15 June 2010


Desoto Falls near Mentone, Alabama

Our daughter's time in the USA is almost up. After two wonderful and successful semesters at Birmingham Southern College in Alabama, she spent a week with a college room-mate up in the top right hand corner of Alabama - in a small town called Mentone - close to the border with Georgia - home state of the famous Yankee blogger Robert Barack Brague.

Next our Frances headed down to the Big Easy - New Orleans - where she met up with an English friend to begin their little American adventure. They cadged a lift to Houston, stayed there for three or four days then went by Greyhound to San Antonio - home of The Alamo. Next it was on to Austin, the Texan state capital before three days in Dallas where they stood upon the grassy knoll.

The twenty eight hour Greyhound journey to Las Vegas turned into a monstrous forty four hour journey because of Greyhound's incompetent booking service. The connecting bus in Flagstaff, Arizona was full so they had to travel to Los Angeles to await another bus to Las Vegas. On the way, a drug-fuelled passenger attacked an old lady as she slept and so there was a big commotion and a long wait for the cops and an ambulance.

Speaking to us via the amazing "Skype" facility, when she finally arrived at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, Frances declared that she would never ever travel on another long distance bus. She and her friend Meg were understandably utterly knackered and to use an old English term - "pissed off".

The next day was better. They picked up the hire car they had been dreaming of and headed back to Los Angeles - but not to the Greyhound bus station! Then it was on to San Diego before a long drive to Williams, Arizona on the very doorstep of the Grand Canyon which is unquestionably one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Next they headed up to Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah border staying at Mexican Hat and the following night was spent in a little Utah town called Moab. Here's an amazing sidetrack I have to tell you about: Californian blogger, Jan Blawat (Consumne Girl) had been touring in the eastern states. I followed her progress as she headed homeward and where do you think she ended up last Friday night? Yes. Moab, Utah on the very same night my Frances got there! I am no mathematician but the chances of this happening must have been as remote as Moab itself.

Then they saw the Arches National Park before heading back to Las Vegas for a couple of nights. At 12.15pm on Tuesday Frances was scheduled to fly back to Birmingham, Alabama to say goodbye to a few friends and to pick up the rest of her luggage. I am writing this as her plane heads towards Atlanta. Sadly it was delayed for ages in Las Vegas so she will miss her connecting flight to Birmingham. I am just hoping that Delta Airlines have some spare seats on the next flight or she will be stuck in Atlanta till the morning. And she's due to fly home to England on Wednesday afternoon!

Travelling far away is not as it was when I was young. Then you were really gone. No phone calls, no emails, no "Skype" video calls, no Facebook photo albums and very few letters. But during her time in the USA I have felt very close to Frances's total experience. This is one of the benefits of modern technologies or perhaps one of the regrettable handicaps.

As she prepares to return to her beloved Yorkshire, may I on her behalf thank the staff and students of Birmingham Southern College for their hospitality, the Hunt family of Mentone AL for their kindness, the people of Selma AL, the staff of the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Delta Airlines, Enterprise Car Hire, The Rolling Rock Brewery, Taco Bell and Wendy's and above all the righteous and inspirational President Barack Obama for allowing her to stay in his wonderfully sweet land of liberty.
Moab, Utah


  1. As my daughter spent 5 years away from home mostly in the UK I know how anxious you can be about their safety but that wonderful invention, the mobile phone is a great calmer of nerves.
    All that aside I'm sure you will be glad to have her home safe- but wait. She will be changed and I'm sure she will come home with her confidence grown a hundredfold having coped in all sorts of situations ALL ON HER OWN !

  2. It sounds like a wonderful experience, albeit with its downsides and I am sure you can't wait to have her back with you.

  3. Elizabeth11:23 pm

    I echo Jennyta's sentiments. What a wonderful opportunity for Francis to have. You and Shirley must be so looking forward to having her back home with you.

    As a late starter in the motherhood stakes I still have this all to come - strange to think that I shall be almost seventy by the time my youngest takes flight, by which time you may well be a grandfather several times over!

    I must confess I'm in two minds about the Skype thing 'though; I can see the advantages and that it must have made you feel very in contact, but doesn't part of giving our children wings to fly entail them knowing the nest is there to come back to, but also giving them the push to soar totally out of its sight? (I know what I mean!!) x

  4. Fabulous adventure that will mark her positively for life.
    All the best to Frances!

  5. I have been to Mentone and Birmingham and New Orleans and Austin and San Antonio and Dallas and Atlanta, but none of those other places.

    Years ago my aunt and cousin rode on a bus from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for three days to visit us in Texas. When they arrived my aunt said, "Now I know they call it Greyhound -- because you feel like a dog when you get off."

    Some cad and scalawag has added some words to your post after the word "Wendy's"...BHO does not own this country quite yet, but he's trying.

  6. correction: know why they call it Greyhound

  7. I know how you must have felt to be able to stay in touch even when so far apart. I've set-up a blog for my darling daughter for when she goes to SA next month. Now all I have to do is persuade her to use it.

  8. HELSIE Thanks. Undoubtedly sound asvice.
    JENNY It is so fulfilling to see a fledgling really fly.
    ELIZABETH Me as a grandfather? You really know how to hurt a guy! In my head I am still eighteen.
    JEAN "mark her positively for life" - I know what you are saying but I am hoping that this wasn't the high point and that there will be many more peaks to reach.
    RHYMIE "you feel like a dog when you get off." Do you mean an American hotdog?
    SPARROTS So you have a darling daughter too? I hope the holes in your pocket are big enough! She'll be rather late for the World Cup or did you mean South America?

  9. I tried so hard to find Frances in Moab, and also spent a night in Birmingham at the beginning of my trip. What a great adventure she had! Yeeehah! She's brave, too. You wouldn't catch me riding a Greyhound bus unless Aunt Bea's husband Jack (now retired in Tennessee) was driving it. I just hope Frances doesn't get bored at home with all you STUFFY, dignified folks (bwahaha, gotcha!).

  10. JAN BLAWAT "I just hope Frances doesn't get bored at home with all you STUFFY, dignified folks" Is that how America views our people? Ever heard of John Lennon? Hugh Lawrie? Tracey Emin? Screaming Lord Sutch? If I should ever return to California you will be receiving a damned good spanking young lady!....By the way, in Moab, Frances stayed at the Virginian Motel. I'm amazed to see there are 34 hotels in Moab! It's almost as big as stuffy old L.A.!

  11. No, I did mean South Africa -- she arrives two days after the World Cup ends. She is teaching in Cape Town for a couple of months.


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