Sunday, 12 August 2007


On Friday and Saturday I had my first experience of driving in USA. On Friday I drove a couple of mules (this is a typo that should say miles but I like the concept of having driven some mules somewhere. On a different point mules are larger than I thought) along the backroads and apart from one junction was fine about being on the wrong side. I also did about 200 miles along the Interstates which is easy to do. If you remember that the driver is supposed to be in the middle then I was fine. Both cars were automatic so changing gear was not an issue although having the mirrors the opposite way around means that I used my wing mirror more than the central mirror as we first look was to my left. The Interstates are generally very, very straight and this would make the Romans very proud. In England the roads tend to wind around hills and go for the low point between them but in the US this does not happen and it leads to a kind of rolling up and down type of driving especially on the highways. Sarah's car drives well and helps debunk some of the myths about cars in the US. Firstly larger cars are needed especially when places are so far apart (Sedalia is about an hour and half away from the largest city in the state if you travel at 70 mph). Secondly because the semis (juggernauts) have three axles on the cab and not two they have a wider turning circle which leads to less and far more gentle curves so American cars don't handle tight corners well but they rarely have to. This means that the suspensions can be softer and body roll is less important. Thirdly the construction of some of the highways and interstates is using large slabs about 30 feet long. There is a small gap in between the slabs so you need a softer suspension compared to a continuous tarmac (asphalt) roads.

One of the most obvious things especially when the State Fair is in town is the number of pickup trucks which come in every shape and size. It took me a while to figure out what there wasn't there and that was white vans. This also leads to a loss of a whole socio-economic group the white van man as the Sun newspaper points out winning the vote of White Van Man is key to winning the general election and being able to form the government.

The only issues that I have are that indicators can be red and on the back of cars at night they don't stand out and junctions are generally labelled well when you get to them and are easy to use of you know where you are going but not so well labelled as you approach multi lane junctions (intersections) that you are unfamiliar with.

Currently in Nashville, Tennessee and flying to New York tomorrow. I still can't believe Sarah let me talk her in to some of these journeys. I knew that places were far apart but I was naive in just how far apart they were. When I suggested going to a baseball game I did not realise there was also a total of three hours of driving involved. Going to Nashville also was further away than I thought. Yesterday we drove for about 500 miles and although we saw no traffic jams it still took 9 hours. If someone was coming to visit me and suggested a 9 hour drive for a two day visit I would kindly point out it was a 9 hour drive away and that there were a lot of other places to visit.

Again have managed to secure a lovely hotel with pool for a cheap price. I advise you to use expedia to book hotel rooms as they just keep producing top deals.

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