This past weekend I spent a long few days driving from Charleston to Charlottesville to pack up my stuff in storage and bring it back with me. Along the way I had lots of time to think. Not only is it a long drive, but the cargo van I was driving had no CD player, and the radio didn’t work (so neither did my iPod). There is nothing more crazy-making than no music and no book to listen to on a trip. So to kill time and maintain sanity, I decided to put together a list of helpful hints for anyone thinking of driving down to see me. Hope this doesn’t talk you out of it – I’d love the company.
1) Make sure the radio and/or CD player works. The only thing longer than the 24 hour flu is the 8.5 hour drive from Charleston to Charlottesville without anything for company.
2) Make sure you have cruise control. Driving long distances without it is a little like riding a one-speed bike up a mountain. It’s possible to do it, but there are sure way easier ways to get there.
3) If you are going to rent a cargo van to go out of state, it’s cheaper to rent it for a whole week and let it sit than to rent it for just the 3 days you actually need it. Really.
4) In Virginia, if the speed limit is 65, it actually means 65. In NC, it means 70 – 75. In SC, 65 means if you’re driving under 80, you’ll probably get run off the road.
5) If you don’t buy anything else on your trip, buy peaches as soon as you cross from North Carolina into SC. There are no better peaches in the world than those from upstate SC. Trust me, I know – I grew up eating Gaffney peaches, and I’m a peach snob because of it.
6) If you’re looking for a place to eat, the Golden Corral has the best buffet in Wilson, NC. At least, that’s what the giant billboard says.
7) And on the topic of food, the Sombrero Restaurant at South of the Border is not a Mexican restaurant. So don’t get your heart set on bean tostadas and chips and salsa like I did and then end up with an iceberg lettuce salad from the salad bar.
8) If you’ve never been to South of the Border, you should stop. It’s like a time machine, with all the entertainment families thought cool before there were backseat TVs and water parks. There are junk shops, and a reptile lagoon, and big plaster flamingos and bears and gorillas hanging out together on the sidewalks (not sure why that makes sense – are there bears and gorillas and pink flamingos living side by side somewhere south of the border?).
9) Try to make it out of Virginia before you buy gas. For some reason, gas in VA is at least 10c more per gallon, sometimes as much as 30c per gallon more.
10) The last thing is a reminder to myself – never, never, never try to cram a lifetime of stuff into a cargo van again. It’s not gonna fit.