Aug
15
2007

Farewell USA

78 days and 63 blogs later it is time to say goodbye to the United States and head home. Being on the road for such a long period of time has made me appreciate a lot of things, the least of which is home so it will be good to get back. This being my final blog I thought it would be a good time to reflect and then look towards the future.

Well, two and a half months ago it all started in Los Angeles, California. I still have a clear memory of my first impression of the country and how I felt like I was learning a lot of things for the first time. The weird thing about LA is the thing that is most clear in my mind is the traffic. Just how crazy the drivers were and how weird it felt having to look in the opposite way to what I was accustomed in order the cross the road. If I had to choose one highlight of LA it would be Venice Beach, closely followed by the TV tapings I went to. I am proud of the way I got out and did things, braved the public transport and wasn’t afraid to walk places in a city renowned for the car being its main form of transportation. Sure, I got lost on occasion, but it was all part of the adventure. It should not be understated how different LA and indeed all the cities were to each other. The Mexican influence in LA is not overstated; whenever you would walk into a shop or anywhere really people would be speaking in Spanish. While this is true in other places, no place is it more evident than LA. If you compare LA and NY they are almost like a different country. I’m not quite sure which I prefer, but my lean is towards LA, that could just be because it was my first stop and I was excited and enthusiastic about it though.

After LA it was onto Las Vegas, by far the best stop of the trip and probably the only place I would consider ever going back to for any extended period of time. There are a number of things I would do differently if and when I do go back, it wasn’t a place that was best for my physical health with the buffets and lack of exercise, but I got through that. The atmosphere, sun and fun will stick with me for a long time. As will the experience of realizing my World Series of Poker dream, even if it was short lived and uneventful. Poker is a game in which ego plays a major role, and I pride myself of the fact that I don’t buy into it as much as others do. I didn’t have any expectations on myself going in, I enjoyed it for what it was and there’s no disappointment in trying your hardest and nothing rolling your way. Tournaments are not my number one suit or priority for that matter, but as a poker player of any variety it is still a dream to play in the largest congregation of poker players in the world and the most prestigious event. The cash games in Vegas were fun as well, playing my style in a live game became a grind after a while, but I learned a lot about myself and capabilities. Cash games are my strong suit, and I delivered in the place where it counts, Las Vegas.

The East Coast part of my trip began in Boston, a complete change in environment from Las Vegas in so many ways. What struck me about Boston is firstly how small it is, it is such a well known city, yet I was so surprised to learn that its population is little over 500,000. That being said it was a place that had a lot of character and the time I spent there will be held in high esteem. The Red Sox games I attended will be remembered highly on the list of sporting events I have attended and were a dream come true. Staying next door to Harvard was a surreal experience; I can now proudly wear my Harvard shirt and say I attended… Yeah, that’ll fly.

New York certainly had its ups and downs; I’m going to focus on the positives. The number one highlight was seeing a taping of Conan O’Brien’s Late Night show, that is for sure. Every weeknight for four years I have gone to sleep right after laughing away my daily troubles watching Conan and to see it all happening in person was worth the time and effort I put into getting into the show. In New York I also got to see some of the most famous landmarks in the world. I woke up every morning at the foot of the Empire State Building, I broke a sweat running through Central Park, I took the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty and I walked with all the suits down the surprisingly narrow Wall Street. My memory of Manhattan though will be this, walking the streets and it is amazing just to look down both ways and see the buildings lining the street for what seems to be an eternity.

My trip probably went a week or two too long; I didn’t need to stay in New Jersey for as long as I have. New Jersey is an interesting place to say the least, wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’m probably being a little harsh, there has to be nicer places in the state, but Newark is a place to steer clear of.

So, was it all worth it? What did I learn from my experiences? Would I do it again? I think the whole experience was well worth it. It was expensive, both in time and money, but I think it was good value and taught me a lot. There aren’t too many bold enough to take on such a trip on their own, at such a young age and in such a fashion, but I am different. Of course, it would have been nice to not to have to take on so much of the trip n my own, but at the same time that was part of the fun. A foreign country, conquered all on your own, that is an achievement. I had to deal with everything that came my way, with no one to lean on and I think I did a pretty good job. It was confidence building, it was character building and it is something that I think will hold me in good stead for dealing with the coming years of my life. It was a large step towards independence, but it also made me cherish the dependencies I have on others. I would do it again, I would do some things differently, but I could have done a lot worse.

So where to now? Well, I am at an interesting point in my life, it kind of feels like a new chapter is about to begin. At some point in the coming months I am going to have to choose a career path and go down it. That isn’t at the forefront of my mind just yet, I am mainly focused on the immediate future of the things I want to achieve as soon as I land in Australia. I am not happy with my physical condition at the moment, and the first thing I want to do is get a good diet happening and getting my body into tip top shape. Part of this will be running, training for a marathon off of a very short run. I am going to give it my best shot, but I am week aware I might not get there, and if the time comes and I’m not prepared I am going to reset my goal to a half-marathon. At this time though, that feels like a complete cop out, so I won’t be pulling any punches in going after the big prize. I am hoping to work my way up in short time to running 70km a week. Aside from running I am looking forward to getting back to my beloved Agent Orange Indoor Soccer and Indoor Cricket teams. They’ve been having fun without me, but I am pretty sure they are ready to welcome me back with open arms. Being away from the team has made me appreciate the team and the opportunity to play in one every week. I’ve really missed cricket, and am really looking forward to getting back in the Cricket nets with Brad, Gordon, Paul, Mike and whoever else is up for it, even though it is still the middle of winter. Another thing I am missed is the AFL season, I’ll be honest I was missing it a lot less when the Lions were playing like a bunch of no hopers, but the last couple of months have been nothing short of amazing. We are still in the top eight, but fighting an uphill battle to make the finals in my belief. It is a shame we have such a tough run home, because I think we deserve to be there and have the potential to actually do some damage unlike some other teams that are in the running. Being back in time to catch an exciting point of the season is good though. The Storm are also cruising to what looks like another successful season, if the Lions fail I’ll be looking for them to go all the way to sooth my pain.

Most of all I am looking forward to getting back to family, friends, Melbourne, my routine and normal life. These are the things I have come to appreciate most while being away from home. I always knew I was lucky, but it always nice to be reminded of how good that you have it. America may be the ‘land of the free’ and the ‘greatest country on earth’, and I’m happy to let them go on believing that, but it’s a load of crap. While the people and most of the places are great, this country is completely messed up and corrupted in so many ways. For a land of freedom it sure does feel weird that for the last two and a half months my career has been hampered by the fact that the US has banned online gaming. For a nation that preaches democracy and tries to spread it through force it sure is weird that their system of government can be so corrupt and that money can play such a major role in politics. For a country of such wealth it is shocking the amount of poverty and crime that I have been exposed to, and that is just as a tourist. I’m not saying Australia doesn’t have its problems, but I’m bloody glad to be Australian and I feel like now that I have been away for so long I can say that with a little more authority.

Finally, thanks to everyone that has been following me throughout my adventures. Blogging was as much about recording my memories and thoughts as it was anybody reading them, but it was reassuring all the same to know that people are taking an interest in you. Hopefully, you have gained an insight into my life and learned something by following me and maybe I can be following your blog someday soon!

Thanks,

Eureka Kid

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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