The time had come for another foray into the Southland--this trip a 3-day weekend--with the goal of beginning our house-hunting in earnest. Since we'd had such a horrific traffic experience on our first attempt to breach the Carolinas, (yes, I'm talking to YOU, Virginia) Husband researched an alternate route that would allow us to avoid the Bane of Our Existence--um, "I-95 South". So we set off with an optimistic outlook (and fingers crossed), despite the grim (gray, squally) weather. And all went peach...ily...at the outset. We survived our brief stint crossing the American Legion Bridge on the Capital Beltway. (Whoo hoo!) Then Route 66--not the historic one, but rather the...pain-in-the-butt...one--was downright tame, compared to its usual snarly mess of congested cars.
Finally the moment arrived for us to venture into unknown territory, on a state highway that we hoped would provide us with a smooth, uncomplicated...trauma-free...journey through the Old Dominion, right into North Carolina. And you know what? It lived up to expectations: a few traffic lights when you navigated through a town, but otherwise, clear sailing at nice speeds and little "volume" (as they say in professional Traffic Report lingo in the D.C. Metro area). When we hit Charlottsville (home of UVA, if you're curious), we encountered a minor slowdown that cost us a measly few minutes. It was close to lunchtime, and we'd been on the road for several hours, so there were other...issues...to address as well. (That's right, we needed..."facilities"...funny how all that Gatorade and coffee come back to haunt you, yeah?) But we decided to wait just a few more minutes, to get past the city before stopping for food and...other stuff. Near. Fatal. Mistake.
You see, what we learned from our unfortunate choice was this: there's N-O-T-H-I-N-G between Charlottesville and, apparently, Lynchburg...60-some miles away. Okay, okay, there's the occasional McDonald's...and Hardees...and something called Bojangles--none of which actually provide food that I can eat. It wasn't long before the commentary erupted from the back seat. First Derek piped up, "Remember when it wasn't a desperate need (to pee)? Well, now it is..." Then Riley joined in, "Ugh, I'm sooooo hungry back here! Isn't there any food at all? I'm not gonna maaaakkkke it!" Darn dramatic children. However, I was actually the one who called "uncle" and pointed Husband to a seedy-looking...general store...gas-station...ish place in order to, well, you know. Since I called dibs on the "Unisex Bathroom" (as it was so helpfully labeled), I had time afterwards to look around the market. And oh, what a fascinating place it was. There was a fisherman's outfitting section...all sorts of sundry foodstuffs...beer and wine...hardware supplies...a full-service deli in the front...my selection for runner-up-item-for-sale, a Standing Bear Toilet Paper Holder (exactly what it sounds like)...and my absolute, hands-down favorite: a Bear Grylls survival knife. (Somehow, we restrained ourselves from purchasing any of these oh-so-tempting things--shocking, I know...)
After that, Lynchburg actually came to our rescue with a veritable plethora of cuisine options. (On second thought, "cuisine" being perhaps an overly formal word for the sandwich-joint we picked, but whatever...) It was a good thing, too, because unfortunately the last road we had to take on our supposedly "new, improved Mid-Atlantic commute" turned out to be...pretty annoying. (And since it took much longer to go those last 45 miles than we anticipated, by that time the lunchtime soda was becoming problematic...sigh...) But hey, in the end, we arrived safely, in plenty of time to spend the evening with several of Husband's cousins. We even got to wander around outside for a while in over-60* temperatures...until our hostess jinxed us by noting in a cheerful tone of voice, "It looks so bleak...but it hasn't rained all day!" (Yep...cue the deluge not 5 minutes after that...and the very wet sprint back to her house...) But sprinkles be darned, tomorrow we're...taking Chapel Hill by storm! (Sorry...clearly I'm still a bit punchy from the car ride...off to bed I go...)