THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Disgusting lawyers
India: Bull or Bear?

US Tour Dates 2013

I am pleased to announce a big project for this blog in 2013. I shall be shipping Speranza (pictured) to the USA and embarking on an epic tour of 48 states. I will be in NYC from 25-28th April taking part in a National Geographic photography course to hone my skills before setting off in search of suitable backdrops for pictures of my comely car to feature in a planned photobook.

SperanzaThe road trip begins in Livingston, NJ on 29th April and I will first head up to New England to visit the original colonies. I will then describe a zig zag course across the continent to the West Coast and back. I will publish further details of the itinerary here as it is firmed up and will be blogging and tweeting details of the trip as it proceeds. I estimate it will last at least two months.

I hope to meet as many US readers as I can en route so do please let me know in the comments if you want me to drive by your local coffee shop or diner for a blog meet tete-a-tete. Or just sign up to the "Tour of the USA" event at my Facebook page. I will modify my itinerary accordingly wherever I can. You won't find it hard to identify me. You will hear Speranza arrive, I promise, and how many 6'7" tall limeys live in your town?

I would love it if American readers could also suggest the best places to visit. What are the most attractive or unusual locations in your home state? What locations associated with my namesake and hero - the original and best Tom Paine - should I visit? What would be the most awe-inspiring - or amusing - place you can think of to photograph Speranza? More seriously, I would love the chance to attend any Libertarian events taking place during my visit.

I hope to get to know a place I have loved from afar since watching Rawhide, goggling at Apollo launches and reading superhero comics as a boy. I have spent time there on business and as a tourist, of course, but my view of the country has still largely been formed - like that of most foreigners - by American literature and cinema. Neither is consistently kind to a country that - from the Americans I have known - I suspect is a far better place than its disloyal intellectuals would have us believe.

This trip will be my attempt to find the real America. Please help me.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


That's a great piece and while it is pretty silly to rank US cars so highly, I respect and admire his commitment and understand entirely his love for his 'Vette. As for his political point, the liberals are consistent intellectually in that their whole philosophy is about being generous with other people's money, not their own. I love the "grievance studies" coinage! I shall steal that!


You will need some interesting reading material. I came across this some while ago, from an ex-diplomat living in South California. Some material perhaps for your e-reader?

Discrete inquiries as to other subjects might well be worthwhile too.

Feel free to disagree with his choice of automobile, but I believe he states his reasons well.


No I am not fooling with you. I was just trying to be helpful and practical, saying... from experience... what is nice for comfort...

To have a cup holder, then you can easily sip at an iced coke, or just iced water that you can refresh at each gas stop. The cups have lids and a straw.

Also it does not matter what car you drive. If you have driven for 30 minutes without changing down or varying speed along roads that mostly have long curves or are straight then the ride is mostly pretty steady.


Wow. My education begins...


Never underestimate the good old USA, they put a man on the moon and brought him back, these days they aspire to this:

Which is not a terrible idea. Next up, a Coke can with a prancing horse?


You are winding me up now aren't you? Even Americans don't ask for cup holders in a Ferrari. I appreciate I must respect the law and can't cruise sedately at 150mph as she would like let alone max her out at 194, but she *changes* speed up and down somewhat more briskly than a wallowy gas-guzzler. I would bathe in coffee more than I drank it. But you knew that and are playing with my head.

My dealer is looking into a US disk for the satnav. I hope he can fix it when fettling Speranza before shipment, fitting new tyres and redirecting the headlights for the wrong side of the road, but my iPhone will do the job fine if necessary.


Tom, You probably already know it, but US road trips involve really _really_ big distances compared to the UK, mostly on roads that go straight towards the horizon, where you have to maintain the speed limit, or at least a constant speed (as long there are no billboards or such to hide behind ^_^).

Me personally - I would want a big and comfy automatic with cruise control and sat nav (but don't necesarily trust it 100%).

Mountain passes will let you drive how you want in your car also some west coast highways and it will look absolutely cool.

Big trucks coming the other way on switch backs can be a bit scary sometimes.

You will maybe want a handy jumbo drink holder for your dash (should I be burned at the stake for saying this? I guess I should shouldn't I? I'll go do that then...)

Meanwhile I do hope you have an awsome time. Visit some vinyards in the west if you get the chance.


