Thursday, 29 May 2014

American Road Trip - sadly leaving Charleston, but finding a Piggly Wiggly! - Part 14

We need to get on the road today - our next stop is 218 miles up country.  But as most of this will be on Highway 95 - a straight, straight, straight road the driver thinks it's no bother.  So we take a walk down to King Street so that we can have a look at the shops.  Got to be done - holidays are not all about scenery and visits to historic places!  We find an ATM inside a corner shop with it's own resident cat, and the owner doesn't seem to mind at all that we don't want to buy anything.  This is the morning I get to have a little treat - here is Pottery Barn, it's lovely windows beckoning!  We enter and the air conditioning is cold enough for a sweater - which all staff are wearing - but very refreshing for us.  If redecorating your home, this place with give you enough inspiration for every room (at a price!).  But as I may never be in another branch, I buy 8 new linen napkins, reduced in the sale, and very beautiful indeed.  At the counter, I bemoan the fact that we have no branches at home, and the haughty guy who's serving me says "but Madam, you can buy our goods on the internet... just open our page, click on the Union Jack, and all shipping prices are in £s".   Oh Dear.   I tell him I will be bankrupt shortly, now that I have access, but he just smiles and passes me the goodies.

Walking back to the house, at a crossroads, I manage to get the camera out of it's case quickly and catch this guy and his gorgeous old car and he gives us smile and the horn a "beep! as he spots us.  Back to retrieve our car now, already packed and ready to go, with a quick but heartfelt goodbye to Kathleen who I'd like to know better.

We take the road, promising a stop for lunch, even if it's only a chain restaurant. We shout "bridge" and this is another biggie.  It crosses Lake Marion, in South Carolina, which is so big that each side of the bridge is water up to the horizon.  Lovely.  When I spot a sign that says "Antiques Mall, 70 miles"  I decide that will do as a stopping place, and as the word antiques in the US covers everything from seriously old to mid-20th century stuff, I just might find a little gem to take home.  We couldn't find it at all!  Small town, so not far to go looking for it, but either it was gone, or it was hidden. At least we find somewhere for lunch.  It is a chain, but what a chain!  Route 55 is a 1950's style diner, and everything that goes with it.  Hot dogs, Burgers, Coca Cola, Fries, the usual suspects.  But like most chains, it's a franchise, and the staff here are really proud of their venture.  The black and white tile floors shine like mirrors, the toilets are spotless (in fact I never found a dirty one the whole trip) and smell fresh and clean, and the staff are attentive.  The chrome gleams, and there is great rock and roll playing.  I would not have been surprised if the staff had not leapt onto the counter and burst into an acapella version of "Will you still love me tomorrow?" or some other hit of the past.  Maccers has a hot dog, and me?  I have frozen custard. Never had it before, but given the chance will have it again.  Who knew that custard makes such a lovely cold treat when I can't eat icecream?  Heaven!

We could do with bottled water, so a quick half mile from the diner we find a Piggly Wiggly!  It's a supermarket chain and if you like American films set in the south, you may be familiar with the name.  Certainly I have seen it mentioned in novels and by stand-up comedians.  And here we are attempting to understand the cashier, who not only talks quietly, but has the strongest accent I have ever heard in my life.  I caught "y'all", and got the money right, but I'm ashamed to say that I really did not hear what she said, although "have a nice day" might have been in there somewhere.   Now we are non-stop until Fayetteville, North Carolina where we are staying the night.  We have no idea what this town offers, but it is a good distance to break the journey back to Washington Airport.  What we don't know is that it services Fort Bragg.  Fort Bragg is H U G E ..... 50,000 military personnel at any one time.  The town is easy to find with the GPS (just come off the 95 and listen to her - "take the next left") and  we find ourself (hurrah!) at the correct address.
probably our only ever 'Selfie', but here we are - made it to our next bed for the night!
Arrangements have been made for us to let ourselves in if we beat our hosts home and so we let ourselves in from a red hot afternoon to a cool and dark house.  Our room is easy to find, downstairs, and just like the photo on AirBnB, so we dump the bags, and get back on the internet, to check on friends, answer emails again, and generally slob around.  John puts a few beers in the fridge to get cold, and I make a cup of tea.  We relax and chat and eventually the back door opens and in comes Doug home from work.  We are fascinated by his deep voice - remember the bald eagle in "The Muppets"?  He could make a fortune in voice-overs!  Over a beer we discuss British politics, American Politics, the House of Commons which he watches avidly!  "Say, who's that guy in the big chair?"  We explain about Mr Speaker.  He loves Prime Minister's Question Time and wishes they had it in America - there are some Presidents he would like to have seen in the hot seat.  He asks us about the Scottish question - which John is against, and we discuss other world problems and politics.

He recommends us to the best burger in town "hand made, and I know the cook" - he's right, John says it's like an old fashioned home made job.  I have a little taco as I am not really hungry, and ask for red wine.  Remember Buckfastleigh?  Or Sanatogen?  Fortified wines of the past... not my taste, and probably not anyone else's in Fayetteville, because it is served from a bottle into a wine glass right next to the till, so they obviously don't sell much of it.  John has  a beer, sensible boy!  When we return, Doug's wife is back from work, and we spend another hour talking this, that and the other before they need to go to bed and we go too.