52 States in 8 Months

KFC in Kentucky, and a surprise in West Virginia!

Posted in East coast trip, Meals by Ulf on January 31, 2009

Our next destination was Charleston, West Virginia. But between Tennessee and West Virginia, there is the state of Kentucky. It was almost a 6 hours drive, so we had plenty of time to look at the landscape. It is a wide area with large houses somewhere along the road. A few were supposed to look like castles, others had a bourgeois touch. Many houses were just wooden ranches with fences around them. They had a midwestern touch.

But they all had one thing in common: There is always an ugly telephone line (or power line) in front of them which destroys the whole scene. Why do the Americans do this? Everybody who is able to build a road can also dig a small ditch to bury a cable.

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Anyway, we were on our way to Kentucky. Nobody really knows where the name Kentucky comes from. Even Wikipedia isn’t sure about it. However, I have a theory: Maybe they’ve just taken the name of a large fast-food chain from that area, “Kentucky Fried Chicken“?

To find out, we decided to visit one of the KFCs in Kentucky. It was just after Lexington, KY. I must admit that I had quite some problems understanding the lady at the counter, but finally she understood that I wanted some “Original Recipe fried chicken” with … actually, I did not really care about what the chicken came with *g*. I ended up saying something like “Here is my money, so give me something to eat, please”. Normally I only have trouble understanding Afro-Americans, but this lady was caucasian!

Anyway, the food turned out to be nice! I could have eaten a bit more, but it was really tasty!

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Did you notice the number of food stores in one place (on the left-hand side picture)? And our satnav did not even list all of them! You basically can’t starve along an American interstate.

Somewhen in the evening we arrived at the Charleston airport where we picked up Mila. She’s a friend of Alex from the Stuttgart area. Right now she studies “International Management” in cooperation with the Daimler AG which is mostly Economics. However, Mila never gets tired to emphasize that she likes the “international” part of her studies more than the “management”. That’s probably how she got to know Matt. Matt is an American student who spent a year or so in Europe within a “study abroad” program.

Now, Matt is from Charleston this way we could spend an evening at the house of his parents. In fact, December 26 was also Matt’s birthday, so this was a very special occasion. The following picture shows (from left to right) Alex, Matt, Matt’s father Rick, our new fellow vacationist Mila and finally Matt’s mother Sarah:


We spent a great evening and discussed topics. Sarah for example is a teacher. Although it she does not need it for her classes, she recently learned the American Sign Language which she introduced to us. This helped her to talk to her neighbors (a deaf couple). Sometimes when she sees deaf or dumb people in public she can also use her ability as a translator.

asl_welcomeShe taught us some words (and a few letters) in ASL. The only way I remember is how to say “Welcome”. You have to move your hand on a semi-circle in front of you. The axis of the circle should be parallel to the horizon. In the end the palm of the hand should be up.

With Rick I had a nice talk about ecofriendliness. Just as many educated people I met in the US in the US, Rick and Sarah were not like we Europeans think that Americans are like. Rick told me about their effort to improve the thermal insulation of their house. His current objective was to replace the windows. The family had also recently switched to a smaller car. Rick was now driving a small Honda. He even compared the ecological impact of an artificial Christmas tree with a real one (keep in mind that it was still December 26). According to his calculations, an artificial tree would be more ecological than a real one after it has been used for four seasons.

The biggest surprise of the evening however was a map of Germany. Sarah asked us from where in Germany we originated. When I looked at the map, my first impression obviously was that it still shows the divided Germany with the old administrative divisions of the eastern German Democratic Republic and Karl-Marx-Stadt as well as Thomas-Müntzer-Stadt and Wilhelm-Pieck-Stadt (do you find any more renamed cities?).

The biggest surprise on that map however was my little home between Hanover (which they’ve printed with two “n”s. just as we do in German) and Bremen.  You can really find Staffhorst on this map! I cannot explain how our little village with something between 400 and 600 inhabitants made it to this map, but it was there! I’m still totally amazed!


I mean, our glorious Staffhorst definitely deserves being on this map, that’s beyond debate. The thing is, most cartographer just don’t know about Staffhorst’s importance. But this one obviously was smarter :-).

Matt, Sarah, Rick: Thank you very much for your hospitality and this lovely evening!


6 Responses

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  1. Andreas said, on February 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    das haben die nur gemacht weil da gerade noch Platz auf der Karte war. Sonst fehlen da einige Städte mit >20k Einwohner

  2. Mila said, on February 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Ich studiere nicht Management sondern “International Business” und ja, just to emphasize: I HATE BUSINESS! (übrigens ist Business = BWL und Economics = VWL und das ist ein großer Unterschied. Aber da ich beide hasse, lege ich nicht viel Wert darauf.)

    Oh, und SO anders als gewöhnliche Amis sind die auch nicht. Auf meine Interessensbekundung was Entwicklungshilfe angeht meinten die doch tatsächlich “Why don’t you join the peace corps?” also ist nicht so, als hätten die schon bis ins letzte Detail realisiert, dass die Welt nicht nur aus USA besteht.

  3. Ulf said, on February 1, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    @Andi: Aber selbst bei uns in der Gegend gibt es noch einige groessere Orte. Zumindest gibts da einen mit 15k Einwohnern (Sulingen), der da auch bequem draufgepasst haette. Stattdessen nehmen sie Staffhost mit ca. 0,5k Einwohnern… :-)

    @Mila: Hihi — meinten die das wirklich ernst??? Also wenn ich McGuires mit meinen Amis hier vergleiche, dann liegen da Welten dazwischen. Wenn meine Leute hier nicht in Delaware wohnen wuerden, dann wuessten sie nicht, dass Delaware ein Bundesstaat ist.
    Am Freitag treffe ich mich mit einer Historikerin in Washington. Bevor sie nach Washington gezogen ist hat sie in Philadelphia gewohnt. Und jetzt kommts: Sie war noch nie in New York! Ich dachte nur… ey, geht’s noch?

  4. Mila said, on February 2, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Naja, NY hat ja auch keinerlei Historie zu bieten… :)

    Und ja, die meinten das ernst. Vor allem süß wenn man das Peace Corps-Ziel bedenkt: “…in der Welt Verständnis für die USA schaffen”… ich BITTE euch, ich hab KEINERLEI Verständnis für die USA!!

  5. kalifornientom said, on February 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    When I was reading the post above I realized that
    I don’t like the fact that “dumb” has a double meaning.
    But I found out that you can use “shtum” instead!
    Ain’t that awesome?! :D

  6. […] Graham went through Germany! Posted in Forreign blogs by Ulf on April 30, 2009 Ok, this one should have gone into one of the previous blog posts: Graham, the around-the-planet adventurer who is writing a great blog, has just published his notes on how he crossed Germany. Everything worked on this day, he even got his hamburger in Hamburg. It reminds my of my eating at KFC in Kentucky. […]

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