cantlin america blog

Posted in bunk by cantlin on October 9, 2009


Ottawa rained, and rained, as grim as my first day back in London. New York I recall as one long glorious sleep deprived subway ride. As a kiss. I can’t, as much as I want to, as wonderful as they were, seem to write much about either. Sorry, people who should be written about — I spent longer failing to write this last post than I did any of the others.

So long, America. All there is to say is that every person I have met I want to be around me all of the time.

I will miss you daily.

And I will be back.


Posted in bunk by cantlin on September 27, 2009


I wanted to begin this with the line “I’m on the road, with hands for the wheel and feet for the pedals, but I left my heart in Topeka, Kansas.” And I would, were I not by now in Toronto, things moving along quicker than I can find phrases for them. They were wonderful though, Tim and Elizabeth. Tim’s tall in a way that you think you’re adequately prepared for right until he stands up — all the more so for standing invariably next to demure, diminutive Elizabeth, cute as two gloriously mismatched buttons. Hugging goodbye, I found my head resting on his chest; I am not a short dude. His gestures are big too, like his jokes, and the voices he affects in telling them, his laughter is big, and in it all no little glamour, a sense of performance. Sneaky was startlingly lovely — and I mean this in the least sleazy way — meeting me at the door of the restaurant where I attended Raz & company’s poetry recital on my first night, rolling into town dishevelled and disorientated after speeding through the Kansas rain to make back the hour some spurious time zone stole from me. I was pulled over in Missouri somewhere the day before, incidentally, doing fifteen over on the highway, but the cop turned out to treat me as best I could have hoped, at length “cutting me loose” without the hit to the wallet.

But I haven’t written at all about David. logcabinrepairman. No warmer nor more hospitable welcome have I had (except perhaps…) than in Fort Collins, Colorado, where David made room for me even after my having the bad grace to arrive on his birthday. I was treated to probably the best meal I’ve eaten over here — and there’ve been no shortage of good ones — and to meeting his friends and utterly charming girlfriend, who well concealed her terror when David let me drive his Jeep. I could in any case waffle indefinitely and with yet more cloying attachment about my nights in Colorado and Kansas, but Jesse will be walking in that door any second with the beer, and I haven’t even complained about Canada yet.

With a phone and a laptop and free wifi everywhere, making plans on the fly has become habit. I’ll note the interstates I need to take to get somewhere, arrive there, get lost and phone Melissa… sooner or later I’ll get where I need to go. Canada shares with Britain the service station, a soulless stop off the highway comprised basically of a petrol station and a McDonalds, with none of the simple charm of the rest areas sprinkled across the states, which are generally small park areas with no chains present — they often have free wifi, free coffee and on one occasion even free donuts. I digress. When I crossed the border my phone stopped working, and the internet dried up. I drove to Toronto — lost and tired and four hours late (made a wrong turn around Detroit somewhere, fuck that place), with no idea where to go or how to find out. I found a suburb, crawled along with my laptop out until I found an unprotected WLAN, and finally Google and Rachel got me to Jesse’s. Oh, and what the fuck is with your speed limits, Canadians. 100kmph is like, what, walking speed? And Tim Hortons coffee tastes like shit. So there.

OK, but Toronto is nice. The buildings are nice, the people are nice. Last night we drank, tapped our feet to a Ska band at a local bar, drank more, danced. I talked at length with the ukeleleist (?), and woke up this morning, well, worse for wear. That about brings us up to date, anyhow. Tomorrow I finally meet Brent, woo, and, uh, Stefan, w-wooo. I’m told to expect being alone in the front, Jesse and Brent no doubt sharing the back seat, making use of Sadie’s full leather interior as only a couple of faggy Canadians in a ridiculous love triangle can.

New York people — I am coming.

