Chapter 8: Winding straight roads, Walmarts and Dearest Friends.
We left our humble hut in Shepardsville after a trip to Denny’s Diner and a near vomit inducing greasy breakfast and set out on the road in the death mobile once more.
Today was indeed the day we had feared for quite some time as it was the day we would be spending 9 hours in this little red box.
Our plan would see us journey the highways of Kentucky, Tennessee, and the bottom end of North Carolina eventually into South Carolina to a town called Spartanburg. Doesn’t sound too difficult….so we thought.
We set off down the highway on 3 and 4 lanes of one way bliss. Once we worked out that the speed limit was about 120km it didn’t seem that bad. Except for the fact that as soon as we left suburbia proper the natives decided that didn’t apply. While I was sitting on the 120, it seems that every man and his dog would blitz us by doing speeds far greater than that which was posted. Normally I would just dump the pedal and join the locals, but remember what we were driving folks. At that speed the poor little Avio was already revving its tits off and we were out of gears. I swear to this day had we pushed it much further than the 155 we hit at one point (going downhill) the damn thing would have gone in to dissipation mode and gradually disintegrated until we were left with all too familiar shape of a Flintstones car.
After the first two or three hours the boredom set it. No matter what satellite radio station we picked or how many strange cars we saw (first glimpse of Nissan cube) it was just one incredibly straight road. The strange part about it was that there was a definite bend in the road, but it was just such a minimal curve that you would barely notice. No matter how fast we went or how many rest stops we passed, the road just gradually bent for ever. Sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. It was the windiest straight road I’ve ever been on and I hope to Christ I don’t have to journey it again anytime soon. The boredom got such that my fateful companion decided to photograph every truck coming in the opposite direction for 10 mins just to see how many there were. There are a lot of trucks in America it would seem. Put it this way. The clicking of the camera became so constant in those 10 mins I do recall threatening to pull the car over get out and break the antenna off and then use it to pierce the eye ball of he who was photographing every truck in the country. 120+ in 10 minutes going the other way for those of you playing at home.
It was about this point that we decided a food break was needed. The thing you have to understand about this is the roadside villages. Spread out across the country literally on the side of the highways are these little villages that crop out every 60-70kms or so. You take the exit ramps off into these little main street bound collections of service stations and take away food. There are no houses or businesses otherwise. Just food and fuel that is, nothing more nothing less. On this occasion we had our first encounter with “Waffle House” and I should have been suss in the first place considering we were literally in the middle of bum fuck ville nowhere. As we walked into the joint the 2 chicks that worked there were already laughing as I smashed my head on the door on the way in.
We took a pew at the bar and ordered up some waffles. “Can I have 2 choc chip waffles and syrup please?” a fairly stock standard question given the locations. “Yall keep talking like that and you can have me too. I be done in half an hour” came the reply in that cliché redneck hillbilly I just fucked my daddy who’s actually my brother kind of way. Naturally I replied in only an appropriate manner.
” Fucking jackpot! Waffles and a wife for less than 10 bucks! ONLY IN AMERICA! I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!” After making generous chitchat predominantly revolving around our accent and where we were from while getting about 38 free refills we hit the road again. All too happy to leave my waffle serving prospective wives behind, it was merely five minutes down the road and I remembered why I was so happy to get out the car in the first place.
The highway rolled over the hills and plains like you would not believe. Occasionally tantalizing us with a sheer cliff, a river or a nice looking lake we carried on and covered the ground we needed.
By the late afternoon we were belting along through the bottom of North Carolina. Excited by the concept we were nearly there the drive didn’t seem too bad. At one point when there were some genuine twists and turns that would remind me of the old days of going up through devil’s elbow to the hills. While it was raining and very narrow, the only thing that bothered me was when passing a truck on the inside of a bend in the rain and looking out my window. The only thing I could see was the bolts on the hub of the wheel spinning in a sinister way. About that time I started freaking out because he might not realize the world’s smallest transformer was indeed next to him and if he changed lanes that single wheel (which was bigger than the car) would carve through us like a knife through butter. I spurred the beast and raised our speed to be free of the impending doom. Once we climbed the mountain and were back on straight roads my companion awoke from his slumber apparently blissfully unaware that we had nearly died, it had rained, that we had just climbed a mountain or that the road did actually bend and twist like it had. Must have been a good sleep….lol
Around 6 that night we pulled into our home for the night. A little best western joint we had booked a day or two earlier. It apparently shared a car park with a waffle house so I was pretty intent on seeing if I could keep my waffle n wife strike ratio up. The whole reason for visit to Spartanburg was to keep a promise to one of my oldest and dearest friends and it wasn’t long before she arrived.
With introductions aside we set about catching up on the last nearly 12 years and I got see baby “Nubsy” for the first time. It was during this encounter that D taught us stupid skippies about a treat that we were initially horrified by the sound of. The idea was to pour maple syrup over our bacon next time we had it. Sounded gross to me but we were pretty keen to at least have a crack at it sometime soon.
