Oldies at Large – On the Oregon Trail West

Climbed out of bed this morning at some hideous hour… if I was back in Aus I could have said I slept in but here on the other side of the world 6am is a hideous hour. I think it has something to do with the sun not setting until 10pm and taking so damn long to sink. Nothing seems to stir beyond 8:30am here so our hour of rising is considered hideous.  

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 7.38.21 amThe reason for our early rising is we are headed west, back into the Rockies. Bearing in mind that it is summer here I am sorta looking forward to the snow capped mountains as it is not a common sight in Aus. We are on the old Oregon Trail that took the pioneers west to the Pacific… mind it is now a tarred and busy little road but it does in deed head west, in a remarkably straight line across the Snake River Plains and beyond.

We are in the very eastern foothills of the Rockies where we are hoed up in 4-5 star comfort for a spell, recovering in luxury from a week camping rough. There is nothing like a deep spa bath when all you have been up to is a chicken wash for several days…. Bliss!!!

link http:::toonclips.com:There are a lot of subtle differences to Aussies, who venture onto the northern continents and they are always fun to observe. The least of which are the light switches, they are all about where up means on, and down means off. We all know of course that the water goes around and down the drain the wrong way, but did you know that they have no on/off switches on the power points over here… ya just yank the plug out or everything stays perpetually on.

The people are lovely we have found and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I have some pet hates. Tipping for one!  Well I have come to accept that tipping in a café’ or diner is OK as after all you don’t always pay for that bottomless cuppa you get the minute you plant your butt. Now this is a practice and custom we could learn from. We figure it is the same… a $25+ meal all-inclusive is worth an extra $3 – $5 for the coffee given in tip when you round it up to $30 and that is a generous tip.

It is an entirely other story when you go out to a meal at nigh where a 15% tip can turn into $30 on its own…. Now that is ridiculous!  My solution is to dine in-house at night; it is warmer, more comfortable and even entertaining. I just can’t bring myself to part out with such an amount in bribes for service… maybe it is an Aussie thing.

Telly is another issue I have. In our lay day here when we had finally reached our resort stop, we settled down to soak up a bit of the local media offering. What a waste of space that telly is!  It is a good thing we have picked up some DVD’s. Now I knew that Americans are a tad obsessive about politics, religion and a few other things but you wouldn’t believe the medical ads on that horrid big black box!  The ‘buy-me’ sector isn’t even entertaining but saturated with dire warnings about health issues and what meds to buy to solve every conceivable problem that you MIGHT imagine you have. All coupled with a dire warning of side effects, which I suppose has something to do with the litigation set.

We turned the free to air off in the end, it was a run of ads… mixed with repeats and ‘look at me’ type entertainment. I don’t know wether going off telly yonks ago has had an indelible affect on my opinion but I can’t even stomach the roll of supposed entertainment on those black boxes now. I guess it is now a choice of a good book or DVD’s for me forever… there is just no escaping the rollout of bad journalism and blasé’ news with the offerings on the idiot box unless you turn the thing off. BTW their ad feed is as bad as ours, you have a lot of trouble maintaining any kind of continuous attention to a story line or plot… we have definitely ‘lost it’ on what constitutes good entertainment. The best we could find in two days was one old movie, Ground Hog day, the old version. Trouble was it was drawn out so long with ads that it too became unwatchable and The Man fell asleep.

In our travels there are also a few things that are notable… first being that I have learnt to pee like an American… behind a bush. There are a lamentable lack of loo’s or public facilities on their roads. I mean there are hundreds of klm without any loo in sight. They do have these entertaining ‘Interest points’ though which are info boards on history and geology etc, which you can pull over to read. Gives your companions something to read while you pee behind a bush I guess.

educThe Yanks make a much better job of preserving their history and Aussies do, it also helps that they recognize their history. Unlike Aussies who are only taught English maritime history and next to zitto of their own peoples experience. A truly lamentable state of affairs down-under and one which the Education Dept and powers that be continue to ignore.

One thing that is highly disconcerting is that they have no guardrails to speak of on their roads, regardless of how precipitous the edge of the road might be. A truly unnerving experience it is too at times. The ever presence of the pine tree is also making me long for the sight of a mangled gum, something that has crept up on me slowly.

I am loving our travels, wouldn’t miss it for the world but Aus… I am beginning to miss you a tad. So what is it I miss the most at the moment? A dam decent cuppa… answer’s that question.

Happy travelling.

Jan is an Australian author and writer. You can find our more about her publications at her official web site. Be sure to check out the reader discounts there.

Jan an Naum

Rockies FP smallRead the full travelogue of Jans adventures in the e-book ‘The Rockies and the Greater NW USA’ now available at Amazon for just $US1.99




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