Posted in bunk by cantlin on September 19, 2009


I guess this is the first I’ve written genuinely on the road. Not quite live — complimentary wifi is not yet the vogue among fast-food chains — but as near as makes no difference. I’ve driven all day, the last few hours in a gas station coffee delirium, Tallahasse on repeat. I-90 emptied with the sunset, but for city traffic and the ever present hauliers. I try and match speed, when I do meet a car. I like the company, but it doesn’t last. Every so often I’ll pull up gradually to a nest of red lights, nestle briefly amongst them before they sink, now white, into my rearview mirror. I think about numbers. Seventy nine miles an hour, two hundred and ninety six since I last refuelled, some three hundred and something before that, maybe four hundred more before my next turnoff, Denver at a guess five hundred beyond that… gas at two dollars seventy nine a gallon — cheaper in Montana than Washington, and by far than California — tank holds sixteen gallons, Sadie’ll do twenty per if I’m lucky… I mentally write the craigslist ad I’ll put up when I sell her, talking at length about the stalwart, unfailing manner in which she carried me across America, and in this manner insure that it is so. Sometimes I notice the landscape — growing dryer, coarser as Washington spreads east from the coast, then with the Idaho state line hilly and coniferous.


Morning, now, complete with an opportunity to post this. September’s southern Montana turns out to be a straw-coloured sequence of gently undulating plains. Seems I’m in Butte, precisely seven hundred and seventy seven miles from Denver. The coffee’s alright, The Beatles remasters are playing — evidently doomed to be the soundtrack to this trip — and I think it might just be time to take a drive.

Posted in bunk by cantlin on September 11, 2009

Posted in bunk by cantlin on September 9, 2009


Sacramento is hot. Dry heat, blessedly without humidity, but no less pervasive for it. The exposed metal in Sadie’s interior — seatbelt buckles, electric window switches — got so hot that I near enough burnt my fingers strapping in. Ryan and Tyler are great, obviously, and their enormous shared bungalow is as close to Nirvana as you can come if you like coffee, day old pastries and poolside cigarettes. I guess the talk gets nerdy, but really what can you expect from a room containing the world’s total existent supply of Wooo!pedia sysops. When it isn’t nerdy its Ryan and Tyler bickering, which is pretty much exactly as cute and funny as you’d expect it to be.

San Francisco, on the other hand, is decidedly cool. The bay waters are no warmer than that men-from-the-boys temperature we get at the seaside back home. And the urinals smell the same. Maybe it’s all the Brits pissing in them – SF is full of them. And, lamentably, Australians. Still, I am now in a position to recommend the Pacific Tradewinds Hostel, as Tommy did before me. I have climbed Coit Tower, driven Lombard St, lunched at Fisherman’s Wharf. I even visited the Museum of Modern Art (museum in this instance being American for gallery, though I suppose the distinction is vague), where there were paintings by names big enough for even me to know. Kandinsky, Rothko, Matisse, Picasso. By far my favourite though, pictured below, was the photograph To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain.


Zhang Huan, 1995

Zhang Huan, 1995

Tomorrow I leave California, but, yes, heading north, not east. Don’t fret, I’ve an itinerary.

drive to seattle 9th
drive to idaho 18th
drive to denver 19th
stay in denver 20th
drive to kansas 21st
stay in kansas 22nd
drive to chicago 23rd
stay in chicago 24th
drive to toronto 25th
stay in toronto 26th
stay in toronto 27th
drive to ottawa 28th
stay in ottawa 29th
stay in ottawa 30th
drive to new york 1st
fly home 6th

Seems kind of a work of fiction, but then this whole trip felt that way not so long ago. I’ve no one to stay with in Idaho or between Kansas and Toronto (probably Chicago), so you know OPEN TO IDEAS.

Lots more pictures over here.

