AMERICA: It’s Life Jim, But Not As We Know It!
Since arriving in the USA mid-June, we’ve noticed a few cultural differences which are worth highlighting. So if you plan to be Stateside anytime soon and have a fetish on milk, alcohol, recycling and being incognito like Two Drifters’ First Lady then read on…
Big Brother Is Watching
As soon as we set foot on American soil in Charleston, South Carolina it was apparent we needed to get a US phone. Not that we have a lot of friends to call who are Stateside, but because every time we move the boat and drop the anchor, take a mooring buoy or visit a marina, we have to report in to the US Customs and Border Protection and tell them exactly where we are.
So in an average week, we have to make four or five phone calls so Big Brother can track our every move. Failure to do so, could mean a $10,000 fine and the boat could be seized. Yikes!
Waste Not Want Not
When it comes to visiting yachts and recycling, America you need to get with the times. Just like your residents, we also like to recycle our bottles, cans, plastic and cardboard – we can get through a lot of plastic bottles of water in a week (not to mention a few beer cans) – but it never ceases to amaze us how such a forward-thinking country can fail to put simple recycling bins near to town dinghy docks.
When we anchor in a bay or even take a mooring buoy, the last thing we want to do is haul our rubbish across town looking for recycling receptacles that are just never there. We always separate out our recycling on board with the aim of being environmentally-friendly at the ports we visit. Inevitably we have to dispose of our recycling in the general garbage skips because the towns cannot be bothered to support visiting yachts which is just so frustrating.
Milk’s Gotta Lotta Bottle
OK, so we understand the difference between full-fat, semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, but visit the USA, pop to the shops for a simple pint and you could be forgiven for thinking you need a GSCE in milk varieties. Vitamin D, 1% 1.5% and 2% reduced fat are just a few of the choices of cow’s milk, let alone the vast extent of goat, Alpro and coconut milk also on offer.
And don’t go thinking that you can cheat by opting for the same colour top each time you need your daily pint, as what could be a green top 1.5% reduced fat milk in one State has changed to an orange top in the next place you visit. Confusing or what?
You’re Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy…
A PhD on alcohol rules in the USA is also required, especially if travelling between States and towns. For starters, some towns are completely dry and it’s a case of BYOB if you visit their restaurants.
Some States permit alcohol to be sold in supermarkets and pharmacy’s, others forbid it, so try and do a weekly shop for the boat, and choose your State, provisioning stop and time you venture out very carefully as while the supermarket may open at 6am for your groceries, the nearby liquor store (if indeed there is one nearby) may not open until 11am. That’s a long wait in order to get your supplies to cook a Beef Bourguignon!
Drinking in public places is illegal in many jurisdictions in the United States, and this extends to parks, sidewalks, vehicles and beaches. So don’t go planning a picnic on the beach with a glass of fizz or cold beer – unless you’ve got a brown paper bag to hide it in!
One exception is if you are in the Power & Light District of Kansas City, Missouri where you can indeed sup the strong stuff on the street as long as it’s in an open plastic container.
If you’re travelling up the east coast of the USA in a boat, be very careful where you fill up your fuel tanks as the diesel prices vary hugely from State to State. South Carolina is almost a dollar a gallon cheaper than Florida (worth noting for those crossing over from the Caribbean). In three and a half years of running this boat, our cheapest fill-up ever was at Southwest Harbor in Maine, where the owner of the marina just so happens to be in the diesel business and he is delighted to sell his fuel at a little over cost, at $2.20 a gallon, in order to encourage tourism into the area. Now that’s what we call a very, very nice man!
© Two Drifters Travel