Debrief

So what did I learn?

America's big. Really big. American's are big too. Big of body and eh, heart? Wow that's cheesy. I've been touched by the generosity of strangers time and again here tho. Maybe I'll need to so a big solo tour back in UK before I'm qualified to make a comparison. My feeling now though is that the US is more welcoming and generous as a nation than we are. People are friendlier here. People are happier here. If you smile at someone and say hello at home people think you're crazy. I've felt mean here when I've been too startled by someone's greeting here to return it before they've gone.

Will I miss America tho? I don't know. There's so much over the top niceness it makes me want to puke. "Thank you SO much" to the waiter for doing his job. "Oh you're WELCOME" says the waiter as if he really means it. And you know what, maybe he does. Maybe it's that lack of cynical bitterness I'm so used to and rather fond of back home. Is that just me?

I'll miss the trains. Hearing that lonesome whistle blow (what song's that from? Hank Williams, I looked it up) still sends a shiver through me.

I'll definitely miss the weather. I can't believe how lucky I've been. The worst weather I got was in New Orleans and it meant I was "stuck" there for wonderful 2 extra days. I got rained on twice while riding, got really wet only once. Bad weather here mostly means too hot but again it's been fine. It was too hot when I got to DC but it was fine as soon as I got to the mountains where I stayed for a month till it cooled down. When the nights started to get a bit cold I headed farther south and all was toasty again. But not too much so.
I'll miss clipping my nails outdoors and not having to worry where the bits of nail go.

I don't think I'll miss the riding exactly. I think I need more time to think about that. It's certainly going to be weird getting home. So much of the time I've been here has been way outside my comfort zone it might be hard to get back into a routine. Honestly tho I can't imagine being back a week and it feeling like I've never been away.

Actually I've been back for a few weeks now and I am itching to get on my bike and do some miles. Not enough to actually do it though. I could be out right now instead of writing this. The forecast is good for tomorrow tho so hopefully I'll get out on the road bike in the morning and get myself good and hungry for my planned first roast dinner of the season.

Update: I've been back for about 6 weeks now (7?) and I've only been out for a ride for the sake of a ride twice. Lame. And it really hurt, both legs and arse, both times! I did the same 45 mile loop each time and I might be going faster than I used to but my legs REALLY hurt. So much for being super fit after the tour. Fun though.

Talking of bikes, I got a replacement touring / commuting bike without too much trouble. A few days on the internet threw up a host of potential frames and bikes and I finally plumped (won in auction) another steel mid 90s mountain bike with slick tyres, perfect for touring and towing my trailer. It cost me a hundred quid making me feel slightly foolish for not making the purchase before I left rather than after. I might have made it all the way to Austin then... Hey ho, something else might break on this one in a couple of thousand miles though, you just never know.

It felt like everyone drank Bud Light and ate garbage but I think that's probably unfair. It was pretty hard to get a descent meal there though, for a vegetarian anyway. All the meat and fish was slathered in sweet and fatty sauces too, with fries. I feel bad eating as many eggs as I did because I can imagine the kind of conditions they're produced in. One chain pharmary and grocery was selling a dozen eggs for 94 cents. That's about 60p, for a dozen! Imagine what they pay for them!?! Actually I don't know what cheap eggs cost in the UK. Freerange organic ones cost about £2.50 tho, for 6. That's about $7.50 a dozen.

Here are a few random notes I made along the way but didn't put them in the blog, I don't think.

Notes from a huge country

Butterflies: They're much bigger here, generally. Obviously there's a range of sizes but "regular" sized butterflies are at least twice as big here.

Climbing flies: one issue with climbing long hills here, especially after a few days in the woods, is the flies. They could be seen as a welcome distraction from the burning in your legs and the pain in you're arse but in fact the just DRIVE YOU CRAZY! They're on you the second you're riding less than 10 miles an hour and seem impervious and oblivious to increasingly frantic swipes and grabs.

Sizes: everything's wrong here. Everything's imperial for a start but even that's not right. A gallon here is only about 3.6 litres, it's 4.5 at home. A pint isn't nearly as big as a pint at home. And I'm sure a mile is longer here than at home too...

Pronunciations: aluminium, oregano, tomato...

Tie dye: amazingly this is still seen as an acceptable way to decorate clothing here. Apparently it's The Grateful Dead's fault. Someone should say something though.

Hunting chiq: You can get most things in forest cammoflage (sp) print over here, from trainers, hats, t-shirts to whole trucks wrapped in camo print, even guns. It's as if everyone needs to be ready to start shooting stuff at a moments notice, even in the city, where forest cammo doesn't work very well. It's just fashion I suppose. You'd need to be careful in the forest though, if you put anything - hat, gun, child, etc - down you're never going to find it again!

Power: mains electrickery is only 110 volts here so they seem to be completely comfortable putting sockets beside the bath and sink, outside, on the ceiling, pretty much anywhere. 110 volts is still going to hurt isn't it? It makes charging stuff up easier for me tho. I guess power is cheap too. They have charging stations at the bus stations with about 20 sockets!

Mums for sale - choose your own: I saw signs saying that in Kentucky and Virginia, never having the time to see what you got for your money I puzzled over it for a good while. Finally I figured out (maybe wrongy) that they're selling chrysanthemums - flowers. Having just tried to spell that for the first time I can see why they abbreviate it...

Right, blimey, 3 pages, this is too long, sorry. Anyway, here's a quick life round up to end on. I've got a temporary 1 day a week bike courier job since getting back. That's good, there's not much gardening to be done this time of year. The weekend in Scotland was great, Scotland was particularly beautiful with autumn colours on the trees and snow capped mountains. We were pretty disorganised but wanted to see as much as we could. This means I didn't see any of my friends which was very weird. Sorry.

Unfortunately that was to be the only trip and A Certain Someone and I will take. She is amazing and I feel very lucky to have spent the time I did with her but... Sorry.

I miss writing my blog. I'd hadn't written anything since school so I wasn't sure how it would go but I enjoyed it and lots of people said nice things about it since I've been back. It's too weird to blog about normal life I think, it's a bit weird and rude to blog about home life and friends. I know that's what most bloggers do. Maybe I should just keep a diary. Hmmm.

Right, enough. Thank you for your time. Really, it was great to have you along for the ride. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. Cheers!

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4.5 litres to a Gallon...

Are we sure that wasn't just a Lawson's thing?! That place was strange!! Nowhere I've ever been has been so conducive to sleep for instance!!!

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