Posted in bunk by cantlin on September 1, 2009


More pictures are up here, mostly of trees — the Redwood Highway living up to its name. We saw Tommy — Baron Von Swede — off this morning. He was as eminently likeable a fellow as one would expect, if a little preoccupied with his imminent departure (after six months here) and, well, Selden, obviously. Last night we sat about, drank a little and realised a sopping wet dream of mine by — FUCK YEAH — playing Mountain Goats songs, culminating in a one-of-a-kind recording of Woke Up New with Tommy’s beautiful voice, Ryan on his strat and my regrettably audible abuse of his acoustic guitar. Yes, we are the most awful people. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to do some radio while I’m down here, in which case we’ll air it then, or else post the mp3.

ps tits

Posted in bunk by cantlin on September 1, 2009


I left my tailpipe on the Oregon coast — the third of three misfortunes. The first was a bee I trod on trying to retrieve my sleeping bag from the boot — trunk — of my car, barefoot, after returning to Seattle after the San Juans camping trip photographed below. Being on my foot, the swelling is caressed so slowly and minutely over the course of each day by the fractional movements of my sock that when each night I finally break down and tear into it with my nails the ignition of tension is on par with orgasm. My second and lamentably less sensual misfortune is a parking ticket delivered on my last day in Washington State. I’d ignore it but for the vision of omnipotent immigration officials waving the thing gleefully in my face next visit, cheeks red, lathered and perspiring with self-satisfaction…

I pulled in to what I later found out to be a full campsite off Highway 101, the Oregon coastal road, around ten on Saturday night. It was the sound of screaming metal that first alerted me to my exhaust scratching the tarmac with a ferocity not dissimilar to my own fondness for bee stings. I stopped the first place I could and at length went to sleep despondent and permitless – I dragged Sadie out, protesting, the next morning at six, before the camp attendants woke up, no doubt waking a score of sleeping babies a second time, and called triple A on the highwayside outside the entrance. On the phone to Melissa, the first I knew of the mechanic (who turned up in a most unmisfortunate twenty minutes) was when he was under my car fondling the tailpipe with the intimacy and dexterity of an expert. It didn’t do him much good, but he had Sadie jacked and was going at her with a hacksaw in short order – he finished with his first moment of eye contact yet, several feet of tailpipe in his hand and the words “Well, it shouldn’t drag any more!” Apparently driving without a tailpipe is Not a Big Deal, so ten minutes later I was on the road, without so much as time to inaugurate my camping stove making consolation tea.

Anyway gotta go eat w/ Ryan and Tyler and Tommy so uh more later I guess !

Posted in bunk by cantlin on August 27, 2009



Posted in bunk by cantlin on August 21, 2009


Lately we drive around. We take my car, even if the mileage is terrible and Melissa — Holler — is terrified of my driving. ‘Sadie’ is a colossal piece of all-American steel and all-American leather — a 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis. “There are two things I love about this car,” said Mike, who sold me it, “One, she’s a V8 — I only drive V8’s. Two, the full leather interior. It’s like driving a couch.” And it is. She floats through the traffic seemingly without any input from my quarter, sounding the same at thirty as at eighty – and when you press the gas, you see dollar signs, falling. Mostly we do errands. We’ve a wedding to attend tomorrow.

For the record, and because it isn’t a well documented process, registering a car in Washington state without actually living here is about as difficult as buying a hamburger. A two hundred dollar hamburger, but a hamburger all the same. Insurance is costing me somewhere in the region of a hundred and fifty bucks a month, which for daylight robbery is cheap (admittedly because it covers me about as far as getting in the car).

Posted in bunk by cantlin on August 17, 2009


Sunday with Mack. What a nice guy. Last night — after taking in the excellent District 9 with Miles —  we drank Session, watched Rifftracks and talked straight talk. Hit the Puget Sound this morning and,  stopping only to soil my shirt with a chilli-dog, boarded the water taxi over to West Seattle and Alki beach (where the girls were hot, wearing less than bikinis). Mack turns out to be a demure dresser somewhere in his twenties with a humour that remains dry as hell right up until the point where he bursts into song. Good times.

My tea is stewing – go look at a bunch of crummy pics on my flickr. Do it now!