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.