A reporter’s notebook from a recent motor trip into the U.S:
Buying gasoline in the U.S. is a sharp sliver in the backside – hugely irritating. Most filling stations require motorists to pre-pay inside, or at the pump with a credit/debit card. Canadian credit cards don’t work because most pumps demand a U.S. zip code for the address at which the card is registered.
So, you have to go inside, say how much gas you want, pay, then return outside to start pumping. If you paid $50 and the tank only took $44, you march back in to get a refund of $6. If $50 didn’t fill the tank, you repeat the routine. By the time you finally get a full tank, someone likely has stolen your car.
Soothing the annoyance is the fact that gasoline is as low as $3 a U.S. gallon. In Canada it’s roughly $1.25 a litre (about $5.60 a gallon but the Canadian gallon is 20 per cent larger).
Upon return home I learn of a solution for complicated, time-burning gasoline purchases in the U.S. Use a MasterCard and when the pump prompts you for a Zip Code, enter the three numerals in your Canadian Postal Code and add two zeroes. MasterCard says this works at most U.S. stations. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/travel-news/finally-canadians-able-to-pay-at-us-pumps-with-credit-again/article13463053/
Back out on the open road, I get confirmation that November is the worst month for deer being smacked down by cars. Deer carcasses in various stages of rot are everywhere on the highways of Pennsylvania, the Virginias, New York and Maryland. They are so common that I saw one dead deer on the main street of a Pennsylvania village. It had been left where struck and run over so many times that it was almost part of the asphalt.
State Farm Insurance, which is diligent about keeping deer collision statistics, has reported that in the U.S. there were 1.22 million deer strikes during the year ended June 30, 2013.
Done driving for the day and into a motel but still not totally safe. The American bed bug epidemic is increasing, says the 2013 Bed Bugs Without Borders survey http://www.pestworld.org/news-and-views/pest-articles/articles/2013-bugs-without-borders-survey-executive-summary/
I took advice from the Internet and turned off all the lights in the room and checked nooks and crannies with a flashlight. No bed bugs, but plenty of dust, which explains why I awake with swollen sinuses.