Tuesday 1st October
It’s the first day of October and we are three quarters through 2019 with only three months left to a new year and furthermore a new decade. It’s been over nine months since I left Perth and what a journey so far. As it’s Tuesday the first class at Bay Port isn’t until 8 so I don’t have to to get up too early. For the first two lessons I’m with Geography teacher Lisa. Both classes are learning about the main geographical concepts and Lisa has got the students to apply these concepts by choosing a holiday destination of their choice. She presents a PowerPoint of her trip to Jamaica with all the key concepts so that the class knows what to include when researching their own destination. Towards the end for each class I take over and show the class a YouTube clip of the 2018 Super Bowl halftime TV commercial from Tourism Australia staring Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride. I ask the class Geographical questions based on the clip and also YouTube clips of a National Geographic Destination Australia documentary and Another Day In Western Australia tourism ad. The students enjoy learning more about Australia and it’s nice to receive some good feedback from Lisa via a message on Instagram in the evening. I’m back with James Radish for a Sociology class on cultural norms and values and for lunch I travel to a nearby Panda Express to pick up up lunch for the both of us. I enjoy the food and for dessert I’m introduced to a local delicacy called Kringle. One of the teacher’s brought in a couple of boxes from Uncle Mike’s bakery and after a couple of bites I realise why it’s been awarded North America’s best Kringle. It’s HEAVEN!!! Undoubtedly one of the best sweet pastries I have ever eaten in my entire life. James laughs at my reaction whilst I’m eating the Kringle. After lunch I am in Zac’s Economics class. Zac has just started his second year of teaching and it’s his first year teaching Economics. I provide him with my contacts details and resources from the OneDrive on my Hotmail account. I tell Zac that I was formerly the Secretary of the Economics Teachers Association of Western Australia and assisted new teachers of Economics with resourcing, checking assessments and lesson plans and worksheets. I hope I am able to assist him further during my time here in Green Bay. I’m back at the house at around half 3 and watch some GLOW on Netflix. Once Heather and Jack return home I put on some more child friendly TV and it’s not long before Nick returns for dinner. Heather has made a lovely soup which we eat with vegetables and warm oven baked French baguette sticks. After I have helped clear up, I show Nick how to make curry. Heather and Jack head upstarts whilst Nick and I spend around an hour or so cooking. He does a good job and jokingly teases me by commenting that I sound like a celebrity chef. By the time we have cleared up I say goodnight to everyone and do some reading before I go to bed around 9. I have an early start tomorrow for my second consecutive day back at Bay Port.
Wednesday 2nd October
I wake up around half 3 and quickly turn my phone off from airplane mode to check the Brewers score. I went to bed when we were 3-1 up so I’m pretty gutted to find out that we lost to the Nationals 4-3. It takes me a couple of hours to get back to sleep and so I go into Bay Port a bit later than usual. Upon arrival James is nowhere to be seen. Eventually I find him and he was busy using his prep time to organise today’s Pirate time for our cricket match. We also use this time to have a cup of coffee and finish off yesterday’s Kringle. The first session of Pirate time begins at 10:10 and lasts for 40 minutes during which I explain the rules of the game to around 18 or so students in Mr Radish’s classroom using both the chalkboard and YouTube. Then with the help of James we model some light bowling and batting and get a couple of the students to practice to the rest of the class. Bay Port students can choose to have two separate sessions for Pirate time so some end up leaving for their next class whilst others join us as we all head out to the field. The marching band are practising so we head to the right side of the football pitch to set up. We use two school rubbish (garbage) bins as stumps and I have brought in my cricket bat and three tennis balls. I ask for two captains and then they get to choose their sides one by one from the remaining 20 students. As we have students that didn’t attend the first session, James and I have to briefly explain the rules. It turns out to be a really enjoyable experience and afterwards most students thank