Wednesday, 27 June 2007

"On the boardwalk..." 174 Miles + 17 others, as will be explained.

Easy day, although I covered 4 states: woke up in Virginia, drove into Maryland, crossed into Delaware and then caught a ferry to New Jersey.
The roads are not only more crowded but toll roads and turnpikes have suddenly reared their change-guzzling heads. Admittedly, of the two I travelled, one cost 70c and the other $2, so haven't broken the bank. I expect I shall hit several more tomorrow.

With this type of outlay I have learned to organise my money over the last four weeks.

As this is a society that is based on tips, you need a good supply of dollar bills. Trouble is all the notes look the same apart from the denomination. When you see a tips jar full of paper I can see why it has been called variously "cabbage" as well as "greenbacks".

Dollar bills in the back pocket, fives front right and any other notes front left. This worked well until my final destination today when I was stymied by the cash point.... I will elaborate in a moment.

Stopped at a diner for breakfast: bacon strips, poached eggs on French toast. Not sure how different it was to normal toast, but it is nice to see that sanity has once again prevailed and it is not known as "Freedom Toast" or "Cheese Eating Surrender-Monkey Toast".

When I reached Lewes in "Sussex County" (I wonder where they got that idea from, geography fans?) I bought a ticket for the ferry. Lewes to Cape May is 17 miles across Delaware bay and takes about 70 minutes. It is pretty much like a cross channel ferry without as many shops. I sat outside and watched dolphins leaping out of the water whenever they knew that cameras weren't trained on them. I also saw hundreds of rather tough looking jellyfish and one small apologetic looking shark.

After landing at Cape May it was only 40 minutes to Atlantic City, passing Ocean City on the way....hang on....we just passed Ocean city!

The trouble with such a huge country, they ran out of place names early on I reckon. A lot of settlements have obvious Spanish names or Native American titles but with the others lies the problem.

How do you describe a place to someone and give it a name at the same time? Well you can always tell em what it looks like. That is why there are several "Big Trees" in the U.S. Or you could describe what you saw: "Lonesome Polecat Lane" in California. Or "Johnson Sausage Lane" - a place which had a filling station, and as far as I could tell had once boasted a meat factory. Then again, you could always tell people where to find you...such as beside the seaside, hence: "Ocean City".

This was fine when travel was by horse and it took days to get from one place to another. With the advent of the internal combustion engine and the paved highway, putting two Ocean Cities 67 miles apart does show a lack of imagination.

There is currently a media battle going on between the 14 different Springfields to be the one chosen to premier the new Simpsons movie shortly. One claims that "Shelbyville" is close by so it ought to be them. Another has ignored the competition as it was "nothing like the town portrayed in the cartoon" a claim all the other Springfields could make unless their inhabitants all have missing digits and severe jaundice (yellow complexions and 3 fingers, non cartoon watchers).

After Ocean City, New Jersey it was a few short miles to my destination - Atlantic City (like Ocean city but with education..obviously). My motel downtown is only a couple of blocks from the famous boardwalk, with its casinos and salt water taffy shops. I needed cash so found an ATM in a gambling house and asked for $100. Out came one crisp bill. I was astonished. Every time I have taken money from a machine on this trip it has arrived in my hand in the form of $20 bills. I can't go and buy a $3 Philly Steak sandwich (rather close to burritos I thought but very nice) with a $100 note!!

Salvation came with the "bill breaker" machine. You feed in your note and out come 5 not quite so crisp $20 bills. At last, after a month I have played a machine in a casino...and won!

Have you been with me all the way? Check out how far we've come on the route map which can be accessed via my showpage at


Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

"Bill Breaker" ... reminds me of a movie: .. one of the lines " hey little old lady, can you break a dollar for me?" You'll have to guess which movie: something to think about on the flight back;) .... The picture you've posted today (Delaware) looks like the aftermath of mild geological activity. What an odd looking place.

Keep smilin'



they call me petal said...

The Simpsons all had four fingers on each hand last time I counted! Pedantry is a state of mind and all that...

copter doctor said...

Have we been with you all the way? (Another) silly question. Been a blast and educational; you should do another one, but go South young man(via Texas) next time.
Have a good flight home. BTW I work often until 11pm (Communicating with the country you are in right now) so save some of the Nashville music for the last hour of your show? Cheers

Lisa said...

Been with you most of the way Alex - been a breeze and you should do more. Miss you in the morning though - so you'll be more than welcome home.

Anonymous said...

I have been with you all the way Alex and really enjoyed reading of the things you have seen on your journey, you certainly know how to keep us interested!

Will be "listening again" next week!


Janet Cairns

Anonymous said...

RE: yellow complexions and THREE FINGERS?

......DOH! as "Fin" used to say


sher said...

Finally in New Jersey then! YOu should check out the site it tells all kinds of goofy facts about the state, and places to visit! Even thought I live here (in NJ in fact) I will tune in to your radio show to hear all about your "american adventures"

matt said...

simpsons... three fingers one thumb....

so nearly home, i suppose i'll have to tune in again when you are back.

shopping trip planned in new york by any chance?

Kathy said...

After all the miles you've done, if you give up the night job you could become a trucker.

I'll miss hearing about your Awfully Big American Adventure but look forward to listening to you
back in your rightful place.


P.S. Did you cause that power cut in New York.

Steve Thomas said...

Nearly done it my son well done! Hope to do it myself one day. Looking forward to hearing you back on the radio so we can hear in more detail

Anonymous said...

RE:they call me petal said...
The Simpsons all had four fingers on each hand last time I counted! Pedantry is a state of mind and all that...

I'm having a "double-take, fade away" head reaction ...doh!?


Ha Ha Ha

A London Connection said...

Not quite 'all the way', but what I've missed I'm having fun catching up on now.