Florida Keys

This time, Jack’s corner is in a topless Ford Mustang en route to Key West. Featuring Jamie.  
Some days, life isn’t fair. Your girlfriend breaks up with you. You don’t win your tennis final. Your pet Jack Russell dies. But some days, you’re driving 100km/h in a mustang over a sea of glistening turquoise, with the top off, and your favourite Hawaiian shirt on. And it’s moments like this where you realize you’re right; life isn’t fair at all. Why? Well Josh had left yesterday, and the poor kid was missing one hell of a trip.

So, to make you feel a bit better Josh, here is a brief account of all the shit things that happened (everyone else, feel free to skip to the next paragraph).

– There was no Chipotle there.

– You know that statue of Jesus underwater? We couldn’t go there. Turns out you have to catch a boat out there. And turns out boats trips aren’t cheap. 

– It got cold on our trip home so we had to put the roof back on, which meant I couldn’t stare at the stars any more.

It’s funny. There are some places you always hear about. People rave about the likes of London, Paris, New York, Cinque Terre, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Ubud, the list goes on. But the one thing you never hear of is the Florida Keys. Which makes no fucking sense at all. Not just because Las Vegas is a glorified, over-rated concrete jungle full of white trash and strippers. And white trash strippers. But because Florida Keys is amazing! 

The place has such a cool vibe. It’s the opposite of everything you expect from America. Here, bigger isn’t better. There isn’t a Starbucks on every corner. It’s not littered with billboards. It’s littered with amazing street performers and even if they weren’t amazing, it would still be amazing because, well, look at that view. 

But as I write this, I realize our day trip wasn’t perfect. And that was the exact problem: It was only a day trip. How could we be so stupid? How could we not realize that this place was going to be so spectacular that a 12-hour road trip wouldn’t suffice? But maybe that’s exactly what we needed. For most of this trip, we had been able to go at our own pace. Take our time to enjoy things. After all, we had 2 months! But things were so fast paced on this day that there was never any dead time.

Even on the long drive out to the keys, there was always something to keep you interested, something that felt new. Felt different. Felt interesting. Like the turtle hospital we drove past. Which was surprisingly large. How many sick turtles are really out there? And what do sick turtles get sick with? Is there a turtle-born Ebola strand? Anyway, it was just nice to know we had a place to send Platty if he got sick. 

I sincerely hope I get to come back here one day. And I hope you can join me. Yes, you. You know who you are.


Today Jack’s Corner is at Niagara Falls, Canada.


We arrived to Canada fairly late, so after dodging border security’s questions about Ebola we headed straight to the hostel and settled in with some beers at the hostel bar. We also ate some vegetables for the first time in a while to cure our scurvy.

Monday was the only full day we had to explore Toronto. So we woke up early – took advantage of the free bacon & eggs – and began to wander the city.

The highlight was definitely the Steam Whistle brewery where we got treated to a tour and some delicious free beers along the way.


But not all was fun and games in Toronto. After we checked-out Wardo and I headed in separate directions for the train station. Aidan and Platty went with him, and Josh joined me.

Once we got to the station we couldn’t find the boys anywhere and there was only 5 minutes til our train left. We rushed around the station, bought our tickets and got on the train with seconds to spare. It felt like we were contestants on The Amazing Race.

But the question remained. Where were the other three boys? Had we deserted them in Toronto?

I wrote a live blog detailing the horror of the ordeal as it happened. Warning: parental guidance is recommended.

9:44am. Tuesday December 23. We have just boarded the train to Niagara Falls. All transmission with Platty, Wardo and Aidan has been lost. Josh and I were unsure of there location so we panicked and boarded the train.

9:47am. I have turned on global roaming in a bid to regain transmission with boys (expensive, but you can’t put a price on friends). I’m hoping they’ve found a local Starbucks for free wifi.

9:48am. Josh has gone alone in search of boys to see if they are on another carriage. A risk, but a risk worth taking.

9:53am. Josh is still not back and my global roaming is not working. Ground control to major Tom.

9:56am. Josh still not back. I’m suspicious that the North Koreans may be involved.

9:58am. It’s almost 10 o’clock. Only 6 hours til sundown. Send help.

9:59am. Josh has returned. Still no sign of boys on front half of train. Commence search on back carriages.

10:02am. A stranger is approaching me. Maybe they have word of the boys whereabouts.

10:03am. The stranger just kept walking. Houston do you read me?

10:05am. Josh has returned. Access has been restricted to the rear carriages. Maybe they are locked in there?

10:08am. We have reached the conclusion that the boys are not on the train because Aidan and Wardo are wing-manning Platty.

10:12am. Josh and I are keeping spirits up by admiring the beautiful Canadian women on the train.

10:13am. Woman*

10.24am. We reach our checkpoint at Burlington Station in t-minus 20 minutes. We pray that the boys are there too.


10:25am. Spirits are low in the carriage as Josh looks upon photos of the missing.

10:46am. We have arrived at Burlington. We waited in agony as the boys did not hop off the train.

