Day 1-Hattiesburg-Jackson-Washington D.C.
We leave Maddie’s house at 6am, dropping Rodney at work first and then heading to Jackson. Our first flight is Jackson to Atlanta where I start reading “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman (a very good read btw) and then sleep the rest of the way. I read for the entire duration of our second flight whilst Elizabeth sleeps. Upon arrival and a brief “what now” we get a cab from the airport to downtown Washington. On a budget we eat in McDonald’s and Starbucks because both are fairly cheap and also have wi-fi. We eventually find the hostel to stay in for the night and by this time we have seen a lot of the city on foot. We check in and chill out for a couple hours, meeting our roommates who are from China and studying in Chicago. I finish my book and we go out to the book store next door which is quirky, different and interesting. I buy two books for two very special friends– I really hope they’ll like them! We walk around and buy deodorant at CVS because neither of us want to stink on this trip! (A week without perfume- this is gonna be a “right challenge” for me). We then go to yet another McDonald’s for dinner and a walk around the block before heading back to the room. It’s very cold in said room. Earlier this morning Maddie said that I’m a “very cold natured person” and I made a joke about “was she referring to body or heart” (metaphorically). *HAHAHAHA.* I happen to think this is a good joke.
Day 2-Washington D.C. – Baltimore
We wake up at 10am and get breakfast at the hostel. I’ve joked with people all semester that “I’m a nice person but let’s not tell everyone about it” and this joke plays on my mind as I make tea and toast for Elizabeth. We leave and get the 42 bus to the White House, after an uncomfortable wait as men salute my leggings and stare at my legs a few seconds too long. We get to the White House and take photos of the surrounding area and the monument itself and then visit a tourist shop, buy some postcards and get photos taken at the “President’s desk.” We then go to the Washington Monument and take photos there after looking at Xmas trees of representing each US state. From here we then walk to the World War Two memorial; Lincoln memorial; Martin Luther King Memorial; Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson memorials respectably. Lots of iconography in small proximity! We get chatting to a really cool police officer and he asks me if I’m “English or Australian because he can’t work it out.” Obviously this puts a thousand watt smile on my face as I share a snippet of my life story with him. After that we go to the Holocaust museum and then walk back to 17th street to have our third McDonald’s meal in two days! After this we find the train station and then go to Starbucks again. On return to said station some random guy approaches me asking for my number and I’m spooked out cause it’s literally due to the GB themed suitcase I purchased in Preston, UK and the American themed leggings I purchased in Australia. I give him a fake number, tell him I DON’T use social media (Elizabeth stands beside me crying with laughter at this rather large white lie) and leave and we catch the train to union station before catching the Greyhound bus to Baltimore. The bus waiting room apparently has bedbugs so we literally have to leave it as soon as we step inside. We get a taxi to our hostel which is a really nice place and we watch TV. Our room sleeps 8 people on bunk beds and we’ve got it ALL to ourselves so we both make the most of it and have steaming hot showers.
Day 3 -Baltimore-Philadelphia
We awake to a freezing cold room in the hostel, make ourselves toast for breakfast and a New Yorker lets me have half of his blueberry (resisting urge for surname pun) pancake. We use the internet to look at places to stay (free spirits obviously…) in the other cities of our journey and catch the free bus known as Charm City Circulator down to the harbour. We walk around and take photos, do some shopping in the surrounding area (I got Xmas themed leggings and new high tops- my cheapest pair at £20! I’m a brand snob and like Nike in particular). We then get lunch at Subway and head to the huge Barnes and Noble bookstore and browse for a while since the Top of the World observation desk isn’t open. After this we catch the bus to Fayette Street and walk five blocks to Poe’s grave. It’s quite something to stand next to the grave of a literary legend. We take photos and our “signature selfie” and I joke to Poe telling him “not to move” (ya know- he’s dead so he won’t move). After this we head back to the harbour and go to Starbucks. We sit in there so long we miss the free bus so we start walking and I ask some randomer for directions who then proceeds to ask us if we have boyfriends… Elizabeth looks at me bemused, stating the next it happens to me I should claim to be gay! We get our stuff from the hostel and head to the bus stop that’ll take us to greyhound bus station. However we can’t find it and I notice lots of men loitering around, so I ask the police for directions. They’re concerned for our welfare and give us a free ride to the bus station. We can’t stop laughing once in the car- neither of us have ever been in a police car before. I’m sitting there thinking “I started 2014 determined and in a relationship and I’m ending it single in the back of a police car!” I attempt to take a selfie (at WHELPSTER’S instruction btw y’all) but my flash goes off and I panic momentarily before continuing to take selfies without the flash on. *I CANNOT BE TAMED.* We arrive at almost 1am so decide to rough it at the bus station which is freezing and both of us manage a hours sleep IF that- I really don’t recommend roughing it y’all if you can afford not to! We both feel drained, uncomfortable and grotty!
