Thursday, 27 May 2010


Ever had one of those days?
This turned out to be one of those days. Although it was funny with hindsight.
The Dark Lady and I now had the scent of New York City in our nostrils although the scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains was pretty impressive we were looking to journeys end.

With that in mind we looked at the map and decided to head for Harrisonburg. This would break the back of the remaining 700 miles or so. So that we would not have to rush the last couple of days journey. I typed Harrisonburg into the SatNav. Selected “Shortest time” and off we went.
It was going to be an Interstate kind of day there was still some great views and suddenly you would find yourself on a bridge crossing a large river or a lake. A whiff of the woods would waft around the car and the sun was shining. We were in a good mood. In fact all in all we were I great shape.
We journeyed for a couple of hours until we stopped at a branch of “Cracker Barrel”. This is a good old time folksy chain store with restaurant attached. It sold the stuff the old West was famous for and probably never actually possessed. There were lots of reproductions of cattle feed and tobacco adverts and shop full of Beverley Hillbilly style rocking chairs.
Hungry as usual I went for the “Country Boy breakfast”. Just ordering it and I felt I should be dressed in overalls and thinking of marrying my 13 year old cousin.
It was steak, eggs, grits. Biscuits and gravy (which we have met and not particularly enjoyed before in the US). There was also some cheesy rice and fried apple.
This time I wasn’t going to be defeated by the grits nor the biscuits and country gravy. I have a suspicion that Americans don’t actually eat everything on their plates so they may profess to like gravy and grits but they probably just have a little taste and leave it.
Having had more than a little taste I was doing well until I got to the fried apple. The only thing I can say is Why?
The DL and I moseyed on out.

On and on we journeyed. We noticed that we were now on some slightly less congested roads and had turned off the interstate. Still the Sat/nav was saying we were on track.
Several hours later the Dark Lady could contain herself no longer and asked:
“Where exactly are we going?”
“Harrisburg” I said brightly.
“Yup Harrisburg”
“Er yes why?”
“We should be heading for “HarriSONburg no Harrisburg”
“There’s a difference?”
“Pull over and check the GPS”
She was right. My sausage fingers had mistyped and we were miles away from Harrisonburg. 420 miles away to be exact. Although we weren’t all that far from Harrisburg.
I blamed the grits and the gravy in fact I blamed everything and everybody apart from the Dark Lady of course.
So we had to turn round and head in a completely different direction. If not exactly in silence neither of us said a great deal for then next hour.
Then the car which had carried me for over 6,000 miles without a problem decided to assert its authority. A selection of lights came on telling me that:
1) Oil change needed
2) Engine management problem
3) Every time we pulled up at a stop sign there would be a warning “bong” from somewhere and the engine temperature would soar into the red. This was going to require some investigation when we reached whichever place we decided to stop at or perhaps the car decided to expire at.
We rolled into a selection of shopping Malls called Midlothian where we booked into a hotel.
We decided a nice meal and a drink and a comfortable place for the night would be the perfect restorative for my incompetence. I was never a success in the Scouts and thankfully for all concerned the Forces never came a calling.
“You attacked who???? We said Iraq not Center Parc!!!”
Things however were not going to be quite so simple.
The hotel gave us a nice room on the first floor. The only problem was that when we opened the door we saw that whoever had occupied it before had only left minutes earlier so it wasn’t ready.
“So sorry” said the desk clerk and gave us another room. This time on the fourth floor. When we opened the door we realised that it had been occupied by a mate of the person on the first floor as it too needed changing.
Back downstairs we trooped
“So sorry” said the desk clerk and upgraded us to a five acre room with a whirlpool bath big enough for two. This was more like it. All we needed was a bite to eat and a couple of cold ones.
“Can you tell us where we can get a bite to eat and a couple of cold ones”? I asked.
Before the desk clerk had finished explaining where a likely place was another guest waiting at reception chipped in with her version of where there was a good place. Until they were joined by a third. All arguing the toss as to the right direction and the right place.
We left them to it amid a scene reminiscent of one of those wonderful Mack Sennett silent films where a simple disagreement deteriorates into a full on fight with everyone involved from the policeman to the dog via the mother in law with custard and furniture being hurled.
We found a nice looking Italian Restaurant which boasted a “Lounge”. Perfect. Save for one thing:
“Excuse me where is the Lounge”?
“Lounge? We don’t have a lounge”
“The sign outside says you have a lounge”
“We never had a lounge”
“Well why the sign says you have a lounge”
“Does it?”
“Well we never had one”
We stomped across another car park the sign “Sergio’s Italian restaurant and lounge” illuminating our path until we found a place called “Taylors”
It had a bar and it had food.
It had everything we needed.

1 comment:

  1. Your brilliantly funny blog, reminded me of my favourite sketch from the movie, Dumb and Dumber, when Lloyd drove a third of the way across the country in the wrong direction… “ so we back-tracked a tad” they didn’t have enough money for fuel to reach their destination or to get home… they ended up trading their van for a very small moped which did 70 to the gallon.

    You make America sound like a really fun place- reading your blog has given us the most wonderful vicarious vacation.