Monday, 25 June 2007

"...through the cradle of the civil war.." 340 Miles

I had just got into bed last night in Morganton, after yet more Mexican food, when there was a bang, a flash, a boom, a fizz, another flash and a deafening "kkerrrrracckk".......

Thunder silly!

I have never witnessed a storm as violent. The rain poured from the skies and ten minutes later it was all over. The heat of the ground caused everywhere to be enveloped in a cloud of steam. Part of the reason I gather they call them the Smokey Mountains. About half an hour later the car park was a dry as a bone.

Nearly a whole day on the I40 as I continued to head east. I think I have decided on my final approach to New York. There is a clue in that last sentence.

The interstate is a lot more crowded, and a lot grubbier too, as the hard shoulder is littered with the remains of hundreds of truck tyres. No one seems to clean up in North Carolina. There was also a dining chair, a mattress, quite a few abandoned cars and bizarrely a pair of boxing gloves. Maybe a passenger asked "are we there yet?" one too many times.

Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Wilson, Durham and signposts to some of those places I remember from my schoolboy history about the American Civil war: Lexington, Wilmington, Bunker Hill.

The temperature is falling slightly as I am beginning to head closer to the coast and slightly further north. However it was still top down and air con on. Not sure if it is a fault but every so often a drop of condensation drops from under the bulkhead onto my exposed ankle. All instrument readings normal however. So far the car hasn't missed a beat.

I have, however, picked up a trophy. It was pointed out to me about 3 days ago by a puzzled kid: "You got a dead bird on your radiator, mister."

I remember where I picked up this unfortunate sparrow now. Halfway across Kansas. Birds fly low, presumably to avoid all the hawks that are circling. Alas, this one wasn't keeping an eye on where he was going and collided with me. There was no "ow thunk!" so I assumed it had swerved to safety. I shall carry him/her (can't tell) to New York as a hunting trophy in lieu of bull horns.

Turned north and thought I would spend the night in Greenville. Turned into a trading estate and it was as if it was a haven for anyone with any ailment.

Pristine modern building after building boasting signs such as: "Spine Right Chiropractors" "Retina Center", "Ankle Fix". I was driving so I am writing this from memory but you get the gist. Americans are very upfront about their ailments; healthcare is a business like any other. If you have the money, there is someone who claims he/she can do something for your problem, real or imagined.

In Los Angeles there was an off street kidney dialysis centre. You could peer in and see rows and rows of patients lying hooked up to machines, watching little TV's or reading the paper. The patients looking at the classifieds may have seen the ad I did which boasted: "Lunch hour G Spot sensitisation....are you getting all you should?" Not sure that is what I would want to be doing during my lunch hour if I was a woman. Where would you rest your sandwich?

I moved on to Washington which is nearly at the sea. The Tar river is close by and it was the birthplace of Cecil B De Mille. As you can see from the picture, it was rather quiet. Found a motel and asked, as ever, "where is a bar to get a cold beer?". The answer was pure "Driving Miss Daisy".... I set off walking, a free newspaper under my arm in search of the third stop light. I saw two young black women in a car at a road junction so was able to ask the question: "Is this the way to the Piggly Wiggly? I am looking for the "Southern Cheers" sports bar". There then ensued a heated discussion as to the correct way to the Piggly Wiggly. I left them to it and about a mile later I arrived at my destination to see the welcoming sign: "Closed"

Remember this is America and it's 6.30pm and it's Sunday. The Piggly Wiggly was open though.




You can check out my route so far at www.bbc.co.uk/radio2. Click on my show page and then "The Great American Adventure". You'll find it eventually!

8 comments:

Lisa said...

Alex - this is great, I'm really enjoying your trip but miss you in the mornings. Hope the beer was good and cold.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

So you've picked up a bird and got all steamy in Morganton huh! Just teasing. ;) I'm almost but not quite yet letting myself believe that you are coming back. Although; you write so well, it feels like we're there with you. :)

Keep smilin'

Rachel
x

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex, gave up on my mornings without you so am in California for a couple of weeks, sipping whisky and chasing women!! Have a safe journey and please be back for when I return..... Cannonball

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex, I have been following your trip with great interest, we leave in six weeks time to drive from san francisco to new york. We have four weeks to do it, has the driving times been harder than you thought

Anthony :-}

Tony, aka Brighton flyer said...

Hi Alex,
Just read your latest blog, looking forward to hearing all the music you will be bringing home with you. Can't beleive times nearly up, but looking forward to your dulcet tones in the dark (but best) hours of the day.

Enjoy the remainder of your trip and safe journey home.

Tony.

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simon said...

Hi Alex.

Love reading your blog, but I'm surprised you missed out South Carolina especially Myrtle Beach, great beach, great music city, and the pubs are open 24 seven, better than NC.

Have fun.
Simon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex, i have you on every morning, in the lorry.
good blog, we have been to few parts of the U.S.A. back in new york for Xmas and drive up to canada for snow we hope. GOOD SHOW.
Gary