May 26, 2007 GMT
Dead White Males

Been a long way this week.

Left Canada on Wednesday morning with the 11th pair of tyres and an oil change (thanks to SouthWest Motorrad in Kelowna, lovely people). Did battle with US Customs and Immigration. I was the first alien of the day so they had to reboot their computers. After much consultation they still can't give me temporary import paperwork for The Old Dear, so I'll have to do it by the seat of my pants to get her out. It all took an hour so was nearly like a proper border crossing.

Got snowed and hailed on in Montana, but the scenery was spectacular. I missed Idaho 'cos I blinked. Wyoming was nicer weather (not much rain and not quite as cold), completed with a Close Encounter of the Umpteenth Kind. Saw four Dead White Males in South Dakota. And now I'm in Iowa. That's only 1630 miles in the last four days, but the shoulders get to me. Only one time zone to go to Florida and the shuttle launch on June 8th. Memo to self: ring Stan to check that my ticket's arrived.

"That's a British numberplate."
"Well spotted."
Chap from Birmingham, goldsmith, living in Kelowna (BC), with jewellery shop. Very interested in my Peshawar/Singapore earrings.

"Do you know about Horizons Unlimited?"
"See the back of my helmet."
Chap hosting HU meet in Canada later this year at Toad Rock, encountered at a petrol station in Kaslo.

All the inland ferries in Canada are free - the one from Kootenay Bay to Balfour is five miles and half an hour, and the longest free one in the world, apparently. The coffee's good, too.

Oh, and I had a great couple of days with Don and Pauline, and Dana (their daughter) and Alan and sprogs, at Kootenay Lake in the Rockies in BC. Don and Pauline live 200 yards from me in Thatcham, are also BMW owners, and are in the process of emigrating to Canada. Sensible people. I favour Argentina myself; the weather and wine's better.

What the USA does really well:
- Beds (fantastic)
- Road signs (generally superb)
- Abstruse licensing laws (more impenetrable than South American one-way systems)
- Patriotism (although gets a little wearing at times)
- Getting really, really close to interesting stuff without having to leave your vehicle (saves time if you're on a tight schedule and wetness if it's pissing, but I could do without the obligatory McDonald's drive-thru on the way)
- Strange nomenclature (e.g. our biscuit is their cookie; their biscuit is our scone; gas may be petrol or it may be propane, or both, who knows)

They're up in arms about the sky-high price of fuel (again, still) but it's only around 40p a litre ($3/USgal) which is the global average in my experience. They regard 30mpUSg (=UK 36mpg) as really good consumption. They'll get the plot in the end, no doubt.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at May 26, 2007 07:04 PM GMT

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