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Today I was lucky enough to witness a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-18 with a Dragon capsule to resupply the International Space Station.
The amazing thing about SpaceX is they reuse the rockets by having them land after takeoff. It is like watching a missile aiming towards you that suddenly stops and hovers before landing. Then you get hit by the sonic boom!
This is definitely the highlight of my trip so far
On July 12th the first chapter of my adventure closed and a new one opened. Around 5 in the morning I dropped my Dad off at JFK Airport and began the solo part of my journey.
I knew this day had been coming and had been excited about starting off on my own. I was not prepared for the weight of emotion seeing him walking into the terminal as I drove away. I hadn’t realised how much I had enjoyed spending time with my Dad over the last month and how lonely it felt becoming aware that I did not know any one else on the continent.
I had been in this position before when I travelled Australia with a friend over a decade ago and my plan, when she went home for uni, to continue on my own had lasted less than a day before I was changing my flight plans to get home!
I was determined this time to prove to myself that I could manage on my own. The first few days were hard, it is funny how even when you are not necessarily talking to each other all the time it is comforting to have someone with you.
After a couple of days sorting out rental cars and dealing with cancelled travel plans I made it to a hostel in Philadelphia. Here I met a few brilliant people who showed me that I could make friends and enjoy travelling on my own. It was just what I needed.
Exploring Philadelphia was fantastic and there is a lot of history in this city, from Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed to the Museum of Art where Rocky ran up the stairs in the movie! I highly recommend a visit if you are nearby.
From Philadelphia I travelled through Ohio, Kentucky and other states through to Georgia and visited some amazing sights such as the Smoky Mountains National Park (which I fully intend to return to and do properly over a longer period of time) before arriving where I am writing this in Florida.
The last two weeks have helped confirm to myself that I am able to travel on my own and still enjoy things. I have been very privileged to have this opportunity and I am excited for what comes next.
Today, for example, I am in Cape Canaveral eagerly awaiting the second attempt at a SpaceX rocket launch, the first being cancelled yesterday due to thunderstorms. Looking out the window it is unlikely to happen today either but that is part of the fun!
However I would also like to thank my Dad for joining me on the first part of the trip, for putting up with my annoying habits and indulging my silly requests and overall supporting me to do this adventure in the first place. I could not have done it without your backing. Thank you.
I will leave you with an image showing the journey so far, it amazes me how much of this country I have seen but also just how much I have driven right past! Check out the My Journey So Far page for more information about where I have been and how.
If you are interested in following the journey I also encourage you to follow my Instagram which is updated a lot more than this blog 🙂
Before leaving I decided to treat myself to a new toy, a DJI Spark drone. I hoped to film lots of exciting things as I travelled across the states both to help me remember what I have done and also to share with you guys what is happening.
One thing I didn’t count on was the restrictions in place to prevent drones being used!
I knew places such as New York City and Niagara Falls would likely restrict use but it turns out to also be banned at all National Parks, most State Parks, within 5 miles of an airport, near any school, prison, police station, hospital… Well it turns out you can’t really use it anywhere!
What this means is I haven’t had anywhere near the opportunity to use it that I was hoping. I have tried to put the best examples of where I could use it into a short video at the top of this post.
I will continue trying to use it wherever possible whilst also trying to avoid being fined or arrested – the whole purpose of this trip being to Escape Custody after all!
Let me know what you think of the video, any suggestions are always welcome as this is my first attempt at editing something like this together. I already have some ideas for what I would like to do next.
After New England we swapped cars and headed off to Niagara. It turns out most of the large rental companies are happy for you to drive across the border to Canada and currently as long as you cross and a land border rather than fly in there’s no need for any Visa or paperwork aside from your passport.
The drive from New York to the border was stunning, like the rest of the North East. It had been raining almost nonstop throughout the trip so far and this was the first long leg with sunlight!
Wherever time allows I’d been setting the GPS to avoid freeways to try and see a small glimpse of small town America and I highly recommend that if you do a similar trip. You get so many more opportunities to stop, see sights and see things you’d normally miss.
It was about 8 hours to the border and I had worried there would be delays and a long interrogation to cross but we drove straight up to a checkpoint booth, similar to the old Dartford crossing tolls, handed over the passports and confirmed we weren’t importing any firearms or weapons, paid the $3.50 toll and off we went.
Border Agent: “Have you got any weapons or firearms in the car?”
Dad: “No, we’re English”
Border Agent: “Yes, but you have been in America”
Once acoss it was plane sailing to the hotel. We stayed at the Radisson with a view of the falls, I don’t intend to review every place I stay but this hotel was fantastic and no more expensive than some other budget places we’ve stayed with an incredible view.
Taken from the hotel room at sunrise
Walking down to the falls it is impossible to describe the falls properly. They are awe inspiring. There’s plenty of spaces to stand and take photos and videos but I have to credit a certain Mr Scarsbrook who convinced me to do the boat experience.
