If I thought Barb and Bill in the Outback where from a different world, I don't know how I should describe the US Marines I have been hanging out with in the last few days.
Joanna and Rich live very near one of the biggest bases in the USA so several of their neighbours are in the Forces.
My first taste of what was to come was when we walked into a store that sold combat stuff, but could also be used for trekking, for example microfibre towels.
I was approached by a member of staff and asked if I needed any help. I told him that I was looking for a lock having lost mine.
His next question caught me completely unprepared, is that for your gun? I initially looked at him like he was taking the pi*s. Eventually I realised that I was standing in a store that was all about guns and their paraphernalia, for example infra red torches for $600.
On the same night I had my first encounter wtih Shaune, Jeff and Jeremy. Shaune and Jeremy are on the Forces, Jeff is a civilian.
They are all completely obsessed with their constitutional rights to bear arms. They are also completely convinced that almost everything wrong with their country is due to the government, and the rest is due to all of those 'frakking lazy inmigrants to come to this country to rob us'.
Christine, Shaune's girlfriend, provided some home made moonshine that loosened our tongues even more.
Shaune really freaked me out when he asked me to go with him to his flat to show me some pics of him in full combat gear, mask and huge automatic rifle...just his private gear at home.
They are not republicans, as they did not waste anytime in criticising the way Bush robbed Al Gore of his victory They are libertarians, but for me they are actually just a sign of how much America seems to be splitting apart.
It's not only them. The whole country seems to almost be at war with itself.
As Obama tries to pass his healthcare legislation the Republicans are in a campaign that will say just about anything against it. I know that except for a couple of freaks in the right wing press in the UK we never go this far.
The two nights I spent drinking with these guys were absolutely fascinating. It has been an eye opener just seeing how far away some people are from us.
Having spent a while away from Europe, I have come to appreciate more and more what we have.
Let The Games Begin!!!
5 years ago