112.September 11

City of London Hostel.

Along the Thames it was beautiful and sunny. I woke up at 06:45 and took a shower. I walked down Fleet Street, looking at shops and St. Brides Church, the inspiration for modern wedding cakes. It was also the street where Charles Dickens lived. When I got to the Royal Air Force Church in the middle of the road, I turned around so I could be back at 09:00 to have breakfast with Katja. She had asked me to. I sat with her and two young women from Luxembourg who, like everyone else, wondered why I would come to Europe to study when I could have studied in the USA.

Katja and I went for a walk along the Thames. She wore her new shoes, but they weren't broken-in yet. I could see she was having some walking pain. We stopped at Cleopatra's Needle and I took pictures of Katja and the needle. We walked near Piccadilly Circus, and then back to the hostel. We sat around the hostel before I left for Miss Saigon.

Miss Saigon was fabulous. A life-sized helicopter landed on stage. I did not like the tenor lead male. I think he should be a baritone. The sleazy pimp was my favorite character. He was so smooth. All the sets were simplistic, but they had a great effect. Especially the set entirely composed of hanging neon signs advertising dancing girls, gambling, and strippers.

I walked back to the hostel and past Katja, who was downstairs in the lobby. When I left before I had tried to say good-bye and she said that I should just leave, she had an aversion to saying good-bye. When I came out after my shower, she was still in the lobby. We talked a bit. I asked her to play a video driving game with me, which did not last very long. She asked me to go hunting for a pub with her to get cigarettes. We couldn't find any that were open. It was probably 19:00. We came back to the hostel and tried to play chess by making our own set out of paper. I breathed too hard on it and it was all over, so we gave up. I composed a poem on her Beck's bier matchbook, and gave it to her. She'll read it sometime.

I left for a walk to the Thames. I found an open Danish pub, so I had a pint of John Smiths, or something. It was bad. I bought a pack of Marlboro for Katja and ran back to the hostel. She paid me 2.40 pounds, and we smoked one. I left abruptly.

I walked back along the Thames down past Parliament. Following two drunken men singing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," by U2, I walked along the west bank. There were a few parties on the permanent restaurant boats floating along the dock-line.

I stopped at the National Theatre and Film building to go to a bar there. I had a pint of Red Stripe. It sucked. Then I had a pint of hard cider, Old Something. There were many weird people there. I tried to talk to a strange female writer who had a physical disability. She just said "no." I had a pint of Guinness and joined some people singing along with a ukulele. They were singing "Take Me Home, Country Roads." I stood and listened above them, singing when I knew the songs. I asked one of them who those people were. He said they were famous dancers from Edinburgh. I got to play the ukulele, but not while they were singing. Then they sang some more. The bar closed, and I left.

It was a long walk home. I met a cool older guy on the street who asked me where I was from. We walked together. I told him he looked like a Shakespearean actor. He said "Oh no." Then we split up. I got to the hostel and went to the toilet to take out my contacts. I talked to the sixty-one-year-old Texan in the urinal for about half an hour, and then went to bed.


Chicago to Dubuque,

I feel good to be on the road again. I have a friend in my car, but that is all there is. A confidence in fellow drivers. I stopped many times that night, the road was tiring me after 03:00. I napped for an hour near Chicago. Then I drove through, and arrived at Stockton to buy gasoline. I had plenty of time before 15:00, when Amy would arrive home from teaching school, so I did my laundry and examined my car for problems. I thought my head gasket may be leaking oil into the water.

I stopped in Galena to look at shops and buildings. It was nice, but also sold many silly knick-knacks. I made one pass on foot through and back to my car. I stopped in the theatre there, which looked like a possible summer job sometime soon. They would not open it up and give me a look-see, so I got about as close as I could to complaining. When I left, I knew that I would arrive in Dubuque just in time.

I found Amy’s house after just a bit of trouble. When Amy got home, she gave me a house tour and kindly let me take a much needed (and deserved) shower. I was glorious, in her blue bathroom, which had a shower only. I brushed my hair out too. She helped me.

We walked, looking first for coffee, then down across the track and onto the old Rail-Road bridge for the Brew Pub and German beer. It was closed, so we picked up things from the dirt beneath us, like an old washer, which I kept as a souvenir, and a white plastic letter. A train passed on our way there, but on the way back there were none, so we traced the tracks.

We took the old cable car that went straight up the hillside. It was a hundred years old I believe, and worked like a charm. But scary. It was a wonderful view from the top. We spoke to the old man who operated the machine, resting his boredom on an anvil to strike with ours, and then we went back to Amy’s for dinner. On Zee Floor pasta, which was created by her mom. Yum. We played ping pong downstairs, and later went to bed in her room with me on the floor at her feet. I slept well, and woke up with her, but went back to sleep, and left later that day.


We went to breakfast at the Redwood in Caledonia, and then checked out an apartment for Lee to live in after he sells the house. While Rachel went to Mabel to march in Steam Engine days, I worked on our front garage, making it into a storage area instead of a junk pile. It turned out very well, and I have new possibilities for it for the winter. I also fixed the garage door, at least as well as it can be fixed with 40 year old hardware. Rachel and I watched a movie with dinner directed by Michael Keaton.