John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Smoking Police and V8 Mustang

I'd been driving since late afternoon down the I-35 South from Minneapolis, Minnesota  in a rented 4.6L V8 red Mustang GT Convertible (it had only 900 miles on clock). lt was mid-summer and l had the hood down until dusk came and the temperature dropped. Until then it had been blazing sunshine and hot. Lynryd Skynryd's greatest hits was blasting out ever since l bought it (along with some wrap around biker shades) at a truck stop and l'd had the hammer down as they say in the States. I was also wearing a bandana to protect my shaven head from the sun (good way too cool down, just soak the bandana in water) Large coffee in the cup holder, a few cans of Coca Cola, pack of Marlboro ... life didn't get much better than this! Perfection would've been a babe in the passenger seat ... but hey, l wasn't complaining.
Some will accuse me of posing ... damn right l was!

As l continued driving through the night, hurtling past the trucks lit up like Christmas trees, l began to get tired. lt was about 1.30 am and l was deep into Iowa so l decided to look for somewhere to stay. A few miles further down the road l began to see signs for Winterset, Iowa ...Birthplace of John Wayne. . It brought back fond memories of watching John Wayne movies with my late father so l decided then and there to go to Winterset. l pulled off the freeway and a few miles later arrived in Winterset and drove down John Wayne Drive. l'd expected a larger town but it was small ... population 4764 and was to find later predominately white. Even now it only has 13 Asians, 7 Native Americans and 3 Blacks. Crime is almost zero and they've had just 4 traffic fatalities in over 10 years or more ... and they were all down to drunk drivers.

Winterset at 2.00am in the morning is a ghost town and there was a distinct lack of motels. l then spotted a car ahead of me stopped at the traffic lights. lt was a police black and white. Pulling along side of it, the policeman turned to look at me as l powered my window down. l thought he was alone but suddenly a German Shepherd dog reared up from his back seat. lt didn't bark at me ... it just stared. The policeman also powered his window down. l realised later that what l was doing was not particularly the thing to do. l'm sure the American police are very wary of such things. His face showed no emotion and he probably had already reached for his gun.

His stern look disappeared when he heard my accent as l asked if he knew anywhere l could stay the night. 'Are you British?' he asked, l said yes. He grinned and then directed me to park up in the adjacent shopping mall parking lot. We both pulled over and l got out of the Mustang as he did his police car. l greeted him and reached for my Marlboros, lit up and then offered him one. He muttered he shouldn't really but accepted my offering.

He told me there were not many motels in the area but said if l waited a while he'd make a call and see what he could do. He called the police station on his radio. He told his friend Mac that he had a guy from England looking for a place to stay the night so would he call Jimmy to see what he could do. l had no idea who Jimmy was but l did know it was past 2.00am in the morning and the police were just about to wake him up.

We continued chatting about where l was from, the usual associations Americans have with England ... WW2 and so on. Whilst we were doing this he got the other participant out to meet me ... Duke, his dog. l kid you not, it had to be Duke didn't it? His radio then burst into life, it was Mac and he said that  Jimmy did have room for me. The policeman, or l should say Cole as we were on first name terms now, started giving me directions but then changed his mind and said to follow him.

The motel was just outside of town and we were met by Jimmy. l thanked Cole and then remembered l was running out of Marlboros so l asked him where l could get some. He said the cheapest place by far was the Indian Tobacco Shop but they were closed now. He then reached into his car and produced a pack of Marlboros and gave them to me. l asked him how much and he said $3 but when l looked in my wallet l had only $20 bills. Cole had no change and neither did Jimmy. Cole then said it was no problem and to just drop it off tomorrow at the Northside Cafe in town. l asked wherabouts it was and they both laughed. lt was another of Winterset's attractions, it was where Clint Eastwood used in his Bridges of Madison County film with Meryl Streep. Not only that but other locations too and all the bridges round the town. I laughed and apologised for not knowing and promised to drop off his $3 the next day. With that Cole said bye and drove off. Jimmy checked me in and l crashed out.