On the Canadian side is a boat called Hornblower and the famous Maid of the Mist is on the American side.
It’s a tourist trap, it’s silly and you get very, very wet but I’m converted, you can’t come here and not do it.
Thank you Reuben!
Over summer there’s a fireworks display every night and after that it was time to get some sleep before heading back to the USA the next morning.
We travelled back through Ontario heading west to avoid the longer route going straight back in to the US and crossed back into Michigan by Detroit. It is sad the contrast between Canadian border control and the Americans, it was much more accusatory and threatening coming back in. And it cost $5 to get back in!
Nevertheless we were allowed back in, thankfully, and continued westward.
Between 12th and 17th June the American Road-trip began in earnest with a round trip through New England. Rather than face the prospect of driving through rush hour NYC traffic I decided to get a train out to the suburbs and pick up a car there.
New England is the region of the north east US mainland made up of the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont.
They are beautiful states with lots of trees, rolling fields and green countryside; it is not hard to see how it got the name New England.
The first stop was the first ever nuclear powered submarine, the USS_Nautilus, which was amazing. It is based in New London on the river Thames. If you ever drive the US you’ll feel right at home with the names of their towns!
Following this we visited Boston in Massachusetts and attempted to complete the Freedom Trail however following torrential downpour we didn’t manage to finish and instead ended up in the original bar which inspired the TV show Cheers. A much nicer way to end the day.
To reduce the boredom when driving, sometimes hundreds of miles a day, I had downloaded various podcasts and audiobooks to listen to as we went. Just a reminder that I am travelling with my dad so I did my best to pick those with appropriate subject matter!
If you have not read This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Dr Adam Kay then I highly recommend you do. It is a fascinating account of what the realities of being a doctor in the NHS are. It immediately grabbed both our attentions as we drove along.
What I didn’t know is that he chose to specialise in Obstetrics and gynaecology, or “Brats and Twats” as he called it.
What followed was a 5 hour audiobook about dealing with people’s issues “down there”. From removing items in places they should not be, to the terrifying effects of certain diseases or the discussion around whether medical advice to avoid sex includes Anal. (It did.)
All of which was lovely to listen to whilst riding in the car with my dad.
It is, though, a really good book and eye opening about the state of the NHS. Just be aware of who else might be reading or listening with you!
Finally you may have noticed the blog design has changed a little. I have now moved providers and the new service should be more reliable. The last one having deleted my posts rather than saving them which removed any incentive to write more. Hopefully this means I will be able to keep this more up to date. In the meantime don’t forget to check out my Instagram at Escapefromcustody which is getting daily (or more) updates.
Thank you for reading and please do let me know what you want to hear about in these posts in future!
After months of talking and planning I’m finally here! The adventure has really begun, and with a bang too…
Landing in JFK Airport tired but excited I managed to miss the signs for the shuttle buses and ended up in completely the wrong place. Fortunately I soon got on a bus to get back where I belonged only to have a tyre blow out en route, tearing off a quarter of the wheel arch!
Once a replacement bus was found and I’d met up with my dad, who’s joining me for the first few weeks, we could head into the city.
New York is incredible. Everywhere you walk is a location from a TV show or movie, or an iconic building you’ve seen in hundreds of photos.
2 days is not enough time to see it all, despite our best attempts and nearly 25,000 steps the first day!
Despite the long journey ahead I’m already making plans to come back and see the things I’ve missed.
I was hoping to have a video up by now but haven’t had a chance to buy a laptop, hopefully that will be sorted in the next few days.
After New York we’ve driven through 3 states to Boston, Massachusetts. Along the way we stopped at the USS Nautilus museum, the first nuclear powered submarine in the US Navy which you can walk through. It’s completely free and I highly recommend it.
After nearly a decade of being a police officer it feels weird to no longer have a warrant card in my pocket.
Handing over years worth of uniform and notebooks was a strange feeling I wasn’t planning on for another 20 odd years. No matter how much I moaned, and I know I did(!), I still loved being a police officer and this will take some getting used to.
I am incredibly grateful to all the kind words that have been said the last few weeks. Whilst I’ll no doubt miss The Job it is the people I’ll miss the most. It’s no exaggeration some of you have saved me from many a beating, if not worse, and I am better for having met all of you. I mean it when I say I love you all. I wouldn’t have lasted a week if it weren’t for the great people I worked with.
However, no time to dwell. I’m writing this at Gatwick Airport waiting to board the first leg of what will hopefully be the best adventure of my life.
I can’t promise to update this daily or weekly but I’ll do my best to keep those who are interested updated on where I am and how I’m doing.
On the Follow Me page it will also link my Instagram and YouTube which may have more updates.
To those I leave behind, stay safe and I’ll see you soon.