Sunday, 19 April 2009

Freedom Road: Bringing Class To America One Wendy's Bathroom At A Time

Day Six - Las Vegas & Salt Lake City

After getting home hammered at stupid o'clock and previously not having much sleep because of jet lag and the nerd convention attendees in the room next door telling each other blatant lies about their sexcapades in extremely graphic detail the night before [all I am saying is that probably less than 1% of the women they were talking about were not inflatable], we were again woken by housekeeping at midday.

Check out was 11am.

We copped out by just putting our door key in the postbox thing. I kept one and it is covered in strippers from Fantasy "the Strip's most seductive topless show". The real-to-fake-boob ratio is probably 40:60. And the potential Shemale factor is 2 out of 10.

The morning after, when I saw these stamps from the bar, my intial thought was 'Oh fuck. We didn't get tattoos did we?'

The hangover was immense. I felt pretty bad - the only reason I wasn't feeling as bad as I should have been was because I was probably still too drunk to be fully hungover. We had a 7 hour drive to get to Salt Lake City ahead of us. It was not going to be pretty.

Home is never far away. Even in Arizona.

We set off and I proceeded to ask the moron question for the day - 'Why are all the flags at half mast? What day is it?' It was September 11th. That's why, jackass. Incidentally, does any country in the world enjoy a flag as much as America? They are everywhere. Patriotism is most un-English so maybe that's why I don't get it.

Jo was feeling way more hungover than I was so we pulled over at a Wendy's somewhere in Bumfuck, Arizona [we would also end up in Bumfuck, South Dakota with some more fast food fun]. Now Jo loves a JBC from Wendy's. I, being a herbivore, was reduced to eating something made of potato and deep fried. Again.

Telling myself that fries and ketchup could technically be counted as healthy for being essentially derived from potato and tomato, was not exactly a resounding success. In my travel diary, I have written: "Feel like I am going to die from lack of real food". And this is only on day six. To think that I always object when my mother accuses me of being dramatic. How very dare she!

Anyway, we were in Wendy's. Jo couldn't eat the JBC because she felt sick. The next minute she is in the bathroom trying to make herself sick so she will 'feel better'. In my opinion, Americans seem to have the impression that British people are reserved and dare I say, a bit posh. Myself and Jo were single handedly dispelling this myth, one Wendy's bathroom at a time.

Then something monumental happened. In the Wendy's car park. I got behind the wheel of a car. For the first time in 7 years. I passed my driving test when I was 18, and had never driven since. Until September 11th 2008. Getting onto the I-Whatever was pretty difficult as I had to remember to drive on the other side of the road, had to remember that I was the one in control of the car and had to remember not to kill anyone. The triple threat.

Once I was actually on the freeway, or whatever it technically was, I had to overtake another car pretty soon. I was a bit nervous about doing this. I sucked it up though and did it. Because I have no concept of distance - the reason why I don't so much park the car, as abandon it - I ended up pulling back in front of the other car a bit too soon. But nobody died.

A feature of my driving throughout the trip was my tendency to really favour the left hand side of the road. Probably because in England we drive on the left. Many a conversation sounded like this:

Me: [Panicked voice] Oh my God. Jo! What's that noise?!

Jo: You're driving on the hard shoulder again.

Me: Oh, thank Christ.

[Does nothing to adjust the position of the car]

All I can say is, thank Allah that Chad the Volvo was an automatic. No way could I have driven if I had to contend with changing gears or stalling the car every 2.5 metres. It felt like I was driving a golf cart. Admittedly, a sophisticated Swedish golf cart with full leather interior, climate control and 4 beverage holders, but a golf cart none the less. The wonderful invention that is cruise control, made things a lot easier too. My driving instructor did not call me Leadfoot for no reason. And on quiet stretches of road you could play the 'Look! No Hands, No Feet!' driving game.

I think my driving was a cause for concern for Jo. Though I sometimes couldn't hear what she was saying because of all the screaming and crying. I don't think my driving really improved on the trip. The danger factor certainly never lessened.

The long and winding road through Utah

One of the greatest things about America is the size and variety of the roadkill. You just do not get roadkill on any decent scale in GB. Skunk was amazing. You would not see anything in the road, but then the car would suddenly stink for about 5 minutes. The roadkill that we saw included many, many deer, rabbits, birds, a groundhog, hundreds of skunks, a wild turkey and a dog near Fresno :(

Some of the deer were literally still whole but had a perfect tyre track running through the middle of them and required a change of lanes because they would have seriously damaged Chad's good Volvo self. Pennsylvania was a real disappointment in terms of roadkill. We had heard that it was the top roadkill state and expected great deer-related things. It did not deliver. Spot-The-Roadkill was a good way of passing the time whilst in the car.

When we got to Salt Lake and checked into a generic chain motel place, we were in a new time zone - the excellent sounding Mountain Time. Jo was informed by her friend that Mormon's don't like the idea of caffeine, so there are hardly any decent coffee places in Salt Lake. Getting a driving licence also used to require 2 character references from people saying that you were a 'good' person. Living in Salt Lake City would probably make me feel like a cult member.

Early to bed, we needed to be up to get to Yellowstone the next day. Old Faithful here we come ...

1 comment:

ali said...

What you have to do when you drive on the shoulder is do the "Jaws" theme song --

Back and forth from the shoulder to the rode -- you know? Like -- Daaaaa, da, daaaaa da, daa da, daa da

Really -- you've got to try it sometime... :)