Wheel alignment

Saturday 5 March 2011

Innocents on the loose in America

 Be afraid, be very afraid.....

Just before we (finally) vanish overseas this week, this is for you Lori!

BeemerGirl (Lori) made  a recent post  about creepy books and exploring equally creepy country back roads.  The comments soon turned to the worrying sound of banjos at the end of these lonely roads!  I made mention that I'd spent a little bit of time in Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana back in the mid-90's working with our parent company, a large pulp and paper manufacturer and therefore had some direct experience of the type of backroads which Lori and others mentioned. These diversions down side roads (sticking to the tar seal - we weren't that dumb!) were delightful.  We stopped for lunch at a catfish eatery miles from anywhere.  The food was outstanding but it was slightly unnerving as the local patrons all looked pretty similar, even down to everyone wearing the same John Deere caps.  We had a fleeting worry that we were going to be spirited away to improve the local gene pool but all was well as they were unfailingly charming and hospitable.

In Louisiana, we stopped at a roadside fruit stall, manned by Ma and Pa Clampett.  Whoever said that the USA and NZ were 2 cultures united by a common language was just a touch optimistic!!!  We'd probably have been better off speaking French.  Ma Clampett showed total mastery of world geography by asking whether we were from Noooo Yawk!!  Don't suppose they got many northerners round those parts and they probably wouldn't wouldn't have got the joke that NZ is even further south than Louisiana. Even got stars on our flag.

 Yours truly at an interstate info/rest stop

However, it was in N'Orleans that the tables were reversed and it was the Kiwis that were shown to be complete country hicks, me in particular!  Four Kiwis arrived on a wet and humid Friday lunchtime for a couple of days of R and R.  After checking into our hotel in the French Quarter, lunch consisted of beer and oysters at a number of the oyster bars in town.  Not a smart move really given that we were dehydrated to begin with.  By mid-afternoon, it was time to return to the hotel and get a bit of shuteye ready for an evening on the town.  We were "not drunk, but having drink partaken" if you get the subtle difference.  Due to the rain, my feet were soaked and my socks constituted a severe health hazard; complete disposal being the most expedient option.

You need to understand that the following thought processes were of someone temporarily running on just a handful of brain cells at that stage so there's your answer to the obvious question "Whatever were you thinking of?" when you've read the rest of this sorry tale.

There was no way I was going to leave them in the room rubbish tin for the cleaning service to discover as they would soon gain a life of their own, so they had to be disposed of in another way.  The first thought was to look in the corridor well away from the room for a rubbish disposal facility.  Wandered the corridors of this beautiful old hotel in soggy clothes and bare feet, failing miserably to locate anything.  Getting back to the room, the solution was obvious – stick them out on the ledge that ran round the outside of the building at window level.  Failure no.2 – the windows were screwed shut, presumably because open windows interfered with the air conditioning.

Then a stroke of semi-drunken genius!  Why hadn’t I thought of it in the first place?  I would flush them down the toilet!  So in go the socks and here is where the plan started to come apart in a big way.  Most American toilets work on an entirely different principle to the raging torrent NZ ones.  U.S ones seem to sort of work on a gentle whirlpool effect that is fine for intended purpose but evidently not for lightweight large surface area items like socks.  My socks just serenely sailed round and round on the outer edge of the toilet, not even remotely looking like disappearing.  After another failed attempt, drastic measures were called for.  I rolled up a sleeve and physically rammed them up round the hidden bend.  It was actually quite a tight fit and I did suffer some anxiety about getting wedged and having to scream for help. That would have not been a good day if my mates had found out. However, all was well and it worked perfectly after a quick flush.  I was slightly concerned at perhaps being the cause of the entire French Quarter sewage system to back up, but dismissed that as being the product of an over-fertile imagination.  Female readers may now say: "Ewwww.... guys!!!".  Let it be said that you were warned.....

Not this drastic, thank goodness!

Fully recovered later that evening, we joined the carnival atmosphere, ate well and listened to some magnificent blues, jazz and a live Cajun performance by Mamou.  One of our group who was a South African recently turned Kiwi was visibly smitten by a spectacular young lady walking in front of us....  about 6ft tall in heels and wearing a micro-mini skirt.  As we walked past her with our colleague close to meltdown, another colleague asked him (rather unnecessarily I thought) why aforesaid young lady had an Adam's apple.  It took him a few seconds to cotton on and his red face would have lit up the whole of Bourbon St!  We were virtually crying at his discomfort - some friends, huh?

There were a few other occasins for merriment at the expense of each other but the saying, "What goes on tour, stays on tour" is perhaps the best defence!

My 3 Kiwi mates in Memphis

Despite the occasional clash of cultures and hilarious misunderstandings, we all loved the Southern States with a passion.  A more welcoming and generous-spirited people would be hard to find anywhere.  In fact, wherever we've travelled in the world, ordinary people have been unfailingly wonderful.  Visiting parts of the USA and Canada are definitely on Jennie's and my Bucket List.  That is, if I'm let back in!

F-111 at Barksdale AFB the day before we flew back to NZ


  1. OMG!!! Screaming with laughter, crying my eyes out and beating the arm of the sofa senseless! I couldn't keep Oilburner out of the loop and had a difficult time reading it to him. I was really expecting you to wonder about the incorrect counter-clockwise flushing of the toilet...thinking that was preventing the socks from disappearing!!

