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Alice in Maryland: Day 6 (27/04)

"You guys have to come see this," Lori called from the living-room as I was eating breakfast. It was ten turkey vultures sitting in a line on the back fence, sunning themselves companionably like little old men.

Lori needed to pick something up from a friend's house out in the country, so we had a drive, stopping for lunch at a diner. On the way back we passed through a town called Granite, which we were hoping would be like Bedrock in The Flintstones, and saw a farmer in denim dungarees buying his kids a treat at a roadside snowball stand.

In the afternoon, while Lori went to the farm and Rick had a nap, I got to take the scooter out by myself.

Rick attached the sat-nav, showed me how to make it take me home, and assured me that there was no way I could end up on an interstate, then I was off. I didn't go very far, and recognised most of the roads I was on, but it was a heady, scary experience to be alone in a foreign country. I regret not taking more photos (by the time I spotted the opportunities I was already whizzing past them) and not stopping at one of the many yard sales to sift through goodies from Maryland attics, but I had a lovely time exploring the back roads and admiring the April blossom.

Later we drove to Frederick, Maryland's second-largest city (roughly the size of Bournemouth), a pretty town just right for strolling, shopping and eating in the spring sunshine. We met friends of Rick and Lori's for a meal, and filled time beforehand browsing a vast antique shop full of treasures. I learned the verb 'to antique', as in 'we went antiquing', and unearthed an illustration of sled dogs from the early 20th century, which I have yet to frame.

Things I Ate
A turkey sandwich with fries and gravy; I'm not usually one for gravy but it was part of the authentic experience. Delicious barbeque turkey, bafflingly sandwiched between two slices of plasticky white bread.

We went to a tapas restaurant in Frederick, where the standouts for me were the deep-fried asparagus and the ice cream sampler I had for pudding: six small scoops of ice cream in individual cups, from memory strawberry, pistachio, cookies and cream, coffee, blueberry and Baileys. "And all these are for you, so good luck with that," said our nice waiter. (I had help.)

Turkey vultures


Did you go here then?
Daaaaaamn, if only I'd known!
Out of interest, what's especially scary about being alone in a foreign country (that's not also scary about being alone in the UK)? When I visited the US for a solo business trip in 2001, I put 1,300 miles on the hire car mooching about in the evenings. And I've driven to Zurich by myself twice.

Main problem I find with solo is that it's a bit dull not having company. Especially when the only radio station in range has back to back Billy Graham sermons.
In this case, I was afraid both of finding my way back to the ranch (in case of sat-nav failure) and of breaking traffic regulations.
Ah. I'm more afraid of breaking traffic regulations in urban areas. Not only is there other traffic to break the regulations at, there are cops to care.

When driving down a road in rural Alabama, for example, I found I could do pretty much whatever I liked. Short of a stealth drone discreetly shadowing my car directly above (an inherently unlikely place for a shadow to be, if the metaphor is interpreted overly literally) nobody would know. (-8

When I zoomed around the southern states I had mobile phone with primed address book, phone numbers scribbled on paper, payment cards, physical cash, a paper map (albeit a crappy free one given to me by Hertz) and satnav. I figured this was, if anything, excessive redundancy!