Friday, January 2, 2009

Southern Crossing: Charleston-Raleigh/Durham-Home

Although we technically had a few more days to go, Charleston was the last real stop of our Southern Crossing road trip. We pushed hard to make it in one day from Charleston to Raleigh/Durham, where Emma had a college friend. Durham was a mildly interesting place-- we drove past the Duke campus, explored the restaurant options, and settled on an authentic-feeling Middle Eastern restaurant with delicious apple tea. The little downtown area also provided an hour's worth of enjoyable window shopping, but that night we had to content ourselves with coffee at Starbuck's with Emma's friend and her back-roads-Tennessee boyfriend.

The drive from Raleigh/Durham to Philadelphia was equally taxing, but at least we had a few treats along the way. Near the Virginia border we finally stopped at a Waffle House (we had been counting them for fun--Waffle Houses are everywhere in the south!-- but hadn't gone in one as of yet.) I found it to be surprisingly personable and the food to be quite edible. Like an IHOP but with way more character and personality, almost bordering on a diner feel.

We also had a chance to visit the legendary, legendarily racist South of the Border, a Mexican-centric theme park just "south of the" North Carolina border. To be honest, the best part of the park was the signs, which started about 100 miles away, advertising it. They presented a series of stupid puns and silly cartoons on billboards up and down the Carolina coast. I am nothing if not a sucker for an ad campaign involving stupid puns and silly cartoons.

Our visit to South of the Border didn't last long; we found it too depressing. We looked in a few souvenir shops, buying some lovely, schlocky things and trying on a million varieties of goofy hat at a store specifically for, well... goofy hats. We thought about exploring the midway, but at this point our thoughts were already ahead of us in Philadelphia.

The blatant racism (ick) and awesome roadside schlock (yay) of South of the Border

Awesome. (Sorry for posting this on the internet, Emma...)

We pushed on. For lunch, we stopped to see an old friend of mine, Andy, in Washington DC; he was hosting a brunch and it was lovely to see him and his new life. And by late that night we were back in Philadelphia.

We had survived two thousand miles with minimal wear and tear and a lot of good stories. The car was dirtier and our wallets were thinner, but my camera card was packed with pictures and my suitcase featured a collection of little souvenirs, postcards, and brochures. It had been a lovely, sometimes crazy ride (literally) through a country I hadn't known much about, really. We'd traversed several mountain ranges, traveled 14 states, seen a lot of great road side attractions, eaten lots of BBQ, and learned a lot about the country we call home. A wholly successful trip, and proof that you don't have to travel around the world to experience new things and have your perspective changed for the better.

Although, as it turned out, the traveling around the world would happen, anyway, not long afterward...

1 comment:

Ed said...

I wait anxiously the writings of your trips..