July 28, 2007 GMT
USA - The Rocky Mountains

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 it’s 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 you’ll have to pay inside the station before pumping. Other times you’ll 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 it’s all in gallons. Why can’t these bloody Americans adapt to the EU standards like everybody else?

Answer: Because this is the land of freedom
Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite authors, spent his last years in the skiing village of Ketchum in Idaho. I was hoping for the Hemingway experience and went for his home, but the garden was off limits and the house completely hidden behind blooming trees. Thus I decided to be content with a night at the Sun Valley Lodge where Hemingway completed For Whom the Bell Tolls. But all rooms were occupied. With a growing frustration I opted for his favorite restaurant Christiania where he ate his last meal. But again, the door was shut and it would not open before late. Now, at that point I felt like chewing on a very expensive custom-made silver-plated Boss shotgun cal. 12 with a barrel so long that I’d had to pull the trigger with my toe. However in absence of such device I decided to wait. So I did, and the reward was great. That night I went to bed with a New York Strip Steak, a Cesar salad, and a bottle of Bordeaux in my stomach. It was spectacular, probably the best Hemingway experience I could ask for, and I bet I farted a lot in my sleep. Now I just have to wait for Graham Greene to die and I’ll have my next dining destination.
Wait a minute… Graham Greene IS dead. Yohoo, I’m going to Switzerland.
The graveyard where a Nobel Prize winner wannabe with a writers block spent last night
In the Montana countryside I came by a sign saying Rodeo Tonight. I pitched my tent right there and at sundown the show was on. First everybody had to stand up. A cowgirl rode around in the arena with a large and seemingly heavy stars and stripes while another girl sang the national anthem with a voice like a horse on helium, and she sang so slow that by the end of it the girl with the flag was so exhausted that she probably was shot in mercy in her campervan. Then it was a few cowboy stunts before the speaker told all veterans of the armed forces to stand up and receive acclaim for making it possible for the rest of us to enjoy this wonderful evening in freedom. Between the rope tricks and the bull riding the appraisal of the nation reached religious proportions, with the speaker constantly reminding the crowd – perhaps two hundred people or so - that they lived in the greatest nation in the world. I was tempted to point out to somebody that it is in fact a small country in Northern Europe that is, according to the UN, the best country to live in, and that it has been ranked so for seven years now. But I had a feeling that nobody there would say: “Oh thanks for straighten that out. Hey everybody, we’re not the best after all. This guy (pointing at me) can tell you all about it. Yes, this guy…”
I body would never be found.
Why isn’t it called horsesboy? I’ve never seen a cowboy ride a cow
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is just what the ad says - spectacular. It is the home of half of the world’s geysers, and since I’d never seen one I opted for the most reliable one, Old Faithful, which every hour and a half spews 30 000 liters of water more that 50 meters up in the air. Nice! Then everybody rushed to their vehicles to be first out of the parking lot. You see, in Europe the car is pulling the campervan, but in the US the campervan is pulling the car. They are called RV’s (Recreational Vehicles), and their purpose is for the owner to be able to watch satellite TV on different locations all over the country. They are kinda slow and difficult to bypass on zigzag roads. But only if you drive a car…
A few hours later; I was alone in my lane and came in a fine angle through a curve and jumped on the brakes. Straight ahead was something large, wooly and unhappy cornered by thick forest to the left, a canyon to the right, and a line of cars blocking the opposite direction. It was something I’d never seen before. I just knew it meant trouble. The animal had a massive forehead wide as the steering bar on my motorcycle. Even worse, it came straight at me.
I have to add that somebody, earlier the same day, told me that every year a number of people are run down and killed by buffalos, thus adding some excitement to the moment. But just before it hammered into my headlight it tilted slightly to my left, and passed me so close that I could have touched it. Phew… One car driver leaned out her window and shouted: “You lucky son of a bitch.”
With a sudden desire to leave the woods I drove over the rockiest of the Rocky Mountains with a headache. I didn’t expect it, but the abrupt ascent to approx. 3000 meters above sea level gave me some minor altitude sickness. At days end I descended on the other side with a low, orange sun to my left. It all became flat again, and soon there were industrial towns, neon lit petrol stations and a busy freeway where the drivers of colossal Mack trucks had just started their night shift. It was the end of the West; the beginning of the middle, and the odd experiences was queuing up.
The Rockies at 10.000 feet

Posted by Erik Saue at July 28, 2007 07:39 AM GMT

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