He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.


Having consoled myself with the fact that I'm probably unable to afford Japan this year, I figured I'd try and look at some suitable alternatives - namely a similar style of holiday (i.e. bumbling around a large-ish country for a few weeks), but hopefully in a way that creates less of a dent on my wallet. I settled on a ticket to the US. Just the air-travel and travel-pass aspects of it alone work out to be about half the price of their Japanese equivalents.

The US has always been a curiosity to me. I wouldn't exactly be what you call an American-lover, but I just want to go and see what things are like. Yes, I'm US-curious. With a country of such size, I figure that you've got a whole pile of diversity there. Just a quick look on my favourite piece of world-browsing software informs me that there's about a 15 degree temperature difference alone between the north and the south - and this is before we even get to talk about architecture, people, culture or food. Yep, there's got to be something there to keep me interested.

So, I've booked myself a flight. I'll fly into Washington DC (east coast) and come home from Dallas (down south, Texas) two weeks later. In a straight line, it's about 1,300 miles, but you didn't seriously expect me to go in a straight line, did you?

Wiggly: The route above (purple line) is 1,328 miles. My route will be a bit longer.

When I started planning and reading up, this was my initial list of stuff I wanted to do whilst away.

1) Find an Amish community in Ohio. (Hey, Diary Of The Dead did something good).
2) Go to a national-park in Arkansas.
3) Have pancakes for breakfast.
4) Go on a Greyhound bus.
5) Do the touristy thing on Capitol Hill, Washington.
6) Go into a bar in Tennessee and hear some country-music. (I hate country music, but it's got to be done)
7) Visit a town/city on the south-east coast and go to the beach.
8) Drive down one of those very long roads that seem to disappear into the distance, just like in photos.

..and no doubt I shall think of more.

As to how I'm going to go across the country, well, I've got three options - take the train, use the Greyhound network or hire a car. To be honest, the price isn't much different between the three methods, so I've decided on the car - this will allow me some more flexibility, freedom and the ability to do some of the things on the above list. The rail network doesn't get much in the way of glowing recommendations (it seems that freight takes priority over passenger traffic in most cases and the infrastructure is poor) and I do appear to limiting myself quite a bit by buying a Greyhound pass. Nope, in this case it has to be driven.

I'm looking forward to the whole thing and will be away for the last week of April and the first week of May. In the meantime, if you've got any tips on driving in the US, or things you consider to be quintessential activities that you should do whilst away, I'd be happy to hear 'em.

Footnote: Shit - I bought a B.A. ticket from Heathrow. Was this such a good idea?

Update (3/4): Some more stuff for the list (thanks for the suggestions)

9) Visit an Indian/Native-American reservation.
10) Drive an old Ford-Mustang.
11) Visit Graceland in Memphis.
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