A Travellerspoint blog

Guns, Rush Limbaugh and us

Fear (and loathing) in America


Hello dear friends and family

Those faces you see are two excited souls about to take another run at Mexico, via the Untied States (deliberate typo). Let it be said we LOVE the U.S. and have many dear American friends. Just days after San Bernardino, and with Donald Trump as a significant threat to the Republicans, our American friends do seem untied. Fear still rules here in many quarters.

But back to the beginning. This time around, we are gone for four months, driving through Mexico, and then taking a slow coastal drive home in April, from San Diego right up to the Oregon coast, with a stop to see our friends Piotr and Ela in Portland. This time around, we have housesitters - a lovely couple from Goderich, Ontario who are on Gabriola to see their families for the winter. So our home is in good hands, and as we left last Sunday to catch the 6:15 ferry, we were sent off in a royal fashion. Mary Charlotte had called the night before to say she would meet us with a picnic, and indeed there she was at 6:00 am - armed with sandwiches, homemade cookies, drinks, chips, dip and fruit. Incredible. Especially since I've been trying to imagine myself being that thoughtful, and then getting up at 5:00 am when I didn't have to. Honest answer? Probably not. It was an auspicious send-off.

So, we crossed the border with nary a wait, and while our affable border guard did see fit to confiscate Mary Charlotte's bag of mini mandarins, (because I cannot keep my mouth shut), he honestly looked disappointed on our behalf.


We took a bypass road around Seattle, on our friend Tom's recommendation - it worked like a charm, and before we knew it, we were in Salem, OR for the first night. We got lost, which is our modus operandi whenever we are in a town that is logically laid out in a grid pattern. We asked for directions from a rib place that was closed for a private function, and they graciously set us back on track.

The next night, we stopped in Lodi, CA, just south of Sacramento. We stayed at a Motel 6, which, from our perspective, is just fine when we're on the road, want clean and cheap and no-frills. We just make sure they have been renovated - the old ones are nasty. The lady at the front desk had not exactly been plucked from one of the top hospitality schools, and pointed out that "this is a Motel 6" when Steve asked if breakfast was included. He did make her laugh when he observed that, thanks to the corrections officers staying at our hotel for training upgrades, we would be safe.

So... safety in the U.S. - we're so curious about the fear. I realize that living on a small Gulf Island does not place us in the "real world", but we do qualify as a microcosm, and we do get off the island from time to time. Precautions - yes, those I understand, and common sense, and judgement. But I don't understand living in fear.

As for the gun debate - can anybody out there really say they would be prepared to shoot and kill an intruder? I would love to hear some statistics about the number of Americans who have guns who have used them successfully in self-defence, and not ended up wounded or dead. It is a curiosity to me. I believe the gun debate is the most divisive argument in America - that, and health care. And Donald Trump.

For all us Canadians who believe Donald Trump is merely a sideshow curiosity on the lead-up to the election - nay, nay. We have talked to a number of folks down here who believe "he is saying what we all are thinking." Based on the fact that a) we know nothing about what it is to be an American , b) we know little about American politics and c) we are visitors in America, - we say nothing.

We tuned into Rush Limbaugh couple of days ago quite by accident and the motif of fear and loathing was front and centre. He pretty much covered it all, but then referred to an offensive Coca-Cola ad that was scrapped because it showed pretty white people giving indigenous Mexicans gifts of Coca-Cola. He was so contemptuous - "Who are indigenous Mexicans, anyway?" , and referred to the small village in "Osaka" (it's Oaxaca, Rush), where these transgressions occurred.

Now to bring this topic of fear back to me. Many years ago, when Stephen and I were young and foolish, we spent two winters in Banff, AB, and for the first year, drove a cube van with bald all-seasonal tires in the mountains. One weekend, we left for Calgary to buy baby stuff (I was pregnant), and away we went in a blizzard - the only other vehicle on the road was a snowplow (which we followed all the way). By the time we got there, I was in such a state of terror that the fear of driving in winter in mountains has been imprinted forever. So the two BIG goalposts to cross were Grants Pass and Siskiyou Pass, both in southern Oregon. As luck would have it, there were a number of winter storms in the area, and the day before, a dump of snow. I was driving as we approached Grants Pass, and while it was raining at the time, the temperature kept dropping - 3.5, 2, 1.5 - and bingo - snow flurries. We drove into this, with still miles to go before we began our descent. My fear went into overdrive.


