[something clever and obscure here]The chronicles of Amelia's post road trip adventures
Friday, February 27
I'm such a sucker for a smile. Just smile at me and I'll notice you.
I'm hanging out in a coffee shop in Austin. I'm drinking an ice coffee and if you know me well, you'll know that this is a mistake. If you don't know me well, I can tell you that this is a mistake. Caffeine makes me feel unstoppable and on top of the world and I only use it for special occasions.
I'm appreciating the atmosphere here. Besides the nice weather, there are also nice looking people here. I can't believe how attractive everyone is here [that just may be the caffeine, it makes me love life's beauty even more than usual]. Anyway, I'm enjoying my Friday, and looking forward to the weekend, even though, with my schedule, every day is a weekend. Enjoy yours.
For all of my readers in North Carolina, DC, Chicago, Boston, and other cold parts, it's going to be about 70 degrees where I am today. Ahhh. It's my plan to enjoy the weather while it's good, because I'll be driving north next week, and I can kiss this warmth goodbye.
Some of Austin when I drove in last night:
I didn't spend very much time in San Antonio, but long enough to get the cheap TexMex lunch that Jordan raves about when he's anywhere other than San Antonio. I must admit, it was cheap. He and I both ate for a total of $6.96. That's a pretty good price for all of the food we got. Before eating, Jordan made a comment about how they don't really have to follow health regulations, and then later he told me that the refried beans were really good, because they added extra lard. mmmm. I tried my best to ignore those comments, but strangely, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle came to mind, and whenever that happens, it can't be good. It *was* cheap and tasty, though.
Thursday, February 26
I'm going to do something a little daring. This morning I started writing and never really finished a thought or got something cohesive out of it. But I'm just going to post the half-finished bits and let them speak for themselves. After reading it all, you'll probably think I'm crazy, but we're all a bit crazy at times (or at least it makes me feel better to say so). I almost want to put explanations for some of these thoughts, but that would take something away from it. Fill in the blanks however you want, and I'll try not to worry if I'm misunderstood. to be great is to be misunderstood :)
Wednesday, February 25
Right this minute, I'm sitting in an apartment in Houston. The city is wonderful, by the way. I love the tall buildings downtown. It's a lot more exciting than any of the other cities I've driven through on this trip.
It's Wednesday, by my last count, and I'm going off to San Antonio today. I stayed here a day longer than I intended to, but I just couldn't make myself get back on the road for more driving yesterday. It's not that I've gotten tired of the driving, it's just that I benefitted more from staying. I was able to relax and pamper myself here. Instead of hanging out in a car for 4 more hours, I spent a few hours in an internet cafe, took a long bath, read some of a book, did my laundry, bought flowers, got my nails done, made a decent meal [it's a lot of effort to eat well on a road trip]....I also made a new friend.
Harlan and I met at Mardi Gras. He wanted to talk to some girls and Monica wanted the nice beads around his neck. He asked her if she would make out with him for them. She said, "no, but my roommate will." At which point, I gave him a kiss and he handed over beads. Transaction complete. I asked him where he was from, he said "Houston." I said, "I'm driving through Houston on Monday, can I borrow your couch?" He said, "sure" but that's because he didn't really take me seriously. He called Sunday to confirm that I was still planning on staying, which I was, and here I am.
We were both apprehensive when I arrived, because it's pretty crazy to let a complete stranger into your house, and it's pretty crazy to stay with a complete stranger. But, we had both sized one another up and decided that the chances that either of us was a psycho serial killer were pretty slim. We were both understandably on guard anyway. My first impression of him (after arriving) was that he was really difficult to get along with and possibly a control freak. It's been a while since I've had such a conversation with someone. Normally, people go out of their way to make friendly small talk, but it seemed he was going out of his way to be an ass. Every sentence seem to be adversarial and sarcastic, but I was determined to stick with it. I think I'm just used to people liking me, and here was someone who just didn't. I haven't felt so defensive in a while, but he challenged every word that came out of my mouth. I think it's a test of people that he does without even knowing it, to make sure that they are up to his standards of banter and debate. Well, I passed his test and he passed mine, and I found out that behind that wall of sarcasm is a person that is worth getting to know better.