    Oh my heavens!! Thanks for the laughs. Absolutely great! Have a great time on your trip...no more sock flushing! Though were you are going, the more rural areas might not even have flushing toilets... :)

    Thank YOU!!!


  2. Glad you enjoyed a laugh at my expense Lori :-). I think I see Jennie's point when she says it's sometimes like living with a 5 year old!

    On our return, I solemnly promise not to ruin the plumbing of the entire USA....

  3. We'll just have to keep a close eye on you in any "drink partaken" states. Yes, I will have to agree with Jennie on that one. ;)


  4. After my comment about "Lonnie" the banjo player on one of your recent post of yours I was close to wetting myself with laughter when I saw him today on the blog!!

    awesome stuff, laughter is good!


  5. Anthony:
    Yes indeed, small world. Glad you had a laugh!!

  6. So the man who nearly single handly destroyed the plumbing system of New Orleans, is about to be let lose in South East Asia........mmmmm.....I shall be watching the news for any reports of flooding of major plumbing disturbances. It would be good to go for a ride with you, but I think you have convinced me an overnighter is out of the question....for obvious resons.

    Seriously you had me laughing till I got a side ache. Have a great trip.

  7. Thanks for the vote of confidence Roger ;-).

    Under this cool, calm exterior lurks a complete plonker!

  8. Geoff

    Please do NOT visit Greece - the plumbing there is very philosophically "optional" and they have enough problems just at the moment.

    I'm most impresed that you returned to NZ in an F-111.

    All the best, N

  9. Nikos:
    Consider it a done deal. I would imagine that the odd flushed dolma would have a far more deleterious effect on the plumbing though.

    The F-111 was flanked by a Hustler converted into a rocket sled and a blast-damaged B-52. Either of those would have been more impressive means of transport in terms of street cred (to use modern jargon). Holding the Hustler at altitude might have been a little difficult though.

  10. Geoff

    Talking about rocket sleds, have you seen this?


    I have always wanted to build a pulse jet - an extreemely simple and elegant form of jet engine!

    have a graet weekend, N

  11. Man, this was funny! :D
    And now I know that toilets in NZ are tough enough built for mua, so I can finally cross out that perplexity. Thank you very much. :)
    Those "girls" with Adam's apple are very rare in my region, it's good to be aware of them when you travel to distant areas... yikes!

  12. Nikos:
    That's really cool! There's a guy not far from us in NZ who builds pulse jets. He built a low cost cruise missile engine(a bit like a V-1) and a dragster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clOmc3WI5fk and http://aardvark.co.nz/pjet/ for info on building them.

    Cheers, I try and bring a bit of variety to the blog now and then :-)

  13. Geoff

    I've just been told by Mrs Nikos to stop watching youtube films of model pulse jets and come to bed ....

    have a good holiday!


  14. Geoff, I feel much better about myself now having read your tale!

    An aspect of 'out of the way places' in the USA that I hadn't considered when over there last year (and it applies equally to parts of Aust)was just how poor the cell 'phone coverage is. One of the motorcycle rental companies on the West Coast who I had considered renting from even go so far as to provide a satellite 'phone for foreign customers.

    I'm certainly going to look into renting or buying a sat phone the next time I tour the USA or any other country with remote areas for that matter.

    Enjoy your trip.
    Cheers Jules.

  15. Hi Jules:
    Jennie expects me to make a spectacle of myself wherever I go ;-).

    Thanks for the heads-up on phone coverage for when we get over there next.

    Cheers mate and catch you when we get back!

  16. Don't worry about the "out of service" areas. TAKE A LOCAL WITH YOU!! By local, I mean me. ;)

  17. Lori.... you wouldn't want to be seen with someone who might cause you endless embarrassment, would you?

    Might be a bit older since the last USA visit but wiser??? Dunno really ;-)

  18. Howdy there Geoff?
    Is that pota be some fancy way of a spellen JEFF?
    And howd's ya get that picture of my cousen Fetch, a sitten on the porch anyhow. Thuncked I was the onlyest one who had that. Anyhow, where is New Zealand zactly? I knowed where old zealand useta be, just down the tracks past the creak. Whadthey do, build a new one? Well, my quarter's worth the time isa runnen out on this puter thing and I got's possum aboilen over in the kettle. If your ever in the Ozarks, come by a sit a spell. We'll throw som taters in the pot and break out the string-necked box and dance a jig or two right there in the front charred.

    We're always a looken for good breeders!
    So drop on by!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Well that's real neighbourly of you Old Chigger. you won't mind if I bring some friends who are armed to the teeth with me? ;-)

    Hahaha - nicely done!

  20. Are you referring to you or me being the source of endless embarrassment?? Don't worry, if it's you I am quite capable of laughing at my friends. And if it's me... humph! I am offended...

  21. Me of course - you have the evidence :-)

  22. :) Well...I will just have to join you, so you won't be laughed at alone. hehe

  23. Naa, come on. We can always use a couple a fella's who's got two arms. Far as teeth are concerned, we woulda had a full set counting all the cousins at the last family shindig ifin cousin Noah hadina been killed by that pig. Damn, an we was so close last year!

    But, all kidding aside, I'm from the Ozarks, five generations deep. As scary as it may be I have been to a few reunions and places back home where we watched our kids real carefully. We're a good bunch of folks who either just got tied of being poor and left or just gave up and stayed right there in the mountains. Enjoy your years of riding and God Bless!

  24. Oh, man... is SE-Asia safe from your socks? Safe trip, folks - and looking forward to travel tales :-)


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