Over the weekend, we broke the 11-hour drive from Atlanta to Annapolis into two days. On Wednesday, we made it all the way home in one fell swoop.
Since Gaines likes to drive me around, and we had almost our entire CD collection coursing through the iPod, I had plenty of time to ponder the view from the passenger seat and our highlights on the hallmark event of summer-- the great American road trip. With a cooler full of drinks and hearts lightened by the thought of five days without the modern inconveniences of telephones, computers, and television, we traversed five states and many, many miles. Here's the journey as best as I can remember it.
GA-- I for one couldn't wait to leave. Hot, humid, muggy summers in downtown Atlanta make Allison a dull girl. I need trees. One more reason to escape: the rest area north of Atlanta on I-85 (me and my miniscule female bladder!) smelled "like the zoo," according to Gaines. I agreed.
SC -- The rest stop here surprised me-- it had actual wood paneled ceilings and a huge skylight. A welcome relief. However, SC has way too many billboards advertising adult-only entertainment. Ew.
NC -- Like a breath of fresh air, the interstates, highways, and byways of NC are lined with the most beautiful collections of wildflowers, as well as the occaisional planned patch of botanical goodness. Whenever I see these, I think of my talented horticulturally-inclined aunt who makes her living by making backyards beautiful. I always like to see the efforts of those who take dominion over growing things.
We spent the first night in the Triangle, and went to a Pierce Pettis show at the Six String Cafe. The people who run that place are AWESOME. If you get a chance, go there. Buy some Bass Ale. Try the Greek salad or the melt-in-your-mouth panini sandwiches. Enjoy the music. You won't be disappointed.
I could love living in NC. Whenever I used to play M.A.S.H. in elementary school (and on up), I always put NC as one of the choices of places to live. And the housing costs are so reasonable. I've been in Atlanta too long!
VA -- Beautiful, especially once we were on the highway instead of the interstate. The little roadside stands scream "You're in the real South, now." The welcome center reminded me of Monticello. A nice lady there informed us of a better route to Annapolis via 301. Thank you nice lady!
MD -- Is there construction on every road here or what? Goodness. On the way in, we noticed a sign for a stadium that was attempting to break the world record for the most people sitting on whoopee cushions on July 4th! I wonder if they met their goal?
We eventually arrived in downtown Annapolis and thoroughly enjoyed the conference and our time there with friends. (More about that later.) For now, check out the informative city website. It really is the most beautiful, charming, and historic American city I've ever visited. We didn't even have to get back into the car until we left yesterday, since everything was a short walk from our hotel--the entire place is meant to be pedestrian-friendly. There was usually a nice breeze off the water, and I adored the huge flower-filled pots and hanging baskets the dotted the streets -- the city reminded me of a Southern Living cover page gone crazy. I wish I'd had a camera. I also appreciated the abundance of sweet tea in every restaurant-- that's how you know you're still in Dixie. On our way out of the city, I noticed too many places we didn't get to visit during our stay, and hope we return next year and stay longer.
On the trip home, I thought the $3.00 toll to cross back over the Potomac was a bit steep, but I suppose Maryland is close enough to New England that exhorbitant toll roads are to be expected.
VA -- Not much of consequence to mention the second time around. I slept through most of the trip through the state, and therefore, have nothing more to say. It is just as beautiful as NC, though.
NC -- By the time we reached NC Wednesday evening, we were getting hungry. In order to save time, we wanted to wait and stop to get gas and food all in one stop. Just when we didn't think we were going to see anything other than McDonald's, we spotted a sign for Zaxby's and enjoyed some de-lish chicken fingers. Though the chain is all over Georgia (it started in Athens), we rarely eat there just 'cause there's not one near our apartment. My cousins are friends with the guys who started Zaxby's and now own and manage two restaurants in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. I like it, but I still think Guthrie's wins for best secret family recipe sauce.
Also in NC, I spotted a billboard for Skirt. I had completely forgotten about it! It reminds me of a less home-oriented, artsy Real Simple. About 10 years ago, as a teenager, I picked up an inaugural copy of the indie women's magazine while visiting SC. I used to dream of moving to Charleston and writing for Skirt when I grew up. I have no idea if I'd even like it anymore. Anyone out there heard of this or read it?
SC -- Once we got here, it was raining. And I slept some more.
GA -- The remnants of tropical storm Cindy made the last leg of our trip slow. I'm glad I kept my eyes closed through most of it, 'cause I absolutely hate driving in heavy rain. I'm always scared of hydroplaning and don't even want to see all that water in the road. The storm certainly caused it's share of troubles around Atlanta. I'm just glad we live in the northeast part. And we made it safely home somewhere around 1:00 a.m. The end...