Okay so maybe I overestimated how much downtime I would have, or maybe I was just setting myself goals I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach while I was on the go 24/7. Nevertheless, I am here now and will give you a brief overview of my trip so far before I go back and post some more in-depth stories.
Los Angeles - January 10th-18th
Me with my two negative Covid tests.
I've been to LA before, but never like this. Remy put me up in the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard for the week and holy shit I had never experienced anything like it. Staying on the 19th floor I was greeted by amazing sunrises over LA every morning at 7 am sharp - not a bad way to start the day.
I did my fair share of exploring on my own, though navigating the streets was not easy when the cars are driving on the opposite side of the road. I learnt to triple check for cars before crossing and soon enough looking right then left became almost natural to me. I did get very lost on the way to Verizon with no way of contacting anyone, but that's a story for another day.
Remy took me to all the touristy spots on my list. We did Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier and got great tacos to end the day. Covid being at its peak meant that Griffith Observatory was closed for inside observation, but the views from the top were still open to the public and we saw everything from the Hollywood sign, to LA looking low key like Gotham City, plus we even saw one of the worlds 25 blimps far in the distance.
The food was amazing here and not just the fast food I'd never had before. We had a pretty good balance of foods, I had a couple of diner meals from Mel's Drive-In Diner, lots of Starbucks because when in LA, right? We did Chipotle and Shake Shack, followed by SugarFish, Jon & Vinny's, and my first Jewish feast at Canter's Deli. But I will never forget the insanely good home-cooked meals that Clayton (Remy's friend) made us - his Chicken Parm was probably the largest portion size I have ever seen and omg it was amazing.
To round off the trip we embraced our inner LA-ness and drove out to the hills for a Ranch Retreat where we did animal therapy, kundalini yoga, past-life regression, guided meditations, sound baths, and horse therapy (probably the worst part for someone who is shit scared of horses). I may have been scared for my life, but I still left feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, with some added clarity for my journey. We spent golden hour on a Malibu beach and witnessed probably the most amazing sunset I have ever seen, followed by a burger feast at Neptune's Net.
Although Covid lead us to cancel out LA live show, we still utilised the photographer and had a sick photoshoot in my hotel room with some amazing LA comics. I made them try Kiwi snacks, and much to my dismay they were not too impressed - but it did mean I was left with a pile of snacks from home to keep me going over the next few weeks.
New York - January 18th-February 8th
Concrete Jungle, Wet Dream, Tomato.
Have you ever dreamed of going to a place for SO long that when it actually happens and you're there you spend the whole time in awe of everything around you? Well, that was me in New York City.
My NYC adventure started out with an expensive $75 ($110nzd) Yellow Taxi ride from JFK to Manhattan followed by my first real New York pizza from La Rustica, and sorry Sal's NZ your pizza is good but not this good.
Remy and her mum, Robin, took me on a little walking tour on day 1, stopping to get pizza (you'll start to see a trend here) before walking to the Winter Garden Theatre where we watched Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster absolutely crush it in The Music Man.
We took a drive out to the Hamptons and spent a couple of days there relaxing with the animals, eating lots of good food both home cooked and from restaurants, taking little mental health walks to the beach, and exploring the Parish Art Museum before heading back to the city just in time for me to turn 21!!
Remy and I started my birthday with a nature filled walk around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in central park, before meeting Charlotte and Ben for brunch at Gracie Mews diner. We listened to Harry Potter audio books and watched the sunset as we took a drive out to Atlantic City for the night, I was officially an adult all over the world and what better way to celebrate than gambling?
A lot of my time in New York was spent walking. Every day I would walk in a different direction to get coffee, and would end up walking for hours taking in all the wonderful sights of the city. I racked up a fair few steps on my walks and would spend so long walking in one direction before realising that at some point I would have to turn around and walk the same distance again (funny how that works).
The weather began to turn and a blizzard was headed towards New York, so we packed up our lives and headed back out to the Hamptons for the weekend. Arriving just in the knick of time, we woke up to almost 3 feet of snow the following day. I did what any normal person who had never seen that much snow before would do - I trudged out into the middle of what was once a beautiful green garden now covered by thick snow, and I jumped backwards and made my first snow angel. Though if you're planning to do this I can't recommend you wear gloves enough, I did not and the frostbite was definitely ready to take my poor fingers hostage.
I bussed back to the city by myself on the Hampton Jitney and spent a week with my super cool roommate Joel (Remy's dad). More walking would follow as I navigated the now snow covered city streets. I walked all over the city and saw more of my bucket list places. I went up the Empire State, visited the Friends apartment in Greenwich Village, caught the Subway all by myself, walked along the East River and saw more of Central Park (which by the way, is HUGE). I visited the World Trade centre and saw the 9/11 memorial, walked all of Battery Park City with the Statue of Liberty in the distance, all the while taking dorky videos of myself in hopes of catching some cool photos within them. I was a real tourist for the week.
Portland - February 8th-17th
To me, Portland felt like home. Everything from the suburbs, to the hills, trees and the coast felt like I was back in New Zealand for a moment. Don't get me wrong, apartment living in NYC and the house in the Hamptons were great, but there's something about a a house in a cute little suburb that feels like home.
Portland was a little break away from the hustle and bustle, time away from being on the go 18 hours a day, and after a crazy month of travel it was well needed. We spent our days relaxing at home, watching more shitty reality tv, doing a Harry Potter marathon, and going on little sight seeing drives, to places like Multnomah Falls. Ben (Remy's boyfriend) and I would go on daily trips to Fred Meyer, their local grocery store, where I would walk the many many aisles gobsmacked at the vast range of products.