As it was getting late, D packed up and headed for home after we arranged to get together the next day and see some sites. I don’t think she was even out the car park before we had decided it was time to hit the waffle house. Luckily the people working here this time were not only less scary but they had 3 strips of bacon for only 1 buck!
You know in movies where people suddenly have that moment of realisation, or for those familiar with my other work “an epiphany shit”…this was one of those occasions. When I took that first bite of maple drowned bacon it was as if the heavens opened up and pure golden sunshine came pouring through. This was the beginning of a trend I still continue to this day. Bacon in our house is now accompanied by maple, if you don’t like maple then get the fuck out of my house and stop eating my bacon!
The day had taken its toll and it was clearly time to pass out. It wasn’t possible after being all goofed up on maple syrup, being in amazement at how I hadn’t realised this awesome combination before and the overwhelming happiness at seeing a long lost friend after so many years. So high class TV time it was. My love of ncis, pawn shop, repo-men and man vs food continues to this day. Bless you late night American TV.
Having got the gang back together early the next morning, we really had nothing on the cards in particular to do or see so we decided to upon doing something that I had wanted to for years.
That’s right folks, I travelled all that way to go and shop at Walmart.
I did actually want to get some supplies so it kind of worked out kind of coincidentally. Before long we were walking through the doors of what I can only dub a small citadel. I mean I could literally get lost in this joint. The fact that we had to walk past the McDonalds, bank and hair dressers which weren’t part of the foyer-they were part of the store, I couldn’t see the back wall of the store when we were standing at the front. I had always heard that these joints were big but this was insane.
Think the similar look and feel as big w/target/Kmart or any of those stores but like infinity twelve of them put together under one roof.
I could have bought just about everything in the damn store, so before I bought a canoe because it was only 100 bucks the minders dragged me out of their with my needed supplies.
The adventure was set to continue though and we continued on little side trips to malls, lunch stops and of course the shock that was best buys.
Being a gamer I had always heard about this joint so it was cool to visit one in the…um….flesh?
I got the shock of my life when we while wondering around the store and with a quick google check we worked out that if I was to buy a 60inch led from there, pack it, insure it, ship it home and convert it, it would still come out about $1100 cheaper than going to the stores at home and buying direct! This place was ridiculously cheap…I was learning to like shopping in America, something I couldn’t care less about at home.
Having eaten pretty much nothing but deep fried everything and icing sugared everything else for a few weeks now we were guided to a delightful little place called Golden Coral for dinner.
Imagine all the things you wanted to eat side by side along a nice long counter randomly splattered with bowls of different types of salad-ey type things. For two fifths of bugger all we got entry to all you can eat and bottomless drinks. What could possibly go wrong??
Don’t you worry, it’s me you’re talking about. There is always some kind of stupid thing involved.
My sidekick, our hosts and I were enjoying a nice bit of fresh tucker in a corner booth. Happily knocking off plate after plate and making a good name for the Aussie appetite.
About half way through the 6th or 7th plate is when it happened. The table across from us was vacant and it wasn’t long before a rather girthely gifted lass was seated there. She didn’t need a menu as she pronounced quite loudly that she knew already she was here for the buffet. I honestly though she was going to give me a run for my money in the packing it away race.
Un-known to this lady I secretly took it upon myself to have an eating competition and see who indeed had the stomach.
I had just returned to my table with plate number 7 or 8 and was busying hoeing into (I needed to keep the pace so she wouldn’t win the secret one sided competition) when she also returned.
Now keep in mind like I said she was a bit of a large lass. I mean, she could go a few winters and not be in trouble if you know what I’m saying. (Not nice I know but it was the obvious observation). Anyways, she came back to the table and plonked plate number 1 (8-1…take that random stranger!)Down. Because the seats didn’t move she had to somewhat suck in her stomach a bit to fit in between the bench and the table, which she somehow managed to do with a style and grace I wouldn’t have thought possible. Once seated comfortably, she let her stomach back out with a deep sigh. Only problem was, that her stomach spilled out onto the table in such a fashion that it sent her plate flying across the table and off the other side.
I’m not saying it was the cause, but I’m not saying it was not not the cause either, merely a coincidence that at the same moment her plate hit the ground I had a little bit of vom in my mouth.
With what I consider to be dirty tactics, she in a single moment wiped me out of the secret consumption race she never knew she was a part off.
I had plenty of time to bask in my disappointment as I left donations of recycled dinner in the garden bed outside while listening to my counterparts mock me for disappointing from.
After letting the remaining food settle we spent the night and following morning catching up with D and baby Nubsy. Meeting family and just enjoying not really having to be anywhere or do anything in particular for a bit. Its where i learnt to like the term “yall” and also learnt and understood the term “yallses” for the first time. I miss South Carolina for the little things.
Before I knew it our time had passed and snapped back into the swing of things when I found ourselves returning the rent a death box keys, grabbing a bite to eat and checking in for our flight to Miami-Florida.
Stay tuned for what shall be Chapter 9 – Flash floods, Vodka and V.I.P’s