The next morning l woke up and had coffee and a smoke whilst l read all the tourist literature on Winterset. l decided to stay for another night so l could have a look about. l went down to the town centre and there was Northside Cafe in the town square .. you couldn't miss it. l went in, ordered a coffee and sat at the bar where Eastwood sat in the film. l asked the waitress if she could give Cole the policeman the $3 l had for him. She said there was no necessity to as he was in the backroom of the cafe.

l was just expecting to see Cole in the backroom but he was far from alone, it was some sort of town meeting. l apologised and turned to go back out. They wouldn't let me, Cole introduced me along with the story of the Mustang and the Brit pulling up alongside of him. l stayed with them, having coffees brought me, smoking and talking about my country and theirs.After about an hour l finally left Northside Cafe accompanied by Cole and Duke (who l hadn't noticed until we left). l asked Cole where the lndian Tobacco Shop was but he said there was no need. He took me over to his black and white and took a carton of Marlboros out the back. He said he'd been that morning for himself and if l wanted a carton he'd let me have them or he'd split them if l preferred. l paid him $30 for the carton, thanked him, said farewell and left.

I had a truly great day in the glorious sunshine driving around in the Mustang. l visited John Waynes House, the bridges, the farmhouse used as Streep's home in the film (well the remains of, because an arsonist had set fire to it in 2003), other bridges and sites that weren't in the film and met and talked to many friendly people along the way. As evening approached l pulled into the parking lot of the motel. After freshening up l ventured into the bar next to the motel, had something to eat ... a steak! ... a real steak that only Americans can do! Liberal amounts of JD and beer chasers turned into copious amounts and last thing l remembered about the bar was playing 8 ball pool with the locals.

The next morning after coffee and a smoke or l should say coffees and smokes, l loaded up the Mustang, dropped the hood, fired up the beast, turned the sounds up and set off to McCalester Oklahoma. Sadly in Missouri my relationship with the Mustang was to become the beginning of a premature end. l hit a pothole on the freeway (a freeway! not some poxy road ... a freeway!) near Kansas City interchange to St Louis and smashed the front alloy wheel beyond repair. l had to change to the stupid emergency wheel that's not much better than a bicycle wheel and limp on to McCalester. lt was early hours of the morning when l got there. The next morning revealed the rear tyre had now gone down too.

The rental company was ok but because it was McCalester Oklahoma they didn't stock Mustangs or anything like it. All they had were saloons, nice saloons but no fun. Then l had a brainwave .... a pickup. So l ended up with a 5.7 L Dodge Ram, fully-loaded ... a beast of a different sort but a beast none the less. Fun too, a different sort of fun but still fun.

Winterset wasn't planned, it was off the cuff but it will remain one of the most cherished memories of my life.

l hope that you too will enjoy such an experience in your life or have experienced such already ... and with that l'll leave you with the actual 4.6Litre V8 Mustang GT Convertible .... and Freebird!

Halcyon Days!


  1. You lucky bastard! Envious? too fucking right!

  2. Smokey, you are SO a goddamn poser!

  3. *SBC says nothing and just goes a darker shade of green*

    -SBC(Who watches 'Supernatural' just for the Impala, he's that sad).

    ps.on the subject of Americans and their Smoking laws: ...'you can breathe Chemical Weapons fumes but they don't want you to smoke'

  4. I have to say I had a similar expeirance in Texas last year, only I hired a Harley Fatbob ( not a Fatboy, different madel ) for a weekend and rode down some of the ancient Route 66. Now I am not a great fan of Harleys in general but there IS something about cruising down a 12 lane highway in central Houston and getting toots from drivers because you are riding a hog; like you I found everybody freindly and very generous, I can't wait to get back there!

  5. SBC ... Americans seem to be suffering as much if not more than us in certain parts of the States. However it is a State by State affair thankfully so freedom still exists. You just have to find it.

    Johnnyrvf ... Route 66 comes right through Oklahoma and have been on it a few times. When l lived in Miami l had a Lowrider. T'was in cherry red. Liked the FatBoy when it came out but it'd take me a while to chose now ... HD make a great range.

    l bet your weekend went in a flash! HD's just look and feel at home on a US freeway.

