Monday 6th October. Portland, Maine, USA

The morning in Cambridge got off to a frustrating start with several different people giving me conflicting directions. All I wanted to do was catch soem form of local public transport that would get me out of the city and close to the I-95 motorway. Finally after catching the wrong train, the backtracking to the right train, I caught a citybus which dropped me just before the on-ramp to I-95. I quickly deduced that the onramp sucked arse, so once again moved out onto the danger zone of the motorway. Is this becoming a hibit? I hope not. Luckily, it was only a matter of minutes before a truck pulled over for me. They were a couple of tree loppers on the way home from work early, and my first introduction to the realBoston accent. They sound almost like Aussies, the way they drop the 'r' at the end of a word. Vinnie dropped Matthew and I off at Matthew's car in a parking lot, and Matthew drove me a little further up the motorway, stopping to get each of us a can of Guinness for the road.

I guess it wasn't long before another truck stopped for me. This was a bread vendor who'd seen me earlier but when he turned around to pick me up, I was gone. He dropped me at a rest area near York. Slowly but surely, I was getting closer to Portland! Next was a lift with a retired Army officer, who has a son and daughter both based in Iraq at the moment. If you think anyone wants to get the forces out of that mess, think how he feels. Finally, a young girl called Margaret gave me a ride the last leg into Portland, scaring the hell out of me with a fancy evasive manouvre when the car in front braked suddenly. It appears Margaret's car doesn't have great stopping power, but can swerve like a racecar! I was impressed with Margaret's Barbie doll on the dash.

I walked to the nearest pub. That's like a native survival instinct. Raspberry wheat beer was the special of the day for $2.50 a pint so I'll take one of them and a bowl of chilli, thanks. No-one answered at my host's number, so I left a message that I was at Gritty's pub and could be contacted here. Heather had invited me to stay with her, after her friend Candace, in Michigan, had forwarded her one of my newsletters. Thanks Candace! I was still happily tucking into my beer and chilli when Heather called and said she'd come down and meet me here. Cool. That worked out pretty smoothly.

Margaret's Barbie doll. Heather with one of her dogs; Hunter I recollect.

Heather and her friend Alisha came to collect me. Heather said that Alisha had been a bit 'sketched out' by the idea of going to pick up some stranger and letting them stay in your home. Tim, Heather's boyfriend, was very supportive of it and their roommate Dan didn't really have an opinion since they had forgotten to tell him! Seriously though, Dan was cool as well. The girls had to go back out and run some errands, so that left me free to have a shower, do my stinky laundry *many days overdue* and get some writing done on the computer. When they returned, Heather threw a TV dinner in the oven for me and we all settled down to watch the Redsox game. I'd overheard a conversation about the Redsox, and I'll try to bring you up to speed in one sentence. The Redsox are Boston's baseball team, who haven't won a game since Noah's flood- it's believed they're cursed- and finally they are doing quite well, making it through to the payoffs and if they win tonight they go through to the semi-finals. It's probably the first baseball game I've ever watched, and I enjoyed it. The score was down to the last pitch, and the Redsox won! Yaay! Reverse the curse!

Heather went to bed early; she has an early start in the morning. She works at a recovery centre for addicts, and also has university a couple of afternoons a week. Tim works security at a local hospital, and didn't get home from work until late, after Heather had gone to bed. He was as insistent as Heather that I make myself at home, and if there was anything in the fridge or kitchen cupboards that I wanted I should help myself. He ran a long computer cable down the stairs from their bedroom and I connected my laptop, staying up way too late again.

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