Ah, America. I love America, they do so many things so very well. Nothing exists across the pond without it being fettled and honed until it can’t really get any better. Take the English-style pub. They could copy the idea wholesale and nobody would complain – but no, they make it better. So we get real ales and we get fish and chips and dry roasted peanuts. But we also get room to move, we get food that’s reliably and consistently excellent, and we get the piece de resistance – a waitress who not only brings you all your drinks, but actually keeps an eye on your fluid levels and comes and asks you if you want another one as you’re getting to the bottom of the glass! And you don’t have to pay until you leave! It makes me want to cry with happiness, it really does. And I don’t begrudge having to tip everybody when the service is like that.
But there’s one thing Americans can’t do. You know what it is, it’s what we always bang on about hear at Team Moo-Moo. Cars. I know, Americans will largely disagree with this, but la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you, American cars are rubbish, so there. They’re too big, they’re too thirsty, they’re not quick enough, but most importantly, the suspension is made of flubber. Corner at anything approaching cheerfulness and you feel your insides slop around like a walrus on a waltzer. Even European cars behave like that over there, because they destroy the suspension settings for the local market. You see, it won’t sell if it handles well. You need your 72oz slurpy to be able to sit in the mug-holder without dribbling over your shotgun in the footwell. Bleurgh.
So I generally don’t drive much Stateside. I’ve done it, I’ve sampled a variety of roadgoing yank-yachts, I’ve written my name in a car park with a Chevy Corsica, but I’ve yet to find a septic tank that offered any kind of fun whatsoever. I drove a Viper once. Oh my god, what a laughably atrocious tractor-fart that was! My enduring memory of that drive was turning into a tight left at a ridiculously slow speed and having enough time as it understeered like a pilchard to gape open-mouthed at the chap showing me the ropes and have him apologetically shrug in a way that could only mean, “yeah, I know, it does that. Sorry.”
So I don’t have any driving stories to relate about my recent trip west. So here are some photos of the various calamities that tickled my interest while I was there.
Typically ludicrously shiny “mini-van” in Ohio (God only knows what a full sized van looks like)
Transport from the Vegas airport, which bizarrely works out cheaper than a cab if you have a reasonably large group.
Limo dash … that lever thingy is your gear selector. No idea why they do that.
“The Strip” with lots of little air-conditioned land-boats.
Typical trucks parked in regular-sized parking spaces in Ohio. That’s one thing that’s great about US driving (outside cities anyway) – the car parks are enormous and never fill up, no matter how many cruise liners are parked in them.
Phil’s Jetta that did most of my ferrying around. Phil is rare amongst Americans in that he drives a manual (a.k.a. “stick shift”). Most of our transatlantic cousins don’t know how to do that. Seriously.
I had the car for a day. It felt like being a learner again. Everything was on the wrong side and the traffic laws are different, and I didn’t know where I was going, so I had to concentrate on every last detail. Just as well there aren’t any bends or I’d’ve been doomed.
Comically big truck parked with no sense of irony in the middle of Columbus.
I must stop taking photos of big trucks. They’re everywhere, I’ll run the camera’s battery down. This one’s in Westerville, by the Amish shop (!)
Beer truck! Well, a Miller truck. But they still call it a beer truck.
Fire truck! I’d never considered before why we call them fire “engines”. Doesn’t make sense. We’re not talking about the engine. Fire truck is better.
Friendly fire-fighter showing me around. Americans are so chummy, I love it
This triggered a pang of nostalgia for all those Dukes of Hazzard type programmes where everyone was always dashing to the County Line so the rozzers couldn’t nail them. Ah, simpler times.
You don’t need a front registration number (“license plate”) but we had one. Inside the car.
So on the whole I’ve decided I like being driven around America more than I like driving it. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see the Pacific Coast Highway … until I remember it’s a 45 limit covered in rotund, gun-toting, power-crazed Napoleons who’ll put you in jail if you fart too loud. And for god’s sake don’t let on if you’re not religious. They’re a bit backward about that kind of thing.
I love it