I am shooting for Vancouver in order to meet an old friend, blogger and sometime commenter here, JMB. If US bureaucracy proves too great an obstacle, we will meet in Seattle instead. I would certainly like to meet you too.


Seattle is definitely on the itinerary. Name your coffee shop or bar.


Cruise control is very un-Ferrari. It can be fitted but Speranza doesn't have it. A Ferrari driver is supposed to be in spine-tingling control on the ragged edge of grip. Nonsense of course. The first owner who specified Speranza barely drove her at all. On my USA road trip, I hope she will fulfil her destiny as a gran turismo as few of her sisters have ever done.


Well You might have better luck with Goddard Just off the beltway and Parkway in Baltimore, Maryland. They have an open air museum with rockets and stuff there. Call 301-286-3978.

I hope your Speranza has cruise control (or am I being dumb?) It makes road trips much less wearing. I wouldn't want to have to drive far with the steering wheel on the "wrong side" I bet you get some funny looks when people think there is no driver ^_^ I do know people who managed it tho.

If you are in the Washington/Baltimore area the Historical Fort McHenry in Baltimore is worth visiting.

Tons to see in Washington DC and You should visit Arlington if you get the chance. Lots of historical stuff in Philly. If you go to Yellowstone then maybe stay over at Cody and take in a rodeo?

So much to do and see.


Thanks for that. If you see Speranza on the road south as you head North to Vancouver flag me down. I plan to stay in B&Bs for that reason, economy and security. I would rather the car was on someone's driveway than in a parking lot. You are right though. This tour will teach me nothing without conversations with regular Americans. By definition, the ones I know from business are an extraordinary minority.


We did a tour a few years ago taking in all the major canyons and Yosemite and I can recommend them all. The one thing we did learn is that the best places to stay are Bed and Breakfasts rather than impersonal motels and hotels. Generally speaking you get to meet and talk to more people at breakfast and where can pick up some great tips for sight seeing and just generally meeting everyday Americans.

As it happens we will be driving from LA to Vancouver during that period and I'm already booking places to stay.

Have a great time.


I understand your reluctance, entering Canada is pretty relaxed, but quite honestly the Department of Homeland Defense and the US Border patrol have made entering the USA a very unfriendly process.

Until fairly recently I travelled on my UK passport, provided I had the ESTA (something you will be coming familiar with-basically a travel visa) the crossing into the USA was not too bad, though frequently I was asked to park the car, enter the office, queque up, wait, asked several inane questions by a surly, humourless, gun-toting government drone, photographed and finger-printed (welcome to the USA). Driving a Ferrari just might tip you into suspected drug courier territory, heaven knows what happens then.

Anyway, If you end up anywhere near Vancouver (Seattle?) I should like to meet up for a beer perhaps.


Odd-yssey might not be entirely wrong. Tom's place will be my final stop before taking Speranza for shipment back to England. Thanks for the other inputs. Most helpful! I hope to visit Canada, but it depends on the terms of my temporary import licence. I don't want to go through customs again if I stray over the border. My shipping agent is investigating that.


It could even be an Odyssey. Doh.


Hmmmm, tourism central! Good luck with requesting anything out-of-the-ordinary.

Perhaps this is a better option, Huntsville,Alabama.

Keep watching the upper right panel, it scrolls through three different themes, the rocket park seems accessible, and with some luck, if you got to the adjacent car park early or late you might be able to organize some decent shots.

Plus the Saturn at Huntsville is vertical which just seems right to me, the one at Kennedy is in a big warehouse and horizontal, something wrong about that.

As for Saturn locations

So Disney is not your only choice, but I understand the lure of Cape Canaveral.


That's an audacious plan, though given National Geographic's propensity for expensive camera gear and lighting paraphenalia you may need a UHaul truck filled to the brim and a film set crew to accompany you. Somehow a vision of Speranza with a tow hitch and U Haul trailer does not compute.

Anyway because your USA residents seem reticent to respond, allow a Canuck to contribute.

