I (and, thankfully, my car) got back from my mammoth road trip from Georgia yesterday. Mind you, the trip took a detour overnight in Raleigh, a reasonable midpoint between Baltimore and the greater Savannah area. I rolled into North Carolina's capital city on Sunday night - later than I had expected. Things went even later after I checked into my scary-as-hell Motel 6, packed back up five minutes later, and went across the street to the Best Western Raleigh Inn & Suites on New Bern Avenue (plus, I had one of those free coupon books you get at the rest area, lucky me!). Apparently this Best Western used to suck, but I was very satisfied with the room I had, which was very nice - a real bargain with the coupon I got (NB: even if you booked somewhere, ALWAYS PICK UP THOSE COUPON BOOKS!) If ever you are in the Raleigh area, don't go to the Motel 6 on Maitland. The clerk was nice, but that's the only plus. I've never been worried for my safety in a motel before - and that includes some real dives I stayed in Mexico and that horrible hotel in Amsterdam last year. I'll never see those $40 I spent at the Motel 6 again. It was a pricey lesson. Make sure you do research on your lodgings before you book!!!
By the time I got settled in, it was 9:00. Pretty much everything that wasn't fast food was closed except for the Waffle House across the street. So it was settled: quarter pound cheeseburger with hash browned potatoes for dinner!*
To commemorate the Stonewall Anniversary, I stopped in a small and friendly little gay bar in the downtown area (which like most downtowns in most cities, including our own, was pretty much dead on a Sunday night). Flex, like many Research Triangle gay bars, is technically a "club" but I was able to get in anyway (I doubt they would turn anyone away). All I will say is that people will happily chat with you there (this is more Raleigh's answer to our Phoenix than to our Central Station), one bartender joked with me about how many cards I had in my wallet, and a regular offered me some hummus and pita that he couldn't finish. And yes, they have Fat Tire! But since they ran out, I ordered a Carolina IPA which was nice and hoppy. Oh for future reference: don't follow up a Guinness with a Newcastle, or the latter will taste like feet. I told several people this while I was there, to prevent any future beer mishaps.
Coming up: chocolate, cha chiang noodles, and the dinosaur those museum folks call the "Terror of the South"...
PS - Oh I forgot: after I told the bartender about my Newcastle discovery, a guy from across the room bought me a Magic Hat #9. It went down much better after that Newcastle.
* By the way, here's a creepy statement about the state of the internet today: just on a hunch, I decided to see how many Waffle Houses there are in Maryland (not many). I clicked on their "Advanced Search" link, expecting to see a list of states or a map of the US. It instantly showed me three Waffle Houses in Frederick and one in Dumfries. Okay, so we have Waffle Houses in Maryland - but I didn't tell it my zip code. Big Brother much?