North Carolina travel

Editor’s note: Remember how I went on a road trip in early April? That’s ok; I almost forgot too. Not only have I not posted everything about it yet, but I haven’t even written it all yet. Like, where did Day 3 go? If you select the “North Carolina” category you’ll notice it jumps from Day 2 to Day 4. I’ll either find the draft or write it soon (from my notes) or ignore it, but in the meantime here’s day 4:

Last night I stayed at a total dump outside Durham (Super 8, can you hear me?!) I told my friend, JM about it and she said she’d stayed in both good Super8s and bad Super8s. I was like “…and why didn’t you tell me this before I checked into the Motel Hell?!” People, you must share these gems with the clueless! 

It was one of those places I should’ve just walked away from. It wasn’t unsafe (though it could’ve easily gone either way), but it was just kind of scungy compared to my experience with the motel in Mount Airy (Home of Andy Griffith and a re-created Mayberry!), and the Comfort/Quality/Day’s/Come On Inn from the night before last.  But I was so tired I (told myself I) didn’t care. When will I learn to listen to that little voice?! (probably when it quits giving me incorrect directions)

Every motel I’ve checked into this trip offers “breakfast” now, and all claim WiFi (although one place wanted to charge for it). It’s so veddy European, but without unknown cuts of cold meat. Not unexpectedly the coffee at The Motel Hell8cious was so bad I couldn’t drink it, and I couldn’t boil water for my French press because I forgot something to boil water in, and I keep forgetting to buy something. But by golly I remembered the French press and the coffee.

Then my “shower” didn’t work—water came into the tub (and stayed there, I might add) but the shower part didn’t work. I require 2 things in the morning, coffee and a shower. No problem—I rinsed my hair in the tub, told myself I’d stop somewhere for coffee, washed the necessary parts and left quickly. I found a cup of coffee and things started to look up.   Then I missed the first of several exits I would miss today.

Today’s theme was “Getting Lost.” I’ve really been okay with getting lost on this trip, because the only thing I haven’t had maps for were the towns I wanted to visit anyway (so I didn’t care if I was lost ’cause I was exploring). I might’ve built up false confidence yesterday because (for a change) I wasn’t my typical directionally-challenged self.  

Since my “town exploration strategy” has been to head downtown and work my way out, and I don’t have specific destinations within the towns anyway, what better way to see them than by wandering aimlessly? It’s mostly worked so far.

But then I realized I’d left my cell phone & charger in the Motel Hell8cious and had to backtrack, having had precious little coffee and being currently lost.

But wait! There was the friendly neighborhood Chapel Hill Police Station (I thought I was in Carrboro, but nevertheless…). I stopped in to the Police Station, asked if they could call (or let me call) the Motel Hell8cious to make sure my phone was there, and was told “No, we’re not supposed to make long distance calls.” I SWEAR this is true. 

I said, “So you’re telling me that I’m at Police Station, and you can’t help me?!” “We’re not supposed to make long distance calls” ?!?!? HOW asinine a reason is that? Do you mean to tell me they never have to call the next town over? What if they do? Do they only have local emergencies? Couldn’t someone volunteer to bring out their cell phone (which inCLUDES long distance)?! I just couldn’t believe it.
I told them what they had before them was a lost tourist who hadn’t had enough coffee, had lost her cell phone, and was about to cry.  Again, I SWEAR this is true: They went off to a little conference and came back with the decision that they COULD make the call after all. I offered a dollar for the call but was declined.
They called, my phone had been turned in by the staff (!) and I managed to get back to the motel (thanks to the directions of the HELPFUL Chapel Hill police department), got my phone, gave the cleaning person a thank you gift ($) and was off again, in the right direction to Durham (north) since I had mistakenly gone south (Chapel Hill). 
Then I drove the *&&^%$$ 15 miles and arrrived in the correct location, Durham.


Saw these today on the road:
-Amish buggy on flatbed;
-propane bbq pit along side of highway (standing up, ready to go);
-a mini-airplane stabile (the opposite of mobile) Airplane-ettes were approx. 1-3 feet in wingspan, and there were approx. 8 different models; Picture about 7-8 “miniaturized” World War II airplanes standing on big straws that are mounted in the ground.

Favorite signs:
-“Blasting zone ahead—turn off 2 way __ <missed it> and cellular telephones”
-“Robert _ Byrd Center for __ __ <missed it>”; I racked my brains to figure out what this could’ve been, but all I could think of was “Robert _ Byrd Center for Allegedly-Recovering Racists.”

Today’s game: “Count the road kill”*
9 (mostly in Indiana for some reason)

(*only remains of single animals, not total number of parts seen…)

Indiana was still beautiful, as was Kentucky. I didn’t remember KY very well from previous trips, so I’d forgotten about the miles and miles of brown wood fences, and how they contrast so beautifully with the (yes I’m going to say it) Kentucky bluegrass. And all the horses! I have never seen so many in one day. If it were a little warmer…

Then I hit Louisville. Ick (from the highway anyway). Also the entire eastern 2/3’ish of the state—double ick—scary industrial stuff along the water. The same could be said for West Virginia, where I could find no merit whatsoever, outside of good coffee at McDonalds.

What an ugly, torn up, gloomy, scary industrial, strip-mined state (can you hear me Sister Conaghan from 5th grade science? I remembered.) I could not wait to get out of there, but unfortunately I was in both for most of the day.

