Monday 20 April
- Awake at leisure. (My host, Leslie, works and sleeps late in her upstairs suite.)
- Raid kitchen and have juice, cheese and crackers out by the pool.
- The sun and warmth feel good!
- Not sure about the pool -- is it in use, or does it need cleaning?
- The perfectly designed garden has artificial grass -- no mowing required.
- Relax all day.
- Change clothes and proceed to church in Scottsdale.
- My hosts meet me and take me to an early dinner in a sandwich bar at a nearby mall. Join other people there.
- Return to church for my event. It is well-attended and goes well. This is the first time I give my talk without my jacket on.
- In the audience, I'm pleased to meet Dilara Hafiz, the author of 'The American Muslim Teenager's Handbook'. We have corresponded, but never met. She gives me a signed copy. I'm getting this book about 30 years too late. If only ...
- Drive back to Leslie's house, quite content with the day.
Tuesday 21 April
- Arise early-ish and swim in the pool (Leslie confirmed that it was clean).
- Hit the road towards California.
- Enter the desert freeway. The fuel gauge shows 2 of the 10 bars. Fine -- I'll buy gas at the first opportunity.
- The sun is blazing and it looks hot out there.
- The fuel gauge goes to 1 bar. Still no gas station, but there'll be one soon.
- The sky is a gorgeous blue, with just a few light streaks of cloud.
- The fuel gauge's final bar starts flashing. Fine -- that means I have 3 gallons left (according to the handbook). That's a range of 120 miles. But I WILL buy gas at the first opportunity.
- The external temperature readout shows 95F.
- Multiple warning lights appear, indicating a TOTAL SYSTEMS FAILURE, but which I know from South Carolina means I'm out of gas. This is so not fair! I've only done about 30 miles on the freeway, since I had 2 bars, and I never had a chance to buy gas. And that handbook is so wrong, or the fuel gauge must be faulty.
- Proceed on battery power to a rest area about 5 miles further along. The battery gauge shows a rapid diminution of charge. I barely make it.
- The rest area has only rest rooms and vending machines. They don't vend gas.
What's the plural of Prius? Priuii?
- Phone Hertz and tell them I'm out of gas. It will cost me $77 to have someone come out.
- Wait patiently in a shaded shelter and enjoy the magnificent view.
- A gentleman named Bubba arrives and puts gas in my car. I give him a signed copy of my book.
- Proceed towards California.
- Pass agricultural inspection point.
- Notice many wind turbines.
- Arrive in LA area.
- Santa Barbara is beautiful, as is the church.
- Arrive in my shorts and get changed in a rest room.
- People are arriving ... it's a big crowd! I hear a voice call: "We need more chairs!" Those are the perfect words I want to hear.
- But the new sound system is terrible. There's an echo. I see many pained faces in the audience. This is not going well.
- I abandon the sound system and go to stand in amongst the audience. They turn their chairs towards me, and I rotate slowly whilst I speak. Fortunately, they do not roast me. It goes well.
- Sign books afterwards.
- My hosts take me to a nice restaurant for dinner, and then back to their house, where I am staying in the guest studio. Their house has beautiful Mediterranean decor.
- I can see why people like California.
Wednesday 22 April
- Have breakfast with my hosts. He makes me pancakes and we have a fascinating conversation. I could sit here forever ... but I have to go.
- Head out towards El Segundo, where I have a lunch appointment with a reader (who liked my book) and her husband.
- Park at their place of work, a NASA contractor, and they come to pick me up. Grace points out the 'space junk' on display -- pieces of satellites which fell from the sky.
- They take me to a delightful restaurant, where we sit outside, and good looking serving staff (who are doubtless trained actors waiting for a role) bring us visually stunning plates of food.
- Grace and Mark are both PhD rocket scientist types. I am really dragging down the average IQ of our table.
- Go for a walk around El Segundo, and get a coffee. Grace tells me that El Segundo is often used in films, to represent a small American town. It is a beautiful place.
