You may be wondering why it took me so long to get to Florida. Traumatized by recent airport experiences, it seemed like a good idea at the time to drive down, since I was on the east coast anyway.
Big, as the Governator would say, mistake.
I hadn’t taken into account the incredible boredom, lack of radio stations playing anything other than country, religious programming, or talk radio; the insane traffic (special mentions: Cincinnati, the total worst, followed by Atlanta); or the mysterious fact that the weather would be sunny in the northern states and rainy in the south. I also discovered a whole new talent: getting lost, including twice in one day.
My Road Trip
Buffalo, NY: The little I saw of it had splendid Victorian houses, some of them bordering on mansions, in perfect condition and with beautiful paint jobs. They rivalled those in San Francisco. Have no idea why we don’t hear about the Buffalo Victorians. There are also some old fashioned slate sidewalks like those in my grandparents’ town near Rochester, New York, so I got a little dose of nostalgia, too.
Mars, Pennsylvania:: There is no life on Mars. Slept at the Motel Six and ate at Denny’s. Seriously. Beginning of the grease theme of the trip.
Ohio: The “O” is for Oh.My.God. It’s not the tiny, wedge-shaped state it appears to be. It’s the secretly huge state no-one tells you about. I spent almost a whole day driving through it. And half a lifetime in traffic on the road that bypasses Cincinnati, going 5 mph.
West Virginia:: Whipped through it in no time. Smaller than you’d think.
Nowhereville, Kentucky: Pizza Hut (first time in my life), and a Hampton Inn, which seemed much classier than the Motel 6 until I discovered that it’s owned by the Hiltons, which means that I personally have subsidized Paris Hilton’s embarrassing fashion choices. At least I haven’t subsidized her embarrassing choice in men. I picked Pizza Hut after fleeing in horror from the buffet restaurant, which was like Deliverance with children. Also, buffet. If I’m in a restaurant, I want them to bring me the food. Is that too much to ask? I didn’t entirely escape the buffet, though, because PH had a salad bar, which is a thinly disguised buffet.
However, it seemed refreshingly healthy after all the road food. I’ve driven through 5 states now, and it’s all Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King – the unholy trinity. This being the South, though, the unholiness was offset by a barn with a giant red hand-painted JESUS on it, and billboards that said:
If you died today (fun thought when you’re going 80 on the interstate), where would you spend Eternity?
Hell is Real.
No positive suggestions, like “Heaven is Real”, or anything like that.
On the other hand, they have a point, because driving on the interstate (or anywhere else) is Hell, and it’s all too Real.
Discovered that Richmond, KY is dry on one side, and wet on the other, meaning you can only buy booze – a total necessity at this point – on the bad side of town. Also that the stores stock an astonishing variety of chewing tobacco.
Oh, and Elvis was right about the cold Kentucky rain.
Nowhereville, Tennessee: At a gas station, I had to make the attendant tell me the price 3 times because he had so few teeth I couldn’t understand him. However, gas station had theme shot glasses, with slogans like, “Don’t Mess With Dixie” and “American By Birth, Southern By the Grace of God”, and sold 190 proof liquor to go with them.
Stopped at Subway, desperate for non-greasy food, and it took 3 people to make me a salad. The person taking the order didn’t know what I was talking about, and I pointed at the price list with the salads listed. She asked me what kind of bread. I was like, No, a salad, just put it in the bowl. She had to go get the manager. Then they had to find the bowls. Then they went & looked for the salad dressing, and found they didn’t have it. I’m not kidding.
Nowhereville, Georgia: Zipped merrily through Atlanta, but hit bad traffic outside of it, though it was still a joy compared to Cincinnati, the traffic capital of America. Super 8 motel (not noticeably twice as super as Motel 6), surprisingly decent Mexican food across from the Piggly Wiggly. Learned that the correct pronunciation of “pecan” is puh-CAHN and that grits are not gritty, but mushy. Billboards for boiled peanuts (haven’t tried them yet) and potential mothers-to-be (“Choose Life! Aren’t you glad your mother did?” and “Heartbeat at three weeks, brainwaves at six weeks”), along with the usual (“Eternity is a long time to spend in Hell” – the author doesn’t appear to realize that eternity is a long time to spend anywhere, hence calling it eternity) and the unusual (“Use Black Kow – 100% cow manure!”).
Finally Florida: It was like magic: all of a sudden, about half an hour after I crossed the Georgia/Florida border, it was 65°, then 70°, and finally, by the time I reached my destination, 74°. Slept about 12 hours that night and made myself a cup of French Roast in the morning – first decent coffee in 4 days. This is not a small thing for Me. The coffee on the road was as good as the dental hygiene.
Next: How to get lost twice in one day!