April 13, 2007 GMT

I managed the escape to Canada: 1200 miles in three days from Florida, and no snow; just loads of rain and bloody cold. But at least there was some scenery to look at once I entered the Carolinas and Virginias. Got a bit delayed by a magical mystery tour in Ohio (thanks Garmin) which was picturesque but chugging along slipping the clutch in first gear behind an Amish horse-and-buggy with double yellow no-overtaking lines for several miles when busting for a pee and nowhere to stop isn't really my idea of a nice ride in the country.

True to form, there was absolutely no immigration/customs bit in Detroit, so I paid the toll to cross the bridge to the Canadian, organised (at least as much as Mexico who are very very organised), friendly side, where the nice immigration man even took my green card and put it on a pile to be sent back to the US (they get fierce if they don't get it back and can refuse you re-entry).

The joke is that no-one on the US side checked my passport, so in fact as long as I was leaving by a land border such as this I could have overstayed as long as I wanted instead of worrying about getting out by Monday and risking deportation and refusal of re-entry (easy to lose the green card thingy). And judging by what I saw at the US side of the bridge, it'd be a challenge getting yourself and your bike stamped into the US. The whole system is complete bedsocks.

So that's 62,633 riding miles, 37 countries, 6 continents, 2 years 227 days. And I'm not even fifty-two-and-a-half yet. What on earth am I going to do when I grow up? And before anyone else gets in there, _IF_ I grow up. Nah nah nah-nah nah.

Only in America:
Do you buy booze and cigs at the drugstore/pharmacy.
Could there be a chain of fast-food joints called Fatburger.
Is it impossible to walk 200 yards from your motel to the nearest shop except on the road because they don't have pavements (sidewalks).
Are most of the TV ads for all-you-can-eat diets and heart drugs (and pacemakers).
Do gas stations advertise the fact that they have diesel (it's rarer than LPG in Europe except for the dump pumps for trucks which, clearly, are a bit, well, robust, for a car. Not that Americans have cars, of course. They all have these enormous SUV things. They need them. They have to shop at Wal-Mart.)
Is 24mpg (30mpg Imperial) regarded as excellent.
Does the self-scan checkout have Spanish as the default language (obviously excepting in Spain and Latin America). (Mind you, I seem to remember English being the default there once or twice.)
Are motels located miles from anywhere to eat or drink (and no taxis or buses either) because EVERYONE has a car, don't they, and doesn't mind driving another twenty miles down the road after a bloody long day? And that far from what passes for civilisation, what passes for a pizza won't get delivered.
Is the standard of driving so appalling (possibly excepting Iran where the lunacy is a bit off the scale but the country is otherwise totally harmless. Oh, and Bolivian and Equatorian bus drivers, who are raving lunatics).
Are the road signs so clear. Phew. Well, apart from most of Europe, obviously.
Is international TV news devoted exclusively to places there are US troops, so currently restricted to Eye-rak. Rest of the world? Is there one? Never heard of it.

And now I've been rude about them they probably won't let me back in. But despite their paranoia I have to say that's it's really, really easy to get into the US without papers or anything. Just do a land border. They haven't a clue; I had to go and find an immigration bod when I entered from Mexico and tell him what to do and which forms I needed to fill in. If I hadn't I'd have simply ridden through in the same queue as everyone else; you remember, the one where I asked the customs guy to sort paperwork for The Old Dear and who couldn't even get her number into the computer so gave up and waved me through. Same by sea. So long as you enter and leave by land or sea you can get away with anything. So much for the Department of Total Obscurity, oops, Homeland Security. Just don't try to fly there except in bare feet. Well, I think they allow socks.

The Canadians are really friendly, and you can taste the food because it's half the size of the US portions but the same price so you get extra flavour instead. Stan told me to be wary of the fierce Canucks, so I will, but hey, he's an Amurrican (his words, not mine, honest).

Been a long day. G'night

Posted by Cynthia Milton at April 13, 2007 03:04 PM GMT

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