I really like to meet new people, especially ones that I consider to be fairly different from me. There is always a wonderful comfort in meeting a person who shares your tastes and opinions, because they validate what you think and feel. However, getting to know someone who isn't like you and being able to communicate and learn about them is often much more beneficial. For me, it becomes an education about myself, because I then look at who I am through slightly different eyes. It's one of the things that I like about getting older. Every day I have more information to add to my database about the world and where I fit in it, and that makes me more comfortable with myself and the people around me.
Regarding the danger and stupidity of staying with a complete stranger: life is a risky thing, but I trust my instincts. There is a saying, "Everything works out for Amelia" [what? you haven't heard that one?]. It's true, things do work out for me and I don't just blame it on good luck. It's a combination of making the right decisions and having a positive outlook on whatever consequences come of those decisions. So, yes, it was a risk, but if you stand outside the fire your entire life, then what have you to show for it? warm hands and wishes?
I could possibly have a job out of all of this, too. It's not extremely likely, but Harlan and I discussed a medical database project at the hospital where he works (he does finance stuff there) that I could work on. It is at the threshold of my ability, but I'm always eager to learn new things and I'm not afraid of hard work (and income would be nice). We're still negotiating. Even though I don't have to be on site to do this and could be working on it in North Carolina, I'm not planning on cutting my road trip short, and I think they don't want to wait a month. We'll see how it goes.
Tuesday, February 24
Let's just set the record straight for a moment: you do not have to flash your breasts at Mardi Gras to have a good time. In fact, I didn't even feel mildly tempted to reveal myself to strangers. Just in case you thought all of those beads 'round my neck had been earned, I'm sorry, but I'll have to disappoint you.
Monica and I made our way to a friend's house. Had we known that it was 13 blocks away, we probably would have tried to find a bathroom first. Once we got there, we Roshambo'd for who got to go first. Monica won. While she was gone, I met some friends of hers from high school who wanted to know stories about her, since they hadn't seen her in years. Well, I hadn't seen her in years, and didn't really have any good stories to tell. We're more interested in making new ones, anyway, who wants to live in the past? :)
There was a night parade called Endymian, which was our next destination for garnering more beads. We watched floats and caught beads and made friends with some med students from Indiana. Monica's old high school friends went for chicken at Popeye's, but we stuck around and ended up spending all night running around Bourbon Street with our new crowd: Sachin, Greg, Steve, Kim, Dan, Ben, Ryan, Blue, Carrie, Eugene... Their good company was the reason that our Mardi Gras was so great. Well, Monica and I think that *we* were the life of *their* party, but I guess it goes both ways.
We tried to get into a popular dance joint, Fat Cats, which was packed and we would have had no room to shake our groove thang. So we spent a couple of hours at an Irish pub with patio seating. but Monica and I were eager to dance (it's been a while since we went dancing, and years since we've gone dancing together) so after much laboring to find a good place (running through the streets of New Orleans is hard work), we settled on Utopia (that's just the name of the bar, not a metaphor for how great it was). More debauchery ensued.
I'm acting slightly silly!
Monica and I grabbed coffee and beignets (fried doughy things with powdered sugar) in the morning and sat on the steps of Jackson Square before going home. The Indiana crew we had met strolled by serendipitously and we got to hang out for a little bit longer and bask in the sun and the glow of a wonderful night.
Monica and I review our bead booty on Monday morning.
I figure out how to eat crawfish.
Monday, February 23
It's Monday morning, and I've awaken to the sound of rainfall outside my window. Unfortunately, I remember leaving my windows open slightly to air out my car last night. Well, I guess it's fortunate that I remember, but unfortunate that it happened. I've run out there to roll them up, but I think I'll drive to Houston with the windows down to dry it out and keep it from smelling funny.
It's early and Monica isn't awake, yet. She wanted to make a contribution to this post, but I'll start without her and let her add stuff when she gets up.