Day 4- Philadelphia-Atlantic City
After roughing it at the bus station and wearing out the batteries on our phones we head to the nearest food place at 6am-ish and get McDonald’s breakfast and sit in there for a few hours since it’s fairly warm and nothing is open yet. One thing that strikes me is the amount of homeless people I see. I don’t know why but it serves as an enormous slice of humble pie and all day I ponder the struggle we all go through just to bring home the dollar. I don’t know why I feel incredibly guilty but I do. My dad once told me off for this, saying if people have worked hard and want to buy themselves nice things then they have no reason to feel guilty. I know he’s right but the scene and the smell is overwhelming and I realise that the cruelty of capitalism being a repeated theme as to what I noticed on my first trip to New York. I’ve seen homeless people before but by Jove we’re SO lucky to be UK citizens– if I’ve ever felt unwell or have a medical issue I’ve never thought twice about going to the doctor. Having said that, it does aggravate me being asked for money by strangers constantly. Anyway we explore the shops and head to Starbucks (my fav place). We do a hop on hop off bus your around Philadelphia, visiting the grounds of the East State Penitentiary, Museum of Art, Rocky Steps, Independence Hall, Liberty Bell and the Xmas show and Dickens village at Macy’s. We then head back to the gallery for dinner, and get our bus to Atlantic City. We’ve booked a hotel room at Super 8- which feels very well deserved and we both have very long showers- making the most of it and washing repeatedly! We watch “Home Alone” and fall into a deep and much needed 12 hour sleep. My mum always jokes that my sisters and I seem to live in the shower– we like to be clean!
Day 5 – Atlantic City-New York- Hartford
We allow ourselves to sleep in and head to the world famous beach and boardwalk since we are leaving earlier today with a long bus journey ahead of us. We head to Hard Rock Cafe for brunch, you can always count on their food to be decent! We then go the beach and take photos- I really like doodling in the sand as a form of self- expression. We walk the pier, browsing the small stores and then visiting the main shopping centre and getting another Starbucks. As I attempt to take photos of our amazing view I spill my drink and as a typical Brit I feel awkward and apologise profusely to a very understanding barista who makes me a free drink and assures me it happens “all the time.” I’m sure it doesn’t and do my best to mop it up, embarrassed at my clumsiness! We then head back to the bus station to get our bus to Hartford via NYC. We arrive earlier than I expect and I don’t know if it’s the fact I’ve been chatting to Kieron about NYC but something comes over me as we look for our gate- my wild/fun side maybe– and I tell Elizabeth that I’m more than happy to skip dinner to show her the renowned NYC. We speed walk to the Red Steps, take loads of photos and speed walk back- getting to our gate 7 minutes early. I think she initially thought I was joking. After all I’m not a very “spontaneous” person but it’s NYC and I get that “warm fuzzy feeling” and I feel that she MUST at least see some of it; especially since I’ve been here twice before and kind of know my way around. We are both sweating as we get our bus to Hartford. On board we book another hotel and get a take-out pizza as soon as we check in to Super 8- it’s officially our last night as roommates! We watch more TV and I pass out asleep immediately at 1am.
