Thursday, 3 June 2010

IT’S A LONG ROAD

So finally back in the UK after a month on American Adventure 3.

How was it?

Every trip I have done has been different not only because I have been mainly visiting different parts of this vast country but also because of the original expectations.

It was all new and unknown on AA1

AA2 the route wasn't as scenic and I began to be aware of a number I didn't like about the U.S.

I have often said that I really like America and Americans but that doesn't make me want to be one. Nor do I want to up sticks and live there.

There is a lot we can learn from their "can do" attitude. We seem to have a "doubt we can do that and if we do try it it will probably fail and it won't be my fault" attitude which as a Brit can't be a mite galling.

On AA2 the recession was just starting to bite and suddenly America began to realise that it wasn't invincible. I am not a politician but it struck me at the time that the paranoia level was going through the roof. Particularly in the Mid West which can be a little unsophisticated in its view of the world: "If you ain't from here you must be an enemy." Also the rather curious view of "freedom and free speech" that they have.

In the Midwest I got the distinct impression from the Pro-Life and the Creationist billboards that you could have your say providing it was exactly what everyone else said.

Since AA2 for instance when I heard a Right wing talk show host refer to a Dr Tiller who was carrying on a perfectly legitimate practice as an abortionist. As "Tiller the Killer". (I am not siding with anyone here as far as the abortion debate is concerned however.)

The host was nothing if not inflammatory. Since AA2 someone has shot and killed Tiller as he was leaving Church one Sunday morning.

My point being. Better not debate with people who have guns.

This time as a casual observer I found a country still reeling from recession but with a few green shoots. A new President and sense of renewed hope. Although to look at the TV and listen to the radio talk show hosts it would appear that Obama was the worst thing to happen in the history of the world, a terrorist and he was probably going to slaughter the first born.

On this occasion as with AA2 I wasn't able to nab a Ford Mustang as a hire car instead I had to settle for a Chrysler Sebring once more. Practical. Underpowered. Reliable and dull. I think Jeremy Clarkson described it as one of the worst cars ever. It is an ideal hire car although with the top down there is precious little room in the boot so once the Dark Lady arrived in Orlando with her "small" bag. My case had to sit on the back seat. The rationale being that anyone who leaned in a nicked a bag full of dirty washing deserved all that they got.

The driving was pretty spectacular for the first week or two after setting off from Seattle and heading through Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota. It gave way to miles of plain and then once I started to get down into Texas and attempting to skirt round large areas of population it was fast moving crowded interstate driving. Still it got the job done. Progress was always swift although not always enjoyable as you need eyes in the back of your head as people undertake and overtake and if they could would probably drive over your car to get in front.

An added bonus this time and one that made the final few days the best and also the speediest was the arrival of the Dark Lady in Orlando for the final 9 days up to New York via Nashville. Where I surprised her with Deirks Bentley tickets for the Ryman Auditorium.
Now to the statistics. Seattle to Key West Florida and then up to New York turned out to be the longest trip yet adding another thousand miles to the AA2 total:

7690 Miles in total.

This used $728.57 in petrol. Fuel is more expensive than on previous trips and the exchange rate is nowhere near as favourable.

AA1 it hovered around $2-£1. This time it was around $1.50-£1 sometimes dipping as low as $1.30. So I reckon my fuel costs for the month worked out at around £485. Which compared with the UK is still modest.

How many States did I pass through this time?

Washington
Montana
Wyoming
South Dakota
Nebraska
Kansas
Oklahoma
Texas
Louisiana
Mississippi
Alabama
Florida
Georgia
Tennessee
North Carolina
Virginia
Maryland
Pennsylvania
New Jersey
New York

20 States as far as I am aware although I may have dipped into a couple of others due to getting lost from time to time.

I had a Sat Nav with me this time which made things easier although occasionally when I programmed it incorrectly it made things far far worse. It was not infallible and was very slow which caused me to go wrong on a few occasions due to its "thinking time".

As far as technology was concerned. Once my computer problems were sorted things worked pretty well. The rule of thumb I found was that the very cheapest accommodation did have internet connections although sometimes rather weak ones so I had to stand outside the office in the middle of the nights trying to send a blog. Medium price accommodation was very good and the worst culprits were the three occasions I booked into upmarket places. There I found that A) The Internet was not free. B) On two out of the three occasions it didn't work.

