Friday, August 29, 2014

Every rest stop in North Carolina

Yesterday, at the end of a rather long drive that Google maps said would be five hours but could only actually be five hours if I drove about 110 miles per hour I pulled in next to Kristin's car:

bad parking

Not my best parking job, but I'm in the lines, ok?

Thank God I have a small car.

I stopped at every rest stop on Interstate 40 East, once I crossed into North Carolina:

welcome sign

I realize I've stopped at that particular one before:

Welcome to North Carolina

when we went to Asheville for a day trip, but I stopped at every rest stop but one this time for two reasons: first, that I was drinking a lot of diet Mountain Dew in the car to stay constantly alert, so I had to pee a lot, and second because I was trying to figure out how to get 10,000 steps for the day in while spending most of the day in the car. To do that, I walked a couple of laps of the rest area each time I stopped the car, reading plaques:

memorial highway

checking out vending areas even though I didn't want any snacks (I packed my own):

out of order

and walking down to see scenic views:

short walk

rest stop scenic view

and dead bugs:

dead cicada

On my way back up from the scenic view a pair of ladies stopped me to ask about it.

"Is it worth the walk?"

I shrugged. "There's a little valley. It's only a minute's walk either way."

They didn't look particularly enthused after they walked down there, so I got in my car and drove away before they could walk back up, just in case they wanted to blame me for ruining their day by tricking them into gazing upon boring, unfulfilling mountains. At 249 steps, it was worth it to me, ladies.

Most of the drive was uneventful, with four exceptions:

1) At one rest stop, a man kept talking on his phone through his entire pee and poop, and didn't wash his hands when he was done. Mister, your caller can hear you. They can hear everything.


2) Beeping horns in tunnels almost got me into an accident.

I don't know if it's a tradition everywhere, but whenever I've driven through a tunnel in the Smokies:


people always beep their horns through the tunnel. I even explained this to my parents when they came to visit, to their amusement, and insisted that they do it as well. Yesterday I found out that everyone doesn't share this tradition. As we started going through a tunnel, I got ready to beep my horn, the semi truck behind me and to the side of me started wailing on theirs (which is really, really loud in a tunnel)... and the car in front of me freaked out, slammed on their brakes, and almost swerved into the tunnel wall.


Good thing I didn't beep.

Also a good thing that I was following at a safe distance (because I am a very safe driver; please remember that as I move on to the next point) and my normally good driving reflexes were supersensitively heightened by a 20 ounce bottle of Diet Mountain Dew.

3) At one point, I accidentally drove 85 miles per hour in a 65 zone.

I know, right? I broke a law.

Most of the way I was doing 70 mph to 80 mph, well within the flow of traffic, but at one point Green Day's "Fuck Time" (sorry for swearing, gentle readers) came on the iPod and I was rocking out and singing along and all of a sudden I was like, "Ooops, I'm doing 85," which is not an acceptable excuse if I should happen to get pulled over.

Nobody's going to pull you over, my inner voice chided. Do 85 for a while. Live a little. Grab life by the balls, dude. YOLO!

Maybe my inner voice is right, I thought, in my other inner voice. Maybe I should do 85 for a while.

Just as I thought this, I drove past a 40 foot tall cross by the roadside.

On the other hand, you're gay, and driving a Beetle, which is like being kind of supergay in the part of the country where they erect giant crosses by the roadside. Do you really want to deal with the kind of cops who work in a place like this?

Suddenly now my inner voice is the voice of reason? What an awful thing to think, full of stereotypes and assumptions and fear of authority.

Why, I should keep going at this speed, just to prove that the police here are good and sweet and kind.

Enjoy getting tazed, bro, voice of reason countered.

I slowed back down to 80.

4) The good people of the Raleigh-Durham area have no idea how merging works. Seriously, is this not covered in Driver's Ed in North Carolina? There's a stretch of road there were there are over a dozen roads merging in from the right. When this happens to you, there are a few different options:

1) Move into the open lane to your left.
2) Maintain a basically constant rate of speed, so that the cars merging in from the right can work around you.
3) If traffic is moving slowly, allow zippering.
4) Slam on your brakes every single time you're approaching one because Jesus Christ, there's a merge up ahead!

If you selected #4, congratulations.

You live in North Carolina.


Marcheline said...

Oh, Lordy, Joel - you've hit this one on the head... several times! In my own defense, though, I used to wear a confederate flag tee shirt when I was 12 because I was in love with the Dukes of Hazzard. All of them.

Marcheline said...

P.S. Mostly the car, though.