Mardi Gras was perfect. That was the decision that we came to on the way home. We wanted for nothing, and couldn't have asked for anything better. The weather was beautiful, the people we met were fun, and nobody got hurt or lost anything.
Monica and I before leaving.
We started the drive to New Orleans around noon on Saturday. We had several stops to make before getting out of Baton Rouge. We bought a six-pack of Negra Modelo, some Green Apple Smirnoff drinks, and a bottle of Malibu. We also bought some Rubbermaid drink bottles to hold our mixed Malibu and Cokes. Then, we were on the road.
Monica and I hadn't had much time to catch up on things until now. She is living with her (shall we say, overprotective) parents and does public health research at a nearby hospital. She hopes to get into med school soon and start in August. Her parents immigrated from India, and are very driven individuals. There is a lot of pressure on her to succeed, coupled with the pressure to be a nice girl and find a nice Indian boy to marry and make her parents happy. Monica yearns for independence from her parents, but they don't understand that. She has changed a lot in the time that I have known her. She still seems like the quiet and shy freshman at times, but she is also intelligent and headstrong and beautiful inside and out. I think it would be better for her to be living alone, but that is the opinion of an outsider. She knows how to get most of what she wants while still having the love, support, and approval of her father. I don't envy her struggle, but I trust her to know what's best for her.
[ok, enough about Monica, we want to hear about the debauchery of Mardi Gras]
Once we got to New Orleans and found a place to park, we started walking to the French Quarter. Well, I was on the phone and Monica was in charge of leading us in the right direction, so at first we got a bit of a tour of the Garden district until she realized we needed to turn around.
We had walked for a while and were hungry, so we stopped to eat sandwiches and watch a parade. We were two of the few beadless individuals around, because everyone who had been watching the parade had been catching the strings of beads that were thrown from the floats. Having just gotten there, and not quite gotten into the spirit of the whole thing yet, we spectated for a bit. I struck up a conversation with a guy next to us to see if he had a bottle opener [I actually had one in my bag somewhere, but it was easier to ask him than find it, and a good excuse to talk to strangers]. He felt sorry for our beadless necks and donated some of his beads to our cause. He gave us more beads as he would catch them (he didn't have much more room around his neck) and we stopped being only spectators and started catching beads ourselves. Before we knew it, we were bejeweled.
Sunday, February 22
I had left the interstate again to take smaller roads into Louisiana, and I was heading northwest towards Baton Rouge when I stopped for gas in the town of Slidell. The gas station attendant asked me if I was in town to see the parade. I told him I wasn't and was on my way to Baton Rouge. Little did I know that I would be stuck in that town for a half hour trying to find my way around the parade. My GPS came in handy like never before, because I was driving around small neighborhood roads, and knew as long as I headed north then I would run into the interstate that I needed. However, the parade was between me and the interstate. If I hadn't told Monica when I would be arriving, then I would have stayed and enjoyed the festivities. There were so many cars parked in the neighborhoods, and a houseparty on every block. It was late, though, and I'd already been in the car for too long.
I eventually made it to the interstate, and to Monica's. It has been 2 years since I have seen her and after a brief getting-to-know-you-again period, we were back to our old antics. Next stop, Mardi Gras.
Well, I've a thousand things to talk about, and I don't know how I'm going to narrow it down, or where I will start, but I'll just start writing and see where it ends up.
I'm staying with Monica, who is a college roommate of mine. I arrived Friday night around 10pm [I've entered Central Time now] having been in the car for 11 hours. Taking the highway that follows the gulf coast until I got tired of towns and stoplights and slower speed limits, I switched to the interstate through most of Alabama. It took me such a long time to get to Baton Rouge because I was taking in the scenenery, stopping wherever I felt the urge, and just doing some laid-back exploring. Taking a road trip by yourself has its perks, and being in control of when, where, how fast, and how far is something that I could easily get used to.