Day 6- Hartford-Boston
Another day of skipping free breakfast (sorry Elizabeth) and we head to the bus stop to go downtown towards the Mark Twain House and Museum. We are the center of attention on the bus due to our nationality and my bold style choices of leggings and a Union Jack suitcase. We actually miss our stop and end up seeing a lot of the city from the bus. The driver gives us free transfer tickets and we eventually get to the house at 1pm, anxious of the timing to make our next bus. We do the tour and it’s very interesting- we’ve studied this literary legend here in the USA so it feels very relevant! Twain had expensively exquisite taste! We then head back to the bus station and get our bus to Boston. We are going our separate ways tonight and although we’re not mushy with each other I know for a fact that I’ll miss “Wild Whelpton.” We get on really well, we have a lot in common- which I guess is expected doing the same degree and all but we’ve become close friends. I never thought this would happen when we first came here but I’m glad it has. It means when we return to Keele and our mutual friends of USM aren’t here anymore, knowing someone who knows what you’re talking about will be a bigger comfort than either of us realise. As my roommate she’s also been the best at “keeping up with me” because my other friends (on both sides of the Atlantic) get lost very quickly in the sea of people and stories that seems to be my evolving and somewhat exhausting life. She deserves a medal purely for the fact I talk about the same things and people on repeat and I’m sure it bores her senseless-I know it’d tick me “right off” but she listens, gives advice and makes jokes. I originally booked my flight for Friday morning so I could see Boston at night but it’s not really feasible to do this with decreasing funds so I decide to just head to the airport with her and stay there. I’ve written postcards on the bus and ask her to send them from England so they arrive before Xmas. I do and don’t envy her for going home- I miss England but I really want to experience and American Xmas and it’s a good lengthy break to get some travelling and reading done. I spend a lot of time in my Burbage bedroom when I’m in Leicestershire because it’s my fav place. I love my house, its perfect. I actually chose it aged 8 when we were looking to move! Anyway I eat dinner at Starbucks and finish writing postcards and reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” before starting “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and grab an hour’s sleep.
Day 7- Boston-Jackson-Hattiesburg
I repack my suitcase ‘cause there’s no way i’m paying $25 just for a pair of trainers to go in a separate bag. I’m proud of myself for managing to get a lot of objects into my leather jacket pockets- geww on Bezza!! I decide to do customs super early so I can sleep at my gate. I get McDonald’s oatmeal and coffee at 6am, use the wi-fi and finish “A Christmas Carol” before heading to my gate to sleep for an hour or so whilst my phone charges. I get a Frappuccino and down it before my flight at 10am. I land in Charlotte as 1.15pm and Annalea is meeting me at Jackson to go back to Hattiesburg. I don’t get to see Anna much but she’s really cool, easy to talk to and trust whilst being an attentive listener all at the same time. An ideal friend; a mon avi. The flight from Charlotte consists of strong turbulence and having to sit next to a woman whose life ambition seems to be to smell unquestionably like a coconut. I’m tired and irritable so I get lunch at Burger King (definitely not calories counting this week) since I don’t know when Anna wants to have dinner. The next flight is a lot better although I’m freezing, smell horrible and am absolutely dying to use a razor. Anna meets me at 4pm in a raining Jackson, Mississippi and takes me to the mall she’s been banging on about for as long as I can remember. It’s a decent mall- they have H&M and Hollister so I’m satisfied although I buy very little. We then head to Keifer’s- a Greek restaurant and eat gyros. As I’ve said before this is a huge country so the drive back is at least 90 minutes but it’s fine since I can “talk for England.” As soon as we arrive we head back out with Ariana and get ice cream at Sonic. It’s a drive-thru, and yes English readers I share the disbelief but a drive-thru is a more common feature over here in the US of A. We watch the films “Let’s Be Cops” and “Sex Tape” that we’ve rented and I fall asleep half way through the second film. Sleep has finally caught up with me and my wild goose chase along the East Coast of the USA.