This time as well as blogging I decided to Tweet as well via Twitter which was fun to do but was always aware that the cheapest way to do it would be via my computer as texting on a British Mobile is horrendously expensive. I also took a portable recorder with me to upload stuff onto "Audio Boo" which is in some way allied to Twitter I think. This worked although you do need a good internet connection as it can take an age to upload stuff. I sat furiously in the Lobby of a hotel in New Orleans where the in room Wi-Fi had resolutely failed to work watching a short sound clip upload for half an hour and just as it nearly got there the link failed.

I enjoyed "Booing" however it has the hallmarks of being a bit of a tyranny if you are on holiday thinking about potential sound clips and interviews to do. I will carry on doing it though if something presents itself that sounds fun or interesting.

Now to the songs featured in each day’s blog. America is a country held together by music. Which to me is why it makes for such a romantic destination? Everywhere you drive you have heard it mentioned in a song.

"Tears Fell like Rain” from “Aint that a shame” Fats Domino

"Tossed Salad and Scrambled eggs” Lyrics from the theme tune to "Frasier" which is set in Seattle

"Oh Montana give this child a home” from the song Wild Montana Skies. John Denver

“Smoke Smoke Smoke that Cigarette”. Tex Williams

“But Pleeease don’t help that bear” The Preacher and the Bear. Phil Harris

“Back in the saddle again” Gene Autry

“Ample parking day or night. People spouting Howdy Neighbour” Theme to “South Park”

“Rollin’ like a freight train” from “Hard Drivin’ Man.” By Sailcat

“Smalltown boy” Bronski Beat

“Bend those strings til the Hank comes out”. Crazy Town by Jason Aldean

“Miles and Miles of Texas” Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys

“Can we go to the Tastee Freez or maybe the Dairy Queen” “The Dreaded Spoon " Ricky Scaggs and Bruce Hornsby.

“Le Bon temps rouler” T Bone Burnett

“Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie” “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” Hank Williams

“Singing Margharitaville and minding my own” “Some Beach” Blake Shelton

“Boom Boom Out went the lights” Slight artistic licence here. “Boom Boom out go the lights” Little Walter

“Eased on down to the key” “Just another day in paradise” Bertie Higgins

“Its five o’clock somewhere” Alan Jackson

“Deres where de old folks stay” “Swannee River” Composed by Stephen Foster

“On the Beach” Cliff Richard

“Rainy Night in Georgia” Tony Joe White

“Lighting up the old Nashville scene” “Nashville Scene” Hank Williams Jr

“Stranded at the drive in” From “Grease”

“On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine” Laurel and Hardy from “Way out West”

“Greetings from Asbury Park” Bruce Springsteen

“Angels Sing in New York City” Modern Talking

“It’s a long road” Dan Hill



That is it for American Adventure 3. I hope you enjoyed reading about it. Now have to think where to go next!

8 comments:

  1. Alex
    Very many thanks for a compelling and instructive narrative. I'm sure I wasn't the only one hanging on your every word. An interesting summary and I think I agree in every respect; I know many of those places you visited South of the Mason Dixon line, particularly TX & TN, so it was revealing to hear your views on elsewhere in that vast country. Delighted that DL was able to accompany you some of the time, and to see the venerable Ryman (wonderful place!) Cheers again and think seriously about sticking those trips into a book? I'd buy it. Can't make the shoe at 2 am, but run IPlayer each morning instead, have a good one Best ~ CW

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  2. Alex
    Thank you for letting us share every step of your holiday. I feel I was there with you. Your ability to describe the trip is a great gift.
    Glad you are back on the radio now though. I like to eat my branflakes at 4.30 listening before I go to work!!

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  3. Hi Alex I also would like to thankyou for shareing your holiday with us you are a very unique DJ I have never heard of any other presenter sharing there holiday like you have.
    by reading your bloggs I was able to go to so many states It is nice to have you back on the radio I am looking forword to your banter with Jannis on Monday love the shoe

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  4. I agree with all the comments above - you are a "one-off" Alex, loved all your journeys and comments (typing in the wrong sat nav destination and going 400 miles wrong was classic!!) but am sooooooo glad you are back live; 2am wasn't the same without you.

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  5. Hugely enjoyable blog Dark Lord. Love the shoe!!

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  6. Wow! a mammoth reading session (ripped about 40 CD's at the same time).

    An enjoyable read though. Nice to see that "he" can string words together in a coherent fashion and not just rely on input from "us lot" ;-P

    Shove the loe (when I get the chance).....

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  7. Alex,
    Great recount, very human..I love the fact that you admit to looking for value on holiday like the rest of us have to.
    Great show, listen via iplayer every day at my office in Switerland and listening live now in Minnesota.
    From a fellow 'Walsallonian'
    Cheers,
    Andy

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