We woke up at 7am to some horrifying talk radio station. We got up and fed the seagulls our remaining pretzels from the hotel balcony, then checked out. We were on our way to Charleston, via Starbucks.
I was cranky as hell, as I usually am in the morning. It seemed to take an extra long time to get there, which we finally did around 11:30. Heather wanted to do some present shopping at the Old City Market (on eBay Street!), I wanted to pee. We drove around and around looking for parking, but the place was mobbed. Finally, I told her to go shop and I’d keep looking for parking, and call her when I found it. I never did. Around 12:30, about to pee my pants, I called her and told her we had to switch so I could go to the bathroom, so we did that. Then she went back in for more, and I circled until she was ready to go. Charleston is an incredibly beautiful city, but when you don’t have time to enjoy it, what’s the point?
We got back on the road. I was still crabby, since we had over 1300 miles to drive and were making hardly any progress. We stopped in Columbia, South Carolina for gas and food. We wanted to eat in the car, and since fast food is almost never an option for me, we picked a grocery store, Bi-Lo, instead. I emerged with a protein bar, 2 bananas, and grapes. Heather got a sub sandwich she told me she had ordered because it had “salami and salami and salami and salami and cheese”
We drove and drove and had nonsensical conversations about pretzel dessicants and giant cicadas taking the place of the headrest in your car. Sample conversation*:
Me: PARDON ME, THERE’S A CICADA BEHIND YOU!
H: WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU! I HAVE A CICADA FOR A HEADREST!
*This conversation is best when screamed at the top of your lungs.
It kept us awake, even if we barely managed to stay on the road because we were laughing so hard. We drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina, then the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee. By 6:30pm, we were in Knoxville. I had decided that I really, really wanted to write a book, and had the outline written in my head. Heather was loudly voicing her opinion of each and every other driver on the road. We stopped at a gas station to pee, and Heather had a fight with the slush puppy machine. I decided that ‘Easy On, Easy Off’ was the new title of my autobiography (which gets a new title almost every single day).
At 7:30pm, we were passing the town of Corbin at an alarming speed, and both saw a sign that could possibly change our lives, so we exited. Because, my friends, Corbin, Kentucky is the birthplace of KFC, and the home to the Colonel Sanders museum.
We went into the Sanders Cafe, which is a functioning KFC attached to the original restaurant. There are some statues and displays honoring the (fake) colonel, which were reminiscent of the Sam Walton shrine in Arkansas. They had original menus and photos and even a Colonel Sanders halloween mask, which was both unsettling and erotic. They have the original kitchen and dining room, the (fake) colonel’s office, and a motel room. That’s because the (fake) colonel also ran a chain of motels in the area, and in order to advertise their swankiness, he built a replica in his restaurant. Weird.
Speaking of Sam Walton, on the way back to the interstate, we encountered this:
How often do you see an abandoned Wal-Mart?? It was a good feeling, until I realized that it was because they had just built a brand new Wal-Mart Supercenter down the road. Fuckers.
At 8:15pm, we decided to stop for dinner. That was because Heather’s dream had finally been realized: we found a Bob Evans in Richmond, Kentucky. I don’t know why she likes that place so much; we had stopped at one once because it was the only thing in the entire state of Missouri that was open on New Year’s. Something about biscuits. Anyway, we stopped. In the lobby, they had an American flag hanging on the wall, with a marker for pledging your allegiance, or something. So I did, because there never was a truer patriot than me. We got seated, and I went to use the restroom. On the way back, I passed three waitresses (I know, I usually refer to them as ‘servers’, but this was the kind of place where the girls all worked out front, and the boys all worked in the kitchen), and none of them would make eye contact. Maybe it was my ‘THUG’ tshirt? They all had poorly-conceived face paintings on their cheeks. In an orgasmic frenzy, Heather ordered the Homestead Breakfast with sixteen types of meat, and three pounds of starch. (She wishes for me to mention that she did not, in fact, eat it all. Not even close.)
I ordered a salad and a grilled cheese, which at least was digestable this time around. From our booth, I could see all the behind-the-counter antics, and watched with fascination. The waitresses compared tips; ours counted her cash and had a total of $35. Now, I’m just making assumptions, but I’m pretty sure she must have worked the dinner rush, since they were only open til 10. Sunday dinner, and only $35 in tips? Kentucky sucks.
Carl, the manager, was one of those guys who’s married, in his mid-30s, and likes to refer to the staff as his ‘girls’. He was flirty and condescending. He liked to throw his substantial weight around. He was sure that he was well-liked by all, and he was seriously mistaken. He probably touched a little too often, too. At one point, our server called him over to see if she was making a side salad correctly. He counted the croutons, then removed some. I wanted to cry, because somewhere, a really bad country-western song had been written about this man.
Our bill was $15, and it was disturbing to realize that my $4 tip would make up a full 10% of her take for the night. We got back on the road to get in a few more hours of driving that night. I didn’t see much of Kentucky, but Louisville struck me as kind of cool. From there, we crossed into Indiana, and were safely ensconced once again in NASCAR country. It was raining and we were tired, so we finally pulled off at the Mariann Motel in Scottsburg, one of the three listed in the hotel guide we picked up at a rest area. We each took a bed and collapsed for the night.