cow-orkers located said gadget.  Under the front passenger seat.  Of course!  Why did I not think of looking there?  Got moving at about 18:45.  I was hoping for something nearer 16:00.

 California is both hot and full of traffic even at that time of night  I mean really hot.  38 degrees at nine at night hot.  OK, not quite as daft as Phoenix three years ago but still pretty toasty.  Too hot and too late to go foraging for milk anyway.  I'll make do with the UHT stuff I robbed off of BRITISH Airways.  But at least I have Proper Tea.  Hurrah!

 Oh, and apparently Missis Kwin died.  "Cause of DETH: Liz Truss!" remarked one fellow passenger after the driver of the Boeing broke the news.  Being in Abroad for the next ten days is probably the best place for a BRITON to be.

1: Lie