Friday, February 20
I got tired of squinting into the sun, and came in to write some about yesterday's adventure. It was impossible to write about that while I was sitting outside, because the water and the hot sun and the...well the "nothing else" of it all made me unable to think about anything other than where I was at that very moment.
Yesterday, I drove from Savannah and ended up here in Carrabelle, Florida. There was a loose plan to drive to St. Augustine and possibly make it to Pensacola if I could, but I had little reason to stick to any plans. Knowing that it was going to be the first big day of driving, I pulled out the big guns: my CDs. I had been listening to the radio mostly, but I knew that the constant flipping through stations which I would be doing, would get really old after an hour. I have a couple of new mixes that some friends sent with me and I've been saving them for just the right days. The Indigo Girls, Dar Williams, and Lucinda Williams also kept me going. It was a very estrogen-rock day.
If you haven't seen Being John Malkovich, then you should. My big adventure yesterday was a Being John Malkovich-moment. There is a scene, where I believe John Malkovich has gone into his own head and everyone looks like him ("is" him, I guess) and all the conversations go like this: "Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich..." This was me yesterday when I decided to drive to Amelia Island. This island is near Jacksonville, near the Georgia-Florida border.
There aren't many Amelias in the world, and you'll find (if you meet some more) that they derive some of their individuality from their first name. That is part of their unique identity, because no other kids were "Amelia" when they were growing up. And with a last name like Smith, I had to get my uniqueness from somewhere. When two Amelias meet, it can be like matter/anti-matter meeting, because it's hard for them to handle someone else having the same name, and therefore, unique identity. I'm sure that this phenomenon occurs with other rare names, but this is the only one with which I have experience.
It's a real treat, then, to see what I saw yesterday, which were billboards, street signs, buildings and even vans that said "Amelia" So many shops in the town were Amelia something or other. Amelia Car Wash, Amelia's Antiques, Amelia Paint and Body Shop, Amelia Computers, Amelia Plaza, Amelia Market, Amelia, Amelia, Amelia, Amelia, Amelia, Amelia, Amelia... It was a town all about me! Granted, if you live in my head, then you think that the world is often all about you, but it's nice to see it manifested in billboards once in a while ;)
I spent lots of time on Amelia Island, even going to the Amelia Island History Museum. It was near 4pm when I left. [I didn't leave Savannah until around noon] I drove south along the coast a bit more and west to Jacksonville. Then, I stayed on I-10 until Tallahassee. It was dark at this point and getting late, but I wanted to check out Tallahassee's free wireless internet access, and decide in what town I was going to sleep. I parked somewhere downtown and tried to access their network to no avail. They had a support phone number, but no one answered, and they had a support email address, but that was kind of useless to me at the time. Oh well.
I checked out a map and decided I'd try to drive to Panama City, but it was late and once it was after 10pm, I wanted to just find somewhere to stay. There was a little town called Panacea, which I thought would be a cool place to stay in, but the Panacea Motel was full. Then it's getting later and I'm worried that the motels in these little towns will all be closed, and it's night and I've seen way too many scary movies, so I'm getting freaked out about driving through small town America at night, where dueling banjos play and children of the corn come out and kill me for being older than 19. Apparently, I'd been driving too long... I can laugh at it now, but really, I'm afraid of the dark.
I ended up finding this lovely place around 11pm, called the Island View Inn and RV Park. So that's where I am. The room is adorable, with a kitchen and the little deck on the back that's steps from the water. If I were going to be a writer, I'd spend some time holed up here, or maybe when I'm a contract computer programmer, I'll come down here to work. I've got to check out now and get on the road...
I'm sitting 20 yards from the Gulf of Mexico. It would be less than that if the tide were in. No obstruction, either, just some grass, then a little sand, then water.
I'm writing this post on the back of a motel flyer that says to pick up after your dog and don't leave them unattended. There's not a soul in sight. Well, maybe some lost ones. I do hear voices carrying over the water from some sort of seacraft. It's small and far enough away that I can't make out its details. From what I can see, I imagine that it's a handmade vessel: logs lashed together and an old sheet for a sail.
