So far we
– drove more than 2200 miles (3500km)
– spent 68 days in the USA
– passed through (only) three countries: Austria, The Netherlands, USA
– visited 15 states of the USA (NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE, VA, NC, TN, KY, IL, MO, KS, NE, IA, IN) + Washington DC
– spent about $1000 each, mostly for food and gas
– on average we spent about $16/day/person, but without John’s help and some of our CouchSurfing hosts, probably around 30$
– drove 3 different cars and a motorcycle
– never got stopped by policemen (yet), but we stopped a couple of them for questions
During our stay so far, we’ve experienced a few things that are not the same as in Europe. And I will speak for myself here, as Lucy might have slightly different opinions. And beware, this stuff is random!
- the key word describing everything is “big”. From people (and I don’t mean fat), to animals, plants, buildings, beds, roads, cars, flags, you name it – it’s big!
- traditional or basic food: corn. Corn is everywhere, even in bread. There are some other foods eaten pretty much everywhere except for burgers/steak/wings (like beans, tacos, potato salad)
- everyone is trying to make a business out of everything. If there’s no money for me, I’m not in.
- most places are posted as private property. So you can’t simply take a right turn and end up in a field of shrubs. No! It belongs to someone and it’s either surrounded by a fence or warning notes posted around
- the motorcycles on the street are rarely under 1000cc, and also rarely silent
- the fuel is cheap, but the cars or bike engines are compensating with the size. Average running price probably higher than in Europe
- all the camping places, rest areas or parks that have tables and benches, usually come with a metal grill where you could bring and fry your own stuff (wish I could see this throughout Europe).
- flip-flops are probably the most common shoe type (I feel strange wearing sandals)
- people are generally nice, unless you go through a neighborhood you don’t ‘belong’ and then you get ‘the looks’
- when I thought of USA stores, I imagined stores like Walmart, McDonalds and KFC all around the place. The most popular store we see is “Dollar General” – selling cheap Chinese stuff and other cheap stuff, including food. (We’re happy with them because they sell cheap roasted sunflower seeds – the best travel snack and fully matches with our truck!). McDonalds is everywhere, but maybe not so popular anymore. KFC is here and there, sometimes sharing the building with Taco Bell (which are quite good). There are plenty of other stores that we can’t even claim we know what they sell/do.
- looking at people while driving is nice, but sad at the same time – most of them are talking on the phone
- there are a lot of power transformers on the poles and a lot of water tanks to provide pressure to the cities/villages. Just a different approach of the problem.
- a lot of houses are made of wood. I’d say about 90% or even more. Because wood is still cheap and available here. And there are huge trees. Also nice trees, nice wood to work with. From this point of view, USA is still wild, but it belongs to someone
- old cars are everywhere too. Usually close to people’s homes. It fails or it breaks? Well, let’s keep it and buy a new one! It will rust by itself if some years. Or… the other kind: let’s buy few more of the exact same kind for spare parts, I believe. Whatever the logic behind this, people own more cars than they need, and the ones they don’t use are just rusting there, by the house (talking about the countryside here – keeping one in the city means to occupy a good parking spot).
- we don’t see many tourists (if any, once in a while, in some museums, and maybe not that far West in the country), but we’re spotted easily and asked about our origins every now and then
— more things to come when we think about them —