Dom Joly: Man, what a trip
PUBLISHED: 10:07 18 March 2016
Wrestling alligators, smoking weed and 'illegal' border crossings… Dom certainly knows how to enjoy himself while taking a few weeks away from the Shire
I’m just back from a three-week road trip round America and Mexico. It’s been quite the ride. We kicked off in Las Vegas, a hollow, depressing place that makes you long to shower and scrub yourself clean. There was, however, one great discovery there – Hangover Heaven. This is a company that is run by proper doctors and is dedicated to curing your hangover through the use of IV drips, vitamin injections and oxygen. They even drive a special ambulance to your hotel room should the hangover be that bad. It didn’t come cheap but it worked. I hope to see one of these in Cheltenham soon. I shall be the first to call on them.
From Vegas I made my way through Lake Havasu City – the place that bought London Bridge. Contrary to urban myth, they did know which bridge they were buying and didn’t think that they were getting Tower Bridge. The story stems from a bad joke that the purchaser made at a press conference.
On we drove through Arizona to a ‘dude ranch’ where wimps like me are toughened up by being employed on a working cattle ranch. I did OK. In fact, I was quite proud of myself as I managed to bring in 17 stray cows all on my own (with a little help from a cow-dog called Jeff). Even better, I beat a young Texan at a shooting competition – those younger years in Beirut did not go wasted…
From Arizona I flew up to Colorado – one of the US’s more liberal states. In fact, it’s so liberal that recreational marijuana is legal there. The stench of weed hangs over Denver like a thick cloud. I went on a cannabis tour. A guy picked me up in a limo and we visited a grow factory, then a dispensary where I purchased some grass and then… I’m afraid, dear reader, that the next couple of days are a bit of a blur. The next thing I can remember, I was high up in the Rocky Mountains taking part in a quad bike race on a frozen lake. This quickly brought me back to my senses and I’m proud to say that I acquitted myself rather well.
On we drove to a town called Nederland that is home to a “frozen dead guy” – a man whose Norwegian grandson had cryogenically frozen but had then been deported. The town adopted the frozen old man – they have an annual festival to celebrate his existence. After a spooky night at the hotel that inspired The Shining, it was off to southern Colorado to… wrestle alligators. I’d assumed that these would be tiny – I ended up sitting on a 12-foot beast that very nearly took my arm off.
Next up was Oklahoma City where I was supposed to learn to ride bulls. I finally snapped and my producer and I ended up running away without any apologies, leaving the bull-riders a very negative view of British courage. Fortunately I had told them that we were French and so they did not look surprised. To compensate we visited my new favourite place – The American Pigeon Museum. It’s a vastly underrated attraction and, should you be at a loose end in Oklahoma City after bailing out of bull riding, well worth a visit.
Finally we left America and flew to Mexico City where we’d heard of a place that organises simulated illegal border crossing experiences. Three hours north of the capital, we found it. What followed was one of the most extraordinary nights of my life. The whole village took part in the production. Ten of us were lead by a ‘coyote’ in a balaclava as we ran and crawled through the pitch black desert as we were chased by police vehicles with spotlights, bandits firing real guns in the air and the constant sound of snarling dogs. We were on the move for four hours, up and down and in between deadly cacti and roaring rivers. We eventually made it across the ‘border’ only to be blindfolded and marched into a clearing where the locals had lit torches for every local immigrant killed in the real crossings.
It’s been a crazy three weeks. You can hear these adventures soon on ‘Dom Joly’s Big American Adventure’ on Audible.co.uk
Follow Dom on Twitter: @domjoly