The sun is high in the sky and bright enough to make my eyes squint and cause me to shield them with my hand every time I look up. The sea looks like my fans will look when I'm a rock star playing my last ballad for the evening: little points of sunlight reflected back to me, like a thousand cigarette lighters lit and lifted in the audience.
I brought with me some supreme slacking clothing that I dug out of my college clothes that hadn't been worn in years: a pair of corduroys that are kind of flared at the bottom and that don't always fit me, and a thin zip-up hooded sweatshirt (referred to as a third-grade jacket). I walked the 10 steps to the main office to get coffee and a woman sitting on the couch said, "you look bored." I don't feel bored, but I look like the Queen of Slack. :)
It would be nice to stay here for a few nights, but I'm due in Baton Rouge tonight. I'm going to be driving along the gulf for a few hours and drive into Mobile. Alabama is the first drive-through state on this trip, because I've stayed in every other state I've been in. The journey to Baton Rouge will be made longer, because I'll be off the big highways for half of it, but it should be much more interesting than hours and hours of interstate.
My view of the gulf at sunrise.
Thursday, February 19
This is nice. Today was an excellent day of relaxing activities. After my last post at 8:15 this morning (Wednesday), I realized no one was up, and the couch looked so inviting, and I was kind of getting a headache, so I lay back down and slept until 11. That was a good decision. Then when everyone else got up, Chris made us omelets and we went to the park to play ball with Peppers (Chris' lab). We kicked around a ball for a couple of hours and talked about half of everything. Rob went to work, Kelly went to finish her homework, and Chris and I went to the beach. He's currently unemployed, too, and making big traveling plans just like I am. We walked down the beach and talked about the other half of everything.
While we were on the beach, my mom called me to tell me that the American Red Cross had called her and that I had come up as a match for someone who needs a bone marrow transplant. This is really cool news. I had signed up to be on the national bone marrow registry in 1997 at UNC. I've got to get tested again to make sure that I'm still a match and then I may be able to donate my bone marrow and save someone's life. I explained to the woman when I called back, that I was driving around the country. She's going to try to schedule an appointment for me in Austin next week so I can give a tube of blood for testing. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity.
Tomorrow is going to be a big day. It's the first day of driving where I don't have a set destination. It will probably be my longest driving day so far. My only goal is to get to Baton Rouge by Friday night, so I'm going to drive for as long as I want tomorrow and make up the last half Friday. I'm going to be stopping some on the way, but I haven't really decided where. One possibility is St. Augustine, Florida, the nation's oldest city. I was thinking about making it to Pensacola, but mapquest says it will take me 8 hours. So it's possible that I'll make it that far, but unlikely. I've just researched wireless hotspots in Florida, so I'll be able to connect to the internet, if I want to find a hotel. Tallahassee has a large free network called the digital canopy that covers a 12 block area in downtown. Yay, free internet! :)
Wednesday, February 18
The challenge of piecing the evening back together... hmmm. Well, I woke up this morning on the couch. My sleeping bag had been pulled out and laid next to me (probably on me at the time). I suppose I fell asleep there. What do I remember before falling asleep? Well, I look around. ...I'm in a big cold house in Savannah (Gas heating is ridiculously overpriced here, not enough competition in the market, so my friends go without). ..We went out to eat at a nice restaurant last night (the one where Rob works) and I knew that I would get shitty if I drank red wine: having little sleep, little to eat, and not much tolerance to begin with. Chris, Kelly, Rob and I had a lovely meal, and Rob and I shared a bottle of wine...nope, we shared two. Mistake Number 1. Then, we stopped at a bar. Mistake Number 2. Thats where things go all hazy...Well, there was a good band at the bar... I remember seeing double...that's never good. We ordered drinks (Jack and Coke for me, of course) and, well, I remember talking some... dammit, did I make any phone calls?...yes [hangs head in shame] it's all coming back to me...
Well, I had fun. I'm not missing anything (like my phone or credit card). I'm safe in a house with friends I trust. These are all good things. I'd rather not have made a fool of myself, but it could have been much worse.