  6. Luv it that a cop sold you ciggies out of his police car. Great site by the way.

  7. l also visited Jesse James farm in Kearney Missouri that day. Jesse Woodson James was killed and buried here. Again off the I-35 South and not far from where l would wreck the front wheel of the Mustang. Later after his mothers death he was moved to the main Mount Olivet cemetery and buried next to his wife. ln 1995 he was dug up again as there was a dispute as to whether it was actually Jesse in the grave. DNA tests said it was 99.7% positive it was Jesse.

    So, Jesse and 2 funerals and 3 burials but it doesn't end there. ln Granbury, Texas there is another grave for Jesse James which gives his date of death as 1951 .. an age of 104. They say Jesse survived and lived under the name of J Frank Dalton.

  8. SH, do you have any objection to my linking to your blog on mine? Normally I wouldn't ask but you might have your own faith and not be keen on being advertised on a Xian 'sitting on his porch, watching out for Black Helicopters, eating burgers and waiting for the f**king Rapture' blog?

  9. SBC ... Nah, no problem ... go for it. You ain't John Malkovich are you? :)

  10. @SH, Cool beans, thanks. No, I'm just a whack job David-Koresh wannabe in a tin foil hat and with a brain and liver that look like swiss cheese.... :)

  11. SBC ... most people are, they just don't admit it that's all. :)

  12. @SH , I know this blog isn't about smuggled/black market tobacco but just as an aside: Yesterday I used up my last pouch that I bought in Belgium. So what's a gadjee to do? Off down to town to visit my local purveyor of hooky baccy. A 50g pouch of genuine GV , from Spain, now costs £8!! (used to be £6.50) Ouch. My next 'baccy run' isn't until the end of May. I might have to start tubing 'Amber leaf' (amber Leaf= when you're too pikey even for Cutters Choice).

  13. SBC ... go on the ferries mate. P&O Hull are doing 2 for 1 so if 2 of you go it'll be £25 each.
    GV is £4.40 50g in Belgium and you can reserve it and pay in Sterling. Dover prob doing deals too but l'm up North ... and Dover's bloody UKBA bandit country anyway in my opinion.

  14. @SH, thanks for the advice unfortunately I'm a couple of tanks of petrol (running my car on printer ink might be cheaper) away from either Dover or Hull and the Harwich ferry is just too expensive and painful. Nor do I want to risk my own car. I'm looking into getting a cheap flight Norwich-Manchester-Benelux.

  15. What a great story. The cop exchange is priceless. The best reading pleasure all evening.

  16. Lovely story, I've had some good times in America. Steer clear of California they don't like smoking.

  17. Anon 15.51 ... l had some great times in California back in the day. l'd like to keep those memories intact so for me California no longer exists.

  18. l love it when things happen unplanned. Your story made me feel good. thx x

  19. S.H. I was there for 3 weeks and got to borrow a SuperGlide for a day and rode about without a helmet, the 1st time I have ever ridden helmetless legally in my life! I just cruised about Spring, north of Houston and it was great! I much prefered the S/G. to the FatBob. Next time I am in the U.S. I will probably buy an old right hooker Iron Head Sportster and do something with that, as I like riding older right shifting bikes of Brit and European heritage as much as more modern left shifting machines.

  20. Johnnyrvf ... whilst in Minniaepolis l was staying with the president of the slot machine company l was dealing with. l had use of one of his 2 custom HD's. lt was called James Dean and a chopper with extended forks. lt was an absolute pig to ride ... kept catching the foot pegs when cornering. Looked beautiful though ... won loads of shows. Loved riding without helmet ... still do.


"In the eyes of the Tribunal the review letter contained several preconceptions, prejudgments and non-sequiturs"

"the absurdity of this reason is demonstrated by simply stating it"

"We therefore find that Mr Sked misdirected himself as to the Policy in carrying out the review and his decision is therefore one that no reasonable review officer could have arrived at."

... commonly known here at N2D as 'Skeds' ... that is to say these are Judges comments regarding UKBA Review Officer Ian Sked's reasons for rejecting peoples appeals against seizures.

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