Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Spam, coffee and the Watchtower

January 3rd, 2012

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A perfect Sabbath coffee stop? Half a tin of Spam, left from lunch, and a copy of The Watchtower, found rolled up amongst the rafters of the roadside picnic shelter.

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Marathon coffee

January 2nd, 2012

Ken stops in Marathon for a coffee and a spot of lunch.. before fifty-five miles of empty desert towards Sanderson

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Iced coffee

December 25th, 2011

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Close to the summit of the 8,228 feet Emory Pass, New Mexico

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Price of a coffee

December 20th, 2011

He’d asked if it was ok to go onto the roof today. Kept repeating "McDonald’s of Silver City". Said he lived at home with his Mum. Helped looked after her. Roles, I thought, were probably reversed. Despite his enormous build, mostly harmless. Even caring. But his limited intellect often meaning he’d be misunderstood. I returned to nursing a now lukewarm coffee at a corner table.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking coffee culture is, well, a bit of a luxury on the road. After all, shy of soft drinks in English pubs, it’s a beverage with probably the greatest of mark-ups. Surely best to brew your own. And I do. Whenever I can. Always like to have a small flask of something warming. Great for morale.

But you’d be rather missing the point. Popping into a cafe about much more than a hearty drink. It’s the fringe benefits. A break from the elements and an opportunity to reinvigorate waning spirits. Chance to reflect on the day’s progress, to jot down some notes for the blog. Company. It can be very lonely on the road. Flushing toilets and a sink to freshen up. Often free WiFi. Remembering that even the cheapest of coffees are expensive if you over-indulge.

Outside it was snowing once more. This was expected. As predicted. Which, I hoped, meant it would also clear up in a few days as forecast. Allowing me to return to the road before becoming gripped by cabin fever.

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Coffee in Cliff

December 18th, 2011

Ken stops for a coffee and some provisions in Cliff. Not Clifford as he mistakenly calls it in the clip.

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Coffee and cartography

December 16th, 2011

Interested in following in Ken’s footsteps? Or should that be tyre tracks. A few suggestions…

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No Sniveling

November 21st, 2011

"Double or single shot?" he’d snapped. The woman hadn’t heard him, or at least had realised he was addressing her. He barked his question once more. She paused, then replied "Single". Turning away to face her partner, she’d rolled her eyes in disgust. Her own parting shot as she left a particularly enthusiastic "Do have a wonderful day".

Small coffee shop in Myers Flat, a few miles south of the campground I’d stopped at the previous night. I’d wandered in a little earlier, the service cordial rather than caustic. My eyes drawn to the various signs on the walls. "No Sniveling". "And your whining opinion would be?" "Sarcasm. One of the free services I offer". He wasn’t joking.

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Final fling

October 8th, 2011

Final fling in Cowpuccino’s coffee bar, a short distance from the hostel. And an eggy breaky bagel for the road. I’d ordered a baa-g-ell but they seemed to understand. Quiet, The Germans, I thought, out on manoeuvres.

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It was Hawaii Day. Paper pineapples, resembling cheap Christmas decorations, on the tables. The staff had plastic flowers in the their hair. A chalk board announced ’Aloha’.

A man wandered in, sporting a bright blue shirt with a bold flower pattern. About to congratulate him for entering into the spirit of the occasion, whatever it was, I found myself stopping short. Suddenly unsure as to whether he’d donned it especially for the day, or whether it was just his normal attire. Time to return to the road.

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Java Joint

September 25th, 2011

Java Joint from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Recovered from a transient bout of sickness, Ken heads along the Glenn Highway towards the small town of Glennallen. Stumbling across a drive through coffee bar in the middle of nowhere. A very welcome, if colourful, morale boosting find…

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Differences of opinion

July 20th, 2011

Brief rest stop. Chance for a quick coffee before continuing the bus journey back north. I’d missed the signs. Failed to register our driver’s comments. Nothing fancy. Any colour you liked. Just so long as it was black. Add your own milk if you wanted. Ask for a double frappe skinny latte at your peril. I’d gotten away with ordering a couple of long blacks because, well, that’s what you got. Shared with Gurnam.

We’d met the previous evening in Franz Josef Youth Hostel. Hadn’t been an auspicious start. There’d been differences of opinion. Confidently asserted on both sides. Nepal. Gurnam favouring foreigners rates for visitors. Whereas I was vehemently against such things. Resolute in wanting to pay only what a local would. No more. No less. Not to be seen as a meal ticket. A cash cow. Eventually conceding that if, as she’d suggested, tourists consumed far more resources than a Nepalese ever would, paying more wasn’t unreasonable. A fair charge.

If I’d feared a frosty start, my nervousness soon allayed. Instead chatting until gone midnight. Continuing the next day on the bus. Librarians. Her profession. Suggesting they seemed generally reluctant to recognise the inevitable waning of print media. The need to see themselves as managers of information rather than custodians of books. Lest they soon be marginalised. Which’d be a shame. Because few know how to best exploit the knowledge they have. Problem is, most people think they do. She’d agreed.

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