Canada ’08: The Cars are the Stars – Americans
During my recent stay in British Columbia it became apparent to me once more how important cars are to North American society. There are some obvious reasons for that. In such large destinations, distances are greater and perhaps more difficult to provide public transfer for. In such circumstances the car is king and in spite of a recent hike in gas prices can one imagine that ever being different in North America?
There are so many signs of a car-oriented society when walking around the average Canadian town or city and Kelowna is no exception. Something always notable for me is the sometime lack of sidewalks in residential areas. Being a runner and also enjoying walking this becomes very apparent to me. It should be said that where sidewalks are provided they are generally excellent (and spotless) however. Another great sign is the drive-in culture. More and more we see drive-in facilities in the UK but I can never imagine a drive-in liquor store for example, featuring in the environs of a British High Street. They’re quite commonly seen in Canadian cities though. One day I stepped out of the parked car and used a bank cash machine in a lobby. It was totally empty whilst a long queue of traffic waited patiently at a drive-through dispenser that meant not climbing out of the car. I’d estimate that line-up as at the very least fifteen minutes wait.
There is a love of cars here that I rarely see in such depth in the UK. This is no better seen than in the likes of the huge American beasts that still patrol the highways and thoroughfares of Canada. In Kelowna which is now a University city due to Vancouver’s University of British Columbia opening a campus there there is a sizeable community of young people seeking cheap transport every summer. I’m reliably informed that a common choice at a bargain price are the various old American hulks still lurking adjacent the kerbsides. Those people run them for the summer then forget them like a summer romance.
On my travels I snapped just a few of the many American cars lined around the venues and driveways. Some are beautiful, some are faintly ridiculous (by our standards) but all are interesting.
All the Americans then. The cars are fun but ultimately of a different era which I suppose must always be remembered before before becoming too disparaging about them. A small aircraft could take off from some of those hoods. Your own personal oil well might be useful too.
Next time: The Sublime