me for coming into school today to show them how to play cricket. Several ask James to set up a Bay Port cricket club. I’m really enjoying my time at the school so I tell James that we can make cricket for Pirate time a regularly activity when I’m not traveling around the country. James saw some indoor stumps and a cricket bat at a local sporting store so hopefully they can be purchased so that we can get the students to play indoor cricket during winter. For lunch I travel a short distance to Firehouse Subs to pick up a couple of sandwiches for James and I. The first session after lunch are with a class whom contains students that are at risk of not achieving the credits necessary to progress to the next grade. For the final class I’m with Zac whose teaching a freshman World (European) History class. As it’s Wednesday the session is 70 minutes long so after explaining the work and putting the class into small groups to undertake a project on the Renaissance, we get to spend some time discussing his Economics classes. One of them did a short answer test on Demand and Supply and found it difficult making some basic technical mistakes. I give Zac some tips on how to get the students to learn the fundamentals and tell him not to worry as I had the same issues when I first started teaching many years ago. Once I’m back at the house I nap for around an hour then drive to Point Park on Broadway for the Farmers Market Volunteers party. It’s nice to catch up with the other volunteers from the Veterans Of Foreign Wars drinks tent last Wednesday. Tristan is a doctor who used to serve in the military and works in Green Bay but also owns a property in Madison. We are going to try and meet up before the Badgers-Kent State game this Saturday and Tristan is gonna try and get us tickets for the Badgers-Michigan State game next Saturday. After returning to the house I watch some more GLOW on Netflix and catch up with Heather, Nick and Jack. Heather is really tired as she had tests today so heads to bed early. Nick bathes Jack and after putting him to sleep, Nick and I chat for a short while before he heads to bed. Once I’m alone I send some Couchsurfing requests for next weeks short stay in Atlanta. I spend the remainder of the evening reading a new book that I have downloaded from the Apple books store called Conversations With God. It was recommended to me by a mate of mine and I find it really intriguing. It’s soon after 11 that I find myself struggling to stay awake so I head to bed too.
Thursday 3rd October
I wake up around 7 and my first task for today is to drive to Jenstar for a Vinyasa yoga class. I spend the rest of the morning updating my website and organising travel for the next month or so. I book some coach journeys and send some Couchsurfing requests. After lunch, which consists of leftover curry that Nick with my assistance cooked a couple of nights ago, I use the TV/DVD in my bedroom for the first time by watching some episodes of the animated comedy Family Guy. I nap for a couple of hours and when I head downstairs to drink some water I find Nick and Jack having dinner. Heather has gone shopping with a friend so it’s just us boys in the house. Jack is slowly starting to get used to me being around and so both Nick and I are involved in play time after they have eaten their food. Heather arrives around 8 in time to put Jack to sleep so Nick and I turn on the TV to watch the Thursday night football game between the Seahawks and Rams. During the game we chat about a number of things, one of them being the cost of university education. Nick is a doctor and going through medical school resulted in debts of around $250K by the time he completed his residency practice. Jack is only 2 years old but already Heather and Nick are putting funds away for his future. We both wonder how much the price of a college degree will be in around 20 years time, when Jack will potentially be graduating. Like most Packers fans I want the Rams to win tonight. I actually have a good mate in Seattle called Tristan whom I met during Ultra Music Festival in Miami back during sprint break 2015 and caught up with in Gili Islands (Indonesia) a year later. I have a flight booked to Seattle from Kansas City after the Packers-Chiefs game so hopefully I can meet up and stay with him before I fly to Los Angeles for Packers against Chargers. The game ebbs and flows with the lead constantly changing in what turns out to be another really good prime time game with the Rams missing a field goal in the final moments to win the match. Once the game is over I continue reading and stay up until just before midnight.
