Monday, March 04, 2013

Notes from the road.1

Firstly, a late thank you to Roderick R. for his seasonal salutations waaay back. Been in a tailspin since just after the holidays; that is not what I owe, not right now.

Back to the trip to Texas. We left Monday October 22 at 10:00 a.m., according to my scanty notes. Drivedrivedrive to the North Carolina border, about 105 miles south. The ladies have a tradition of stopping at state welcome centers. NC's had a life-size cutout photo of Ava Gardner, an early crush, at the pamphlet hall: she was born and is buried a few miles away. Greedy duck , I asked the well meaning volunteer, a nice fellow, if I could have it." Nah", quick on the uptake," but I have a list of BBQ places and their exits, wouldja like one?"  A handy resource on that section of road. The trip was like that.  No blue highways for us: it was big roads, US 95 and similar , varying only north/south or east/west. The ladies liked their "Cracker Barrel": a large chain "easy on, easy off", purporting to serve home-style cookin'. Swill. Our first food stop, Exit 90, for Holt Lake BBQ, where we had family style fried chicken and  BBQ ; Charlotte was keen on BBQ that stop. Other stops were made:  we pumped $100. in fuel (gas,surprisingly, not diesel) twice a day. Saw a strange site: a large iguana, sunning on the dash of a U-Haul van. The Tom Tom GPS, very vocal, and named "suzie", took some getting used to, especially in swoops off the main road which throw her into a recalculating tizzy. I never got used to the mechanical yapping. Drivedrivedrive to Florence, South Carolina. I'll let you do the geography. Charlotte and Ruth went to visit pals in Timmonsville, SC, so  Neil and I were dropped at the Quality Inn. You know the territory: hotels, convenience stores, gas stations, 6-8 lanes of traffic to scamper across; o look, an Outback restaurant.Where my brother and I had a decent meal, a couple beers, and talked. I cannot remember the last time we had had a meal like that together. Back to the room. We watched "Cowboys and Aliens" and went to sleep. The Quality Inn had an excellent breakfast buffet, "most important meal o' the day", as I tell colleagues.

We left Florence at 9:15; Ruth had fallen and hurt her leg during the night, so calls were made to docs in Texas and sense of urgency took hold. Ruth is a trooper; she kept right up at stops and is full of wonderful anecdotes of growing up in Texas. She has written a book: historical markers on Texas highways, a huge undertaking. Imagine how many miles of road Texas has, even in the shabby sections? We had lunch at the aforementioned cracker barrel chain , may the staff have to eat their swill someday. Two fuel stops, and we fetched up in Montgomery, Alabama. We stayed at the Drury hotel,located in an even drearier area than the previous hotel. My glasses broke, the earpiece screw just backed itself out and disappeared. I carry eyeglass kits but nothing seemed to fit. We had Combos and popcorn for dinner, followed by a "Bait Car" mini-marathon. Sliding further down the scale: combos and reality t.v. Is this what the road does?

Day 3, we arose at 7:30, with a phone call from Charlotte asking if we would be interested in visiting the Rosa Parks museum in downtown Montgomery. We demurred: I dreaded maneuvering that RV in narrow southern streets. Down to breakfast, where the spread was even better than the previous day's. We filled up. Charlotte and Ruth picked us up at 10:00. Half the day gone, as Dad used to say.
Drivedrivedrive, more carrion appearing on the road . As we approached Stockton, Alabama, I saw a sign for the "Stagecoach Southern Buffet". Best food of the trip. Buffet style, a funky old place with ample seating. Best fried chicken of the trip. Southern cooking is wonderful, if it doesn't kill you.