Author’s note: this story was written immediately following the events of On the Road. It was never published due to life events that followed. Now, to the yarn!
Fear not, dear readers! The tales of my comic stinginess have only just begun!
A power nap on the bus later and I found myself at Lancaster University at 0545 Sunday, May 21. Unsurprisingly, there are no shops open and no buses at that time of the morning. Instead, I explored the campus, mooched off their free wifi, and tried to avoid the security guard for three hours until a bus to the city center arrived. Once in the city proper, I got my first glimpse at the hidden gem that is Lancaster.
Nestled deep in the English countryside, Lancaster is not a place I ever would have visited if not for my ferry to the Isle of Man leaving from nearby Heysham Harbour. I am, however, extremely grateful that it did! First order of business was to pump my body up on the wondeful lie that is caffiene and do some writing while waiting for attractions to open. Around 10 I went to the Lancaster City Museum, expecting your average po-dunk summary museum, but instead being treated to a journey through time. Wonderful place, well-designed and highly detailed. If you are in the region it’s a must-see.
After wandering around the city for a time and taking in some fantastic green spaces behind the priory, I joined a tour of Lancaster Castle. Known for its colorful history as a hanging prison and the assizes courts, the castle holds a breath of the past within its ten-foot-thick walls. Well worth the £8 to enter, though it was a downer that we were not allowed to take photos inside, as it is a still-operational court.
Next, I got turned around trying to make my way to the Maritime Museum and ended up grabbing a plate of classic fish and chips for lunch instead. It’s a little embarrssing, but I resorted to the Sainsbury’s Cafe on the river. Following my lunch I finally discovered the museum, but decided against entering due to price and that it was closing in twenty minutes anyway. Instead, I opted for a nap in the sun on a riverside bench.
With only a few hours left in Lancaster once I had subtracted an hour for the nap, I treked back across town to see the city Cathedral. On the way, I detected the faint sounds of familiar tunes as I passed by the local Baptist church and felt compelled to find out what was happening. On letting myself into the church, I found a youth-led evening service packed with amazing people who immediately welcomed me in.
The leader of the youth told me it would be worth my time to hike to the top of Williamson Park to take in the sunset, then invited me to join them for a bite in McDonald’s later. I chuckled at the prospect: of course we were going to McDonald’s again. As I made my way up the hill towards the monument, one of the couples from the church who had attended the service pulled up beside me and offered me a ride to the top – just as well they did, I never would have made it in time to see the sunset. Once there, the wife offered me the local scoop on the landscapes I was seeing, filling me in on names, trivia, and relative locations to other things I had never heard of before. I joke, but I am also extremely grateful to them for the ride and sharing the story of their lives, both separate and together. Once the sun had finally dipped below the horizon, they told me they would give me a lift back to town, an offer I could not refuse after carrying my backpack the whole day on foot.
After the strangest goodbye I’ve made yet (extremely grateful, feeling oddly close, yet not even knowing their names), I humorously bit back my distaste for McD’s and entered to be greeted by absolutely no one I knew. Nevertheless, a few minutes later they arrived and down we sat, making the setup for a good joke,
“stop me if you’ve heard this one before: three Brits, three Brazilians, and an American walk into a restaurant…”
We swapped stories, traded in memories, and made fun of American attempts to play fútbol. In all it was an incredible time, and it was with a heavy heart we made our goodbyes.
For now, it was to the coach station to catch the number 2 to Heysham. A 15 minute walk through an absolutely terrifying port to enter by foot at night later and I was settled in waiting for my ferry to begin the next part of my journey.
Join us again as our intrepid hero makes like Gilligan, minus the shipwreck, tropics, and funny jokes!