It's early. I've got all day to tour Savannah. What more could a girl want?
Tuesday, February 17
I'll be in Savannah tonight to hang out with Chris and Rob, who went to UNC with me. It's a rainy day [but not snowy!].
I've got my computer (powered from my car) playing MP3s through my stereo. I still haven't enough time to play around with my GPS and my laptop but that's my next gadget-conquering task. My Coordinates are N 32°59.169' W 80°8.209'
My website works best when using the free and superior Mozilla web browser. I forgot to check how it looked with Internet Explorer this morning, so it's a bit screwy. I'm working on it though...
It's happened before, but I can't remember why, damn sleepy brain...
It took much to long to leave Wilmington this morning. It was a combination of my usual slackness, traffic, and talking on the phone while missing crucial turns. Fortunately, I don't mind sitting in traffic very much [unless I'm running late for something important, and there is very little that is important] and I have the ability to laugh at my mistakes, so it didn't get me down.
I borrowed a sleeping bag, tent, and Thermarest from Virginia. I wasn't planning on camping, because I don't expect the weather to be camper-friendly, but it's good to keep your options open.
On the way to South Carolina (the second state on this trip!), I passed by a picture-worthy meat shop: Randy's Meat Center.
Considering the definition of "randy," I thought that it was pretty funny.
I drove down two-lane highways most of the time today, through poor and rural towns. I had packed my CDs in the trunk of my car, so I listened to the radio some of the time and listened to myself think the rest of the time. South Carolina has a lot of God-radio to offer and an inflammatory talk show host. I got bored of that quickly and took some pictures of the inside of my car.
My car surpassed the 80,000 mile mark today, so I took a picture of that, too.
My cousin Lisa and her husband Tim live very near Charleston. We drove into town for dinner and ate at a Greek restaurant. Gator Tail appetizers! (not solely a Greek restaurant, apparently) A television for every table! (too bad a Carolina game wasn't on)
After dinner we went to Tim's work and he gave me a tour. He's an engineer at a plant that makes drive shafts for Daimler Chrysler. Big machines are cool.
if you notice that I'm posting fairly early, it's actually fairly late, I haven't slept, yet. A deadly combination of coffee and broadband
Monday, February 16
I had to sign up for a computer programmer's conference today. I put my Job Title as "Adventurer/Programmer". Sounds a lot more marketable than "Unemployed Narcissist". "Thinker/Doer" would have been a good one, too.
I'm about to leave Wilmington for Charleston, and I've not told you anything about Saturday night or Sunday. Here's the quick and dirty version, so I can stop living in the past:
Saturday, after makeover and shopping ;)
ok, I'm caught up to today
I'm leaving for Charleston, in 5 minutes.
This is lots of fun. Are you enjoying it?
me at the beach
my cousin's cat, respectfully referred to as "Fat Bastard"
Sunday, February 15
So the drive to Surf City was fairly uneventful. To tell you the truth, I'm exhausted right now, and don't feel like writing, but I'm going to keep on a little more and hope that I get into a rhythm.
I took a couple of photos while driving. That's probably not the safest thing to do. When they outlaw driving and using a cell phone, I'll have to get my kicks out of driving and taking pictures like this one:
I drove through a town called Trent. I didn't realize that I was in it until I had passed the Trent Restaurant, at which point I looked around for the Trent Motel. The story about the Trent Motel is that when I was a kid, probably about 12, my parents were driving me to camp. I would go to camp for a month each summer. It was a pretty lengthy drive to camp, so we drove halfway down one night and stayed in the town of Trent, in the Trent Motel. All I can remember from that night is that the sheets were worn through in places and had patches on them. I think I blocked out any other seediness. If my mom reads this, I'm sure she'll think that I've told the story wrong. We often remember different versions of the past. The Trent Motel didn't look as if it had changed much.
