My first visit to the United States was made on a PanAm flight, back in February 1988, when the Duke and Duchess of York visited Los Angeles.
I combined that photo assignment with a drive out to Las Vegas, to drop some small change in the slots; a spin down to the Mexican border (via San Diego), and walk-through to Tijuana; a flight across to Denver, for some skiing in Aspen; then an extended stop-over in New York, before flying back to Britain.
The triple bonus Air Miles that I earned on my trans-Atlantic initiation helped finance a later visit to New Orleans and the Deep South; before Pan American were declared bankrupt, in January 1991.
That was my first ever ‘free flight’ and it felt good.
In the European winter of 1989, I stopped in Miami before hopping across the Caribbean (shortly after Hurricane Hugo caused deadly havoc in Puerto Rico) to the South American mainland.
But my biggest US adventure would be saved for 1994, when the World Cup Finals were hosted in the United States.
England hadn’t qualified but that didn’t damp my desire to visit every World Cup venue – and then some – by Greyhound.
I was reading Jack Kerouac at the time and my youthful enthusiasm transfered much of his words into my own On The Road experience.
I would be back on American soil again; renting a room (or rather, my girlfriend did) in Upper New York City, while pursuing the possibilities of attending film school (the New York Film Academy was a major contender).
I was buying the books and reading the magazines but was torn between the idea of screen writing versus documentary film-making. The tuition fees weren’t cheap and new semester dates were still a way off.
When my girlfriend flew back to Europe, I bought another Greyhound pass and toured the coast all the way down to Miami and across to Texas.
Next time, I’ll have to to travel by train.