Friday 4th October
I haven’t been this week at Paul’s Pantry so after breakfast and shower I travel to the food bank for a couple of hours of volunteering. Today there are students from Denmark High School also helping out. I learn from a couple of the boys that their football team is known as the Vikings and unlike the NFL team they actually have a trophy cabinet. I then drive to De Pere for a Yin class with Megan - it’s busy today with around 14 other yogis. Jenstar is a nice, friendly studio so I hope it can grow in members. Once I’m back at the house I have lunch and then pack a small rucksack for my upcoming trip to Texas, Alabama and Georgia. I spend the rest of the afternoon watching GLOW on Netflix. Heather and Nick arrive around 5 with really good news - Heather’s first cancer treatment has worked and so is in remission - I’m so happy for her and the rest of the Heezen family. Dinner consists of leftover curry and it’s time to get ready for my Friday ice hockey night. James Radish’s wife Heidi works in the marketing department for the Resch Center, who also own and manage the Green Bay Gamblers, the local hockey team. The Radish family costs of James, Heidi and four young boys with the two eldest accompanying us to the game against the Waterloo Black Hawks. Due to Heidi we have awesome complementary seats. By the end of the first period the Gamblers are 1-0 down and Heidi takes the two boys home as it’s getting to their bedtime. As she is leaving, Heidi provides us with VIP tickets which lets us get free drinks. James and I are both driving so we only have one small cup of beer each. So there is a clear through panel to protect spectators from the puck. However when I see the puck coming towards my face I have a startling reaction and end up spilling some of the beer over myself much to James’s amusement as well as the other fans located near me. At the game we meet the Counsellor for Bay Port High and her boyfriend so we end in Stadium View for a post game drink. The Gamblers manage to bring it back to 1-1 at the start of the final quarter but in the last few minutes the Black Hawks score two late goals to inflict a 3-1 defeat on the Gamblers in their opening home game of the new season. I have one small bottle of Miller Lite then say goodbye to the others to drive back home. I stop for petrol (gas) as I won’t have much time tomorrow. Upon arrival at the house Nick and Heather are still up and we chat for a brief whilst before I head to bed.
Saturday 5th October - 1760 KM 1100 M
Similarly to last Saturday I’m driving to Madison this morning for a 11am Badgers start and then onwards to Wauwatosa. But unlike last weekend I’m gonna be leaving my car at my good mate Ed's home and after which he will be dropping me off at Milwaukee airport so that I can catch a flight to Dallas for the Packers-Cowboys game tomorrow afternoon at AT&T stadium. Like I mentioned in some of my media interviews this is when things get interesting as I’m relying on a bit of fortune with no unforeseen circumstances such as travel or weather delays hindering my ambitious goal of attending every Packers and Badgers games this season. Due to a bit of roadworks traffic en route to Madison I don’t get to my usual parking spot on Vilas Park drive until just past 10. I quickly walk towards Camp Randall to meet Ed’s son, Nick, who is selling me a spare ticket for the student section for a bargain $20. I’m really excited as I have always wanted to attend a game surrounded by college kids. Back in Perth I have seen the student section going crazy and wished I could one day make it so it’s like a dream come true to me. Standing is based on a first come first served basis so as soon I have met Nick and given him the cash I’m heading towards Gate 5. I’m gonna be in O section and as it’s a small college that we are playing today I manage to find a good spot. In front of me are two young guys called Ricky and Tyler, both of whom are also not students at the University of Wisconsin. Ricky is in the military and is studying History to become a teacher just like myself. He also read my story online and is pleased to meet me. Like the Wolverines game, the Badgers race to a 28-0 lead but unlike Michigan, Kent State are a small school and struggle in all facets of the game against us. The three of us leave at the end of the first quarter for food and as I’m about to pay Ricky shouts me a brat, reaffirming my love of Wisconsin hospitality and generosity. As it’s raining heavily I go undercover at half time and I end up bumping into my mate Hayleigh and her dad too. For sorority girls it’s bring your dad to the game day which explains why there were so many fathers with