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Perhaps inevitably, almost immediately after my last, optimistic Twitter, things started going wrong. In quick succession:

  • I realised I'd left my kilogram of duty-free Jelly Babies on the plane

  • I was asked awkward questions by immigration about when I'd last been to South or Central America. My answer ("Never") seemed strangely inadequate, but they let me past eventually.

  • I had just shared my relief with tinyjo when we hit another check-point, at which I was whisked away to a 'verification area' where they took my passport and told me to sit down and wait. And that was all. After half an hour, I was called up and asked how long I was staying in the US, several times, with exactly the same intonation each time. I guess I passed this test, because with no further ado, they released me. I dearly wanted to ask if this was going to happen next time I tried to get into the US, but I really didn't want to draw any more attention to myself than I had already, so instead I fled with what I judged to be an optimal combination of innocence and speed into the waiting arms of a very worried tinyjo.

After that, things picked up. We picked up the rental car which was the smallest that they do, i.e. 4 doors and a vast boot trunk. After 5 minutes of us both trying to work out how to put the damn thing in gear, we set out to drive the 45 miles from Dulles to Baltimore. tinyjo did a sterling job of not getting us killed, despite the American hobby of merging into spaces that are only just the right size for their cars at 70 mph. It seems that playing GTA is better preparation for driving in America than one might hope... Thanks to the rush-hour, once we hit Baltimore itself driving became much less scary. Or rather, our fear moved from 'being blind-sided by an oil tanker whose driver gets bored if he stays in the same lane for more than a minute' to 'dying of starvation before we make it the final mile and a half to our destination'. However, Xeno be damned, we actually arrived in a finite time!

And what a place to arrive to! rahaeli and sarahq live in a vast and gorgeous book-lined studio apartment in a converted pajama factory, which is in fact as cool as it sounds. By the times we arrived, we'd been travelling for about 16 hours, so were somewhat zombified. Our gracious hostesses provided us with the necessities of life: hugs, cats, conversation, beer, rare steak, and a very comfy bed. The Great American Roadtrip had begun.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 16th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
FWIW I got a weird questioning on one trip and assumed that thereafter I would get the same treatment every time but this proved not to be the case.
May. 17th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
That is mostly just a American-city-driving habit. Especially around the Beltway. Goodonya for surviving that rush hour drive, as I have done it, and ack!
May. 18th, 2008 06:20 am (UTC)
Have you ever NOT been stopped by US authorities?
May. 19th, 2008 10:37 am (UTC)
On being Stopped: Burning Man residue picked up by sniffer dogs?

On highway driving: learn to love your rear-view mirror checking routine and remember that your nearest EXIT from that incipient accident may be behind you, as they said on the airplane. Or were you reading the duty-free info at that point? I bet you were. :-)

(glad you are safe and sound, and have a safe and appropriately unecventful journey.)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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