In good ol eccentric USA, I could easily ignore the two old ladies in NYC that wanted to hit me with their walking sticks


In the USA there is eccentric enjoyment everywhere; One of the old ladies wanted to hit everyone on the bus….

Adverts urge us to send our precious child to a Christian college

right next to it is signage for the next big gun exhibition.

As an eccentric Aussie who takes a mouthorgan while travelling the world, what do I care about the height of luxury? Nothing at all.
I want to remember the USA for the quirky and eccentric stuff, not the big monuments. I care less for the grand Statue of Liberty than for jamming with a keyboard player in the NYC underground. Two funny old grey people, continents apart, who spoke the language of Moon River.


As Moon River wafted down the railroad track commuters were inspired to give money

(not to myself) but to this deserving New York Musician

Now back to the highly revered Las Vegas where our room didn’t have a coffee pot, but neither did anyone else’s room, and we didn’t care. (the wife did a bit). We knew we wouldn’t get a decent flat white for three weeks. So I was happy to traipse a kilometre from one side of Vegas Motel, Circus Circus, to the other, finding the all night diner, in search of hot water. (The room didn’t have a kettle either.

The Mexican at the Casino diner was prepared to tell me her life story, as you get much spare time at 3.30a.m.
“I need hot water to make my Cypriot wife a coffee.”

Ok buy one cup of coffee and take as much hot water as you wish, she said. Anything else for sir?

Yep I need a hug.

So I got a free hug. Many countries might think I was a weirdo but not in the USA. The many eccentric strands, running through the place, make it worth visiting, rather than the monuments for which hundreds of thousands spilled their blood.
Like the retired science researcher I met at Disneyland who explained why some southerners have extreme views. That was more fun than the attractions. Or the bright Jewish guy on the NYC bus who explained why Americans only want news about America. ” You can’t pay money for fun like that.
“We are taught that this is the centre of the universe. Everything we will ever need in this world is in America,” said the bright Jewish guy. People grow up thinking they don’t need to know about the rest of the world.

“But there is no news from anywhere else,” I complained.

“I listen to the BBC,” he said. Me too I replied.

From LA to San Francisco, from Bakersfield to New York

the warmth of most Americans is endearing

Most Americans want to talk to you. If you miss this, you have missed the best side of USA.

I don’t include the pot heads that were drinking on the train from LA airport to LA, rudely telling the carriage, out loud, that it stank, or the crims that stabbed someone to death at Avalon Station the same night so our train bypassed it. “Police activity” was code for, there’s a body lying on the platform, don’t look out the window, because it doesn’t look like Hollywood.

You can easily ignore the two old ladies

that wanted to hit all the passengers with their walking sticks

It doesn’t include the old biddy that hated my Aussie accent so much she wanted to hit me with her walking stick, at a Broadway bus stop.  We caught a different bus and there was another elderly passenger, (also an elderly pothead) that some young lady brushed past, and she swore and shrieked and offered to hit all of us with her walking stick. She had colorful profanity that experts don’t use.

We mentioned our experience at the rear of the bus and about a dozen New Yorkers became chatty and apologetic and gave us a 30 minute workshop on why NYC is so talkative. Where are you from? What is your experience? Can we tell you about our city and why we talk a lot? The love to talk, it’s what they do best.

So those two angry old pot heads were a catalyst to get the entire place talking. It was direct art and my wife and I were importantly in the centre of it. In London or downtown Sydney, if you try to get half a bus or subway train talking, someone will likely call security and have your problem dealt with. This is the refreshing part of much of the USA. It is weird in an endearing, warm, friendly way.

On another topic, I really wanted to know, Why do Americans love dogs?

Why is there a dog accessories shop on every second block but not one music shop for miles? Why do dogs travel on aircraft more easily than do children? What did the Americans give me on this one? Dogs supply a need. We’ve made room for dogs. People respect dogs. They’re an important part of our lives.


Yet another question: Why is so much food covered in melted cheese?

Obviously the skinny Americans avoid the food covered in melted cheese but you can clearly see who doesn’t.


I was full of dumb Aussie questions. It was more exhilarating than seeing the Statue of Liberty or that high building where people usually kiss at the lookout.  If you missed warm chatty USA, you short changed yourself.

I appreciated the bright Jewish guy on the NYC bus who explained why Americans only want news about America. ” You can’t pay money for that.
“We are taught that this is the centre of the universe. Everything we will ever need in this world is in America,” said the bright New Yorker.

“But never any news about anywhere else,” I complained.

“That’s not a problem, as I listen to the BBC,” he said. Me too I replied.
But back to Circus Circus, in Las Vegas, which is a cheap way of seeing Vegas. It is adequate and has all you need in the town is somewhere to sleep because you can go out and buy everything else.
The staff are courteous, very friendly and you can get a shuttle bus to anywhere.
I was starting to drawl and twang like an American, and enjoyed my coffee without sissy European milk. I got sleep in short bursts and concluded that a package tour was the best way to see a lot of USA. That is why I was up at 3.30a.m. getting my wife’s coffee, and a free Mexican hug, after seeing all the Las Vegas glitter, fountains and art galleries, then grabbing a couple of precious hours of sleep before being ushered onto the umpteenth bus, heading for the grand canyon.


I challenge you energetic youthful people to keep up the pace of old folks on a package tour.

That’s why we take sleep in short spells and drink strong coffee because we will look back at our vast array of pics, vids and laugh and not remember fatigue, or the strict Chinese tour guide Jonathan who enjoyed kicking us out of hotels at 4a.m. before brekky could be served. I am not surprised that the best 6 hr sleep I had was in the Sioux City Motel where the coffee machine was broken and the room reeked of cigarette smoke. Some drawling tourist smoked all over those curtains but that sleep was the best for weeks.

So you zippy youths, did you see the bright lights of Vegas and then drive 3 hours to the grand canyon, camping in your khombi van to see the sun rising on this awesome ancient monument to a 40 billion year history? I am not surprised you didn’t.


And legal road signs offering to litigate our friends, were spoiling the view of adverts for worthy people like aged wrinkly, but very talented, Bobby Rydell, or the Bee Gees and Rod Stewart tribute shows. And please don’t miss Mike Tyson at the Venetian, Aug 20 and 21. We missed him.
The Circus Circus casino patrons were excited and pumped last night, during a tour of Vegas, but were all drained and weary at 3 am, etched with fatigue.
We had 4 hrs sleep but we sought the wonders of nature and how the sunrise brings them to life. Those awesome Chinese and their non-stop tours. The drab deserts looked like my wife’s native Cyprus. It made her homesick. Lets look for more eccentric Americans. How can they be this friendly and be so cloistered from the rest of the world? It’s just all part of the mystery of the USA. Circus Circus is adequate but the treasure of USA is its rich unabashed eccentricity.


Similar to what happens in Australia with indigenous folks, the Hualapai indians were acknowledged,

prior to the real estate industry moving them several hundred kilometres to a reservation.


Interesting desert sign shows that outback craps games

are making the Nevada Desert more attractive to locals and tourists.

About John
John started out as a cadet in 1970 at Bundaberg News Mail, continuing as a feature writer at Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, then began producing regular freelance articles for the Sunday Mail and New Idea. Later he took up science writing for Qld climate, water and soil scientists. Whimsical stories and humorous bush poetry is his current passion.