Sunday, 24 June 2007

"My home is across the Smokey Mountains.." 358 Miles

Nearly 3 weeks in the US and I am beginning to get the scent of home. If I took the shortest route it is only about 700 miles to New York from here.

Another late night in Nashville where the only person who wasn't a musician appeared to be me. They do have some truly awful buskers though. Not sure why they bother with all the quality acts in the bars and theatres.

I was leaving the day the Flugfest took place; people build ludicrous flying machines and do a bit of a turn then hurl themselves into the river. Brighton does something similar, I think, from the end of the pier.

Like everything I have witnessed so far, there is a sponsor for this event. Most disconcerting for me, a man of the BBC, is the habit newsreaders have of stopping after the news headlines to deliver a lengthy sponsors message before the main body of the bulletin. I can't imagine Fiona Bruce doing that. However, it might cheer Huw Edwards up a bit. Several people have said to me, and I have also heard one commentator say, that the BBC is "dry". Well if you are not editorialising I suppose it would appear that way. However, our people do seem to take themselves rather seriously in comparison. To American eyes, British TV newsreaders must appear a little like Sam Eagle from the Muppet show segment "Rubber News" (even though I suspect he was based on US news legend Walter "and thats the way it looks" Kronkite). I do like the habit the some weather reporters have of giving little tips with the forecast though:

"Very high temperatures with low humidity today so if you are baking make sure you add extra water to your flour as it will be rather dried out and your cakes won't rise as easily". Now that is a helpful forecast!

Nashville this morning was a ghost town. I was unable to squeeze into the motel dining room for the "complimentary continental breakfast" as it was full of people pushing and shoving and generally chowing down. so I thought I would pop round the corner and find a cafe. Some hope. Nothing seemed ready to open much before 10.30. In the end I plumped for a Gyros sandwich in a Greek place. I am beginning to develop a taste for unsweetened iced tea. I expect it will taste vile at home in temperatures below 70F.

Getting out of town was easy; turn right, then the next right and it was straight onto the freeway. The further east I get the more traffic there appears to be. I suppose it is all to do with population density.

Headed east as usual and started to climb up between the Appalachian and the wonderfully green Smokey Mountains. I am beginning to get a better understanding of where the bits we have heard of are. So I now know where the Oak Ridge Boys presumably hail from. Not to be confused with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils - they are further west.

I crossed into North Carolina listening to some Appalachian Dulcimer music on public radio. There are some fantastic accents to be heard in this part of the country. At first some of them sound like they are doing it for joke (hey...fair's fair, they have been laughing at the way I talk for 4,000 miles now!).

Passed a sign for Dolly Parton's theme park "Dollywood" at Pigeon Forge, but the need for speed prevented me from taking a detour. Arrived at Morganton about 6.30, hot, sticky and as usual, in need of cold beer. Not seen any evidence of bars nor liquor stores - was this a dry county? "Yes" said the desk clerk "but you are in luck, the county is dry but the city is not - there is a mexican restaurant in the shopping mall that has a bar". Yippee - more burrittos!

I am not a religious person, so it amuses me that in a country that takes its Bible very seriously, and in many instances literally, the local convenience stores are open all day on Sundays - one boasting 7 day opening 0700-2300....hallelujah! What happened to the day of rest?


DMC said...

Let's hope Daniel Corbett (the BBC weather forecaster) doesn't see this post! He might get some new material! :D


Anonymous said...

"Yippee - more burrittos!" Oh dear, methinks the aim of being the first person to visit America and lose weight in the process may not quite be achieved ...

Really enjoying reading your fascinating and well-written blog Alex, nice one for keeping it going on your journey from coast to coast. We wish you a safe journey back home to the UK and we're looking forward to hearing much more about your trip when you're back on the radio, and some of the fine CD's you've been purchasing in Nashville!

Sian said...

Really enjoying reading and thanks again for doing the blog, better than a postcard hey.