Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Big Push: DC to Charleston

Today would be a big push – so far we had not taken many long drives. But, today, the plan was to drive from DC, down through North Carolina, to Charleston South Carolina. Mile upon mile, upon mile. Katherine could do it!

As we drove down the Virginia roads, I took a peak at the Lonely Planet USA guide book to see if there was anything worth stopping at. We were making a straight run down I-95, which meant a number of places just could not be reached. Still, there was Richmond. Richmond, Virginia. Why did that sound familiar? The fact that I knew it meant there must be something there. To the book.

It claimed that Richmond held the Whitehouse of the Confederacy. Well, that sounded like something worth seeing. The capital of the CSA. If anything, it would be a brief stopping off point, and allow us to feel as if we'd done something other than just push and push and push.

The GPS led us right to it, and there was even a parking space right near by. The house itself? Not all that great looking – from the outside. But then the real Whitehouse doesn't actually look all that special from the outside either.

This building had been turned into a museum, with a gift shop. I took advantage of said gift shop, and then we headed back to the car. Just outside were pieces left over from old Ironclads. These boats – as far as ships go – are my favourite for being so outrageously designed. They also tended to be stolen back and forth. Not only that, but in the history of naval warfare, they're often overlooked. I think we need a movie or two that feature them – bring them back into public awareness.

Back in the car we put on mile after mile. Stopping at the North Carolina visitor centre, I grabbed some information. While I had seen Fayetteville in the USA book, seeing that it had an entire magazine here made me think there must be something to it. We now had another goal.

But first? Hardees. I love Hardees. It is the most disgusting of all American fast food. They normally pour cheese and bacon and steak on fries, and it's wonderful. Today? Nothing. I'm thinking either they've changed, or it's only in the North where the gross concoctions flourish. This made me sad – Katherine may never know the filth goodness of a Hardees burger.

Back in the car, we we making good time. In North Carolina, the speed limit jumps to 70mph. Good luck, hold on, and try not to let the other drivers sideswipe you off the road.

In Fayetteville (it should be noted that the only reason we came here is because it sounded like Lafayette – a character from True Blood) we did not see the beautiful place the magazine showed, nor the “coolest little town in America” that the Lonely Planet describe. What we saw was a run down, sad, depressing place. America is full of these, and you never need to go far to find them. Making the trip worthwhile, however, we did find the spot where Babe Ruth hit his first ever Home Run.

While we had planned to, perhaps, spend the night here – it was now obvious that there was no reason for that. We simply pressed on into South Carolina.

For the entirety of North Carolina there are signs advertising “South of the Border.” Every few miles you'll see another billboard sporting this advertisement. Finally, as we neared South Carolina we saw it, “ohh a giant taco hat!” It was a fun land, with shops, and I don't know what. Passing the sign reading, “Hey, turn around, you passed it,” it was a little upsetting we would never know what wonders it held. But there was so much road ahead, and night was not getting further away.

The visitor centre there was closed, but the Room Saver magazines (the most important tool for any American road tripper) was outside. All was not lost.

We made one final pit stop to fill up the tank, before moving to a motel just outside of Charleston. The price of gas here? 62.3 cents a liter. How is this fair? How is it so much cheaper here in America than back home? My theory – they sell by gallon. When gas goes up five cents back home, we cringe, but we accept it. Here, where gas is priced by the 3.8 liters, if that hike hit, they'd see a rise of nearly twenty cents, and rage rage rage against it. Now take this increase over the last few years, factor in the difference in the dollar (negligible these days) and you've got yourself an explanation. My original plan to travel through Canada on the way back may be canceled based on the price of gas alone.

We rolled into our new sketchy motel (only thirty bucks after tax and what not... good value) and watched some I love the 80s, praying that we would not be murdered in our sleep.

“Don't laugh at me.”

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