I never thought I’d be spending three and a half months of the last ten, in the United States of America (‘Merica, fuck yeah!)… and I certainly never thought I’d be covering all four corners of the country; going as far north-west as you can get (Alaska) to as far south-east as you can go (Florida), to as far south-west (San Diego, California) as you can get to, and as far north east as you can (Maine), not to mention a whole bunch of places in between.
I went to Alaska, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, DC, Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania again, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, Massachusetts and I’ve probably forgotten some! (Illinois too, but airports don’t count!) There are lots of things I really enjoy about the US, but as per usual, there are plenty of things I don’t like too.
US – The things I like…
- Food portion sizes are huge – you can often get away with sharing a meal.
- They let you turn right on the red, when there’s no traffic.
- Fun trying to pick accents – from the lady beside me at the MET Opera with her thick New York accent to the lazy drawn out Southern drawls.
- Mardi Gras is absolutely unique and there’s nothing like it – best party ever.
- American BBQ is awesome. They say ‘life is too short to eat bad BBQ’ and our favourite was at Famous Dave’s BBQ… maybe we should open a franchise in Oz!
- New England is beautiful, the scenery, the architecture, the history, the lobsters (could never live there though – too bloody cold).
- Parades are fun – Mardi Gras Parades, St Patricks Day Parades etc, are a lot of fun, everyone is in a party mood. Few too many marching bands, but small price to pay.
- The Grand Canyon is truly incredible, I’ve been there twice now and each time it just took my breath away.
- Love the political satire television shows. For a country that is largely apathetic about their politics (less than 40% of the population turns out to vote), they sure get plenty of good mileage out of beating up politicians.
- The US has some of the most incredible museums and art galleries with extensive and impressive world class collections. I wish I could access them more often (Australia really feels like a cultural wasteland in comparison).
US – the things I don’t like..
- Food portions sizes are huge – if we wanted to eat different things, we always ended up with way too much food.
- Taxes are added after sale. The sticker price is never the price – taxes are added in at the checkout. Just add the damn taxes in and detail on the receipt how much tax was paid so people aren’t constantly forced to work out the taxes (the rate for which is different in every state!)
- I hate all the beggars. I know they are often disenfranchised and/or marginalised individuals, dealing with homelessness and other major social issues. But America’s inability to look after their most vulnerable is a bigger problem than my handling a $1 to a beggar can fix.
- Pennies can get fucked, they aren’t worth what it costs to make them, they take up too space in your purse and a penny buys nothing.
- Dollar notes can get fucked too. You think you have plenty of money left in your wallet and then discover they’re all $1 notes… but so long as you have this tipping culture, NO ONE will ever want to get rid of them because handing over $1 coins would feel cheap.
- America needs to join the Modern era and use the goddamn metric system already!
- You can not get a decent cup of tea ANYWHERE. American’s love their coffee, but have no idea how to make decent tea.
- Public bathrooms… I’ve had this rant before, but it still pisses me off. Locks with ‘Vacant/Engaged’ are so simple and sensible. Why aren’t they more prevalent?
- An American person may be lovely, but American people are just plain rude… there is a reason why they carry on like Canadians are obtrusively polite, it’s because Americans are generally quite self involved and often, very rude.
- Ditto for situational obliviousness, Americans will just stop and have their conversation taking up an entire sidewalk, or get off an escalator and come to a dead stop, not even noticing the people coming up behind them.
- Roads are a disgrace, especially in the north – most highways are pitted so badly it’s like 4WDing down the freeways with potholes as big as a pitbull. Also, the four way stops are shit, no one knows who has right of way – put in some roundabouts and be done with it.
- Tipping – it’s so fucked. If staff were paid a decent living wage BY THEIR EMPLOYERS, then service staff wouldn’t need to rely on the social expectation that forces the public to pay just so they have enough to live on.
Next trip… maybe Russia/Scandinavia!