Most Tom Paine and revolutionary war-related connections are confined to the Eastern USA, since you commence your oddysey from NJ, then Tom Paines farm in nearby Bordentown seems a good starting point (though I would avoid nearby Camden NJ) it is now a much added to and renovated nondescript dentist office but a good photo opportunity seems to present itself at the Tom Paine monument:
(scroll down)

very accessible in a residential sub-division, the sun dappling will present some challenges but hopefully National Geographic will cover spot metering, and newer digital cameras allow you to experiment at no cost, shots of various aperture, shutter speeds and film speed combinations until you get the desired results.

As to places I have actually visited and enjoyed-I would suggest Boston, where I spent a pleasant day following their Freedom Trail (bring comfortable shoes). Obtain the National Park Service "Boston and the American Revolution" and "The Complete Guide to Boston's Freedom Trail-Bahne" $7 each in 2010 from their office near the old State House the day before. There are guided tours by authentically period-clothed guides which seemed popular, which I eavesdropped on at one particular way-point,they are well-informed and personable if you like being herded around on somebody elses time schedule. The walking tour would suggest some very nice photo locations, but being located in a city you would need to time them very early before the hordes descend.

Washington-like London has appropriated much of the country's culture and museums, the various Smithsonians are worthwhile, a visit to the see the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights and supporting documents was fascinatinating but so popular that once again you felt you were being herded. No photo shot opportunities.

Arlington cemetary was a highlight for me but again there would be no photo opportunities for the car, though plenty of the general cemetary, monuments and Arlington House. Though I had no particular interest in the civil war before the trip slowly you have some oh-yeah moments and start to realise how most of US history and politics seem tied to this event.

Other opportunities? I have to collect my thoughts, I will be back.

And of course if you want to see God's country you will visit British Columbia/Alberta, Canada on the left coast, which I seem to remember you did several years ago, so probably not on the agenda.


That's going to be the problem at lots of locations. If anyone has contacts in the relevant local authorities or historical societies, I will try to call/write and get them excited about the project. My big dream is to get access to the hangar at JFK Space Center where one of the two remaining Saturn V rockets is displayed. I have a mental image of a photograph of Speranza alongside it. The visitor attractions are managed by Disney for NASA so I need a Disney contact. Any ideas?


It's in an airconditioned glass building, Lots of historical stuff to see in Philly, but maybe not so many vehicle photo shoot locations.


Are you kidding? Could Tom Paine come to America and NOT visit the Liberty Bell?!


James, dear boy, I am very conscious how big this is and how wrong it might go, but we only live once.

Schrodinger's Dog


A great car to drive round the US of A! (A pity the speed limits here are so abysmally low, though.)

As a regular reader and occasional commentator, I would be interested in meeting-up, if possible. I read a number of libertarian blogs and have long wanted to meet the people who write them.

Do you plan on visiting Philadelphia? I ask, because live in its suburbs. If not, going to New Jersey won't be a problem.

Contact me on the email used to submit this and I will let you have my 'phone number.

Have a really great trip.


james higham

You don't choose the small projects, Tom, do you? :)


That's enigmatic. Any clues?


Great idea... But there are two Americas today.. Hope you will see and comprehend the difference.. Bon Voyage..




Well the national parks would make great backdrops and the good thing is you can buy a year's membership and get into all of them.

Yellowstone, Yosemite Grand canyon and Zion are all awsome with lots of pull outs with spectacualar views. Sequoia is good for the Giant redwoods and Mariposa grove is near. that is like some green cathedral. Also the petrified forest, Bryce and Canyonlands. So much to see so much more to see. I am green! Have fun.

If you make it to SanFrancisco don't forget to visit Ghirardelli'smmmmmm to have a Chowder and a ride on the cable car.


If you make it to Washington State, you should DEFINITELY check out dry falls:

They, and the rest of the Central Washington badlands, were carved out by a cataclysmic flood at the end of the last ice age. They are stunning, severe landscapes that are unique in the world.

There's also an excellent book about the area, called Bretz's Flood, that tells the story of J Harlan Bretz, the geologist who figured out how the canyons were formed.

Also: if you end up in Seattle, Washington, we should definitely meet up. We have tons of great bars and coffee shops and Seattle is one of the coolest cities in the US.

Bon Voyage!


Hope you have a great time, sounds like fun. Can't say I've seen a huge amount of the US but I can recommend Kansas City for great steaks if you are in the area.


Great project. Fascinated to hear your take on the state of liberty in the land of the free.


Fantastic! Enjoy yourself!

The comments to this entry are closed.