Road trip USA 2011

  5th August. Its a tougher day today we plan to get to Salt Lake City 471 miles away, by going into Yellowstone again then through the Tetons national park, to Jackson hole and onward to the town of Kemperer. It meant driving right through into and out of the southwest corner of Wyoming.


 The Tetons ? We thought we were in Switzerland, its a dead on replica, the back drop to any scene is the snow capped alps, or in this case the Rockies. Jackson hole, further on is an attractive low rise cowboy orientated town, that attracts tourists and skiers in the winter of course, it looks a nice town though. An excuse to stop would have been handy, we can’t though as our schedule is demanding  enough as it is.


 We ground on and on Sue had a drive whilst I had a kip, these roads are loaanngg . Its cowboy country but you can’t help but wonder what the cows eat, the grass does not look juicy at all. There are rivers and creeks hither and yon, and several reservoirs but still the grass looks tough. We eventually get into coal mining country in the bottom left hand corner of Wy, you would be hard pressed to notice though , we never saw a slag heap or any mining muck. What do they do with it?


 Reaching Kemperer we pulled over and bought a few provisions from a Lowes supermarket and noticed quite close by a very quiet, modest  looking JC Penny store. This apparently is the very first one ever opened. Here, in this one horse town! It’s kept as a memento although they say it still sells the same goods as in the big stores all over the country. Why here ? This is where Mr Penney was when he thought up his USP, “quality goods for everyone at an affordable price”! Simple. Mining in Kemperer is quieter these days but mine operatives did get paid quite well, so that must have had an influence on JC you would think.


 We hammered on to Salt lake City where we had an attempt to find a reasonably priced room in this huge, bustling, busy, rather surprisingly industrial City and failed. We did catch a look at the Mormon Tabernacle during our fruitless tour, that is some fancy joint I can tell you, it would probably make a nice casino. I didn’t Like the city  though and getting a room for less than a bishop could afford  proved impossible. I started to get grumpy, and so we returned to the interstate. I began to calm down and told Sue to ask Gladys if she knew of anywhere? We hadn’t gone far when up she popped with the possibility of the “Dream inn” if we could find it, another bleeding nightmare ensued and I boiled over again, bloody Gladys! I’m sure we looped the loop! The cow!


   Anyway we eventually found it and what a dump? but it was cheap. In a foul mood we ate at a Wendy’s. Then returned to the gaff, to try some crap telly. The paucity of TV in the states is outstanding, though not as poor as South Africa, it must be said. What prevents it competing with SA is the shear volume of the crap. It really is just adverts with a bit of filling in between. Remember these words GOD BLESS THE BBC. it may be run by a bunch of trough snuffling greedy pigs but we still get some good quality stuff on the whole. We quit with the box and went to sleep, there was no “Dream internet”.


We have stayed in crumbier places than the ‘Dream inn”, fortunately though, not too many. There was a motel in South Africa , it had a nice name as well , something like “The Antelope”. It was simply worn out, the cotton sheets were so knackered they were knobbly, thin and balling up on the threads it was like sleeping in ball bearing factory. We didn’t have breakfast there either. we had no need there was a “Steer” restaurant close by luckily, they are always good value and serve the bestist steaks.

We only stayed there because of my keeness on “the authentic”, well seemingly authentic anyway, when we are on one of our adventures. Sometimes you can fall across a fabulous experience, particularly in South Africa, So I’m willing to give stuff a go, I will usually send Sue in while I wait in the getaway vehicle as I know if its a dump she will refuse it. This time though she must have been still wearing her sunglasses and it was well past sundown. 


I don’t blame her, we had, had a few tough days, just before Christmas our pass ports were stollen and we needed replacements. Perfect timing for prompt action by the F.O C.  It wasn’t likely to happen was it? Using as much internet as we could under the circumstances still meant we were risking missing our flight home. We decided to drive the 1000 miles to Pretoria where they were prepared, It was imperative we had them in our hands to leave Cape town on schedule or it would cost us another £1200. It turned into a bit of an adventure in itself, the roads in ZA are magnificent on the whole so the journey was possible at over 500 miles a day . We overnighted in Blomfontein  which was a Sunday  and arrived at The Foreign and Commonwealth office in Pretoria at bang on closing time 2 pm Monday, yes its a tough life working in the FOC. Fortunately we had made a phone call to a very helpful member of staff who said if we were a bit late just tell the security people we had permission and all would be well.


It wasn’t! The South African on the gate was a bitch of the first water, totally unhelpful and obstructive, we phoned our friend again, I passed the phone to the fascist cow, who immediately changed her tone and bobs your uncle we were in. The waiting room was a big disappointment though, more like a 1960s labour exchange but with stainless steel seating and sky Tv, talk about institutional? this was a fine example. We were kept waiting for a further hour and couldn’t wait to get out. The British members of staff we came across in the FOC were a complete contrast to the jobs worth on the gate and a pleasure to deal with on the whole.

 Nevertheless it was a very expensive episode and not one to recommend. We returned to Cape Town via Kimberly so we could have a look down the “Hole” of the famous diamond mine.


 In the 19th century this place started out as a small hill or kopje as the Boers call them, over the years of frantic digging activity and diamond extraction turned into the largest man made hole on the planet, done mainly by pick and shovel with a great loss of life. This was due mainly to the disorganized frenzied way the place ran. That was until Cecil Rhodes arrived on the scene, cleared out or bought out the claims of the disparate miners and set up the De Beers company that run near all the diamond activities in the world to day. He must have been quite a geezer!


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