their daughters. I also meet Hayleigh’s housemate and good mate Sarah and as we are all popping back inside for “Jump Around” I bump into Tristin from the Veterans Of Foreign Wars drinks tent. Tristin ends up joining us and we all crazily jump around, the first time for me in the student section where despite the weather has been an awesome atmosphere. I think the University of Wisconsin attracts students for both academic and non academic reasons! I say goodbye to Hayleigh, her dad and Sarah and then Tristin and I walk back towards my car so we can have some lunch before I drive to Milwaukee. Tristin takes me to a bar called “The Great Dane” for nachos, which like last Saturday’s nachos at The Thirsty Goat are simply outstanding. It’s just before 3 when I drop off Tristin at his Madison house. He kindly provides me with an open invitation to stay there and is gonna try and get us tickets for next Saturday’s Badgers-Spartans game. BBC Radio 1’s Essential Selection with Pete Tong is the soundtrack for the rainy and so slow drive to Wauwatosa. I’m at Ed's home just after half 4 and Ed, Paige and I have a brief chat before Ed drops me off at Milwaukee airport in Paige’s car as his old car needed a new engine so was sold to the garage for a low price. Ed’s BMW was a good motor and he’s lost a bit of money as a result of the car malfunctioning. I’m flying American and have checked in online with only carry on baggage so its straight to the boarding gate. I booked the flight to Dallas via Chicago using my Qantas frequent flyer points. The first leg of the journey only takes 20 minutes to O’Hare airport with the second leg delayed by an hour due to a technical issue. It’s been a long day so by the time I’m on the Dreamliner plane I sleep for most of the journey. As I’m leaving the plane at Dallas Fort Worth airport I meet a Packers fan from Canberra, the federal capital of Australia. Adrian now lives in New Jersey and is also going to the game tomorrow. We swap details so that we can meet up before the game. I get a Lyft to Sam and Zoe Sexhus’s home in Southlake, not far from the airport. They are kindly hosting me for the game and took me to dinner the night before the Packers-Vikings game last month. Their daughters Zoe and Mia are fast asleep and after greeting each other we all head to bed too. It’s 1:30 am by time I turn my phone onto airplane mode.
Sunday 6th October
I first wake up at 7am and go back to sleep for another couple of hours. I actually feel more tired after getting some extra rest! When I wake up there is no one in the house - and OMG - what a huge house. It’s like a mansion. The back yard is a mini forest with its gigantic trees. Eventually Sam and youngest daughter Mia arrive back from dropping off Sam’s father at the airport. He was visiting for the weekend and I wasn’t able to meet him before he left to fly home to North Dakota. Sam, Zoe, Mia and I all travel to a nearby restaurant for brunch. The Italian place is really good and our server is a football fan impressed by my schedule - so much that he wants the Packers to win today for me. The girls leave early as Mia has a writing class. After eating Sam takes me to Pluckers, a sports bar a short drive away. It’s pretty warm now and I jokingly tell Sam how different the weather is as compared with Madison yesterday where it was 50F and raining. Now it’s nearly 95F and it feels like I’m in a different country. In the bar I bump into some Packers fans originally from Milwaukee but now based in Texas who are also going to the game. I take a Lyft to Texas Live! to catch up with Adrian, which is so busy when I get there. I manage to find him upstairs and get to meet some of his other Packer mates too. We all walk to the stadium around hour before start time but I leave the guys to try and scalp for a ticket. I don’t have much luck. But I do get to meet a group of Packers fans in a Cowboys dominated tailgate area. I tell them my story and they offer me a Spotted Cow beer, which isn’t sold outside Wisconsin, plus some venison chilli. It’s getting close to the singing of the national anthem and I still don’t have a ticket. A tout (scalper) offers me a seated ticket for $250 which is far too much but I manage to buy a standing room only ticket for $100, only $25 more than face value and also the cheapest price that I could find on StubHub including all fees and charges. When I get to the stadium there aren’t many decent standing room sections left as I have left it so late. I walk up to the top section and start looking for an empty spot. I play the foreign guy effect with a security attendant and he lets me quickly sit down in a spare seat. It turns out to be my