Yes, these are the little pleasures I take for granted every day in the good 'ol USA. I know from experience that sometime in Nepal, when I'm into my 3rd plate of Dal Bhat for the day (lentils and greens), I will think longingly of these little bits of americana. Here they are, in somewhat arbitrary ranking:
1) Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, and Guinness. See my earlier post on Lovely Beers of the West. At some point in China, I will look at my flaccid TsingTao lager and sigh.
3) California wine. See #1. Why is good wine so hard to find outside of Western Europe and North America? (Yes Dawn I know they are trying very very hard in Oz. But their experiments, albeit interesting, weren't quite there yet when I visited in 2001)
4) Clean, well-maintained, paved highways. Yes, I know any readers from LA will cross their eyes in pain and confusion at this statement . But after you ride a shockless land rover across teeth-chattering washboard dirt roads filled with bomb craters for a month, the sight of clean smooth asphalt is strangely refreshing.
5) Good old un-accented American. I love Aussie and Brit accents, they are funny. But overhearing an American voice when you are far away is like hearing an old familiar song. Its uncommon. And the farther from home you are, the more likely the speaker is a fellow interesting traveler, not an "Ugly American".
6) KCRW and Pandora. KCRW is one of those things most people in LA really do take for granted. Tune to 89.9 FM, its always just there. Even with 1000 songs on my iphone, I will most certainly get sick of the 1000th time I hear "Jammin'" by Bob Marley. And god forbid if I lose my iphone. That could be grounds calling my trip cancellation insurance!
8) Kiteboarding. Yes I will kiteboard a few times in certain exotic places. But most of the time on this trip, I will be land-locked. When the wind blows on the prairies of the Mongolian Steppe, I assure you I will be wondering if its averaging 15 knots, the minimum for decent kiting.
9) Friends and family. Yes it sounds corny, but even someone like me does eventually miss their annoying friends. I will be wondering who is getting married, how the family reunion is going, who is having children, who just got kicked out of Sidedoor, and whether Sharkeez will be burned down again.