10:50am. Josh and I have made the executive decision to continue with the mission and proceed onto the bus to Niagara Falls.

11:25am. The long bus ride only leaves time for analysing our movements. Did we make the wrong decision?

11:26am. Maybe.

1:18pm. We have just grounded at nearest Starbucks. No free wifi. I repeat, no free wifi.

1:36pm. Generous civilian at Sheraton hotel gave me access to wifi. Commencing transmission.

1.37pm. The boys boarded the train after us. We are expecting their arrival at Niagara soon.

1:48pm. Contact made. All three boys recovered. Zero wounded. They were not pleased with our actions.

…but you know what they say: “better you than me!”



This time, Jack’s Corner is at Lincoln Park. At least I think that’s what it’s called. I forget.


As soon as we stepped off the plane at Minneapolis (our stopover on the way to Chicago) the cold hit us like a tonne of bricks. Cold bricks. We weren’t even outside but we still had mist drifting off our breath and we were worried that the -11° Celsius would be a sign of things to come in Chicago.

But when we arrived in The Windy City (not actually that windy) we were greeted by a balmy 2°. After catching up on some sleep on the hostel lobby floor, we left for the United Centre to see the Chicago Bulls take on the New York Knicks.

The game began with a spectacular rendition of The U.S. national anthem. American pride as contagious as the black plague filled the arena and we soon found ourselves proudly singing the words we knew – and shamefully mumbling the ones we didn’t. But thanks to all the patriotic mid-anthem clapping, I don’t think anyone noticed.

Anyway, the game was great! (I think. I didn’t really watch much between all the t-shirt shooting, trampoline dunking, banjo playing, flag waving mascots). Plus, because the Bulls won the whole crowd got a free Big Mac each! Yep, God bless America!

But it’s not just the free Big Macs that make this place so great, it’s the vibrancy that Chicago has to it. Much like Melbourne, it’s not about flashy landmarks but a culture that you can’t quite explain (which makes blogging about it hard).

This is best summed up by our 3rd day in Chicago. Jamie and I began with a stroll through the falling snow as we chewed on our bagel and appreciated the beautiful East-American architecture. We caught the subway into the city and stumbled across Chicago’s Cultural Centre. Its mosaics and marble make it one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen all trip.


Once we came out it was almost dark (4pm) and the streets became even more amazing – especially being Christmas time. We then finished at the Skydeck of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, once the world’s tallest building. #funfact

But just like a good magician, this place left me wanting more. It’s up there as one of the best places we’ve been and I’ll be coming back for sure.

Las Vegas

Warning: The following edition of Jack’s Corner may contain partial nudity. Parental discretion is advised.

Welcome to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and Jack’s Corner for this edition of the blog.


They say what happens is Vegas stays in Vegas, but that would have made for a pretty boring blog, so here goes:

After driving 8 hours through desert and hills we finally reached the blinding bright lights of Las Vegas.

This place is exactly what you imagine. A town of casinos with beers, betting and boobs. But what we didn’t imagine, was how expensive these things would be. Let’s just say Vegas isn’t the place to go if you’re on a backpackers’ budget.

But we didn’t let this stop us, it just made our Vegas experience a little more unique. Whether it was with a $10 bottle of rum (I think it was rum) and some card games of our own, a cigar as we watched the famous Bellagio Fountains or some cheap red wine through an IV drip at an aptly named place called Heart Attack Grill.

However, a generous shout from my lovely folks did see us dine on some quality steak from a rooftop restaurant that overlooked the city. Thanks Mum & Dad.


For most of us though, the highlight of Vegas didn’t even involve Vegas. It was when we ventured out for a day to the peace and quiet of the Grand Canyon. Even the second time round, this place was incredible. And it was made even more so by the snow that dusted the rim.


For me this sums up Las Vegas. Even though mankind have built some spectacularly mind-blowing casinos, they are still pale in comparison to the work of nature.

And on that pretentious note I’ll end this edition of Jack’s Corner. Thanks for reading, I’ll be here all month.

Yosemite National Park

This time, Jack’s Corner is situated at the base of Yosemite Falls.


The drive to Yosemite was long, but it was worth the wait. Well, almost – I was hoping it would have been covered in snow.

But nonetheless, it was spectacular. Giant granite domes overlooked the small village, with tall sequoia trees scattered throughout.

We were eager to start exploring as soon as we got there so we did a short walk/boulder climb to the base of Yosemite Falls. It was astonishingly silent compared to the bustle of San Fran.

That night we decided to go to bed early so we could get up at sunrise and go for a run.

But sometimes, plans change, and I couldn’t have been happier! The next morning I peered through the curtains to see if it was going to rain on our run. Then I saw something amazing: Snow, and lots of it!

I immediately started jumping on Wardos bed in excitement knowing that I would finally be able to hike through Yosemite in the snow!

Once I had calmed down, we put on our boots and headed for the top of Nevada Falls.

I have never seen anything more beautiful in my life – other than Heath Shaw’s premiership winning smother in the 2010 Grand Final.

The higher we hiked the more pretty (and slippery) it became. But it was worth the it! See…