Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 2 - Some goofy stories

Also from my journal.

7:40 PM – Which sign do we hate the most? Reduced Speed Ahead! – Marie
Note: Andrew Lewis Mem Highway – Who is that?

My disclaimer should be that I really liked the South, but so far, the only thing I've written has been some stories of weird things that we experience in the South. I'll write more about the GOOD things.

Unsolicited Advice from Old Ladies

We started the day at the Travelodge with the breakfast. For some reason, I was telling stories about Sparta—nothing scandalous. Later, after we’d moved on to another topic, some lady approached us and said, “I heard you talking about Sparta. Well, I’m from Succasunna.” I was like, Oh, how nice…then she said, “So I hope you didn’t say anything you didn’t want your mother to know, because I might know her!” I guess she was joking – she was chuckling – but Mary and I were kind of horrified. Then she laughed and said, “I don’t know her, ha ha” and told a story about meeting someone from Succasunna in Alaska, and I was like “Yeah, people from NJ are everywhere, ha ha.” Mary said (after the woman had walked away), “In Germany, people would NEVER do this.” We were annoyed because we weren’t saying anything bad, anything we would care if our mothers knew! Whatever.

Later, after we exited Shenandoah National Park, between the end of Skyline Drive and the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway, there was a visitor’s information center (or something.) It was in a sort of hilly gravel parking lot with a closed gas station and some other junky, rusty looking things, set back behind all the junk. We planned to go in to use the bathrooms and ask where the nearest post office was. In the parking lot were three cars, and one had a bunch of bumper stickers on the back. One in particular caught my eye and pissed me off—red background and white text – MARRIAGE = (picture of a man) + (picture of a woman). I was all annoyed, uggghhhh how about mind your own business, what an offensive sticker, blah blah blah. We went inside and it was totally weird looking. There was a long desk at which two old people stood. The desk was in a long, narrow room, with two doorways leading into a much larger room. In a corner stood a life-sized wax status of General Robert E. Lee. Along the walls were brochures, conveniently arranged by geography (Northern VA, Lexington, Waynesboro, etc) In the back was a rack of books, mostly old paperback romance novels, and a sign saying that the proceeds (from the book sale) would benefit a local church. We overheard, as we looked around and some people were leaving, the old lady say to them, “Goodbye! God bless you!”
In the bathroom hung a stupid painting of a bathtub. Why? After we left the bathrooms, we approached the counter to ask for information and directions to the local post office. The old woman was unaware of our presence for a bit, then seemed startled. “I didn’t realize you were here!”
We asked how to get to the nearest post office. “Oh! You’ll have to go into town for that!” she exclaimed!
Duh! I thought, and also, being from New Jersey, What does she mean? Aren’t we IN a town right now!? How far away is ‘town?’  [ed note: added later - this was before I learned that outside of NJ, there are unincorporated place that are not in a town.]

As she talked, the old man appeared behind the counter. We didn’t notice him at first, not until:
“Well, I was gonna say go to the filling station and—but I forgot, that filling station is closed—oh! He’ll draw you a map!”
The old man was silently drawing on a piece of scrap paper. This took several minutes; all four of us were silent. Finally, he pushed the paper toward us and began to speak:
southern directions

“You got your wind-y mountain road…”

This is never a good way for directions to begin. We were at the edge of Shenandoah National Park. Which wind-y mountain road, exactly, belonged to us? Every road there was a wind-y mountain road!

We turned to leave, thanking them, but the old woman stopped us and inquired, almost desperately, “Did you sign the book!?!?!” She indicated a guest registry. We filled out the information and turned to leave.

“You girls be good!” she called to us.

We stopped in our track and stood, kind of stunned. And then:

“You girls be careful!”

“We will…thanks…” We opened the door and started to leave.

“I love you!” she called as the door closed behind us.

We drove for a few minutes on the Blue Ridge Parkway, falsely assuming that this was our “wind-y mountain road.” It was not. In short, the map wasn’t totally wrong or useless, but it was barely correct. In the end, thanks to a nice convenience store clerk in Waynesboro, we got to the post office and back out to I-64, on our way to Tennessee.

We felt that this was a very Southern experience.

Silly Country Songs

On the road to Shenandoah (which was, by the way, the Patsy Cline Memorial Highway), we put on the radio, searching for the regional music (country.) The first song we got had all the stereotypical catchwords in the first thirty seconds—“caught my wife with another man” “prison” “my cousin in Tennessee” and “got my gun”—and then, without warning, it dissolved into the real subject of the song—a dog. I couldn’t stop laughing.
The song that followed began with the scene of the singer driving away from a funeral, either of his friend or his friend’s wife (I wasn’t paying close enough attention.) But that’s not what the song was really about! Oh no! It was a song for a girl! See, going to this funeral made the singer realize, “It could have been you and me,” so he was going to get wine and flowers and candles and (in other words sex) “love you like it’s the last day of my life.” So it went from a funeral to sex!
(Well, I can’t say that non-country popular music has much better lyrics/topics.)

Let’s see what else…The Bikers on Skyline Drive. So we got on Skyline Drive, and there were a lot of bikers! At the first visitor’s center, Dickey Ridge, there was a pack of men in Harley jackets, all looking rather funny juxtaposed with the installations of plastic flowers and woodland animals. Also, they were speaking a language that I thought at first was German, then realized that about 10% of the words were intelligible, and it was a very singsongy language, so it was something Scandinavian. (There is no point to this detail, just that I thought it was interesting. I kept thinking, how did they get here with their bikes? Did they rent them? Did they already live in the U.S.?)
Later, at a really nice scenic overlook, there was a pack of bikers that we thought were the Scandinavians from earlier, until they asked us with very American voice if we could take some group shots of them – one without their bikes, and one with their bikes. There was something endearing about these big guys handing us single use cameras and posing like a group of kids. So we asked them if they could also take a picture for us, of us with the mountains in the background. “With our cameras?” one of them asked.
Ha ha ha.
Then, as he took the photo (with our cameras, of course!) he kept saying, “Oh, this is beautiful…this is gonna be beautiful.” So that was potentially creepy, but who cares.

The rest of the day can be told through photos – of Shenandoah, of the Natural Bridge, and of…FOAMHENGE! One of the strangest yet most fun things we saw on our trip was a replica of Stonehenge made entirely out of Styrofoam.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OH man, that out west country music is the worst!!! -Audrey