We took a drive out to the Oregon coast where we spent a night in a cute little cabin surrounded by bunnies, and climbed a sand dune to watch the sunset over Haystack Rock in Pacific City. The beach was full of rock pools crawling with sea life and anemone's, we even harvested a few mussels to go with our seafood pasta dinner made by chef Ben.
Up early the next morning, we checked out and hit the road up to Garibaldi where we spent the day on the wharf crabbing. Ben showed me the ropes and I dropped my net, not even 5 minutes later I was pulling it up to find three crabs munching on the chicken breast bait, one of which was a keeper and made for a great meal! We ended the day with a fire on the beach, Remy collected up some seaweed to make yet another dress while I took in the amazing view of Lake Garibaldi.
Up until Portland, the largest book store I had ever been to was Whitcoull's in Albany Mall, a book store that is tiny in comparison to the great Powell's City of Books. What was once whole entire city block now dedicated solely to books. Walking around I was lost. Everywhere I looked was another staircase or doorway leading to a whole different section of books. I could've spent the whole day wandering the aisles dreaming of buying books I would never get around to reading. But our tummies were rumbling and I had a flight to pack for so we set off on a mission for food.
Boston - February 17th-22nd
My trip to Boston was very last minute, up until the week of my trip I didn't even know that I had family there, but the minute mum got involved plans started being made. One of the perks of having a family so spread out across the world is that if you want to go somewhere, chances are you will find extended family nearby. Within a couple of days, I had a ticket booked, a rough idea of who I would be staying with, and I had looked into the possibility of catching a train back to NYC.
I boarded a red-eye flight from Portland to Boston with a quick stopover in Newark, NJ, and just over seven somewhat sleepless hours later, I had landed in Boston. Last minute train directions directed me to the little suburb of Newton, where my family stays, and just over an hour and a half later I was there.
The Red Circles: Where the train says it's going.
The Blue Circles: Where I needed to get off and change trains.
(Don't worry if it's confusing - I got lost too)
Saturday was filled up with birthday parties, two 4 year-olds and one 92 year-old, by the end of the day I was absolutely knackered; but I still had enough energy to spend a couple of hours "playing" (I prefer the term engineering) Hot-Wheels with my cousin's husband. Sunday was a more restful day with a quick trip to the Boston Science Museum, with two kids under 5 a couple of hours is more than enough! Monday was a public holiday so we did a little drive through town, followed by a walk through the local bush, at -6°C it was too cold to spend hours outside so we headed home to keep warm and entertain the kids from there. Sadly this meant almost destroying the Hot-Wheels track I had worked so hard to build.
Tuesday morning I was up bright and early packing my bags and heading back into Boston central to catch the train back to New York City just. in time for Remy's Onniversary show. The train travelled through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut before finally reaching Penn Station where I caught a Lyft back to Joel's apartment and was reunited with Remy!
New York (part 2) - February 22nd-28th
My final week in New York consisted mainly of packing up my life and getting ready to move onto the next chapter of my journey, but this doesn't mean I wasn't busy.
Many walks, breakfast with Remy on the Met steps (just like Blair and Serena do), and a cheeky trip to Brooklyn took up the next few days. I even managed to get to Prospect Park Zoo and meet a couple of Toucans and some cool Dingo's. We made a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and spent the best part of a day there and still only covered two exhibits - don't worry I will go back and finish it someday!
I treated myself (with some help from mum and dad) to my dream hotel CitizenM in Times Square for my last couple of nights. A room controlled completely from an iPad, a sick view of the Winter Garden Theatre, and a two minute walk from Times Square - I was in heaven. I managed to catch Krista Kim's 'Continuum' a meditation that took over the billboards in Times Square and replaced them with pretty gradients on my last Saturday night in NYC.
Sunday was a day full of packing and goodbye's as I got my life together one last time before heading to the UK. Remy and I recorded our last episode together, before heading out to say goodbye to her family. Dinner with Remy and Joel at an amazing Italian restaurant was the perfect way to round off my trip, before I hopped into a taxi back to my hotel and got ready to go to the airport early Monday morning.
Skelmersdale, UK - March 1st-Present
An eight hour flight later I had landed in London and was greeted by my aunt and uncle. Straight off the plane and into the car for three hours as we headed up north to Skelmersdale, my home for the next wee while.
March 1st means Spring for the UK and my goodness did my hay fever let me know. I was sneezing up a storm from day one, and although the Covid tests stayed negative, I knew I was getting sick. A gnarly sinus infection developed over the next week and my bed was the best place for me. Spending most of the first week in bed, I managed to muster up enough energy for a few walks, one to Fairy Glen, and a couple along the Liverpool to Leeds Canal with a cheeky stop at the pub to follow.
Just as I was on the mend, we kicked off party planning mode, we had a 60th to prepare for meaning lots of trips to ASDA, Costco, and decoration shops followed. Then one day I woke up feeling different, I had just been sick so part of me thought that it was just my body fighting off the infection, and the negative Covid tests tended to agree with me. Until that fateful Sunday morning when my aunt, Deb, tested positive. We all decided that we had better test given how close we all are, and surprise surprise, after 3 months of dodging the virus, it had finally caught up to me. I was looking at those dreaded two lines. Great.