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The first leg of our trip is done! We watched terrible movies on the plane (then accidentally talked about politics and disconcerted the people sitting near us) and had a tiny girl stare at our hair a lot. The stopover in Auckland was great - we walked from the city centre out to the Domain park and went to the museum there. (Although it wasn't open yet, so we slept on our faces on the grass for a bit.)

The museum was lovely. We spent a lot of time walking around the "Pacific People's" exhibit. I kind of want to live in the "Weird and Wonderful" bit, which is a really great exploring space for kids - it's full of small, soft, colourful spaces to sit, and a crazy collection of stuffed animals and bones and interesting rocks and dinosaur dioramas and spiders and frogs and (extremely stressed) hamsters. Also, the volcanoes exhibit! It has helpful tips on how to clean volcanic ash off your car, and also instructive lessons from previous disasters (such as: if authorities block of an area because of an immanent explosion, do not evade police roadblocks in order to get closer - it may well end badly for you).

Claire and I got into SF yesterday morning, and have spent the day wandering around with Tim and Star. We had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant with them and some other lovely people who they all know. And Claire baked bread, because she's a lovely hippy. Shortly Claire and I will leave on the next leg of our trip: off to Reno to pick up Claire's mother, supplies, and the truck we're taking to Burning Man.
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It's going to take me a while to process Burning Man, but for now a quick post to let anyone who's not on FB know that I'm back in San Fransisco and alive and well.

I'm a little surprised at how little the discomforts bothered me: all the dust, no showers, sleeping in a tiny tent without a mattress, the portaloos, the heat, the cold. It helped somewhat that my entire nasal cavity was permanently full of dust, I think. I really enjoyed the dust storms, too, and had no problems with asthma the whole time I was there. (In fact, I suspect that I have stopped having asthma at all.)

Still, it's nice to be back with showers and vegetables and beds and the Internet and the potential to wash some of my clothes.

So, that's the mundane stuff. I'm not sure where to start writing about the rest of it.
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So, I'm at some people's house right now, feeling very proud of myself because I managed to get here by bus without too much fuss. And I have most of the things I need, and a ukulele, and I am not (so far) paralysed with PeopleFret. The people are lovely, and they're lending me a bike, and our lift is on the way.
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'm in San Francisco, ensconced in my hotel room. It feels very nestlike, tiny and cosy. A good antidote to the outside, where everything feels too big to me. Something about the streets and the buildings and the people that is just too big and which I feel very uncomfortable with. I hope it's just jetlag talking.

There are some cities I go to and love instantly, some I take a while to warm to, some I never get a chance to like. I want to like SF, but I don't so far. Tonight and tomorrow I'll do some more determined exploration of the areas that have been recommended to me, taking it cautiously because I feel like I don't quite know the codes here, what means 'safe' and what means 'trouble'. All the strangers who've talked to me have been trying to sell me something or have seemed kind of unpleasant or dangerous, so I kept walking.

There are a lot of homeless people around, a lot of people who look like their lives are hard and unpleasant with little hope of change. Australia's not perfect, but there's a lot to be said for our system of social seccurity. Or at least, a lot to be said for not having a security net with holes as wide as the US's.

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rhyll

July 2012

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