I’m travelling to The USA over the next few days. I’m staying in Ohio overnight, then continuing to Kentucky to see the Kentucky Derby and bouncing around there a bit. I’ll probably take a scenic route back to Canada returning on either Sunday or Monday.
You can follow my journey here.
Thursday UPDATE: The border crossing to The USA was quick compared to normal. About 30mins, though they searched the car which normally they don’t unless you are brown skinned. One of the guards asked where we were going and why. I told them we were going to Kentucky for the derby, pronounced in my accent as “darby” like the football team. He didn’t understand. Sara whispered “derby” (like “dur-bee”), which I repeated. He still looked confused but the guard with him laughed heartily. It seems that they have accidentally hired someone with a personality.
Once inside we heard one of the guards talking behind the desk. “I’ve never been to Canada. There’s nothing there”. I smiled. Who needs Canada when everything is right here, in your hastily constructed toll booth come immigrant harassment centre with it’s oppressive stars, stripes, eagles and framed photos of presidents and other miscellaneous heads of various departments. We crossed the border into Detroit which has to be the most ugly place in the world. It’s just full of factories and industry, made up of twisted metal dotting the vista like a dystopian forest of despair, holding on to an industrial past in blind desperation. For a motor city, many vehicles pulling up beside or behind us were in a terrifying state. I was also aware that if ever i was going to be shot, it was going to be here in Detroit.
Ohio was… Nothing. Just hours of driving up and down hills through the same farmland like in a cheap animators trick of looping the same background over and over. The only consistency was the declining fuel gauge.
Kentucky is much prettier and there was lots of wildlife as we continued our drive, including a deer that ran out in front of us across the highway. Cincinnati is a beautiful city with attractive architecture that would be nice to visit if we’d had time.
Friday UPDATE: The weather has been mostly great.. some rain during the drive through Kentucky. Once we arrived at Churchill Downs, the weather was good to us. Actually, having my photo taken is a difficult process because the sun is so bright I can’t help but screw up my face in an apparent scowl. Most of the betting here seems to be in the form of Exactas. Having worked in a betting shop in England, I can tell you that these bets are called CFC’s or Combination Forecasts in The UK. You pick three horses, and if any two of them finish 1st and 2nd, you win. In The UK, you can ‘lock in the odds’ at the time when you place your bet. In The USA, you have to take the starting price. I won one bet on the first day, but the payout on an Exacta is usually decent and so I still managed to finish the day $12 up. We missed the first 4 races because the drive from Lima, OH where we stayed, to the racecourse is a long one. It is currently Saturday morning and we are getting ready for Day 2 (after breakfast!). Today has the big race of the meeting, so there will probably be a lot more hats on show. And I will be wearing mine, too. There is still no news from Fido about unblocking my phone. If they ever get around to doing it, I will be able to update more from Churchill Downs. Otherwise, not until late tonight eastern time.
Sunday Update: Sara and Sara’s Mum had a great day on Saturday. Sara walked away with a couple of hundred dollars in winnings, ending up in profit by about $100. Sara’s Mum had one big win in the region of $400, which allowed her to break even (and have drinks paid for!). The big wins were on the actual Derby, with both betting on the outsider, ‘Animal Kingdom’. I had a pretty crappy day, winning only once at less than $10. Overall, I was probably down about $20. The weather was great, not the thunder and lightning storms that were forecast. At the hotel, Sara suddenly realised that she had put a bet on with Ladbrokes a week earlier, also on Animal Kingdom. It is illegal to bet on non-US betting websites while in The USA. Not sure if that means you can’t log in, so we did anyway, just to see what she had won! Sara also had a win by betting on a UK horse called Aviate, who has now moved over to The USA. Back when I worked in a bookies, I remember the horse. Wish I had bet on it – at least just because it is British!
Monday Update: Had a massive, massive drive yesterday. Must have been in the car for 12 hours, with 3 or 4 gas station stops and a lunch break. In Sault Ste Marie this morning. Going for breakfast soon, then heading back to Toronto.
Final Update: Just got home an hour or so ago. What a drive over the last two days. My body aches. My neck, from a bad headrest and my knees from being sat for so long. Highlights of the trip: Sara and her Mum’s decent wins on ‘Animal Kingdom’, excellent pizza at J’s Restaurant in Lima, Ohio, Religious nutcases yelling, shouting and waving placards outside the racecourse about sinners and immorality, annoying yanks that I love to hate 😉
There were a few amusing signs along the way, particularly in the bible belt:
Below is a map of my journey. Best viewed by clicking ‘full screen’ and then the play button.