The drive was a breeze - roads stayed clear, and I began to relax. One pass down, one to go. We stopped in Ashland for lunch, and then for gas before hitting the highway again. Right ahead of us was a car getting outfitted with chains and wham - I blew right back into fear mode again. There was a guy offering to fit chains on for $25, and according to him, everyone without chains was being turned back because of road conditions. Our challenge was that little stretch of road was about a 20-minute drive, and it would cost us $150 Cdn. to buy, tighten and install these things, never to be used again.
Steve was adamant he was not buying chains, I was confused because the highway cams looked okay, so we decided to try it. Within 5 minutes, we came upon the highway sign that said " Chains not required." That guy was telling bald-faced lies to sell chains to people like me.
A good lesson as we head to Mexico - do not allow unfounded fear to warp our enjoyment of the moment.

Our third night driving down was in Palm Springs - so much going on, although the party hasn't quite started. Apparently, the snowbirds don't arrive until January, so the town was a bit quiet, but still - our first glimpse of sun, palm trees and pedicures. Stephen could not resist posing beside the late Sonny Bono, formerly a Palm Springs mayor.


We also got a kick out of the Palm Springs wedding chapel. Walk-ins welcome. I really am curious about how many impromptu nuptials take place here, and if there is alcohol involved.


We loved the old Hollywood feel - the sidewalks are lined with stars, most of them unknown to us, but of course one of the biggest names had a place of honour.


Lots of characters - big men, small dogs, elaborate outfits, and no end of "work done" (Palm Springs is the epicentre for plastic surgeons). While I am in no position to judge the quality of "corrective procedures", may I say that the woman standing in line at Starbucks this morning needs to have strong words with her doctor - can we give "trout lips" on a 50-something woman a pass? As Stephen was taking this photo (I liked the deco lettering), we did fall into conversation with a certain gentleman who is a former figure skater, and current jeweller and painter.


He was very excited to hear our son Alex had been involved with production of the Discovery Channel show, "Jade Fever", as he considers jade to be sacred. He gave me his email address, and I sent him off the info. He had (and has) quite a career - it is a joy to have these serendipitous encounters.

So now we are in Nogales, AZ - ready to begin our drive across the border tomorrow and our trip south. We'll be in Los Mochis tomorrow night and Sayulita on Friday. Our son Dan will be there already and as he put it, the "Three Amigos" will celebrate Christmas together.

Posted by millerburr 20:19

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WOW, here we go, we keep our ? up for you!!! Piotr & Ela

by Piotr

First instalment whoop whoop! We are hooked and anticipating already our weekly fix!

by Laurence and Derrill

Well here we are again in your back seat and having fun already! Thanks again for taking us along. Safe travels and Merry Christmas.

by Lesley Harris

Wonderful progress. Love reading of your travel tales. Thank you. xox

by Virginia

Love your spin on stuff. Thanks for taking the time to share. Traveling with you is a treat!

by deb shore

Love it Gin!...I always feel I am right there with you! Merry Christmas!

by Lisa

Grazie mille Bella Ginny e Bello Steve! awesome travel blog certainly makes me wish I was with you ... have yourselves a Merry Little Christmas!

by Libby

The adventure begins. I find the comments about the USA very interesting; if you ever get answers about the gun thing - let us know.

Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip - it is inspiring!

by Shelley-Anne

Let the adventures begin...I'm looking forward to following the story! Have a merry Christmas, amigos and enjoy the ride!

by Jonelle Knowles

Thanks for including us on your voyage. We look forward to our mini vacation. Have a wonderful time.'
hugs Geo and Shirleyrobertson

by shirleyrobertson

Oh boy, this is what we having been missing since April - a chance to go one a wild ride with the two of you - how delightful! You have raised so many issues for us to ponder already and this is only your first blog! By the way, I don't suppose you renewed your marriage vows while in Palm Springs??

by Heather Scott

So happy to be part of your new journey!

Feliz Navidad!!

Di and Bruce

by Diana Coryn

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