23 Nov.

Our Chevy, Phillipa, is now registered. It’ll take us out of Portland tomorrow, six days after our arrival.

Steve and Mark went with Phil to the DMV while Nick, Jon and I went for a walk around the city. We tried to visit the Dandy Warhols’ Odditorium. We think we found it—there was a big warehouse with several brightly painted boulders outside—but there was no way of telling for sure as we circled the building several times in the, big surprise, pouring rain.

I’m not typically one to go on about the weather—I’m from Greater Manchester, for Christ’s sake—but the Pacific Northwest is unbelievable. It isn’t great knowing that if you’re outside for longer than one minute, you’ll feel like you’ve just jumped into an ice-cold bath fully clothed.

As we were hopping in and out of thrift and record stores (we bought tapes for the Chevy, which cost more than CDs because #Portland), Steve sent a text. He said we couldn’t get the car registered for one reason or another and that signing the ownership over to Phil would take two weeks. That told me we were set. He must’ve forgotten I was there when the bloke from whom we bought the car signed it over to us the night before.

At just $200 each, the country was our oyster. Once you factor in the cost of the new tyres, the insurance, the oil change, new air filter and other car bits, it’s more like $300. Phil, our garjun anjul, sorted everything out. Again.

30.jpg
The first picture any of us took of Phillipa.

Here we were in the U.S. with a car big enough for us and our bags and cool enough for our egos.

We’re not sure where we’ll be tomorrow night—Thanksgiving, incidentally—but none of us care.

Mark organised a card and whip-round for Phil for all of his help, which we gave to him in the evening at a class, family-owned Mexican diner, Casa Colima, that sorted us right out for the princely sum of $7. Marvellous.

We got a few beers—after asking Phil what America’s clips and wrong’uns drink, we were introduced to Pabst Blue Ribbon—to chill with at the end of a very long day. When I say “chill,” I mean we had to almost down them because the Wehrmacht (we decided the “H” in HI Portland Northwest Hostel stood for someone associated with that bunch) didn’t want anyone drinking in the one place you were allowed to on the premises past 10 p.m.

They need to put a ban on Mountain Dew Game Fuel—something I can only assume has been made to allow people to stay awake all night playing video games—considering Jon was complaining of palpitations after a can of the stuff.

31.jpg
A sketch of Nick and Jon, who’s quite clearly playing Doodle Jump.

Doodle Jump continues to consume Nick and Jon’s time away from activities. With plenty of road ahead of us, I can see them breaking the 50,000-point barrier soon.

Keep on rollin’, baby. You know what time it is.
—X

_____________________

Addendum: I think I speak for the five of us when I say we will never be able to thank Phil enough for what he did for us.

On the night of 19 November, we congregated in the kitchen of Hitler International Portland and looked to book Greyhound tickets to San Francisco for the 21st. It would’ve cost $150 per person for a coach that would take 17 hours. A flight would’ve cost a similar amount. The wind was knocked right out of our sails.

Sometimes, you have to wonder whether things are just meant to be.

We could’ve stayed at our hostel’s sister establishment, HI Portland Hawthorne, on the other side of the city. We could’ve woken up an hour later than we did on 20 Nov. If it weren’t for the Millwall game, we may well have still been in bed. Mark and Steve could’ve decided against having a fag. They could’ve chosen to be antisocial and not spoken to the bloke outside in the cracking suede jacket who was having a smoke next to them. Thankfully they did.

Phil had driven down to Portland to spend his week off for Thanksgiving in the city. We all took an instant liking to him, noting his smart pair of Clarks desert boots. The friendship was sealed when he pointed out his cherry-red, vinyl-panelled 1984 station wagon. He didn’t have to offer to give us a lift to see a couple of sites. And he definitely didn’t need to make it his holiday’s mission to get us on the road.

He took us everywhere we needed to go. He made phone calls to four separate Washington DMVs about getting us registered before we bought the car. He drove to one of them the morning after and sealed the deal. He was the one who told us what kinds of cool stuff (a Philism) we needed from AutoZone. He was the one who fitted said cool stuff.

He spent a significant chunk of his limited time off a submarine to ensure we would have the best trip imaginable.

Of all the strangers Mark and Steve have ever spoken to in smoking areas, and believe me the list is endless, Phil R. Bush is the greatest.

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