Monday, June 22, 2009

Georgia on My GPS Part 1: Traffic, Traffic Everywhere!

It's almost 11 PM. When I left Baltimore this morning I had expected to be outside Savannah by now, visiting my sister. Instead I am in a motel room in Manning, South Carolina - $45 after tax, but it has free wireless AND continental breakfast (I'll tell y'all about the breakfast tomorrow). I'm too tired right now to discuss much, but I will throw up a few bullets and a few pix of the road trip thus far.

  • The BIG issue today: traffic. Lots of it. So much in fact that I spent about 1 1/2 to 2 hours moving veeeeeeeery slooooooooowly down the 95 if not just sitting there in traffic. That was fun. As I just "Tweeted" I was stuck in traffic jams five different times. Four of those traffic jams were in North Carolina. Most were between the Virginia border and Raleigh. Just to send me off, the DOT had a special traffic jam waiting for us right at the border with South Carolina! Honestly I don't know how North Carolinians put up with this.
  • Throughout the stretch of I-95 in North Carolina, there was no traffic info on the AM dial (a luxury I took for granted but never used back home). But once you reach Fayetteville, you can hear lots of tourist info! For example, they have a museum simulator. Apparently, it simulates a visit to the museum. Who woulda thunk it?
  • I saw license plates from 41 different places - 38 states plus the District, Ontario and Québec.
  • I am just a few exits south of a "Maryland Fried Chicken" restaurant, though I understand that it's not actually Maryland Fried Chicken as is traditionally made in Maryland.
Of course, I had to eat while I was traveling. Apart from that Rice Krispie Treat I bought at a 7-Eleven somewhere in College Park, I had a few memorable eating experiences. Why they were memorable is a story unto itself.

Using the excellent book Drive I-95 by Stan Posner and Sandra Phillips-Posner (excellent except that it inexplicably stops a few exits into Florida and never explains why), I found the Good Earth Peanut Company in Skippers, just north of the VA-NC border. It's not a little store or anything - it's a Love's with a McDonald's attached. But there is a dedicated shelf of nuts - pecans, peanuts, pistachios, covered in butter or toffee or chocolate, etc. I bought a simple tub of butter covered peanuts ($3), and they were easily the best thing I ate all day. Not as good but still not bad was the chicken teriyaki I got at the Ichiban Express across the border in Roanoke Rapids, NC. For $7, I got slightly dry bits of chicken covered in a sweet teriyaki sauce, paired with very filling and moist enough fried rice, and a stir fry of zucchini and onions. I wouldn't go out of my way for it, but I would eat it again.

The chicken teriyaki

My last meal was at the fabled, and amazingly weird, South of the Border in Dillon, SC. Legendary for all those crossing the NC-SC border, it's a kitschy piece of Americana that is a wee bit dated (just like much of Ocean City, but I digress). A trip to South of the Border would itself be a day-long trip (or at least a few hours), aided by the on-the-premises motor lodge. I just went into their "International Store" to buy some refrigerator magnets. It's just something you've gotta see. Maybe I should've eaten at the Sombrero Room, because the hot dog and "Mexi-Fries" I had at that building with the large burger at the entrance were not appetizing, especially at $6. The ice cream next door - also on site at SotB - looked more so. Don't use the restrooms at SotB if you can help it.


Other photos:

I haven't been here for a very, very long time...

It's either your best dream come true or your worst nightmare: the KFC in Roanoke Rapids does have an all you can eat buffet, folks.

Oh yay, another traffic jam!!! This one lasted about 45 minutes.


And night falls on South of the Border


Mark said...

Don't forget to look for Fat Tire Amber and stock up while you're passing back through NC. (I'm not sure that it's available in SC or GA).