Friday, 22 June 2007

"On the banks of the Ohio..." 354 Miles

Worrying that Branson would steal my soul and I would face all eternity watching sundry magicians, cabaret musicians and "The Magic of Pets", I hurried out of town after a breakfast at a "family" restaurant.

Not sure why that prefix makes an eaterie any better than its competitor! I had ham and eggs and biscuits and gravy. The ham and eggs were easily recognisable, however a side order of creamy grey sludge and a scone was not what I thought biscuits and gravy were supposed to to look and taste like. Around me, elderly Americans were peering at their breakfasts and tutting that that was not what they ordered. Maybe there was some meltdown going on in the kitchen.

I naturally did what Brits do when faced with a less than satisfactory meal and asked what I thought by the waitress..."Mmm, lovely thank you very much"! Next time I am in a similar position I shall order: "Ham, poached eggs, coffee and give me a side of creamy grey sludge and a scone" and I will see what turns up.

One of the things about this journey is that whilst I am enjoying it very much. It is shattering a few myths and creating a few more. We will doubtless discuss this topic on the show when I get back.

Not sure where to go, so I decided to carry on heading east along Highway 160. I stopped for fuel at a ramshackle filling station in West Plains. Just as I reached for the pump an old man hobbled out of the shop and said: "Wrong one son.." I hadn't done this before, but I was day dreaming as usual and I was about to fill the car with diesel. The green nozzles are for diesel and the black ones for unleaded here, as many of you know. Doh!

Poplar Bluff, Dexter, Sikeston came and went. Thinking about stopping for the night and saw a sign marked "Cairo". Headed in that direction suddenly I was on a narrow metal bridge and out over the Mississippi into Illinois. Cairo had some lovely old houses but they were all in various states of disrepair. Obvious that this place was in need of regeneration, so I pressed on. Suddenly another narrow bridge and another huge river...the Ohio. Once on the other side I was in Kentucky.

Eventually stopped at Paducah and checked into a motel. They had extreme difficulty understanding me although I did point out politely that it cuts both ways.

No one yet has managed to get my address down correctly despite me spelling it out for them. The internet didn't work in my room, so I gave up blogging and crossed the highway to a Mexican restaurant called "Los Amigos" for two huge vases of Don Equis. There I learned the secret of the differences between a Burritto and a Fajita; something to do with ground beef rice and cheese! However, as I was on my second frosted vase by then I am not sure I was taking it all in.

I picked up the local paper. I love reading newspapers over here as they concentrate on what is important to the local community. There is little or no national, and hardly any international, news coverage. This one had a huge births deaths and marriages section. The big story was one of the marriage in France of one of Paducah's most famous daughters: Jeri Ryan, perhaps better known to us as "7 of 9" from Star Trek Voyager.

Tottered back to my room and had troubled dreams of food and the Borg.


Purple Suitcase said...

Ah, but isn't Kentucky's most famous daughter this most troubled of teenage idols, the increasingly quirky Britney Spears? If you are having any communication difficulties, stop articulating a la Boomhauer off "King of the Hill" then watch the locals suddenly accept you as one of them.

John from Grand Haven, MI said...

welcome to america! interesting approach to seeing the place. i agree that seeing the small dots on the map provide a much different view than just visiting the big dots. i didn't read the whole blog so i don't know all the places you've been, but consider driving up through michigan (where i am) and through the upper peninsula. stop in grand haven (right along the lake michigan shore) and i'll buy you a bottle (not a "vase") of beer.

Anonymous said...

just looked at google map and seen where you are.... please tell me your going to nashville...? being a country fan its one place i'd love to go...


Anonymous said...

RE: Mid- Life Crisis

I drove passed Robbie Coltrane today on my way home from work. Couldn't miss him really as he was driving a very flashy American car!

"See, what you're meant to do when you have a mid-life crisis is buy a fast car, aren't you? Well, I've always had fast cars. It's not that. It's the fear that you're past your best. It's the fear that the stuff you've done in the past is your best work.

Keep on Keeping on........


copter doctor said...

You will go to Nashville. Won't you? And the OLD Grand Ole Opry (not the new one). And BTW don't bother with the new Nashville Palace - it's soul-less. The Bluebird, however, is just something else. Pure magic
Tell us all about it when you get there.

Richard said...

Cairo, IL: The hellhole of America...and I've been to all 50 states. I think my main impression was the gas station with a lunch counter that had no water in the restroom.