Thursday, 13 October 2011

It's just different

I have been fortunate over the years to have travelled to the USA many times and have never found a problem with jet lag. That seemed to change this time. Since arriving home four days ago I have quite literally not slept and constantly feel that 2 in the afternoon is actually time for breakfast. I guess it's just the time difference still being set in my body to west coast America.

Despite being away for 5 months, like most people after visiting foreign climes, I find myself looking out of the house window to a familiar view and feeling that I haven't been away at all. I think this is connected to seeing that nothing has changed. If nothing is different from when you left, then after so many new and rich experiences, life back home can seem, well, dull. But today I noticed many different things.

I pulled the cycle gear back on and ventured out into a beautiful Fall, sorry, Autumn day. As I pulled out of my street, for a fraction of a second, I almost started cycling along the right hand side of the road. Thankfully oncoming cars reminded me that it's different here in the UK, and I pulled across to the left. I was aware that not a single motorist gave way to me, or yield as they say in the States, to allow me to cross the road. How different that is over there where 99% of drivers are very courteous.

I visited a couple of local stores for groceries and to buy some good bacon (sorry America, you can't do bacon) and marvelled at the difference in prices to America. There a single apple would cost as much as £1 whereas I could now buy 3 for that. As I checked out and paid, still wearing my cycle helmet, no one asked me where I was cycling to or where I had come from. That felt a little sad but I suppose the difference is we're far more used to cyclists here. I pedalled on through my local neighbourhood and noticed several new shops. Some had closed down and others had a fresh lick of paint. One new shop was a wonderful large organic market with a coffee shop on the way in spring next year.

With my toned and strong legs from America I pushed on through the town and out to a local park, climbing a steep hill on the sides of Arthur's Seat with ease. Breathless yes, sort butt certainly, but flying up as if it were level. This eventually joins a cycle path that was once a railway, called the Innocent Railway, what they would call a rails-to-trails in the US. I barreled along through Autumn colours to a local supermarket and found to my amusement that the staff were wishing me "have a nice day". As it is owned and operated by Walmart this shouldn't be a surprise, but I thought it was "kinda funny".

Heading home I detoured to another local park in the hope of catching the last of a wild flower meadow, but it was too late in the season and it had all but withered away. As I approached a train passed over a railway bridge and my thoughts went back to the mighty locomotives on the Northern Pacific Railroad. How different their trains are and how I miss their sound.

My final route home took me along what has been known affectionately for decades as Jobby Lane. That's not it's real name of course, but gives you some idea of it's historic use by dog walkers. Well. I was blown away. Here was a real difference. Now proudly named the Christian Path it has been landscaped and paved to 5 feet wide and is an excellent cycle path short cut to my house. For years it has just been a quagmire of mud and you-know-what. Not anymore.

Now that was a nice difference.

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