26 May 2010

trip . . part of it

I am on a road trip with my cousin “Da” from Bethesda, Maryland to Utah, via Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Yes, it is a long trip and we are only a couple of days in. We are amused by the routes that the GPS takes us. On the trip down to North Carolina, we took a side trip to Appomattox Courthouse, the location at which General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General U. S. Grant. It felt that much of the trip between Maryland and North Carolina was on the back roads, not many major highways at all, let alone interstates.As we were traveling south, headed for Appomattox Courthouse we began seeing signs for Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's plantation home. We decided to take the short detour over to it. I remember that it was one of my favorite sites when I visited way back in 1983 ( I think that was the year). We found Monticello without much difficulty. We went up to the visitor center and found the ticketing place. Come to find out that it was $22 per person, average visit time was 3 ½ hours PLUS the next tour didn't head up for another 45 min. We nixed the idea, since it was a little too much time and money for us. We headed for the car, looking for any sign that would say Monticello and discovered a small sign directing us to an African-American grave site This is when I decided that this will become the graveyard tour, since I went to Arlington the previous day. We are sure to point out any cemeteries we drive by, or signs for the National ones. There have been quite a few that we have seen that are just lovely. I guess in North Carolina there are cemeteries that are decorated like it was Memorial Day, all year round.
We learned (or was reminded) that Appomattox Courthouse is actually the name of the town in which the surrender occurred. The actual surrender was at the McLean house, not the courthouse. When we pulled up to the parking lot, I started taking pictures of the most prominent building . We walked up the lane and found the sign to the actual courthouse with a sign indicating that the visitor info was located inside, so I felt I had fell into the pattern of my father, who has a knack of taking pictures of the wrong locations. I was relieved to find out that our original impression that the large house was THE location.
We also learned that if you see a McDonald's or Subway about lunchtime, that you should stop and eat then, instead of traveling on to Appomattox via back roads and small towns (since that is how the GPS took us). We didn't find lunch until 4:30 pm that day. We used the Garmin to find food at this point. We picked a local fast food place, followed the directions, found the place but it was closed. We caved and decided to check out the food at the gas station that we just tanked up at. Needless to say, it was not that appetizing; we opted to buy snacks to tide us over until we found real fast food. I asked the clerk where the nearest fast food place was. His response “I don't know why you would want that when there is Mimo's across the street”. I asked if it were fast and he replied that “it ain't slow”. We decided that we might as well go there. Good food, but it was a wee bit slow service.
We have been amused by signs in the different states. Perhaps our favorite had to do with a sign that instructed that all two-way radios and cellular phones should be turned off at this time for a construction zone. We laughed and joked how they must have some very sensitive machines, you know, like in hospitals. About five miles later we saw a sign announcing “Leaving Blasting Zone”. What a close one. Good thing no one called us in that stretch of the highway.