Monday, June 27, 2011
Keep your eyes on the road.
Route: Topsail Beach (1)
Distance: 4.15 miles
Temperature: 78º degrees
Playlist: Drive - The Crystal Method
Last summer my MIL reserved a beachhouse at Topsail Beach, NC and invited every one of us in. My family, her other kids and their significants, my wife’s aunt, and her son who was on leave from Kuwait. Everyone was there.
Except me, I was still required for theater camp. That was fine. I seem to remember enjoying the peace and quiet, a little. MIL was so pleased with the experince, she’s done it again! This time several of the others couldn’t make it - but I could. It’s my turn at Topsail Beach.
Since we started dating my wife and I discovered a mutual appreciation for the highway, for roadside attractions, regional diners and honky tonk. Okay, not that last one - she liked honky tonk, and I needed to develop a tolerance and then an appreciation as one does for tobacco or bourbon or pot liquor or oral sex.
Saturday, however, as we were in the homestretch of packing, I began to sdduenly feel despondent and anxious. My back seized a little. I was depressed. The first leg of the journey was a challenge, sitting in the passenger seat, trying to just stare out the window, or maybe read, listen to music. Not try so hard. Don’t think about deadlines. Just be here, in the car.
Tamarack cheered me a good deal. It shares an offramp with a rest stop, but stands separately, a large circular structure which plays home to wide selection of products created by regional artisans and business people. Wood carvings, coal carvings, enormous lollipops and soap. I was impressed and surprised by the vast selection of CDs and books by and about West Virginians.
Beware the Mothman.
They also have a nice cafeteria at Tamarack.
The wife is also very good at bargain hunting online and made a real good reservation just before we left for a Microtel which was book solid by the time we got there. You don’t think of small towns of the highway as being anyplace large numbers of people would choose to spend the night - but that’s the whole point. They are the small towns on the way to somewhere else, by the highway. Duh.
As anyone who has known us long enough is aware, we are inordinately proud of our pledge to never eat at a chain restaurant on road trips, journeys to Athens do not count. We established this rule for our first road trip in 1995 and have stuck with it ever since.
Did I mention yesterday was our 12th wedding anniversary? Thank you.
It’s a daunting task sometimes, when you are hungry, getting off the highway, seeing all those familiar signs. Instead, we press on into town, sometimes a mile or two or three from the highway. Time away from making time, trying to simultaneously enjoy the unfamiliar surroundings, but also try to divine the closest potential location for a diner or family restaurant.
Hmn. Maybe it’s time for an iPhone.
So we got off in the Wake Forest University area, and found Jimmy the Greek in a strip mall. If living in Cleveland Heights has taught me anything, it’s that excellent independent restaurants can certain be found in a strip mall. And there’s nothing to confirm the quality of a local establishment than to see the parade of satisfied, multi-racial families still dressed up from church streaming out just past lunchtime.
Chicken and waffles AND souvlaki? Yes, thank you, ma'am!
This morning was a beast, I even sat up once to get me run on and just lay back down again. My sinuses, my head, aren't right. So it waited until 8:30. Glad to say I am not the only lunatic choosing to run with the sun high, and the humidity deep. By the time I was through my chin was no longer up and I could not longer wave at every passerby.