2013 wrapup and travel to the US.

Well our European motorhome has been sold to an excited new owner, who as I write this is holidaying down on the Moselle and we certainly hope Hank and Yvonne get as much enjoyment from the Carthago as we have over the last 130,000 km.

With that chapter closed it was time to start a new chapter we made the decision to drive, next year, to Alaska, so now we had to find something to drive.

Our European motorhome was 7. 4 m long or 24.2 feet long. It was a nice size particularly with the cramped confines of built up Europe and with the wide open spaces of America we felt we still did not want to exceed our European size of motorhome substantially. Since the 1990s I been aware of a motorhome in America called Trek, it’s a brand of American motorhome which over recent times has disappeared from the new market place but there are a lot of them available throughout America. Its main feature is a drop down bed in the centre of the motorhome which by utilising the bed space during the day gives you a motorhome with much more space than normal. We settled on a model 2430 which was 26 feet long giving the equivalent space of a motorhome with a length in the mid-30s.

So that it was a matter of cruising the for sale adverts across America to see what was available and at what price. I also joined a discussion group called Trek Tracks and there was a lot of useful information on this forum. I decided to fly to America to buy one of these motorhomes now and put it into storage for next spring when we go on the Alaskan trail.

I found four possible motorhomes that could have been interesting, the first being in Tucson Arizona and the others scattered across America.

The one in Tucson Arizona the salesman told me that their procedure was once somebody was interested in a particular motorhome to take the unit into their service department and go over it with a fine tooth comb and make sure that everything was top class when their client came to look at it and in this way there was never any problems with the delivery of a motorhome. This sounded very good and the story they told was told in such a manner that I decided this would be the first one that I would look at, but of course the whole story was just made up to fool impressionable young buyers and I fell for it, but of course it did them no good in the end because I just walked away from the deal and flew on to Chicago to look at my second choice at Terri Haute a city between Chicago and Indianapolis.

It was a 2001 model, a one owner and it was quite good condition for a 12 year old vehicle but I realised there were slight problems with it so I bought with the knowledge that some money would have to be spent on it so hopefully in the long run things will work out.

While I was in Tucson, rented a PO Box and I understand with this form of address is possible to register a vehicle in my name in that city, with the other advantage is close to Los Angeles which is the entry point to America from New Zealand, and there  is not much snow in the Tucson winters.

So now being the proud possessor of a American motorhome I now had to drive it to Tucson some 1700 miles away (2720 Kms) or about twice the length of New Zealand. In all it took just under three days and it was interesting to observe the American scene from the driver’s seat of an RV.

The background for the American scene was played out in the motel before I started with some of the television adverts in the first case for medicine, they advertised directly to the consumer by passing the doctor telling the patient what this new medicine would do for them, telling them that they should ask their health provider to prescribe this medicine for them and then in the next breath said if you suffer from the following ailments, and they listed many ailments, you should avoid this medicine and talk to your health professional first.

Then there were at the other group of adverts, which again you would only see in America, telling the TV audience that if they suffered from detrimental effect from medicine B they should telephone the listed number on the screen to take part in a major court case to make the lawyers rich and so they themselves, the ones that took the medicine, would get a few dollars!

This was followed up by billboards on the side of the road stressing how their friendly lawyer can be of help to them for almost any thing that life throws at the people and all they have to do is ring the following number.

It was very obvious driving through America that this thinking, “somebody must pay” was right well grained into the American psyche because there are all sorts of warnings on the road that you would not normally see in other countries because another countries they assume you have a little bit of intelligence and assuming this in America it is obvious that it would cost somebody a lot of money in one of their damages court cases where because somebody did not use their common sense and were injured they could claim millions of dollars.

It was an interesting drive reading the billboards and observing the countryside as I drove on, the first billboard that springs to mind was the company that was advertising funeral services and it was a changing two message story with a second message being “see you soon”!

Then there were the four people carriers that had written on their back window “honk if you are a Lutheran” I guess they did not want to feel lonely! Became very obvious on the drive that America is a very religious country and whilst there are a lot of other countries in the world that qualify for this category they are normally Catholic where is America as we know has very many branches of many faith’s.

Then there was the billboard that claimed 13% of the people that listen to Catholic radio have their marriage saved by that medium. Another billboard claimed that the Catholic religion was the best answer to socialism; I wonder if they had heard of Poland?

The Presbyterians did not want to be left out as they claims that 9 out of 10 babies would choose to be born in the Presbyterian Hospital sounds like somebody has done some interesting research. I wonder where the 10th baby would choose to be born

Then there was the very large cross that must have been 10 stories high, built beside the small two-storey church, then a large billboard pronouncing how many babies were aborted every minute in America, and another billboard claiming that over 300,000 people in Missouri went hungry every day, I’m not sure if there was a connection between those two, but was very obvious driving across seven of the States in the centre of America that a large group of people that had missed out on the American dream and their living conditions could be rated right there along with all of the Third World countries.

America has so much space that there were a large expanses of land just used for storing rubbish and then there were all of the buildings from businesses that had failed or had moved on and was not too dissimilar from the failed factories in the old Soviet bloc that have been abandoned. I was told of downtown Detroit being not too much different to the city of Chernobyl in all of the ruined buildings.

Then there was the city of Shamrock, and of course the Irish pub was very much in evidence along with a substantial Catholic church, another interesting city was called Truth and Consequences, there was nothing of note that I saw from the freeway but its name by itself told a interesting story.

Most of drive was across flat land with extremely large fields of grain and again it reminded me of crossing the steppes of Russia in Kazakhstan except in this case was more population scattered along the road but not necessarily in better housing one would see on the steppes.

Driving across Texas I passed these massive feedlots full of beef cattle, the ground underneath them appeared to be muddy and you could see the driveways between the pens for the carrying of the food to fatten up the cattle. These cattle a possibly been fattened up to provide McDonald’s with their beef patties, which in their turn will fatten up the Americans. What a difference in the way the New Zealand beef cattle are fattened up and their Texas cousins.

Eventually I got to Tucson and after a couple of phone calls headed for a company called LazyDays, it is a franchise operation is Scattered across America with motorhome servicing, RV supplies, camping and storage of RVs. So I checked in to this establishment to have the RVs serviced, and have it stored till next spring. That having been done I then headed off to the MVD to register the RV only to be told that first and needs to have its emission tested and get the necessary certificate before registration. This is obviously something I’ll have to leave until I return in the spring but at least the mechanical side of the RV will be all sorted out.

Eating out is extremely cheap, I found in America, I was staying at the Sheraton hotel by the airport waiting for my flight to LA and on to home and went on for lunch which cost $10 and was enough food for me for two meals so half the food went into a doggy bag for me to have later!

Most of you are aware of the books we publish each year through Blurb and many have looked at them on the Blub website and we have set them up so that the whole book can be previewed without purchase. Now Blurb have allowed the books to be produced in e-book format so I have converted the whole 29 of the books into E books, my first book on the Ukraine was done on older software which cannot be converted so some time I’ll have to do some thing about that. If you’d like to look at these E books use this following link. http://www.blurb.com/my/store/ebooks

All that is it for this year, at the beginning of August I will fly up Auckland to attend the 75th anniversary of the Professional Photographers Association, Luda will arrive home from her extended stay in Russia on the 21st, and will take our New Zealand motorhome on a wander around New Zealand just so we don’t forget what we have to do in a motorhome, so until April- May of next year that’s it for us!