Big cars! We rented a Toyota Camry in Miami. For us, the car seemed huge. We have rented tiny cars on the islands and have become somewhat used to bumping shoulders in the front seats. I move Cindy’s knee out of the way when I need to shift gears. When we first sat in the Camry, we thought it was so roomy and spacious. It seemed huge to us. Then, we got on the highway and all of this changed. We found ourselves surrounded by enormous SUVs. Our car suddenly seemed small and terrifying.
It seems strange to see fuel priced by the gallon again. Cindy and I have just about become use to liters. It didn’t take us long. When buying diesel, at first we needed to make the conversation to gallons in our heads to understand if the price was good. In the grocery stores outside of the USA all foods are sold using the metric system. Over time we just sort of started to use liters and kilograms as part of our normal conversation. All of Cream Puff’s fluids are measured and marked in liters as the boat is French made. Seeing prices per gallon at the fuel pump again seems a little bit out of place now. Anyone who has tried to half an American recipe will tell you that the task of halving ¾ of a cup can be a little daunting. We think it is easier to half 180 ml to 90 ml rather than to figure out how to measure 3/8 of a cup. Although the world has never agreed which side of the road to drive on, they seem to have agreed to use Kilometers per hour for road signs. America is now one of only three countries now not using the metric system. Burma and Liberia are the other two countries. I guess there is still hope America will not be the last country in the world to change.
One of the first items on our list of things to do, a visit to the dentist. I had a bump come up on my gum in Guadeloupe. By the time we got to Bonaire, it had grown. If you Google “bump on my gum”, none of the results are very reassuring. In fact, the results were a little scary. I tried to get in to see a dentist before our trip back but it wasn’t to be. We arrived in Atlanta and I was able to get in to see my old dentist right away. He and I were friendly back in the day and he was excited to see me. He took one look and told me I needed a root cannel. Rats! He referred me to his compadre down the street who specialized in such things. He booked an appointment the next day. And, as it turned out I was very unlucky. I didn’t need a root cannel. I needed two of them!
The lump on my gum was an infection and although it was completely painless (I was one of the lucky few), it was really dangerous. The procedure took about 2½ hours and cost me more than mooring Cream Puff in a very nice marina for four months. Welcome back to the USA healthcare system.
I was given antibiotics to take for the next 7 days. They made me so sick I thought I was going to die. For the first few days I was okay. Cindy and I drove from Atlanta to Texas. During the trip, I slowly began to feel worse. I thought maybe I had picked up a bug on the trip back. It turned out to be the pills. When I stopped taking them, I began to feel much better.
Speaking of bugs, after arriving in Texas, I was bitten by a spider. My ankle swelled up to the size of a watermelon. Okay, I am exaggerating a little bit. I went down for the count and slept for about 18 hours straight. I didn’t actually see the spider but I assume it was a big fury tarantula type of thing. I don’t like spiders and I’m beginning not to like Texas much because Texas has spiders. Oh wait. Texas also has tacos. I love tacos. So, maybe I’ll give Texas another chance.
Speaking of Tacos, I had forgotten how big the food portions in the USA are. We ate at a restaurant and when the food arrived it was delicious. I ate and ate and ate (on the side of my mouth away from the root cannels). I barely made it through half of my plate. Cindy and I have been sharing a plate since. One portion easily feeds both of us. One nice thing we noted, it’s good to be able to order from a menu and understand what we are ordering and actually going to get.
We find the amount of advertising in the USA overwhelming. I cannot think of anywhere we have gone or anything we have done since being back that some sort of advertising wasn’t immediately apparent. I imagine it was always there but we were immune to it and tuned it out as most seem to do. Some of the ads are helpful such as the food/gas/lodging signs along the interstate highways. It helps to know what an exit offers before getting off the highway. Else, the rest of the ads we are exposed to are pretty annoying and useless. We tried to watch regular TV and found we just couldn’t tolerate the constant interruption of annoying hype. Aboard Cream Puff, we don’t watch much regular TV anymore and sometimes we are lucky enough to get NetFlix. On the boat, we watch a DVD when there is not internet for NetFlix. We wound up connecting our computer to the TV in the Hotel and watched NetFlix, just too many ads for us.
We are dividing our time among family and friends while here. Cindy got the calendar out yesterday and I had to smile. It is odd to see the dates backwards again as people wrote them down. This is something I had a hard time with when I first immigrated to the USA. It took no time at all to get used to the American system and I forgot about it just as quickly. Now it seems strange to see it again.
How people write the date is one of the first things Americans who travel have to get used to. The majority of the rest of the world writes the date in the dd/mm/yyyy format. According to an article in a British publication, The Guardian, America is the only country in the world who insists using the mm/dd/yyyy format. I personally feel most of the world has it wrong and only the Japanese and Chinese have it right. They use the yyyy/mm/dd format. Why do I think this is the best way? Because if you have ever kept computer files by date or have tried to sort dates on a computer you will quickly find out that this format works the best when the date range expands beyond one year.
This is one of the few times we have traveled by car and had no schedule. We are taking our time as we click off state after state. This suits us. We enjoy traveling slowly. When renting a car in the islands, rarely did we manage to get above 45 mph for any sustained amount of time. When sailing our boat between the islands, we are happy to travel at 10 mph using the wind. We have slowed our pace of life since setting off on Cream Puff and my blood pressure is better because of it. We take time to smell the roses and stop for pictures. Just because we are back in the USA doesn’t mean we have to resort to our old ways of the rush rush rush American lifestyle. It isn’t always about being the first person to arrive at the destination. A lesson I wish I would have learned a long time ago.