(originally posted on www.theydontlikeitupem.co.uk on 28th November 2009)
However, I am now officially acclimated and I have a new friend - ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you, the one and only Hartley Pipkin:
She's the red one, not the one in the Green Day t-shirt, in case you got confused.
Hartley's a Chrysler PT Cruiser and they seem to be pretty cheap over here. Some say that's because they're small cars and Americans don't seem to like small cars. Other cruel people (the husband included) say it's because they're very uncool. I prefer to think it's because they're small cars and am clinging onto the fact that a certain 7 year old thinks Hartley is very cool AND that I drive like a professional. I did consider asking "a professional what?" but resisted for fear of finding out she meant professional kitten juggler rather than being a half-decent driver.
So yes, as you can tell I have managed to brave it out onto the American roads, driving on the right side of the road even though it's the wrong side of the road. So far I've only had the husband or children shout once "NO! OTHER SIDE!!" as I was turning right on a crossroads and tried to get to the left instead of the right side of the road...
And I'm doing ok....provided anywhere I need to get to involves right turns only. Turning left is something I'm building up to! 22 years of thinking and driving the other way around is proving rather difficult to get out of my system.
Luckily for me everywhere I've needed to get to so far is on a grid system, so with a little bit of cunning and checking out Googlemaps before I set off anywhere I can get to places by turning right a lot and going around the block.....or rather the blocks.
I love how most strip malls (think of out of town shopping centres in the UK, that have a DIY superstore, a supermarket and a couple of other shops either in a long row or perhaps an L-shape bordering a huge car park.....well they have these at most corners of the major road crossroads or cross sections here) and I love that they have entrances/exits onto the main road in front of them PLUS entrances/exits at the sides of the carparks...onto slightly quieter roads.
So if I don't want to go around the block to get back home, I can brave a left turn on one of the quieter roads rather than at the main entrance/exit across 3 lanes of fast on-coming traffic from the left and once I reach the middle of the road (I'll tell you another day about what they playfully name 'suicide lanes') 3 lanes of fast on-coming traffic from the right.
Anyway, for a complete nervous wreck, I'm doing pretty well so far. Next step I need to start turning left properly, because rather inconveniently the Americans have built some shops and places I want to get to on the left-hand side just to spite me. Then who knows....one day I may even try a freeway!