Whyalla is a fascinating city. It has some hidden jems behind its industrial facade, but most noteworthy you can say its name while throwing up. Try to do the same with e.g. Alice Springs... Thatís right, you canít. In fact, whatever you say while throwing up it will sound like Whyalla, something that can be useful if taking a taxi home late at night (or a problem if you really want to go to Alice Springs). Anyway, I'm happy that my good mate Steven was home. I met him and his wife Anna Marie in Iran, then Pakistan (see photo in the Pakistan posting) before they gave their trusty Beemer the full throttle to Oz. Now I opted for a few days vacation and perhaps a late night taxi or two, but Steven had a different plan.
I was thrown onto dry land at the east end of the Great Ocean Disappointment with a diluted faith in ever finding the one thing in Oz that would surprise the hell out of me. After all there was nothing left but the dreary coastal highway to Sydney. Thatís when it happened; the Oh-Iím-bored-center in my brain made a coup d'ťtat of my body, and I helplessly watched myself do a left turn in a crossing with no signpost. The road went up in the Snowy Mountains, and after two days and a very cold night I arrived in a place so seldom seen that it is called just that - Seldom Seen.
Ah, United States of America Ė finally I would meet the finest people on the face of the Earth. Indeed, after watching the average American on Ricky Lake Show I had no doubt that their beauty and intellectual capacity would take my breath away.
OK, youíve already figured out that I brought with me some of that silly European prejudice. Let me say right now itís BS. America is a wonderful surprise. The custom clearance of Balto was hassle-free with friendly officers. They didnít even bother to check my stuff. The third party insurance was easy too. Fifteen minutes on progressive.com and we were ready to go. But where? The US has the unpractical shape of a roadkill. Whatever route you choose youíll miss out on many things.
I was happy to leave the Californian fuel pumps. For some reason they have a kind of foreskin which you have to pull back to get the pump going, and then itís either full ejection or none. In Oregon these problems were over, but I soon discovered that there always has to be another problem. Sometimes the pumps do not work because youíll have to pay inside the station before pumping. Other times youíll have to lift or turn a handle or push a secret button to get some action. To complicate things the octane numbers are different in the US. E.g. the highest octane is 91, but in reality it is not, and sometimes you get 10% ethanol, and you have no idea how much you fill of what because itís all in gallons. Why canít these bloody Americans adapt to the EU standards like everybody else?
Being an Arctic citizen on a motorcycle in South Dakota has its disadvantages. Temperatures rose to a record high 107 Fahrenheit; or 42 Celsius if you like. I felt like a polar bear in a zoo in Cairo. In Rapid City I found relief in an aircon motel with a fellow biker from Canada, but eventually I had to move on. It was plain awful because the breeze when driving was warmer than me thus heating me up instead of cooling me down. And if that wasnít bad enough - Americans everywhere gave me a really warm welcome.
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- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
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