Saturday, May 28, 2011

Atlantic to Pacific Road Trip Begins

 Graduation is over, there are no caps to throw, toasts to make, classes to take, or essays to write. My job is lingering out in the distance, it’s an elusive little devil, sometimes coming into view for a minute then disappearing into fuzzy static. So for the time being all I can do is go home to Portland, Oregon, by way of the South.
Joey, my boyfriend and mysterious background to many pictures on this blog, is my travel companion. We were armed and dangerous with a GPS, a bucket full of snacks, some Sherlock Holmes books on tape, and a case of Red Bulls.
The agenda for day one was pretty simple: drive as far south on I-95 as possible. We made it from Cambridge, MA to Alexandria, VA. Somehow we passed through seven states on our way down, (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia,) starting our cross country trip out right. 
Gardens at Chatham Plantation

Day two we began the day by walking through Alexandria to a breakfast place recommended by our motel manager, Extra Perks. We walked through the humidity, to iced coffees and breakfast sandwiches. The streets of Alexandria seemed like Pleasantville, pristine and almost fake looking.
We drove south to Fredericksburg to check out some Civil War history. We walked around the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Our walk was short around the battlefield, yet somehow we were sweating bullets. The 100 degree heat and humidity was wearing. We went to Chatham Estate, the only house visited by both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It was an old plantation and had some great history as a crucial spot for medical services during the war. We got our first dose of Southern friendliness, the man at the Estate would have talked and joked with us all morning if we had let him. After wandering around the grounds and accumulating another respectable layer of sweat, we drove into the historic downtown Fredericksburg. There were many cute shops, restaurants, murals, Civil War memorabilia shops, and about 900 hair salons. Joey felt it appropriate to get a haircut. The heat drove us to choose lunch at a frozen yogurt shop. We visited a wine shop and picked up a few locally brewed beers to enjoy later on our journey. 

Cute streets of Fredericksburg
 We left Fredericksburg and continued south. We made it to Durham, NC in the evening and drove straight to the Sarah P. Duke gardens on the Duke campus. The gardens are famous and beautifully maintained. Pathways wind through areas of grassy hills, stone plazas, ponds, flower beds, and forest. We strolled around, enjoying the comfortable evening warmth, then parked on a bench above the pond and had a beer picnic. 
Pond at the gardens.
Never go for a half nelson when you can go for a full nelson.
Leftover beers from grad party, thanks dad!
After a long day out in the heat, it felt so great to savor some brews in the fresh air. First was a Full Nelson Virginia Pale Ale from the Blue Mountain Brewing in Afton, Virginia. It was richer than an average pale ale and had some spicy undertones. The second was a Hop Devil IPA from Victory Brewing. This was an IPA that had "serious drinkability", according to Joey, meaning that it wasn't so heavy that you can only stomach one. We stayed there until hunger was clawing its way to the surface.  We squelched that uprising by driving immediately to a Waffle House close by. My dad informed me that the Waffle House chain is an institution of the South and a must-visit on our trip. 
 Two waffles, and one plate of grits and eggs later, we were full and happy and grateful to my dad for the recommendation. In the process we got the life story of the man making our food and were greeted with impressive hospitality by the three members of the Waffle House staff. I love the South.

1 comment:

  1. Great travel log so far! And, I adore Waffle House. I grab a meal there every time I'm in the region as there are none in Chicago.