Lake Erie was foggy but it cleared as we approached
the shore and the pilot squeezed us alongside.
The stevedores who took our lines had to fight off
annoyed seagulls - the end of the wharf was covered
in nests, eggs, fledglings, seagulls and birdshit. I
presume they were in some way protected species as it
would have been so easy to discourage them by destroying
We took a taxi to the airport to collect our hire car
- a Cadillac DTS. 275hp 4.6 L V8 Engine. I lost count
when I got to forty odd buttons surrounding the driver.
We set off, cruising west. I found it difficult to
give up the water so kept hunting for views of lake
Erie. This took us to Sandusky, famous for "Cedar
Point" - a theme park with more roller coasters
than any other park - and also supporting "Mr Smiths"
- a very welcoming bistro with a refreshing line in
We crossed Lake Erie at 15 knots through the night and
reached Cleveland at 9.30 this morning so we didn't
get to see much of that lake either! A busy morning
of packing and clearing our cabins left me no time to
Once we had docked, US Customs Officers came aboard
and closed all exits until they had interviewed all
passengers and crew members and cleared us all for entry
to the USA. They were not nearly as scary as the ones
who boarded the George Poole, when Ian and I crossed
the Atlantic 25 years ago and arrived in Fort Lauderdale.
The ship's cook and steward had put together a huge
packed lunch for us to take away with us, which was
so kind, and some of the crew used one of the ship's
cranes to unload our heap of heavy luggage down onto
Then our taxi arrived and we said our final goodbyes
and drove away. Isa had started to feel really quite
small after 12 days on board but looking back at her,
lying against the quayside, she looked reassuringly
In the Afternoon
America really is a foreign land! It actually feels
more foreign than France or Holland despite the fact
that we share a common language (more or less
I find myself having to ask people to repeat things
quite a lot but perhaps my ear will become attuned in
time) and the fact that we feel sort of familiar with
it from films and TV programs.
Our hire car is a silver Chevrolet Deville Sedan and
Ian has, pretty quickly, got to grips with
a) the fact that it's an automatic a few jerks
and kangaroo hops caused by trying to use the brake
pedal as a clutch,
b) the fact that it is a left-hand drive a tendency
to position the car too far over to the right hand side
of the lane and to panic at the sight of passing cars
that appear to be driven by a large dog or someone who
is asleep, and
c) driving on the wrong side of the road this
is actually the least of our problems because we have
driven in France several times in the last few years.
I have chickened out of driving for today but it is
a very comfortable car as a passenger. The air conditioning
is so efficient that getting out of the car is like
stepping into a fan oven. We even have a button to cool
your seat (and one to heat it too, of course) and one
that alters the shape of your seat back to conform the
the shape of your spine!
We headed West out of Cleveland towards Chicago where
Route 66 begins and within the first 30 miles we had
seen billboards for virtually every famous American
brand we have ever heard of, from Wendy's to Wal-Mart.
We decided to try out a Wendy's first, as the boys wanted
burgers for their first meal in the USA and this is
the brand that I have never seen in the UK I
don't care if I never do!
We started our day in Ohio and ended it in Michigan.
Already we are getting an impression of wide horizons
and long distances. We found a motel in Ann Arbor, just
because we liked the name of the place. It had satellite
TV, wireless Internet access and a swimming pool and
we made good use of all three. And so ends our first
day in the USA tomorrow we will discover Indiana
and Illinois and just those names fill me with expectation!
Reached Cleveland, talked to customs, called
a taxi and went to see America. Cars are longer, roads
are wider, there is loads of pickups, houses are made
mostly out of wood, the whole world is flatter, I could
keep going on with all the changes I see but it would
go on forever, right down to the small things, just
every scale, shape, size is different and thats just
in the twenty minutes in the taxi.
We picked up the rental car, we got one of those weird
things they do where for a little more you get a much
better car. So we got a nice big touring sedan which
can be painful when mum tries to use the clutch and
because mum and dad think the bulk of the car is on
their left not their right so the right wheels end up
in the ditch in the side of the road too often.
We tried Wendys burger bar....... its a big fat average.
I really don't get this fast food culture its boring
and bland food.
Motel with TV, WiFi and Pool
The Harry Report
Wendys sucked beyond all reason. The heat nearly knocked
me out. The motel was nice.
Lots and lots and lots of birds!