Sunday, June 7, 2009

Road Trip 2009: Day One

My vacation has officially started, and it's a real vacation where I leave the county, not a staycation like the one I took in the spring. Staycation was fun and all, but it's nice to be really, really away when you're away. This year's plan was to meet up with college friends in Florida, and since it's only eleven hours and driving is cheap while flying is expensive, I had to get up before dawn to get on the road:


It's not quite as early as last year, but still, that's a time of day that I rarely, if ever, see. As with last year's trip, I brought a copious supply of Mountain Dew for fuel, but this led to an unanticipated problem: Georgia would rather that you did not go to the bathroom in their state.

At first I thought this might just be because it was early. When I stopped at Georgia's Welcome Center, the lights were on but it was still locked up since it was before dawn:

georgia welcome center

I didn't really have to pee yet, but was just thinking that I might as well when I was finished with my breakfast bar. OK, the welcome center was locked and not very welcoming, but at least they had one, unlike, say, Maryland, which welcomes no one and only has a sign. I figured I'd just move on to the next rest area, and everything would be fine.

Except there wasn't a next rest area.

In the whole state, there only seem to be like three, total. I went zipping through Atlanta, still swilling Mountain Dew, and down into south Georgia, which I have never visited but have seen in a number of disturbing movies, and still... nothing. Maybe people in Georgia don't need rest? Or they have family all along the highway and can just stop in at their houses? I thought I might find a restroom when I stopped to get gas, but the gas station was kind of sketchy and all by itself out in the middle of nowhere, and I figured if I went into the bathroom alone I'd just end up feeding the clerk's family of inbred cannibals. Somehow these are the only kind of gas stations I ever manage to stop at on vacation.

In the back of my mind I still somehow believed that a rest area would appear, so I left the gas station, got back on the highway, saw a sign for a rest stop, and then this happened:

traffic jam

Someone got in an accident, and we sat for 45 minutes at a complete stop while they cleared the highway. When we finally got moving again, everybody pulled off at the rest stop, to the point that there was a line of cars going out to the highway, and somehow I thought it would be a good idea to skip this and just go to the next one with no guarantee that there would even be a next one, but eventually there was:

picnic area

And I peed and all was right with the world.

Before I leave the subject of Georgia and I-75, though, I do want to say that I was greatly surprised that there was only one major accident along the way. When I called my friend Sandy, who lives in Georgia, to tell her to write her congresspeople to demand more rest stops I also told her about the accident and traffic jam and she said, "Oh, yeah, that always happens."

That always happens because people in Georgia are bad drivers. Given the option of passing on the left or on the right, they pick the right every time. A turn signal might mean that they are switching from one lane to the next, but it might also mean that they are cutting across five lines. A consistent rate of speed is frowned upon, but random tapping of brakes is not. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to pass someone on the right, you are apparently taught to get right up on their bumper and flash them with your high beams so that they can attempt to get out of your way, even though there is nowhere to go or you would have already pulled into that space to pass them. It's like everyone in Georgia sits in their driveway in the morning and thinks, "How can I make driving more dangerous? OK, I'll do that," and then, while doing it, thinks, "This thing that I'm doing now (applying makeup, swerving, reducing speed without braking and then speeding up again), would it be even more dangerous if I did it in another lane? OK, I'll switch to that lane and do it there."

Eagerly leaving Georgia, Florida welcomed me:

welcome to florida

That sign is a crock, but I didn't think about it at first since they were busy handing me free juice:

free juice

I'd guess that they give away five times as much OJ as grapefruit. Given the choice, do you want sunshine in a cup, or something that tastes like soil? I sipped my juice, wandered back outside, and thought, "Why is the Sunshine State so cloudy?"

dark clouds

It rained the rest of the trip. Winds, thunder, sheeting downpour. Sunshine State, my ass. I finally got to Sean's, though, and as I pulled in the clouds miraculously parted, and we went to dinner, where I had delicious beef pot stickers:

beef pot stickers

and there was a classic car show wrapping up outside:

chevy hood and grille

Today I think we're going to baseball and maybe to see "Star Trek".


Strong Cookie said...

what are beef pot stickers?!

Joel said...

A dumpling filled with shredded beef and vegetables. They came with soy sauce and sesame sauce for dipping.