Book of Marvels
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Two-Thousand Miles in Two Days

Two seventeen-hour drives! They were separated by three days of lounging around and overeating, but still.

Here are a few thoughts about driving from Cleveland to Pensacola, Florida for the holidays. I'm too weary from wrestling with Blogger to write much else.

If I ruled the world, I'd get rid of most of the billboards on this trip (and everywhere else), although I'd probably keep the one advertising the Corvette Museum and the one for the Booby Boutique--somewhere in Alabama, I think. One of these days, I'm going to march right into the Booby Boutique and see what all the fuss is about.

And I'd do something about the exit signs that advertise places to eat. Much as I try to avoid chain-food restaurants, I acquiesced four times to Cracker Barrel, which is the least of the worst--although just barely, as you have to walk through that gagging miasma of scented stuff to get to your table. I gave in because it's too hard to drive all over the sides of the highway looking for a good local restaurant-- you can drive forever and fail to find anything, or you might even find something worse than a Burger King (Molly's Diner, somewhere in New York). But where are the local-food advocates at Exit 94? Why don't they put up some signs alerting travelers to places run by local folks? Why isn't there something like a AAA guide to good local food along America's highways?

We had a lovely three days visiting my husband's family in Pensacola. As all those southerners swarmed around his step-mother's house to swap stories, his accent became so pronounced that I could hardly understand him by the third day.

You know how you have assumptions and stereotypes about people in other parts of the country? I have them about Ohioans, because I grew up in California; I certainly have them about southerners-- everyone does, and they seem to revel in them themselves. And I always assume they have assumptions about me. I sometimes dangle my life in front of what I imagine to be my southern in-laws' perspective and wince at its frivolity, because many of them are, as they themselves say, country people-- not from a cushy suburb up north, which even locals call "The People's Republic of Cleveland Heights."

But on day two of our visit, we walked into JD's step-mother's house to find that it was pretty quiet. We asked about the whereabouts of Uncle Jimmy, a strapping beef farmer from a tiny town in Georgia.

He was off getting a pedicure and a massage. So much for my assumptions. Posted by Picasa
Haha! That's funny.
I share your loathing of fast food while traveling, and used to prefer Cracker Barrel until I heard about their company politics. We should start some kind of national dialogue about advertising local restaurants off the highway!

I have rural relatives and I'm always mindful of my "cityfied" life in the PRofCH. I imagine that what I'm fortunate enough to do every day as "the usual" reeks of privilege to them. I have one relative that insists on calling me "professor," which, although true, makes me feel singled out as "different."
That is why it's a good idea to keep a slab of beef jerky under your saddle and a full skin of wine over your shoulder.

Now then, I'm off to round up fresh horses and whiskey for my men. Toodles.
Thanks for your comments, everyone.

E o'B, I usually do travel with my own food-- although not beef jerkey, as there aren't really any commercial brands I like (my mother ruined me for beef jerkey forever by making it herself). But the wine--yeah.

And yes, voicegal-- I do think there should be a national dialogue about advertising local restaurants for travelers. The Buy Local folks ought to add that to their agenda.
Strappy blokes like Uncle Jimmy often do get rough skin while they are out there chopping wood and bringing home the bacon, but nothing a good manicure can't fix. You should put Jimmy and Debbie together!

I love it when my stereotypes are smashed, it makes me smile from ear to burning ear.
I think a list of local restaurants would be great. But umm, I love CB's food -- I don't know about their politics...I will google this in a bit...
The road from Cleveland to Florida was busy! I just came back from there, myself, but the furthest south I ventured was Tampa. My own food on the road, as much as possible, though I did try a fast food salad when I just needed to get away from the car for awhile.

I love your idea of local restaurants featured on those signs! Or a guide to local food. Help local economies rather than the big corporations. :)
Hello Frida, homeinkabul, and kristen--

I also love it when stereotypes are smashed-- especially mine.

I thought about this business of signs along the highway for locally owned restaurants the last time I drove cross country and was so desperate for real food (and desperate for something besides apples after a few days). Really, it makes so much sense!
And what about the food signs that lure you off the highway--only to find that the place they advertised is miles and miles out of your way?

Kind of makes me want to get out my kids old Superman lunchboxes and pack a peanut butter sandwich and a juice box the next time I travel.
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