Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Travel Series: U.S.A. = Ca., Or., Wa. & Ga., 2001

In June 2001, a few things were happening in my life all at once:

  1. We were moving house;
  2. I was finishing up another semester of uni (I had about 3 essays due I think);
  3. and I was preparing to travel overseas to meet my first ever ... wait for it ... internet friends!

These were people I'd met through my love of the epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, which drew me to an online community of fellow fans in mid-2000. I knew these people really well, having spent copious hours chatting to them (it's amazing the things you learn about people you've never met in person!). But I was still nervous. And I know my mum was as well. ;)

In 2001, going off to meet a group of people "from the internet" was a huge deal. It's still kind of a huge deal today, actually - people still look at me funny when I talk about my internet friends. But I guess it's more commonplace now than it was then.

So we moved house, and I staggered across the uni semester finish line, and finally it was time to pack my bags and head for the airport.

From Perth I flew to San Francisco, where things got off to a rocky start because my friends and I couldn't FIND each other! I didn't even hear my name being called over the loudspeaker, probably 'cause I was too busy crying into the pay phone to Mum. Finally, though, I got found, and with a certain amount of sick relief we all headed off to the car and hit the road, heading northeast towards Auburn, CA.

It's true nobody killed me over those first few days (or any of the other days to follow), but my mum must have been wondering, since it was another 3 days before I thought to let her know I was safe and found. Sorry, Mum! ;)

Most of my time during this trip was spent in California, but we also went on a rather epic road trip up north, collecting more friends along the way. We drove through Oregon (where we stayed a night with one of those friends), and finally up to Washington State. In Seattle we met up with yet more friends and hung out for a few fun-filled days.

Deception Pass, WA (no, that's not me).
The Seattle gang (me with my arms around my shins).

Later, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet up with two more of my (interwebs) (also potential axe-murdering) friends, one of whom had actually paid for my plane ticket out there (she rocks to this day!). We hung out, watched crap movies, and met her then new boyfriend (now husband). We did a bit of sight-seeing as well, including visiting Stone Mountain and the Coca Cola Museum. And we met up with yet more WoT community friends.

The Atlanta gang.
Me (middle) with 2 friends at Stone Mountain, GA.

There was one more meeting that occurred in 2001, during a few hours I spent waiting at Phoenix Airport for a flight. I met up with two more friends there.

At Phoenix airport.
I finished up my trip back in California, and flew home fully in tact (no limbs missing at all, nor many brain cells). I had taken off a fair bit of weight, but mostly because I lost my wallet before the trip even began (left it on the plane on stop-over in L.A. - picked it up on the way back as they'd kept it in lost property, bless them!).

So for my whole trip I hadn't had my own funds to assist in gorging myself on food. My friends were good enough to feed me, and for that I am eternally grateful!

Anyway, that about sums up my 2001 trip to the U.S. to hang out with people I hadn't ever met in person before. I'm still friends with many of them to this day.


  1. That is really cool! Our online friends are so awesome. I hope that if I ever travel, I receive the same generosity.

  2. Wow! What a trip!
    I'll have to remember this - Diet tip: Get stranded in a foreign country with no wallet. !!!

  3. Sounds like great fun. It inspires me to blog on my travels abroad but all my pics are either gone or are slides and without pics it's rather blase, I think. Cheers!

  4. Awfully daring of you! Sounds like a wonderful adventure.

  5. Hey Trish. What a great trip that would have been. Something always go wrong which seems mammoth at the time, but it always works out. Haven't braved the U S of A yet, but it is on the list. So many bloggers I plan to visit, but like Oz, the US is a mighty big place.


  6. That sounds like a pretty epic trip! Yeah, it's pretty commonplace to meet up with Interwebz friends nowadays. I've met a bunch of fellow fans of Christopher Moore's books (Lamb, The Stupidest Angel) - amusingly, the ones I've met were also in California and the Pacific Northwest! :-) For my birthday weekend, I'm going to Washington DC to hang out with another of those friends (she's already on the East coast, as I am). But the very 1st Internet "friend" I met was back in the summer of 1998 - we were fans of The X-Files, we met up in England, and we were...uh...more than friends. ;-)


Thanks for your words, me hearties! and don't forget to leave a link to your blog somewhere I can find it!