Bright lights, big city

It was the Oscars this weekend and it’s always now a sense of nostalgia that I note its annual presence in the awards seasons. Not because of a particular obsession for the swanky self-congratulatory show, but because the 86th Academy Awards is also the 10th anniversary of my first and only (so far) major wanderlust adventure. In February 2007 I landed at LAX for what would be six months of backpacking – one month around the West Coast USA, four months traveling and working in New Zealand, and finally a last month is Australia with a brief pop back to San Francisco before the train from London back ‘oop North’.

For a while after it was “this time last year” I was watching the sunset at Uluru, “two years ago” I was hunting for the YHA in Wellington, “three years ago” I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and Sydney Harbour Bridge in the same week.

How quickly time goes by!

There were many geeky elements to my six-month jaunt. I freely confess I went to New Zealand for two reasons – Lord of the Rings and Zorbing. The former lived up to the expectations – the later did not. But was almost fun for the few minutes I rolled down a hill in plastic bubble with a bucket of water poured in for extra pleasure.

Australia was a place so far away due to geography yet so familiar due to Neighbours – yes of course I went to Ramsey Street while I was in Melbourne, how could I not!

In California I went to places I’d seen so many times on screen – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Griffith Park Observatory, and Alcatraz – the only place I wanted to get to but didn’t were Vasquez Rocks which must surely be on any Star Trek fans list of pilgrimage sites. One day, yes one day.

So when I think of the Oscars I think of my first day in the USA – walking on the red carpet in the Kodak Theatre – albeit, covered in plastic as they erected the giant statuettes and spruced the place up in advance of the big night the next day. I watched the ceremony from the luxury of a hotel room comforted by the knowledge that, I’d been there and I’d walked that carpet.

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