Ben Winston

Not your average travel blog

Cherry Pie, Bananagrams, and struggling to sober up


If my navigation in 2014 was a walk in the park, this year I’m jumping the fence. Although travelling mostly by automobile this time, I am aiming to travel across the USA and Canada, and out to the USA’s rape capital (six times higher than the national average, apparently) – Alaska. Everyday, is indeed, a school day.

The first two weeks, I have covered old ground; caught up with friends from the beginning of last year’s adventure and sampled a few new back streets to add to my list of American jaunts.

In Northampton, Massachusetts, lightning bugs lit up the bushes, and my cold, cold heart. I researched them after my short but sweet, casual encounter, and as expected, because of their ultra-efficient, light-producing bottoms, fireflies lack any pleasant flavour. Make of that what you will…

It’s been a relaxing start to the trip, to catch up with friends in small towns, which last year were bracing, because of the bitter cold and lingering snow. I’ve now decided, even with a million mosquitos meddling with my moustache, that it is much better to have a picnic by the warm Connecticut river (watching chipmunks, squirrels, beaver, and a massive raptor flying overhead while carrying a dead skunk) than it is to throw boiled noodles into my face, next to a swollen, muddy flow with icebergs floating by.


I revisited the most welcoming and haunted house in Syracuse, and while drinking fine, local IPA, I lost dismally at Bananagrams to my friend, Elise, who I have now learnt is not only the kookiest of hipsters with some complicated relationships behind her (who hasn’t had a few of those!?) but is the queen of the game-winning, two letter word!
No ghosts interfered with me this year, but maybe because they were content, lingering quietly in the dark behind me, allowing us to catch up on a few episodes of Twin Peaks together, which has reminded me just how much I love cherry pie!


So much hospitality has been tossed my way from people I met last year, that my first two weeks in the states have been a breeze. Although my curious mind means travel is always an education, I feel like if I was at school, I would have been expelled already for constantly turning up drunk. I’ve had one drinkless day since arriving (thank you Paeton), and it’s almost been a harder challenge than last year!

No need to thumb a ride north to Clayton, in Upstate New York. I’ve just arrived with Dave – who hosted me in Buffalo last year and who happened to be driving to his parents, via me in Syracuse, on the day I needed to be here. About to stop working for a well known bank, but continuing to play guitar in a Buffalo rock band, Dave flows seamlessly between economic shop talk, to the loose living of an on stage rock god… Or at least he would, if he wasn’t a born again, laser eye-surgery convert, and wife-teasing, married gent who never leaves home without his golf clubs. We’re sat at our third bar in as many hours (typical for Dave, apparently), and following our familiarisation with the sun-warmed scenery (from our bar stools), I am expected to graciously meet my friends John and Lori, with whom I am staying with. I’m not blaming Dave, but I don’t think it is appropriate to announce my re-arrival by immediately requesting an intoxicated nap on their couch. Late tonight, I’m supposedly meeting with the local press to discuss some foreign projects, and then a number of hospitable board-sitters who run the local wildlife and land trusts. I need to sober up!

The serious and sober business begins imminently, in two days.

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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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