Friday, February 25, 2005

A Long, Strange Trip

The best college vacations involve an educational experience, travel, social activism, and good old-fashioned fun, where allowable by law. The Guardian reports today that two Cornwall university students are planning their own strange trip across America this coming summer. I can sympathize, since I live in a city which bans the public throwing of tortillas. (BTW, Hitchens already did this in Bloomberg's New York - see the Feb, 2004 Vanity Fair.)

A British student has an American dream - and it involves going illegal whale-hunting in landlocked Utah.

This July, Richard Smith, 23, and Luke Bateman, 20, both from Cornwall, are planning to travel 18,000 miles across the land of the free while breaking as many of its ridiculous and arcane local laws as possible.

Smith told the Western Morning News that the pair will risk being arrested for falling asleep in a cheese factory in South Dakota and playing golf in the streets of Albany, New York. In Jonesborough, Georgia, they will attempt to drive local police mad by illegally saying "oh boy". Let's hope Downing Street is braced for the diplomatic storm.

Smith, from Portreath, says he got his inspiration from a board game featuring details of a law that forbids widows in Florida from going parachuting on Sundays. Further research showed the US was not lacking in oddball legislation.

The pair plan to break around 40 strange state and town laws as they cross 26 states. They will start in California, where it is illegal to ride a bike in a swimming pool, and end in Connecticut, in the east, where it is illegal to cross the road while walking on your hands.

It may not surprise you to learn that Smith is a journalism student who is in discussions with a book publisher, and he plans to film the adventure in case television producers come running. His plans follow in the crazy caper tradition of Dave Gorman and Tony Hawks.

The Western Morning Mail reports that Smith has a knack for this kind of thing. Last year, he drove through the night to Normandy to attend the 60th anniversary of the D-day landings because someone bet him £20 that he would not do it.

Asked whether he was worried about imprisonment on his US mission, Smith, who studies at Cornwall College Camborne, said: "I think there's more chance I will get arrested for the way I break the laws than for breaking the laws themselves. Who knows, there might actually be a good reason for their existence."

Let's hope those crazy guys at the Department of Homeland Security see the funny side.

Posted by Mark Oliver at February 25, 2005 10:17 AM

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