14 January 2007

I'm back!
Highlights, lowlights and just lights of road trip…

Met a nice Quaker lady at a Meeting House in Philadelphia. She explained the influence of Quakerism to the founding of Pennsylvania, as a result it was one of the most democratic, liberal and tolerant colonies of its day. Hooray!

It’s really really hard to buy a beer in Pennsylvania, you can only buy it from special ‘beer only’ stores, and even then you can only buy it in cases of 24 and no less.

Amish people are amazing! The men have creepy chin-only beards, the women are plump, and they all wear black sneakers (those ones that old people where when they want to pretend they are not wearing sneakers). The Amish drive around in horse-drawn buggies, however are not against traveling in cars, as long as they aren’t driving. We visited the towns of Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse (heehee) and saw many Amish people being driven around in mini-vans. We also saw a young Amish man rollerblading down the side of the highway.

Gettysburg is for Civil War fanatics only.

The Kluge Ruhe (Australian) Aboriginal Art Collection in Charlottesville, Virginia is CLOSED over the Christmas holidays.

In North Carolina you can buy a long-neck beer (Budweiser, of course) from a petrol station for only 80 cents!!! There is nothing else interesting about North Carolina, unless you like Nascar racing.

I visited my first Walmart Supercenter in South Carolina.

I’ve now got a ‘jones’ for Southern cooking. It started with soul food; fried chicken, candied yams and collard greens… but went deeper with shrimp gravy, grits (like porridge, but eaten savory with butter and sometimes cheese), po’ boys (deep-fried oysters in salad roll), hush puppies (deep fried bread crumb balls eaten with tartar sauce), fried-green tomatoes, biscuits (like scones, but eaten savory), cornbread… oh my dear god!

Tried to go to a fancy restaurant in Savannah for New Years Eve but everything was booked out, so ended up spending an ironic New Years Eve at the ‘Outback Steakhouse’ (Australian themed restaurant). At first I sat at the bar complaining how fake everything was. But after eating some yummy ‘shrimp’ and the bartender finding out I was Australian and giving us free beers… well, it felt just like home.

Saw the New Years in over a few drinks with a new local friend, Fred. Fred was, like, REALLY friendly. When Fred left us to go buy some more drinks Blane confided in me that he thought Fred was trying to pick him up, and kept brushing his leg. I laughed and called him vain. However, when Blane got up to go to the lou leaving me alone with Fred, Fred confided in me that he found my ‘friend’ really attractive. I told Fred that Blane was actually my boyfriend. Fred apologized and said he was really embarrassed, and then we both had a laugh over it. However, then Fred started going on and on how ‘lucky’ I was to be with Blane, “Wow, you’re with Blane? Wow, you lucky girl. Well done. I mean that, like, well done to you.” Hmm, is my boyfriend so much more attractive than me, or something? Is it inconceivable that we’re together?

You visit Southern plantations to admire how pretty they are. You do not visit them to learn about the history of plantation farming and slavery. If plantation guides and in-house texts mention slavery at all it is in the context of “such-and-such plantation owners were actually very kind to their slaves and called them ‘black roses’”. Ergh. I’m using Magnolia Plantation, South Carolina as my main example of this occurring. But this perspective was also present at Monticello and Mt Vernon, both slave-owning ex-presidents’ homes in Virginia.

In Washington we stayed with Blane’s very patriotic aunt and uncle in their ‘cookie-cutter’ home in the suburbs. Blane warned me they can be a little ‘uptight’ (think of that film ‘Meet the Parents’) so we were both on our best behavior. However, we didn’t get off to a great start when we arrived at 9pm. Aunt and uncle had been expecting us at 6pm and we arrived at their home to find a giant cold ham on the table and two very hungry people waiting for us. Tried to make it up to them by patientaly listening to Uncle tell stories about 'Nam (and how it could have been won, and how this is a lesson for Iraq) all evening. We just smiled and nodded.

We returned the hire car with a giant chunk taken out of the windscreen (a rock flew up and hit it while we were driving down the freeway), and we didn’t have insurance, and the hire company didn’t even notice!!! Yay!

Took the Saturday night train from Philadelphia to New York City with, what is known as, the 'Bridge and Tunnel Crowd'. They were very young and loud and badly dressed, and I felt like an anthropologist looking for signs of the 'Frat'.

Back in New York, and people honking their car horns, swearing at each other in the streets, and the grit and the grime... and it almost feels like home now.


DelightfulJen said...

Everything sounds SO great!!

I would visit to visit an Amish community, I never knew the thing about driving, I suppose being able to be driven would make things a little bit easier for them sometimes.

I don't think I will ever try Southern food, I feel like I've gained a few kilos reading about it. Hush puppies sound interesting, aren't breadcrumbs kind of bland by themselves? Grits sound pretty yummy though.

I hope you have been taking some pictures, I'd love to see all of the things you've been blogging about.

I hope you keep having a lovely time!

Aussie Rock Chick said...

Oh my god that shit will kill you. The food I mean. And I bet there's not a vegetable in sight is there? Oh other than potatoes. Deep fried potatoes. It's a wonder America is so populous, with food like that they should've died out a long time ago.

I wouldn't be too worried about the Fred/Blane thing - Fred was probably just taken aback that his gaydar was so off.

I heard NYC is having a fake spring at the moment - it was spring when I was there & oh so pretty... enjoy!

redcap said...

Sounds like a cracker trip, especially from the "only in America" POV.

So that's what a hush puppy is? For some reason, I thought it was like a deep fried ball of mashed potato! And I'm shocked that Amish people are so hypocritical as to allow themselves to be driven by other people. I thought it was Witness and buggies all the way. How disappointing.

Well done on scamming the free beers from the Aussie restaurant, though. Score!

Adam said...

By the ways, how did you end up with Blane anyways? Like, is his sight not great?

I hope you wake up everyday and count your lucky stars...

kiki said...

don't knock the bridge and tunnel crowd aight?

i did a similar road trip to you. with a similar person, look how that turned out...

killerrabbit said...

Excellent I always wanted to know what grits and biscuits were ever since I read J M Coetzee's Disgrace. Sounds like an amazing trip.

Dot said...

d'jen - yes, it's all fun AND fat here. i'm coming home porky.

aussie rock chick - the night i came back to New York people were wearing T-SHIRTS. it was so weird... but apparently winter is finally arriving this week. it's going to be high of -2C on Wednesday and i'm going to die.

redcap - actually one of the first things i did when i got back was watch Witness on dvd. it's pretty accurate, except the women are all plumper in real life.

adam - haven't you seen the film Pretty in Pink? i’ve got a quirky sense of style and down-to-earth attitude. maybe.

kiki - i'm VERY sure this is going to turn out different... and i meant Bridge and Tunnel Crowd from other states, not just the outer boroughs.

killerrabbit - it's plain comfort food and it's yum.