Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Oregon trail

I'm getting excited. I've finally managed to organise some flights and a car so I can start to think about the detail.

Another one of my friends is about to commit themselves to a life with a preferred side of the bed. He's marrying a Canadian girl in Toronto in August. I'd said all along that I wanted to be there, which I do, but I always had an inkling that it would provide a springboard for a bit of an adventure.

Now here's the odd thing, I've never been a fan of the US of A, in fact I've been a bit derogatory at times (this probably isn't going to win me any votes on the other side of the pond but....let me explain). Life there seems so easy, for the people who it's easy for, but on the outskirts of every wealthy 'burb, every evidence of the good life...there's an expanse of used car sales lots, greasy eateries and what appear to be shanty towns. There just seems to be such a huge gulf between the haves and the have nots. Variously I've been confused and upset by: people with far more money than taste, people who seem to have been taken on one side in school and given lessons in conversation - but have actually learnt whole conversations verbatim (or at least their side of one, so it doesn't matter what you say, their next line will be the same anyway), those who can make "have a nice day" sound like a threat, the dichotomy between truly immense people and their incredibly health conscious counterparts (so it's possible to order a side portion in a restaurant that would feed a family for a week, and then be crucified in the street for asking for an ashtray). We think because we share a language, that things are the same, but they're not, it is a shock to the system for the average Brit to discover that the USA is actually a foreign country.

Having said all of that, then for me at least, the States exert a strange magnetism. I've caught a fish in Pike Street market in Seattle, walked the Appalachian trail through Vermont, had a Hurricane on Bourbon Street, lobster in Kennebunk and fallen down a rather big hole (while just a little drunk) in Houston.

So I have a plan. It's a fairly rudimentary one, which is to be there to celebrate my friends nuptials, and leave shortly after driving down through the great lakes, point the car in a Westerly direction and head for the sea. I want to make my way through the northern states, away from the main roads, through Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and eventually Oregon. I have no idea why really except that the names seem so evocative. I'll be taking my "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance", and some essential Jack Kerouac. I'll be taking a tent too, so that I can lie there in the dark and worry about bears, and possibly the children of the corn (do they come out at night?).


Fatfigure said...

Just thought I would share this with you mate. It's about the differance between the two "English" languages. Bill my friend from the USA once said to me "The Americans took a perfectly great language and f*%ked it up!"

Amy said...

ah, well, from this American, I agree. I have been to England for about a month and enjoyed it (other than the "blasted rain") immensely. At least my sense of humor was more appreciated.

You have seen more of my own country than I. I am so suddenly ashamed.