What Being In America For a Month Can Teach You

(31 days in)

As per the title, we have been in the fine US of A for a month. We’ve travelled through 9 states (10 if you count accidentally turning into Montana and then realising it was the wrong way), 3 time zones, 3 national parks and almost too many cities to count (obviously we have a spreadsheet with exactly where we stayed, but you don’t want every detail*). Over the last few days we’ve not actually done anything that interesting so we thought we’d run through a few things that we’ve learnt (some by choice and some not) whilst we’ve been here. But, we are currently sat in Chicago. We’ve only been here for a few hours but we’ve already fallen pretty hard for it – the jet fighter air show and my first proper skyscrapers helped.

Anyway, deciding to drive across this country was a surefire way of taking in as much as possible. So, a lesson learnt for each day we’ve been out of the UK:

  1. Homeland security do not have a sense of humour
  2. Pete does not like stop signs
  3. Pete really does not like 4-way stop signs
  4. America should replace all 4-way stop signs with mini roundabouts
  5. Pit toilets are the worst. Particularly when it’s pitch black and they’re mosquito-ridden
  6. Megan can go 12 hours without peeing to avoid mosquito infested pit toilets at night
  7. On the subject of toilets, Americans cannot make stall doors that fit. Unless the aim is to be able to make awkward eye contact with people washing their hands?
  8. Despite the fact that you can’t go 100 yards without being warned about bears in the national parks, it is very hard to find a bear and you’re more likely to be killed by cows (1 a year vs 20 a year)
  9. Extreme boredom will drive Pete to having a pedicure
  10. In many parts of the American Midwest “How are you?” is said as a greeting and not a question. If you respond with “I’m fine thanks, how are you?” you will be ignored.
  11. Finding a moth in the van at 80mph will send Pete into a dead panic and cause him to nearly run us off the road
  12. Pete should listen to instructions like “Put on insect repellant, there are mosquitos everywhere”
  13. American drivers apparently need a warning sign of a signal before the signal itself. Why a red light isn’t sufficient we’ve no idea.
  14. Pete is outraged every time we come across a British person
  15. Sour cream comes in 1 gallon tubs
  16. 1 gallon tubs of sour cream are sold in the same shop that sells kayaks, clothing, rifles and furniture
  17. Most Walmarts have exactly the same layout. So much so that when you go into one that is slightly different, you get freaked out and forget how shops work
  18. There is a worrying amount of blown tyre debris on all highways
  19. Megan is easily intimidated by women in leopard print pantsuits
  20. If you want to hear any of the guided tour of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, don’t sit right by a boat engine exhaust
  21. According to the commercials all Americans have type 2 diabetes, IBS, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia. Medication for all of these have a side effect of death.
  22. Taking in a mass prayer session and then standing for the national anthem makes us very awkward
  23. Almost all Americans will stop and make conversation if you make too much eye contact, at which point Pete promptly becomes mute
  24. It’s unsurprising that the divorce rate in America is so high as all hotel rooms have an odd number of pillows (says Megan, with her head smugly resting on 2 of 3 pillows…)
  25. Our van is 6 foot, 11.9 inches tall according to the 7 foot height clearance signs.
  26. Pete ducks every time we go under a 7 foot height clearance sign.
  27. American children are very bossy and scarily enthusiastic about performing infront of an audience
  28. Firing a gun is the closest Pete will ever come to a religious experience
  29. Robotic prosthetic hands are still hands and should be treated as thus
  30. All salad most come with bacon and/or cheese
  31. As much as we miss friends, family and home, we’re thoroughly enjoying the nomadic lifestyle and this hasn’t been the biggest mistake of our lives just yet.

I’m certain that we still have so much more to learn about this country and what it brings out in us. We’ve also probably skipped a couple of points above but safe to say that this has been quite the experience so far.

As I previously mentioned, we’re sat in Chicago at the moment so there will be another post (and plenty of pictures) for you to enjoy soon enough.  We might even get a couple of shots of the Great American Eclipse (yes, they are genuinely calling it that) if the clouds clear up tomorrow!

From our run of camping and motels we have a good chunk of big cities on the horizon; Detroit, Toronto, Boston, New York, Philadelphia amd Washington DC. AND not long after that, we have a couple of people Megan calls ‘Mum and Dad’ joining us for a stint. So, even after the 31 days we’ve spent here, our journey is sure to continue to change and I can guarantee that we won’t be bored.

As ever, if you have any suggestions of what to see and what to avoid in any of these places, get in touch and let us know. Equally if you think we’ve missed something and want to point that out to us, get in touch!

*But what if you DO want every detail??

We’ve spent 57 hours driving a grand total of 3,500 miles between Los Angeles and Chicago (give or take a few), and spent £500 on gas.  The most expensive gas we’ve come across was $4.50/gallon in Yosemite (the average has been about $3/gallon), which still works out as only 90p/litre!

Our stops thus far have been as follows:

  • Los Angeles, CA (1 night)
  • Los Padres National Forest, CA (2 nights)
  • San Simeon, CA (1 night)
  • Henry W. Coe State Park, CA (1 night)
  • San Francisco, CA (3 nights)
  • Sacramento, CA (1 night)
  • Valley Springs, CA (1 night)
  • Yosemite National Park, CA (3 nights)
  • South Lake Tahoe, CA/NV (1 night)
  • Elko, NV (1 night)
  • Salt Lake City, UT (2 nights)
  • Idaho Falls, ID (1 night)
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY (3 nights)
  • Cody, WY (1 night)
  • Buffalo, WY (2 nights)
  • Black Hills National Forest, SD (1 night)
  • Winner, SD (1 night)
  • Sioux Falls, SD (2 nights)
  • Minneapolis, MN (2 nights)
  • Madison, WI (1 night)
  • Chicago, IL (3 nights)

We’ve spent an average of £47.22 a night on accommodation, ranging from £14 per night for a campsite in California to £100 for a motel in Cody, WY – hence why we didn’t stay longer than a night, despite really wanting to!

As for everything else, we’ve averaged £50 a day on food/entertainment/tourist-type stuff/bear spray we didn’t need due to an ASTOUNDING LACK OF BEARS/laundry/firing guns and so on and so forth.  Happily this leaves us at £20 under budget per day at the moment, but I suspect the upcoming cities are soon going to put a stop to that!

God I love spreadsheets.

M x


One thought on “What Being In America For a Month Can Teach You

  1. ‘Mum and Dad’ , correct order, gold star for your homework. Having said that I’m afraid I’m downgrading that to silver for ‘we are currently sat in..’. Oh dear, tsk tsk Pete (or Megan). Oh, then again, bronze I fear, for a repeat of ‘we’re sat’. Never mind, I’ll be there to sort this out soon(er than you wish) Mum/Kate/grammar bitch x


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