I made it to the beach house in Surf City around 8pm, Friday night. I was expecting some Ultimate players to arrive later, and I had to get the house ready for people. In the winter, it is drained of all the water, so pipes won't burst in a frost. Once the water and heat was on and I had brought in all of my luggage [I decided I'd rather cart most of my bags in now, rather than needing something that was in the car later, and having to go out and get it. It took a few trips, because I've got a lot of stuff for the next 6 weeks.] I listened to Van Morrison and then some World Lounge and danced around a bit [actually, I think I also posted stuff to this website and surfed the internet, but I'm emphasizing the dancing, because that is somehow cooler].
Ultimate players straggled in. We drank some beers. Jenny told me that she made me a CD for the trip which thrilled me, because I love presents (especially thoughtful ones). Then, sleep. The nicest thing about hosting a team at your house is that there is never any question that you are going to have bed space. Well, there were those times that I would willingly relinquish bed space for a sleeping bag next to Ox, [who later was referred to as Snuggles by certain teammates] but barring those temptations, bed space is premium real estate.
I intended to go to the tourney on Saturday. I woke up early, left with the team, and I thought that I was leading Stefan and his carload to the fields. First of all, he didn't follow me off the island, perhaps because I was taking a different route than how he had gotten there. So, it was an understandably safe move by him, I suppose. Stick with what you know. Then, when we got into Wilmington, I realized that he was no longer behind me, having turned off somewhere. At which point, I thought to myself, "he must have been a very difficult child." However, I realized when I got to the fields that I was the idiot: not an Ultimate player in sight. I guess Stefan had known what he was doing after all.
I spent some time at UNCW monitoring their wireless network traffic to see if I would be able to access their network and get on the internet and find out where the games were being held. No such luck. Then, I drove to my cousin's house and promptly locked my keys in my car.
Christ. I wasn't too worried about it, because I had a safe place to get out of the cold, and I had AAA if I needed them to come out and break in to my car. But I was still pissed at myself for being a space cadet. My cousin, Virginia and I went shopping and her husband worked on my car. That was nice.
We shopped till we dropped and got makeovers from a guy named Frank. It's not so often that guys work at makeup counters. He probably loves and hates working with so many women. Getting a makeover isn't my typical MO at the mall, but it's a fun thing to do every once in a while.
The beach house is cleared out and I finally have a bit of time to sort some stuff out. It is ideal for me to post as often as possible, because a thousand things have happened since the last post, and I want it all to be fresh in my memory when I'm writing, so this can be a suitably realistic vicarious road trip for you.
So Friday, I was still in Hyde County, NC. After spending the night in the cabin, and eating the most delicious filling breakfast [Nikie had bought groceries on an empty stomach, apparently, and kept forcing me to eat more...in her defense, I must also add that she bought lots of food in case the storm was bad and we couldn't leave]. We drove back to her house and I spent some time uploading my last post, and paying my credit card bill online. The payment wasn't going to make the due date, so I had to call and explain to them that they really weren't going to charge me a late fee, because I am a valued customer. [I know that isn't precisely how it happened, but that is how I remember it. It's fun to live in my head.]
Then we left to see DoeDoe, Nikie's aunt. She is a wonderful person who later left Nikie a message to make sure I'd had my car serviced since I was going on such a long trip. She's caring, but not overbearing, which is tough for some people.
[are you bored yet?]
I didn't realize that the most wonderful coffee shop in the entire world was in Belhaven, NC. I recall that Nikie had mentioned it being fantastic, but I didn't really think that it could be as great as she said. It's indescribably joy-inducing, so I won't bother trying, but if you are ever in Belhaven, go to Harmony Brew.
Nikie in the antique shop connected to Harmony Brew. This shop is also heaven, and adds to the charm [such a weak noun] of the place.
After my latte [decaf, of course, we didn't want me getting crazy just yet] and soul-melting cinnamon bun, I left for Wilmington.
Friday, February 13
There is no internet access here, so I'll have to wait until I get somewhere civilized to post this. I slept so well last night until 10 this morning. It is usually pretty difficult for me to sleep that late, but this week has been an exercise in sleep deprivation.