seating for the entire match. Although it’s a bit far up at least I’m sitting down - and more importantly in the stadium. It’s my second time at AT&T with my first visit here to watch a college bowl game back in January 2014 between the University of Missouri Tigers and Oklahoma State University Cowboys. To my right are a family from El Paso, whom are Packers fans because Aaron Jones played for their local high school. What a game he has - 4 touchdowns helping the Packers to a 34-24 victory. Although watching the final quarter or so was pretty stressful as the Cowboys came game with three unanswered touchdowns to spark an unlikely comeback. However as soon as the Cowboys punter misses a field goal in the final minute it’s game over and the Packers have secured another unlikely road victory. Yet unlike the Bears game this was so much more exciting and again the Packers answered their critics. This time there is no heckling or things being thrown at me by rival fans as I leave the stadium. In fact I join in a couple of chants of GO PACK GO. It’s great to see so many green and gold jerseys. I walk back to Texas Live! to order a Lyft but find that due to surge pricing it’s more than triple the price. I end up chatting to a guy from Milwaukee called Dan who loves my story and introduces me to his fiancée Jenny and her parents, all of whom who traveled to Dallas for the game. Dan kindly buys me a couple of beers and wants to join me at some of the Badgers and Packers game later this season. I’m also invited to Dan and Jenny’s wedding in the Dominican Republic the weekend after Super Bowl. Eventually the surge pricing ends so that I can book a Lyft back to Sam and Zoe’s home. I arrive around half ten to find everyone in bed. I eat a couple of leftover slices of pizza from this morning’s brunch before heading to bed myself
Monday 7th October 1000 KM 600 M
My alarm is set for half 6 so that I have enough time to make my flight at 9, which will be departing from Love Field Airport. I have no plans to do any sightseeing as I did this back in January 2014 during my first ever visit to Texas as part of a two week road trip around the state. As compared with DFW, Love Field Airport is closer to the city and consequently there will be Monday morning traffic to deal with so after getting ready and packing my suitcase I say goodbye to Zoe and the girls, thanking them for their hospitality. Sam is already at work but I will be catching up with him and Zoe at the Packers-Chiefs game in a few weeks time. My Lyft arrives in plenty of time and as I have checked in online on the SouthWest app it’s straight to the boarding gate. The security attendant checking my passport see’s my Packers jacket and jokingly says that Packers fans have additional screening today. Thankfully I have no issues getting to my boarding gate. I’m on the plane early and end up doing a live call interview on Josh Dukelow’s Fresh Take shortly before taking off. I really enjoy catching up with Josh and for next Monday’s night game at Lambeau I’m going to be in studio again. Due to difficult weather conditions our flight takes a longer route causing a short delay as well as a bumpy final half an hour or so for the descent into Birmingham. Upon arrival I take a Lyft into the city to a restaurant called Yo Mama’s for brunch. I haven’t eaten any breakfast so I’m looking forward to a plate of fried chicken wings with waffles. I have resigned myself to the fact that I’m gonna gain weight during this adventure but I will get back into my fitness and health regime once I return to reality (normality). As it’s a Monday the Civil Rights Museum is closed but Kelly Ingram Park located across from the museum is open. The park contains monuments and sculptures commemorating the civil rights movement. There is also a free audio guide tour by ringing a local number. During my tour I bump into an academic called David Ball from The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) whilst he and his brother are walking their dog. We chat for a bit about issues such as civil rights in both America and Australia, the history of civil rights and race relations in Birmingham and the current political situation in America. But it’s David‘s comment on acceptance that strikes out most for me - he argues that as humans we need to become more accepting of other people’s views as tolerance doesn’t result in people being able to remain or become friends after a political discussion. I feel that is how I have been in the past whereas now I am far more accepting. After my audio tour of Kelly Ingram Park I walk over to a Eddie Kendrick Memorial. He was the lead singer of the soul group The Temptations. I