US Road Trip Epilog: 30th June 2005

American TV gets a lot of slagging-off, some of which is justified, but like any generalisation it's a little too simple. In the last few nights I've seen interesting interviews with Elmore Leonard, Teri Hatcher and Dwight Yoakum. These are the kind of people whom (for admittedly very different reasons) I'd like to talk to myself. Ok, the late-night chat shows can annoy by repeating - without any warning - one from a few weeks ago, but there's enough choice that you can always switch over.

Anyway, today's run is due north up Highway 30 through the Adirondack Mountains (I think the area is also known as 'Upstate New York'). Very scenic, with the woodlands interupted by the occasional small town, usually around a lake. In places it's like driving around the lochs of Scotland but with better weather.

Driving through the Adirondacks
Driving through the Adirondacks.

In fact it's perfect driving weather - warm but not hot with a hazy sun and no sign of any rain. We make better time than expected and soon our initial two choices for places to stop for the night have been reached. What now? Nothing for it but to make the border crossing into Canada. I must admit here that we're slightly swayed by the whole smoking in bars thing.

Welcome to Canada
Welcome to Canada - roadworks on the bridge on the way in.

The first guy we meet at the border crossing - in a toll-booth type thing - is really friendly and chatty about what we're up to. He does tell me that I can't sell the car in Canada, but then we weren't planning to walk the rest the rest of the way anyway so that's no big deal. Then we have to park up and go into the customs and immigration shed. Followed by a lot of standing around waiting. There are a couple of white guys in front with a couple of Hispanics, and I don't blame the immigration people for being suspicious as they're all trying to pretend they work for the same company (even down to the same corporate T-shirts) but clearly don't know each other from Adam.

When it's our turn we get the same frosty reception - yes, it's ice cold with Alex in there. After a few pathetic attempts at humour are met with indifference, Alex eventually gets him to crack a smile and after paper-stamping we're on our way.

The guy in immigration did warn us that we wouldn't find much in Cornwall to make us want to stick around (at which point Alex asked him if he was the local tourism officer, which is what made him smile and thaw-out a bit). He's right - it's all strip malls and motels but we've done enough miles for one day so the Best Western here will do for the night.

The first shock in Canada is the price of essentials. With a rough exchange rate of £5 = $11 Canadian, beer costs $2 a can (if you can find an off-licence - unlike the US it isn't sold in gas stations) or $6 a pint, and cigarettes are $8 a packet. In the morning we find that, with the local taxes, our hotel room costs $130 CAD a night and gas is also more expensive. This will not be a cheap country to visit.

The Best Western has a bar and restaurant attached, and whilst chatting to the barmaid we find out that tomorrow is Canada Day - their equivalent of the 4th of July or St George's Day. This will make things even more expensive than usual, but I guess at least we'll get to see the country at play. The bar restaurant has an outside seating area, where smoking is allowed, so we get beers and some food until it gets dark and the hungry mosquitos appear.

US Road Trip Epilog: 1st July 2005 >