Driving by all those piles of coal and the impact of their mining makes me all the more conscious of my impact on the environment (‘cause I need to be more conscious about something, right?!). And you thought I was bad before…

It was like (the proverbial) night into day crossing into Virginia. You literally drive through a tunnel, and voila! Beautiful green grass, farms, horses, meadows. God I loved it! I felt like it was my reward for time served in eastern KY and WV.

Unfortunately, that was where I hit the “gotta-get-home-before-dark-from-Easter/Spring-break” crowd. Lord. Literally, I rounded a corner and had to jam on my brakes.

Truckers tip: Turn on your emergency flashers when you see a line of traffic ahead. It makes people take pause and look ahead to figure out why you’re slamming on your brakes. You’re welcome.

Anyhoo: After 10 hours of driving and starting to lose it, I crossed into NC and a forested, flowered restful-looking “Welcome Center” (rest stop). Rested a moment (used the bathroom) then stopped in the nearest town I could, which is also one I was interested in seeing, if only for one reason: It’s Andy Griffith’s home town, which they based “Mayberry” on.

It’s called “Mount Airy” and it’s an odd juxtaposition of new construction strip malls and wide highways and a classic “old-timey” town interior downtown. It actually reminds me of Washington, MO and vicinity. Except Wash., MO doesn’t have the “Old City Jail” that was modeled after the TV show, which is a little bass-ackwards if you think about it.

The town is cute but seems very white, and very conservative. I can find only 2 radio stations on the FM channel, and one is Jesus and the other is Jesus-related country music! I just don’t think I could live somewhere like that. ‘Nuff said (but you know I want to say more…).

Place I wish I’d stopped at: Tudor’s Biscuit World

Names of places that have the same name as other places I’ve been: Oak Hill, Ghent, Fish Hatchery Road, Paris, Ashland (they’re both HOLES), Mt. Vernon, Charleston

Today’s travel summary: I could sum it up by saying, “I GOT somewhere!” but that’d make for some boring reading. The best part of this day has been the past couple of hours, since arriving at the (ahem) Evansville, IN Super 8 Motel. As lame as that sounds, I don’t care; I’m just so relieved to GET somewhere, however not-far-as-I-wanted-to-get-today. 

And why has the past couple of hours been so great you might ask? Well, I’m in my pj’s, on the bed, and have been watching HGTV for 2 hours now. It’s the longest I’ve ever spent watching it, after having threatened to invade countless people’s homes. I was so tired when I got here, yet now (while still tired) I could just watch all night.  

This turned out to be an intense day. After having what little plan I had waylaid by a couple of things, I finally got on the road at almost 2pm, 2 hours past my “target” time. No biggie on that; the sad part started when I got downtown to get onto the bridge over to IL—a traffic jam that I sat in for approx. 64 minutes, give or take, and when I finally got to the bridge there were 2 cop cars blocking the way.

Now why they couldn’t have used the solar powered sign a ½ mile back to note that the bridge was closed is beyond me; but after spending an hour having people trying to cut ahead of me, I found myself in the wrong lane, wondering where to go! So I ended up taking an alternate way (which involved going north, then west, then south, then east) , which was not traffic-y at all, and started to unwind once I put on some music (thanks GN—what an obvious idea I didn’t think of!).

I-64 has so much more character than I-55, which I memorized over many years (not hard since it’s flat, plain and boring). But I-64 has hills and farmland and rivers and swamps and banks of trees that surround you. There was a lot to look at, including the Simpsons-like clouds in the sky.  

When I started fizzing out beautiful Evansville (and its several motel signs) beckoned. Checked in, started indulging myself w/HGTV (with a pause to walk to p/u a carryout from Denny’s with its COOL silver retro-diner style), and am now off to fall asleep to the inspiring sounds of HGTV.  

PS: It’s been 4 years and 3 months today since I quit cigarettes. Sigh. I look forward to the day when I quit counting.  

Today’s game: license plates

IL, KS, NC, SC, TX, GA (sorry but they’re the WORST drivers so far), FL (2nd worst), Ontario, WY, CA, WI, MN, OH, PA, KY, TN, NY, NJ, AL, ND, SD, NE

This blog started off so well-planned: I had a bunch of stories, a bunch of photos, and funny things are always happening, so it would be a matter of “just” gathering what I had so far, putting it in chronological order, and posting it all as your “starter kit.” Then, in a logical manner, I would add entries from the road daily (along a long- but not well-planned trip to NC), and just continue to add from that point on.

I’d post the long-threatened (not-at-all-anticipated) “Photo gallery of dead (and thought-to-be-dead) animals I’ve had in my house,” some funny stories my mom has told us about her childhood and youth (that I’d call “The Voulez-Vous Volume”), and talk about the funny things that seem to happen every day. Lots of possibilities.

Finally, though, reality has set in…and the current reality is that right now I can’t plan past my next cup of coffee. So instead of organizing the crap out of this site and then posting to it (in another 25 years), I’m just going to start throwing stuff out here. Otherwise nothing will ever see the light of day. I’ll start with my recent trip, interpersed with “Why is she talking about this now?!” entries. And we’ll just see what happens.

The postings won’t always be chronological in nature, you might see stuff you’ve already gotten via email, and I will inevitably move stuff around, so please bear with me and just read along. Instead of being the orderly, organized, well-presented (yet aesthetically pleasing!) site I was “planning on” this is apparently my 2999th reminder from the universe about not over-planning. Welcome to my world…

PS: Just this one entry took 39 minutes, and that’s without excessive editing (or including this PS). This is going to either take more time than I anticipated-and I’ll either love or hate it and post accordingly- or it won’t get updated too much, or I’ll love this more than life itself and dedicate every waking moment to it, or (hopefully) somewhere in between.