listen to a few songs on my iPhone before ordering a Lyft to my Airbnb. Upon arrival I’m greeted by my host Robin. I have a double room with private en-suite and spend the rest of the afternoon napping for some much needed sleep after such a busy weekend. After a shower I walk just over a mile to the suburb of Five Points where lots of bars and restaurants are located. From google maps I notice that there is a Middle Eastern restaurant and so pop in there for dinner. I’m a big fan of this type of cuisine and it’s been a long time since I have had it. My plate of mixed shawarma is huge and as I haven’t had much today I ensure that all my meal is eaten. Across the road is a sports bar so I end up walking over to watch the Monday night football game between the 49ers and Browns. The 49ers race to a 14-0 lead but at 3-14 the Browns had a great opportunity to cut the deficit to 10-14 but the 49ers force a interception resulting in a 3-21 scoreline. This bar has a special of $1 beer cups so I sip on a couple of PBR’s whilst watching the game and chatting to a history doctorate student/instructor from UAB, who is originally from Kentucky and so supports them in college football. Nathan tells me that their punter is from Australia and from google I find out that not only is Max Duffy a former Australian rules footballer but he played for the Fremantle Dockers in the national competition and whom are based in Perth, Western Australia. Furthermore Duffy attended Kent Street High School where one of my mates currently teaches! As the Browns are playing poorly and have no hope of staging a comeback I order a Lyft back to my Airbnb for more sleep shortly into the last quarter.
Tuesday 8th October 145 KM 90 M
It’s nice to have a lie in today. I say goodbye to my Airbnb hosts after getting ready and then take a Lyft to a breakfast restaurant not far from the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. The restaurant is a real hole in the wall place with a small serving of scrambled eggs with two pieces of toast coasting a mere $1.65 - undoubtedly the cheapest meal I have ever had in all my visits in and around America. I arrive at the ticket counter just before 10 and a woman after hearing my accent offers me a discount card that saves me $2 off the full entrance fee. My coach to Montgomery is at noon so I spend around an hour and a half in what turns out to be a truly emotional civil rights learning experience. At times I am swelling up in tears from reading and seeing the horrific and ugly face of racism which manifested itself in segregation in all walks of life such as education, housing, health care and employment causing the black population to suffer acute levels of discrimination. But it was on buses, trains, parks, sitting benches, waiting rooms, restrooms, cinemas, restaurants, bars, hotels and many more public places where clearly marked signs for “whites only” and “colored only” indicated different treatment based on a person’s skin tone. Respective national and local civil rights activists Reverend’s Dr Martin King Jr and Fred Shuttlesworth were fundamental in bringing about racial equality and an end to racist segregation. However the struggle was not easy in the southern states of America as both state and local politicians, white supremacists and law enforcement agencies prevented federal desegregation laws from being implemented. Across from the museum is the 16th Street Baptist Church which was bombed by members of KKK killing four young girls during the height of the civil rights movement. My coach ride to Montgomery only takes an hour and a half and my first activity after lunch is to visit the Rosa Parks bus stop. On December 1 1955 history was created when a local black woman refused to give up her seat for white passengers upon request of the bus driver. There is also a Rosa Parks museum that contains a time machine simulation tracing the origins of racism and racial segregation in the Deep South. The simulation is in the form of a bus and for historical accuraccy I ensure that I sit at the back! During the self guided tour I again find myself with watery eyes in what has been a pretty passionate day for me. Around half 4 I’m drained and so take a Lyft to my Airbnb not too far from downtown Montgomery. I have a nap then walk to a nearby Mexican restaurant for tacos. Shortly after I arrive back from dinner I get to meet my Airbnb host. Travis is originally from Baltimore and thus a Ravens fan. He is a defense attorney (lawyer) assisting people in trials, prominently young black men who cannot afford legal representation. We have a good chat about civil rights in both America and Australia before saying goodnight.