October 4 (Monday)
The last day. It started as another overcast day. We ate from the hotel’s continental breakfast, then hopped back on I-95. In only an hour we were in South Carolina and the last place I’d really wanted to see, South of the Border in Dillon.
Some might call it a tacky tourist trap, and it is that. But I’m a tacky tourist at heart, so I love those kind of places. Started in the 1950s, it got the name for being south of the North Carolina border. It’s about halfway between New York and Florida, making it the perfect stop for snowbirds and other tourists heading south from New England, back in the day.
More recently, the place has fallen on rough times. Tastes have changed, maybe people are more in a hurry, and don’t take the time to stop at these sorts of places. There was no one else visiting that day besides us. Admittedly it was a weekday, and several hurricanes had gone through the area recently. I was hoping to go to the top of the Sombrero Tower, but it was closed. I did go into one of the numerous shops and got some souvenirs. Cups, t-shirts and the like. There was some toilet paper I was sorely tempted to get for Uncle Francis, but I resisted. I did tell Mom about it, and she laughed and agreed.
I wanted to try the food there, so we went into one of the restaurants. I think there were a couple other people there, but not more than that. I don’t remember what I got, but ate too much, since we’d had a decent breakfast.
Back on the interstate, I had a laughing jag. You know how something strikes you as funny and you can’t stop laughing? Well, it was kind of foggy, and through the mist I saw a sign for a pizzeria.
What’s funny about that? My Mom’s sister (Aunt Kathryn, no longer with us) was always very proper. Things had to be just so, and she was rarely wrong. At least in her mind. Mom told me a while before how she and her sister were driving and they saw a pizzeria. Aunt Kathryn said something about it, but mispronounced it. Instead of peet-za-ria, she called it a pi-zarea, like it’s spelled. Any chance I could thereafter, I would tease Aunt Kathryn about it. Seeing the sign on the interstate brought it back, and the laughter just poured out. I think I laughed through most of South Carolina.
The skies cleared after a while, and we entered Georgia. On the first day of the trip, I remember us seeing electric trucks and landscapers heading into Florida to help with the hurricane aftermath. Once we got into Georgia, we started seeing the same kind of trucks heading north. We waved at them, thanking them in spirit. Glad though we were that so many had come down to help, it was encouraging to see them leave, since it meant the worst was over.
I-95 in Georgia is an interesting contrast to I-75. There are a crazy amount of billboards between Valdosta and Atlanta. But there are relatively few between Savannah and Jacksonville. Maybe the counties have different laws in that regard? It does make I-95 a more enjoyable drive to me. Most of I-95 is nice, as I discovered. The only unpleasant stretches are in South Florida (Palm Beach County to Miami) and Jacksonville. Once you get past Jax, it’s a breeze at least to southern Virginia. By the looks of the maps, the next gnarly bit would be D.C. From Florida to D.C.; that’s about 10 hours of pleasant interstate driving. One of these days I’ve got to visit Mom and Dad in Arlington, so it’s good to know the drive there will be easy.
I know we stopped again at a visitor center. I think it might’ve been the same one I stopped at on the way to Savannah a few weeks ago. That one was near the Florida border. We crossed over before sunset, then got off at the SR 200/A1A exit. I could have gone further south, but I avoid Jacksonville like the plaque. Plus we’d been on the interstate for two days, and I was looking forward to regular road driving again.
We got back to Mom’s around 8 PM. She’d turned off the AC, since why leave it on when no one would be home for two weeks? We discovered the display on the microwave didn’t work, probably due to power surges related to Jeanne. In any case, we cranked up the AC and left to get dinner, giving the house time to cool down. We hit some of our favorite places, but they were closing. At 8! Fat Boys, El Toreo, what’s up? We finally downscaled, since our options were more limited than we thought, and got burgers at Wendy’s. The house was comfortable when we got back and we conked out. I unpacked the car the next day, then returned to work the day after that.
So that’s it. Two weeks of ups and downs (figurative and literal) that will always be with me. We had fun, Mom. I miss you, but we’ll always have our 12-states-in-12-days trip.