I like Virginia. In fact I like everything I’ve seen of the US and Canada so far. It’s very apparent why this part of the world was named ‘New England’ by the Colonists – the woodland, the rolling farmland and the green hills are very reminiscent of the UK. I was very much reminded of the South Downs in New Hampshire and of Yorkshire in the hills overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. It’s easy to feel the excitement of the early pioneers as they arrived in this vast landscape that at once seemed so familiar and yet at the same time so new and exciting. One of the many things I had planned for this trip and which didn’t happen was the view from both sides of the ‘settler’ conundrum – to spend time in the world of the cowboy at Deadwood in South Dakota and also visit with Native Americans on their reservations. Hey ho – another time.
Anyway. Next week I am headed for Connecticut and the Land Rover Muddy Chef Challenge http://www.muddychef.com #Muddychef. By chance this is on the same weekend as the Billing Land Rover Show in Northamptonshire, that mecca for all LR owners in the UK, where you find every kind of LR anorak from racers to restorers to overlanders. However Land Rover Muddy Chef here in the US seems to appeal to the same crowd, but with significant differences. The crux of the event seems to be various bush cooking and camp cooking challenges, with a large side order of petrolhead-type activities and other goings-on that seem to involve a lot of alcohol. Needless to say my attendance will be arduous and purely out of duty. It looks great fun and promises to try to extract large amounts of cash from my wallet in exchange for pointless bits of metal, often oily. The one saving grace is that anything I buy has to go back to the UK in a suitcase 😉
On return to the UK I’m hoping to have a quick run through Eastern Europe down as far as Albania in my Discovery to catch up with old friends – as long as my wallet has enough capacity after the unplanned pounding it’s taken on the unforeseen bits of the US roadtrip
With the end of my first visit this side of the Pond looming – I fly home on Aug the 2nd – the overwhelming feeling is sadness and missed opportunity. So many members of the US offroad, overland and Land Rover community have opened their arms, their houses and drinks cabinets in welcome, and so many more have offered to do so. I was so very much looking forward to meeting friends I’ve only spoken to my email or on Facebook, and renewing friendships from the past. Hugely kind offers have been made, guiding along remote trails, homestays, brewery tours, shooting, trailriding on horses, mountaineering. I feel terribly sad that I have to let these friends down and cannot accept their kind offers. Needless to say I’m coming back to the US 🙂 Ideally with my own vehicle!