Being in the car so long, Jordan and I had plenty of time to talk. Surprisingly, the conversation rarely turned to the heavy stuff of our every day life - we seemed to take a vacation from that too. Most of the time we just rambled on incessantly about pretty meaningless stuff, so I thought I'd share 15 of our most astute observations. Many (but not all) of them are direct comparisons between Canada and our neighbourly country to the south, and you may be surprised at who often wins:
1. Unless you are somewhere quite rural, you are on a 4 lane divided highway everywhere you go in the States. There are overpasses and no such thing as stop lights to slow you down. The Trans-Freaking-Canada goes right through the middle of towns and instead of overpasses, we have stoplights. Whose idea was that?
2. The speed limit on said 4 lane US highways is 75 mph. That translates to roughly 120km/h. Do you know a highway in Canada that has a speed limit that high? No. Probably because we have so many stoplights.
3. US highways are clearly marked every few miles with the route name. Once we traveled back into Canada I realized that our highways are not, panicking several times in Alberta, having no real idea what highway we were driving on. Signage on US highways is in fact much better all together. You have tons of warning when an off ramp or a junction is coming. In Canada you are warned approximately 3 seconds before you need to slow down and veer off. Clearly we have a limited sign budget.
4. Speaking of budget, or lack thereof, Montana's Department of Transportation has WAY too much money. We would be in the middle of endless miles of farmland where a 2 lane highway clearly sufficed. The roads weren't busy, but if by chance you needed to pass, you had ample opportunity to do so into oncoming traffic because you could see ten miles ahead of you. Yet numerous times we were stopped in a construction zone, miles and miles and miles from anywhere, because they were widening it to 4 lanes. Montana couldn't you find something better to spend that money on? Surely your hospitals or schools must need some sort of assistance?
5. Albertans: passing lanes are for PASSING, or at the very least for driving the speed limit. Just sayin'.
6. The prairies are super boring. Like wow. How do people drive those roads all the time? It definitely must contribute to the problem discussed in #5 above.
7. American border guards are clearly trained to intimidate you and Canadian border guards are not. When we crossed into the US the guy was a total jerk, making us feel nervous even though we had nothing to hide. When we crossed back into Canada, the guy was a typical Canadian: the opposite of intimidating.
8. Some Americans don't know what a 'washroom' is. I went into a restaurant and asked where it was. The girl apparently thought I was speaking another language and said "I have no idea what you're asking for but I'll assume you mean the bathroom. It's over there." Are we really that British?!
9. Yes, Canadians have accents, and yes, they vary from the West Coast to central Canada, to the East, but nothing like the States. Woweee do they have some GREAT accents. The more southern the better. If you have a southern accent you immediately sound like a sweetheart and in our experience, you generally are.
10. Wyoming is full of honest to goodness, REAL cowboys. Not rednecks who wear cowboy boots and drive big trucks, but actual cowboys who dress the part because it's functional. We saw them in the flesh. To my surprise, I was enamoured.
11. Gas is really cheap in the States. You know what else is cheap? Beer. Like really, really cheap.
12. The US really is "Fast Food Nation". Sure, many Canadians eat fast food, but we probably only have 10% of the fast food restaurants that they have stateside. And I swear the quantity of food on your plate is even greater than in Canada, if that is even possible.
13. We had free breakfast at most of our hotels, and with that, came individual packets of peanut butter, jam, cream cheese, etc. America, you know how to package your condiments - bigger. In Canada, you need two or three packets of anything to spread on your bread products. In the US, you need one packet, that is all. It's not too much, it's just right. Sounds silly but you are literally using half, if not less, of the packaging on your disposable condiments. I doubt the makers of these condiments are thinking of saving the environment one small peanut butter at a time, but anything helps. Plus, it's really annoying to use 3 cream cheese packets on one bagel.
14. Back to highway observations - sorry, thought I was done with that. But several times on the interstates there would be a construction sign, followed by pylons leading us into single lane traffic. Then the pylons would contine for miles and there would be no signs of any construction, construction workers, or equipment. Eventually the pylons would end and we would be back to multi-lane. I would say that of all the times we saw "construction", work was being done maybe 10% of the time.
15. We Trousdells are not the only ones who love road trips - apparently so do many other North Americans. We saw the license plates of 46 States, missing only Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont (you elitist East Coasters - why weren't you exploring the midwest?) and Hawaii, as well as 7 provinces (missing NL, NS and PEI). When we would see a new license plate it would be a pretty exciting event. I may have caused a small scene when a vehicle from Rhode Island pulled into the gas station next to us on our last day in Montana.
So now you know what we talked about for 6000+ kms. As I said, totally random. Am I making you want to plan a giant road trip of your own?!