US Road Trip Travelog: Myths & Lists

Time to try to dispel a few myths:

  1. There isn't just one Riviera, but actually a whole fleet the same colour on the back of a car transporter.

    This is true. As a multi-millionaire I wanted the experience of a road trip without the inconvenience. I actually travel by helicopter between cities. Like the Dukes of Hazzard different cars are used for different shots, and a few had to be sacrificed for stunts (such as driving a few miles on the roads of downtown Jackson).

  2. You're not really driving around the US at all, just using some computer programme to superimpose the hood of a Riviera onto photos of places and roads.

    Unfortunately also true. I'm currently in jail in Strangeways, Manchester and really getting a lot from the free computer courses. Luckily the one I'm using has a 'random splatted bug' effect to add to the realism.

  3. In a parallel universe there's an American traveling around the UK in a 1963 Riley Elf.

    Yes, this one is true as well. Last I heard he was in Mold in North Wales and, frankly, not having a good time. I really don't know how he's going to get on. I hope I can offer him some help but it may be too late by now and he may well have married the daughter of the landlord of the Pig and Poke. The locals know the danger but, as an outsider, he may well be vulnerable.

(Thanks to everyone who's sent me emails taking the piss. You'll know who you are because you'll recognise something in the above.)

Having watched plenty of David Letterman over the last couple of months, time for a few lists:

Top 5 bad things about driving in the US.

  1. 4-way Stop signs. These work well enough with no traffic in the middle of deserted towns but do not work anywhere else. The idea is that the first to the junction can then proceed first away from it. Of course, you end up with either Mexican stand-offs or drivers from different directions both moving at the same time. Don't even get me started on the mess that happens when you have two lanes of traffic in each direction. Put in some traffic lights or a roundabout for goodness sake.

  2. Interstate exit ramps on the 'wrong' side. These probably wouldn't be too bad if they gave you a few miles to swap over 5 or 6 lanes, but they don't. Lazy road building.

  3. Interstate exit or entrance ramps with 25 MPH curves (or slower). I just love the way you can fight your way into the right-hand lane only to then find that have to stand on the brakes to avoid exiting into the scenery as you leave the Interstate. Luckily the on-ramps aren't a problem in the Riviera, where there's the power to get you out of the way, but I wouldn't like to be in a Hyundai when the on-ramp lane becomes an exit one in ½ mile and you have the choice to either move left and take your life into your hands or chicken-out and leave almost as soon as you join.

  4. Exits off the road that are far too sharp and steep. I lost count of the number of times the back of the Riviera scraped the ground on the way off the road and into the car park of a mall or motel. I know that most Americans drive pickup trucks now but that's no excuse for ignoring the significant minority who still prefer cars.

  5. No roundabouts. As well as easing the flow of traffic, these are very useful if you get lost as often as I do and need to head back the way you came.

Top 5 good things about driving in the US.

  1. Being able to turn right at traffic lights even when red. A completely sensible idea and it works well.

  2. Overtaking on the inside. I wasn't sure about this at first and it actually works very well, especially when you have an Interstate 6-lanes-wide on each side through a city. There will always be idiots trying to swerve around you on the inside but this happens in the UK anyway so no change there.

  3. Around schools there are flashing yellow lights and a 15 MPH or so limit, used only when kids are likely to be around. Everyone obeys it. This makes much more sense than our fixed UK speed limits around schools, which apply in the middle of the night or during school holidays.

  4. The majority of traffic uses the Interstates leaving the Highways free and clear for the rest of us. And Roscoe P. will mainly be busy elsewhere.

  5. Not having to drive around for ages to find a parking place. The whole country has grown-up around the car and any business knows that if you can't park then you won't go there.

Top 5 bad things about motels in the US.

  1. Cleaners who knock on the door to do your room at some ungodly hour of the morning (like 8:30 a.m.) then keep coming back at regular intervals until you ask them not to.

  2. Sinks with a metal plug and a system of levers. These never seal properly after a bit of use. What was so wrong with a rubber plug on a bit of chain anyway?

  3. Showers with overly-complex controls and no indication how to use them.

  4. Windows that can't be opened.

  5. Cable TV with dozens of channels but nothing to tell you what number corresponds to what channel.

Top 5 good things about motels in the US.

  1. Most are clean and appear to have been redecorated some time in the last 50 years (unlike some in Europe).

  2. Powerful hot showers.

  3. Being able to park directly outside your room means less struggling up stairs and in lifts.

  4. Almost all have Mr Coffee machines, not just a kettle and a sachet of instant. Some even have fridges and microwaves as well.

  5. Most have genuinely helpful staff, unlike the stand-offish snootiness that appears to be a pre-requisite for a job in a UK hotel.

US Road Trip Travelog >