Well, despite the best of intentions, because of hundreds of hours of driving a day, and at times a complete lack of internet (I didn’t think that shit still happened), I’m back from my super-awesome road trip. I’m writing this post-trip and I can assure you, it was awesome. It didn’t go as planned and involves a rental car breakdown and this series of posts will eventually involve me crucifying Advantage Rental Cars…but that’s for another time. So! What I’m doing is breaking this trip down by sections, and including pictures…assuming that WordPress doesn’t outsmart me. So here goes!
Road trip part 1: Norfolk to Atlanta
Driving time including detours: 9:15
The plan was to leave from Norfolk, Virginia with my friend Meghan, and head out to Area 51 via the southwest. We then took a more direct route home. We planned on camping in a tent in order to save money on hotels. We were very naïve…our one, rather unpleasant, attempt at camping is a good chunk of the next piece of our trip. We took turns driving and made a lot of stops along the way. We detoured for all sorts of roadside attractions because we’re strange like that. I probably spent the equivalent of a 40-hour workweek planning this out. I went on all sorts of websites; mapped the route; found all kinds of roadside attractions and stops; figured out where the best places to stop for the night were; we booked campsites; I had everything planned out to the millisecond. Yeah, a lot of that didn’t go as planned.
Realistically we knew that this trip would put a ton of miles on one of our cars, so we got a rental instead. I had never heard of Advantage before, but they were the cheapest by a couple hundred dollars, so we went with them. Apparently there was a reason that they were the cheapest, and that was our first mistake of the trip, but we’ll get to that later. We got an SUV because we had a lot of camping stuff. We wandered around for 20 minutes in the parking garage of the airport before we found the secret floor that they kept the rental cars on, and then once we found it the whole front end had red paint and scratches on it. It looked like the last driver had run into something…and the back end had a big dent like the driver, after running into something, then decided to back into something…super-classy! Buuuut it seemed (seemed I say!) to run well, and that was the important thing!
A gentleman named Mike rented us our car. We’re going to call him Surfer Mike. Surfer Mike was a bald black man in his late 30s who sounded like a 19 year old surfer kid straight off of a beach in California. Now I wouldn’t swear to it, but I’m pretty sure he was actually wearing a puka shell necklace. I found it necessary to give you a mental picture of this dude, just now, because he will be popping up a few times throughout this trip. So this way you’ll have both a name and a mental picture. So Surfer Mike rented us a Jeep Patriot, which was smaller than what we had reserved, but apparently that was “Expedia’s fault.” Whatever, we were just happy to be leaving, and it took some work be we did manage to get everything to fit into the Patriot. We had tons of stuff. We had an 8-person tent; folding chairs; a folding table; a camping stove; several spare tanks of propane; air mattresses; plastic tubs; bottled water; several gallons of distilled water; blankets; sheets; pillows; and about a million other things that I can’t remember at the moment. Sadly, we never even touched most of it, but I digress. We loaded up, and then we were off.
Our first stop on our way to Atlanta was in Henderson North Carolina. I read that there was a giant pair of legs there. The reviews said that it was interesting and “shrubbery experience may vary.” It was basically exactly what it was purported to be. In a sort of run-down neighborhood/industrial area (as you might imagine, near a trailer park), we found them. They were a giant pair of concrete legs almost the height of a two-story house…spreadeagled…with (I don’t know how else to say this) a big bush in between them. There was a short path leading up to the legs. It went directly under a banner-like sign that read “Reminiscing.” The giant garter on one leg was a classy touch. They were right next door to some sort of salon, although my understanding is that the salon does not own them. My understanding is also that neighbors are pretty pissed. I don’t know why…the thing just screams “class” it adds to the ambiance of the neighborhood. After a few minutes of picture-taking, we reluctantly left the legs behind and continued on our trip.
Now some time after the legs, but before our next stop, I was driving along the interstate (The bas stuff always happens when I’m driving, you’ll find) I heard a dinging noise and a strange light popped on. We called the rental place and they said “Oh well then you need to bring it back, we’ll switch it out.” To which we replied “We can’t bring it back, we’re about six hours away and no longer in the same state, also we have an SUV full of camping stuff.” So we got put on hold and they, apparently, looked up the nearest Advantage rental place. They said “Well there’s one in North Carolina. Return it to that one.” To which we replied, “That’s four hours…IN THE WRONG DIRECTION…ALSO WE HAVE A BACK FULL OF CAMPING EQUIPMENT!” To which they replied “…oh…” We got put on hold again, and then who gets on the phone? Its Surfer Mike, making his first (but not last) guest appearance. We REexplain our situation, and his solution? He googles it. According to him, as long as the car is running fine, its ok to drive, and its probably just because theres a weight imbalance in the car, and stuff is pushing against the back of one of the seats. We dance around with him for like ten minutes…trying to find out if its safe to drive. He just keeps saying “Well…if you’re uncomfortable with it…” and finally Meghan asks him “SHOULD we be uncomfortable?” He finally tells us it should be fine…but we were less than convinced at that point. We figured we’d keep driving until something felt wrong. That light went off and on for the entire trip (The entire part of the trip that we had that particular car) and nothing else came of it, so apparently Surfer Mike (or whatever website he googled) was right.
A little bit further down the road, in High Point NC, we saw the world’s largest chest of drawers at a furniture store. The pictures on this are pretty self-explanatory. The next thing we saw was the Peachoid. It’s a giant water tower disguised as a giant peach! We were on the Interstate in South Carolina…and I tried but wasn’t able to get a clear picture, as there was nowhere to pull over.
Eventually we got to the hotel in Atlanta. We had always planned on staying in a hotel in Atlanta instead of camping, because it was so humid and hot. It was a really good thing though because in addition to that, the entire town smelled like rotting fish….just sayin. We checked into the hotel, which did NOT smell like rotten fish, got in the room, and I made the mistake of setting my stuff down on the bed . Meghan screamed “WAIT!!!,” so I grabbed my stuff again. Megan then did a thorough check of both beds and pronounced them bedbug free…then I was allowed to set my stuff down. This became our system for the rest of the trip. Our plans for the next day were to stop at the Coca-cola museum before heading out to Nashville which would be our first (and last) camping experience. This concludes my first road-trip installment. Pictures to follow, thanks for reading!
So very, very classy…
A very anti-climactic giant dresser 🙂