Out on the Razzle in America

United Kingdom
Freelance writer, literary graduate and minor lad. In America for pleasure, not business. I've never been before, so I thought I should. Should I have done it all at once? Can it all be done at once? Only one way to find out...

Friday, 14 August 2009

Rural Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and a little bit of Lake Erie

Interstate 90 cuts through the northern part of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and a part of Illinois. There is little to distinguish the states from each other from the turnpike, except small variations in the height of the hills and the ratio of maize to peas being grown. Cleveland, Ohio, has little to its name, except some exceptionally tall industrial works and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once you have seen Elvis' purple Lincoln, Slash's hat and some of Jimi's guitars, you have probably seen all that the area has to offer for tourists. I'm sure there is something else, but it was nothing spectacular. The lake itself is spectacular, but Cleveland cannot really claim it. Ohio does pick up some rather good country music stations, and does do a good line in classic rock, but considering that it has the Hall of Fame it probably has to keep up appearances.

I was going to say that the area to the south of the lake brings nothing to the table, but that probably isn't the case. I assume it brings corn. Other than the trucker stops and their racks of hats, stimulant drinks and two litre (or liter) coffee mugs, there is little to see apart from some silos and the odd sign to an Amish community. In this part of the US you can really get a sense of the scale of the country, as the rivers and the bridges that span them, or the valleys they cut through, are all huge, and invariably followed by another of equal size.

The best stop yet was made at the gas station in rural Ohio, about an hour off the shore, at the crossroads of two highways that went totally straight to the horizon in four directions. Above cold fridges stacked with frosty beer were the mounted heads and spread pelts of black bear, wolf, reindeer, various buck and a beaver. On the way to the toilet was a crayon drawing saying "I am PRoud to Be AmErican", with a flag without enough stars and stripes but with more than enough patriotism. Inside the toilet was graffitti explaining how "Mexicans shit to feed niggars", before pondering, "do you.". If you were to wander outside, yourself pondering this grammatically and socially dubious sentiment, you would see a shirtless man leaning against a red pickup. How very uncivilised. How very strange, and very American. As much as the country continues to break the stereotypes, it continues to keep them strong.

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