Ben Winston

Not your average travel blog

An erection, leading to half an hour under a hotel

Back in the cake-loving, bohemian, neighbourly company of Bryce Canyon, under some growling and rather volatile grey skies, I watched two young men in their colourful board shorts, puffing away, agitatingly on their cigarettes as they attempted to erect a new tarpaulin between a few trees. Amusing as it was, and although they appeared to be constructing something on the same magnitude as a second Golden Gate Bridge, they managed to do a fairly decent job – and then proceeded to not use it, sitting back next to the fire and simply admiring it from a few yards away.
Unable to pin point their language, my sidekick Amanda and I gambled on where they were from. I guessed it was a extremely rural dialect of German, and as educated as she is, Amanda’s strong point is not language; she guessed some sort of Arabic. We approached with smiles and complimented them on their attempts at an erection.
They were Swiss, and although it was insulting them (like someone asking me if I am “from cockney!” – Yes, that happened), I was clearly much closer geographically than Amanda. I mean, Arabic! One of them was simply bearded and tanned!

The two gentlemen were friendly company, and we used our best, pigeon English to all communicate. It turned out that shortly after Bryce Canyon, they were driving to Las Vegas and then into California. My sheepish (cheeky), “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” approach kicked in, and they said they had enough room on the back seat, should I meet them somewhere near Vegas.

Never taking anything for granted, and often as I attempted to plan my travels on the hoof, I contacted the Swiss gents to see where they might be after my first 48hours in Vegas. I didn’t have a back up plan to leave, when I reached the city, but not only was my host so generous in offering her spare sponge mattress in her single roomed apartment, but she also wouldn’t allow me to leave town on foot across the desert. Although I am grateful for her stubbornness towards my health and safety, hiking a thousand miles in desperate temperatures was also not something I was looking forward to. Moreover, I am constantly aware that to outstay my welcome anywhere, is the last thing I want to be guilty of, and often on my trip, it has played on my mind. Constantly being on the move is a much healthier alternative (for all concerned), than upsetting a host – even if they aren’t comfortable with me just hiking out of town when there’s a break in the weather.
My Swiss friends and I didn’t spend time together in Las Vegas (they were having a much more expensive, indulgent time on the strip, compared to my varied shinanigans), but luckily they agreed to meet me when they were leaving town, and the offer to ride in the back seat was still open.

Well known for their mountain range, their chocolate, their cheese, their clock-making and goats, not forgetting Heidi, the Swiss can also boast one of the most expensive cities on the planet – Zurich, and as a small, land-locked country, a fence-sitting neutrality throughout modern history, which only seems to have led to their surprising wealth. What they cannot currently boast of, is an impressive, short term memory. Even as a collective, my two new chums can’t recollect much of the last few days, which on reflection, I suspect happens a lot in Vegas. However, after parking their car beneath their hotel just three days earlier, four of us spent thirty minutes searching, and pressing the unlock button on the key-fob to try and find it. I did wonder what kind of company I had chosen to keep, while travelling into California…

I picked her up and hugged her like a small bear in the parking lot, as an unsuspecting Laurianne and I avoided a teary goodbye. Grateful and astounded again of hospitality from not only one person, but half a dozen in a city that I really didn’t expect to be so neighbourly; I left Las Vegas (which surprised me like the not so obviously-attractive girl at school that nobody fancies, but secretly I now have a crush on) in a slightly sad mood.

Into California, and even though there is a plethora of people-made places as well as natural wonders which I could spend months exploring, I only have one more official checkpoint before the coast – Yogi Bear’s home – Yosemite. However I also managed to see this magnificent waterfall urinal on route, and as he sign says – Enjoy!

The Swiss chaps and I are heading in that direction, but first, after about a six hour drive, I’m ecstatic to report from the back seat, we’re heading to Sequoia National Park…


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Where am I now?

After extensive work and tours through Southern Africa, most of my time is spent between Malawi and Europe.
Go Untamed Safaris was striding into top gear, but volatile poitics in 2019, Covid in 2020, the impacts of Russia vs the World as well as insesent corruption forced my hand.
The dust is now settling. Everything has changed. New chapters are about to be written.

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