So, first time I’ve been in the US for a long period on holiday rather than working. It’s still a country that I don’t understand, a place of contrast and contradiction. In it’s care for the National Parks, you can see the place at it’s very best. It’s caring, educational, passionate. At the same time, staring across the Grand Canyon or from Joshua Tree, and understanding that the haze you can see is pollution from the roads of Los Angeles is a depressing experience. It’s a pity that more Americans don’t do as I have done, and visit the national parks to see the damage that they are doing; there’s no excuse; it’s so easy by car.

I’ve enjoyed the US away from the main urban areas far more than the time in the cities; touring through Arizona and Utah has been a great experience. Perhaps the most unexpectedly educational experience, was listening to Rush Limbaugh and his equivalents on talk radio. Clever and consistent, it’s easy to see how this trickling propaganda sinks in. Being able to switch your opponent off, makes it easy to win the argument.

For the leader of the free world, I find the US strange constrained; there are signs up everywhere telling you what you must or must not do, all backed with obscure references to ordinances. The exception to this, of course, is parking which you can do most places. Even the rich districts of SF have 2 hour parking on most streets. At the same time, basic consumer protection seems missing — the price you see is never the price you pay, even if it’s just tax. Having said that, everybody is willing to do things for you, if you ask. You can get food as you want, variations are almost always possible, and if you are argue rules can be changed; in the end, we didn’t pay the one way charge the San Diego branch of Dollar was trying to screw us for.

The low point of the holiday has to have been the MGM in Las Vegas; two lions in a small glass cage in a Casino is a disgraceful exhibition that degrades all those who see it. The highpoint was Betatakin floating in the distance. And the most pervasive memory, I steal — all the roads going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it all.

Originally published on my old blog site.