First published in the UK in 1994 by Little, Brown. Published in paperback by Warner Books. ISBN 0 7515 3529 X

By most people’s standards, Josie Dew is hugely adventurous. By American standards, she is completely insane. For Americans drive everywhere: they drive through cinemas, restaurants, theatres, banks, mortuaries, post offices, dry cleaners, trees, and in Hawaii even into a volcano. But driving past Josie as she cycled across the breadth of the United States was a new and alarming experience.

Not that everyone drove straight past. Some stopped to flash at her; others nearly ran her over; a gang of Hell’s Angels waved merrily at her – and a great many people stopped, smiled, and asked her to stay with them. And everyone told her to have a nice day – mostly out of habit, partly because they suspected it would be her last. For this is the country where 135,000 children bring their guns to school every day, where murder, like McDonald’s, is part of everyday life, and where lone female cyclists are easy prey. But it is also a country of boundless hospitality, of huge meals and people , and of infinite variety.

On her eight-month journey Josie experienced it all: in California she saw racial disharmony first-hand during the Los Angeles riots; in Death Valley she nearly expired from the heat; in Hawaii she cycled up the world’s largest dormant volcano, avoided the Sexual Tantric Seminars of the ’60s flower children, saw wili-wili trees, hump-back whales and the Phallic Rock. She pedalled through the canyons of Utah and Arizona, into places called Devil’s Hole Hills, Squaw Tit and Zzyzx, across the never-ending prairies of the Mid-West during the worst summer storms for a century and, finally, to the Canadian border and the staggering beauty of the Great Lakes.

Highly entertaining and richly informative, Travels in a Strange State is travel writing at its best. A personal memoir of an improbable journey, it reveals the United States as it is rarely seen – from the seat of a bicycle.

A taster of places visited in TRAVELS IN A STRANGE STATE:

Point Reyes – spotted green-backed heron and full-frontal flasher
Santa Cruz – Brussel Sprout Capital of the World (wow!)
Santa Barbara – tent slasher
Honolulu Airport – terrorized by luggage trolley
Waimea – where I asked: ‘Why-am-I-ere?’
Lanai – where I was the only one to get out with the chickens
Hulopo’e Bay – where I was attacked by mobile frankfurter
Molokai – world’s biggest rubber-lined reservoir!
Maui – overdose on mangoes
Haleakala – where the god Maui lassoed the sun’s genatalia
Hawaii Island – lava flows (doesn’t it just!?!)
Los Angeles – Smog City
Zion Canyon – squirrel eats tent
Bryce Canyon – one helluva place to lose a cow
Kansas – cow-pat bingo
Prairies – tornados and tennis ball hail. Also did a lot of feet watching around these parts
Normal – where mum was raised and where my blood layeth
Fort Wayne – (was coming)
Lake Erie – BOO!