- Grace gives me a book: 'The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart' by Bill Bishop. The book's premise is that Americans are choosing to live in communities of like-minded people (politically, socially, religiously, economically), and this is driving polarization rather than national consensus. I think there is some truth to this. The people who have come to my talks all seem to be on-board with re-humanization already.
- Say goodbye and head north, for Pasadena.
- Arrive in good time, so go to a Starbucks to check e-mail. I have to parallel park in the street and put money in a meter. What is this, London?
- The event goes well. I have to head for San Francisco, but there's no hurry. A film producer and her daughter take me to a wonderful dinner in a Japanese place.
- After midnight, drive towards San Francisco. Do about 100 miles, then check into a Super 8 motel.
Thursday 23 April
- Arrive in Bay area and check into Howard Johnson hotel near San Francisco airport.
- Get shaved, showered and changed and head into San Francisco.
- This is my first 'corporate' event, at Headsets.com, Inc -- the leading provider of office telephone headsets in North America. The founder and CEO is Mike Faith, an Englishman, who invited me to speak at his company.
- I leave the car in a parking garage on Van Ness and proceed one block to the office building.
- There is real buzz in the air at Headsets.com. People are arriving and being greeted at the door, given name badges and a drink. A lovely buffet has been laid on. This is wonderful. Mike Faith is really welcoming. This company has a very positive energy. People are still working in parts of the office -- I hope that we don't distract them.
- I give a shortened version of my talk, whilst standing on a table, to an attentive crowd -- who laugh appreciatively when appropriate. Smart and nice people!
- My books sell out immediately and I have many wonderful conversations with a number of people.
- I leave Headsets.com with a sense of joy and satisfaction. This was great!
- Dinner in the Howard Johnson hotel and bed.
Friday 24 April
- The hotel has a good breakfast -- plenty of alternatives to refined sugar.
- No frantic rush this morning -- my next event is also in San Francisco, at the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in the beautiful Presidio National Park. (This is where Star Fleet Headquarters is supposed to be built one day -- I hope that they can get the planning permission.)
- It's a small audience of people who work here, but they are wonderful, warm and appreciative. All my books sell out. One tall beautiful brunette wants to buy six copies and settles for three.
- I hit the road towards Oregon, stopping to get my photo taken by the Golden Gate Bridge. A tall, beautiful, blonde woman obliges. I think I like California!
- I try the famous US Highway 101, which hugs the coastline, but it is so slow -- although the views are stunning. I have such a long way to drive and this will take forever. Reluctantly, I head on to Interstate 5.
- Somewhere in northern California I check into a hotel and sleep for five hours.
Saturday 25 April
- Hit the road towards Oregon. Time is short. My event in Salem is at 2 pm!
- Get there with an hour to spare, but the place is closed and the gates are padlocked.
- Starbucks! Get changed and check e-mail.
- Return at 1:40 pm, just as someone arrives to open up, and with a line of cars waiting to get in.
- After the event, head for Portland and check into the Travelodge.
- Portland has a tram network and it's free in places! The damn Commies must have taken this place over.
- Visit Powell's -- a famous book shop which occupies an entire city block!
- Have sushi for dinner and walk back to the hotel.
- I can't go straight to bed. It's Sunday morning in the UK, and I have 7 interviews between 11 pm and 12:30 am my time, with local BBC radio stations. I try to remember that it's perfectly fine to say exactly the same things and use exactly the same anecdotes with each station.
- Sleep, exhausted.
Sunday 26 April
- Sunny and pleasant day.
- Walk into town and have breakfast at an open-air food court in a local market.
- Set-off for Seattle.
- Head for a Super 8 near the airport, although the GPS seems to think that it is an industrial estate. I turn into a gated dead end wilderness just as she declares, 'You have reached your destination.' Have to call the hotel to get more helpful directions.
- Drive to beautiful church and deliver talk.
The tree, the Earth and I are all ONE, like Chief Seattle said.
- Afterwards, have sushi again in a wonderful local restaurant.
- Return to Super 8 and sleep well.