2015 USA Road Trip Day 1: Philadelphia PA to Atlantic City NJ
A slightly traumatic drive to Heathrow this morning which started when I realised the petrol gauge was empty in the unfamiliar car I was driving - with no more petrol stations until the airport. Thankfully there wasn't an unhappy ending to the beginning ...
The flight was on an Airbus 300 and I was in the middle of a group of 4 seats at the middle, which was probably the best place not to be interrupted or knocked by people walking up and down the aisle. I got 15 minutes sleep in all. The flight was just under 8 hours and it did drag a bit. I entertained myself by learning loads of new places on the in-flight navigation screen.
Immigration is always so unfriendly. "Why do you want to go to Atlantic City?", I'm asked. Have to admit it got me thinking. Is it a bad thing to go there? Should I not admit it to anyone? I tell him my plans and he says "Why do you want to drive to San Francisco?" I don't tell this guy how to use his leisure time ...
On top of the flight I had to wait the best part of an hour for my car which wasn't ready, and as a result the 61 miles from the airport to my home in Atlantic City seemed to take forever. That doesn't bode well as I technically haven't started my coast to coast drive yet. The car did turn out to be the one I asked for, a convertible Ford Mustang, but I'm not expecting to take the top down for several days.
Driving it is really easy from the start and it's very comfortable too. I got into a bit of a mad panic when a sign appeared saying I had to pay a toll, as all I had on me was the $7 left over from my trip to New York 10 years ago which I managed to remember to bring. Luckily the toll was less than that.
Although my door key suggested I should "call Dominos for room service" I decided I couldn't stuff myself with pizza just a few hours into my travels and drove down the Black Horse Pike to an Italian restaurant, Jo Jo's Grille. It was really popular as the car park was full and I risked parking in the shop next door, but lots of other people were parking up there so it was a risk worth taking. It was also really popular because it's Valentine's Day, of course.
There were no tables available but I had the option of sitting up at the bar and eating which suited me fine. I ended up sitting next to a couple, Jeannie and Mark, who heard my accent and started asking me all about London. Mark was telling me about his time in Europe like it was a major event for an American to travel there, and I think he's right. We were sitting in front of a big TV showing CNN coverage of a shooting in Copenhagen and Jeannie asked where Copenhagen was.
The best part of the conversation was Mark saying, so, you in Atlantic City for a couple of days? The thing you really need to try when you're here ... (long pause) ... is the drinking water. Out of the tap. I would say it's number 1 or number 2 in the whole of the USA.
I asked "What's so good about it?"
(Another long pause) "It's REALLY clean!"
When I came out of the restaurant a guy holds the door open for me and when I say thanks he shouts - in a friendly way - "HEY NO PROBLEM! YOU GOT IT!" I think 4 or 5 people have already said "you got it" to me. I'm back in the hotel now and very pleased that I've managed to stay up to 8.30pm and counting - that's 1.30am UK time, so I've only been up 20 hours ...
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Last updated 20 February 2015 14:06
I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.