Oh say can you see… it’s a Clearboxer in America!
Whether it’s listening to Bruce Springsteen or stuffing our faces with Hershey’s, here at Clearbox we’re all for living the American dream. So, to celebrate Independence Day, we’ve gathered our globetrotting team to tell us their tales from the Land of the Free…
I’ve been to America twice. When I was 21 I went out to work for a couple of months with family in Ocean City, Maryland. I worked in a boardwalk store selling swimming gear, t-shirts and general beach stuff. It was hard work but a great experience.
Second time I went for three weeks of gigging and eating with my better half. We traveled to Boston, Nashville, New Orleans, L.A. and San Francisco playing gigs in each city and trekking around boutique guitar shops and coffee houses. It was glorious. The highlight was probably meeting Frank Turner in L.A. but I also can’t wait to go back to Nashville where we saw the Grand Ole Opry, Jack White’s record store and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The weirdest bit was where Cheers was filmed in Boston…everyone knew my name!
I visited DisneyWorld in Florida when I was 13. The flight had a stopover in Atlanta so I like to pretend I’m well-travelled and say I’ve been to both places!
Obviously DisneyWorld is the epitome of the American Dream with all its magic and happiness, and I remember being in my element walking around the parks, going on all the rides and eating all the food – have you seen the portion sizes over there? I think that’s both the best and worst thing about America: everything’s over the top!I remember walking through Atlanta airport and seeing a boarding gate full of soldiers waiting for a flight to Iraq, while the intercom announced a final boarding call for a “Mister D. DeVito” elsewhere in the terminal…does it get anymore American than that?
I don’t mind America because it’s a bit like Northern Ireland. Big portions, larger-than-life (yet incredibly unpopular and massively useless) politicians and a rapidly improving national football/soccer team. I’m not a big fan of the tourist-heavy places and prefer to stick with the likes of Williamsburg and Coney Island in New York. In a total contradiction of what I’ve just said, the New York Knicks is also a decent night out if you like cheerleaders and don’t mind spending £15 on a pint of Bud Light. I wouldn’t bother with the MLS, though. If I lost three stone, I reckon I could get a game over there…
I went to New York one February. It was my first time and I had heard the weather could be temperamental so I brought a couple of pairs of shorts, flip flops and a fur coat, as you do. Little did I know it would be -3 degrees the entire time, but I learned my lesson.
I loved walking around Central Park in the snow, pretending to be in Home Alone. I loved the buzz of the subway – I count people-watching as a hobby and there is no better place to do it than on the subway in NYC.
There were so many highlights but a stand-out for me was Beauty and Essex, it’s a pawn shop come very swish restaurant on the Lower East Side – I still have dreams about the waffles and the jewellery there.
I flew into Salt Lake City, headquarters of the Mormons, to access Utah’s many ski resorts, and the best ski trip of my life … so far. The state has promoted itself with the strap line ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’ since the eighties. I’m glad to say that it lived up to the claim during our trip. If you’re happy to hire a car it’s definitely worth experiencing neighbouring resorts, given there’s not much distance between a large number of them. We skied Deer Valley, Park City, Canyons and Snowbird in a week.
I haven’t been to many places in the USA yet, but I do get a buzz from the automatic ‘Have a Nice Day’ greetings you get from almost everyone you encounter. The odds are that some of them mean it.
I love travelling to America and I’ve been lucky enough to visit a ton of cities. Seattle is definitely my favourite city but my most memorable experience is a visit to New York in November 2012. I was Fundraising Manager for Mencap Northern Ireland at the time and had taken out a team of 20 to run the famous New York Marathon.
We arrived just days after the super storm Sandy had hit the city and within 12 hours of arriving, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the marathon had been cancelled. While understandable, I had 20 people who had put their heart and soul into training and fundraising. They were devastated. However, they pulled together and volunteered to help those who had been affected by the storm and made the most of the trip before running the London Marathon six months later. A real bond was created on that trip and although a stressful work situation for me, a trip I’ll never forget.
There are few things more exciting than hopping on a plane and crossing the Atlantic Ocean to land of the free and the home of the Trump.
It’s hard to beat New York for a city break but my favourite place in the US is our namesake town, Hollywood. I’ve always wanted to go to Los Angeles and see the state that gave us Guns N’ Roses, Marilyn Monroe and The Kardashians. To see the Hollywood Sign, The Viper Room and Michael Jackson’s house was an absolute dream come true. I know Hollywood itself is a bit seedy but definitely a bucket list experience for me to do the Walk of Fame and visit the Forever Cemetery.