Nikie's dad built the cabin we're staying in. He had an accident last year and doesn't remember the last 5 years of his life, including being married to his wife. Needless to say, they aren't staying married.
The floor of the cabin has a slant built to mimic the green at the Bayview golf course. Nikie's dad would practice his putting here. I believe that there might have been something wrong with his head before the accident.
Thursday, February 12
I left this afternoon at 2:13PM. I made it about 10 minutes down the road before I realized that I was supposed to be bringing Christmas presents to my cousin Virginia and that these presents were still at my house. I turned around and after getting them I was once on the road again. It has been a tense few days leading up to this trip, so much needed to be done, and the first hour of my ride was ... I'm trying to figure out how to describe it with words. My mind was racing. I was excited to be commencing this whole thing, finally. I guess I was just full of anticipation, because I've been looking forward to this day for at least a month. I settled down eventually, settled down almost too much as the afternoon sleep wave came over me.
I saw this sign today:
This is really tough, by the way, trying to condense all of today into a few paragraphs. It's nearly midnight now and it's impossible for me to tell you every little thing that happened today. I know that it's not so important that you know all of those things, but I need more practice before I figure out what to write here.
Nikie is telling me that there isn't much to say here. "You were in the car, you waited for me, we had dinner, we came back here and you organized your life. You made me laugh until I nearly peed in my pants."
She's right. That about explains it all. I drove more than 3 hours. I waited about an hour at Food Lion for Nikie to meet me. We ate at a seafood restaurant where the 19 year old waitress called Nikie "Sugar." We have laughed so much that I hurt. We came back to a cabin that belongs to her dad and I repacked and organized some of the things that I hurriedly packed this morning. I also read aloud from some of the books that I brought. Did I mention that we laughed? Constantly. It's amazing.
A couple passages that caught my eye tonight:
Travelling is a Fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.
Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson
And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
alright, that's all for now. I hope you have enjoyed this first installation of "The Great Winter Adventure" or some such nonsense. good night.
Originally I was supposed to leave the 10th, but I needed to stick around and hang out with my granddaddy today, because he was having eye surgery. I was going to try to get away tonight, but I'm wiped from not sleeping so much the last few days, so I put it off another day. Not a huge deal. The only thing that worries me is the storm that is heading here tonight. I can't be trapped in the house for another four days like the last one [couldn't get out of the driveway]. Not that playing countless hands of canasta with my mom isn't a superior way to pass time, but I'm extremely ready to get on the road.
I haven't updated this page in a while, so here are a few things that I've accomplished:
The GPS is a Garmin etrex that I purchased from the GPS store, in Shallotte, NC. Terrific service. I called them one afternoon around 2pm and had my GPS in hand by noon the next day. :) The etrex is an inexpensive unit that doesn't have maps, but can interface with my laptop. This site is a great place to learn more about GPS.
I'm thrilled with MP3 player I bought. It, too, was a reasonably priced item [you might notice a theme here. yes, I've been buying toys for myself (moreso than when i had a JOB) but I'm trying to get the most for the smallest amount of money]. The voice recorder bit was important, because I'm expecting to have flashes of brillance while on the road, and it's too dangerous to take notes while driving. Currently, it's pretty dangerous to have me fiddling with the MP3 player while driving, but I'm sure I'll have all of those buttons mastered in no time.
I've picked up a few CDs from some wonderful people who are looking out for my mental health on my trip. They're ensuring that I have lots of variety and that I don't get bored or crazy trying to listen to conservative talk radio in rural Georgia and Alabama. Most of them are unique mixes, but one is Audioslave, which I highly recommend for anyone who ever considered buying a Soundgarden CD (same singer, the rest of the band are guys from Rage). I'll put a little more about it in the music section, soon.
A friend of mine gave me a deep tissue massage as a send-off, because I feel terribly misaligned since my last few Ultimate games. I kind of feel like I'd feel better if I drilled a hole into the back of my pelvis, but I'm sure that will pass. Especially with all that sitting in the car that I'm going to do. ;) Anyway, nobody likes a whiner...
Have you run out of stuff to read? Check the archives!