North Carolina: Slow Down, Look Around

North Carolina: Slow Down, Look Around
We never stopped at South of the Border when I was a kid. Dad was one of those psycho travelers. Bladders could be emptied only when fuel tanks were filled. Motels were always dark places and I only saw them during midnight check-ins and pre-dawn check-outs. Mom was sympathetic about the long hours, but obviously she didn't share a young boy's notion of roadside cool. No matter my arguments, Pedro remained tacky, and my curiosity surrounding places like Waffle House and Stuckey's would have to wait years to be satisfied. As it turns out, she was right on most counts, but I'll always be a sucker for chili on my hash browns.

Back in the early seventies, Dad's career moved us from Morgantown, West Virginia, to Miami. From ages 7 to 11, I remember our family joining the throngs of holiday and summer travelers on I-95, and I loved going back home to the Mountain State to visit family and friends, especially when I could ride dirt bikes; but the trip was a bitch. I had to spend an entire day sentenced to the back seat of a '71 Volkswagen Super Beetle with a terrier mix as my cellmate. A disproportionate number of lyrics from 70's AM radio hits are permanently lodged in my memory. Relief from the tedium of the day's universal radio play-list was long gone - all of dad's jazz 8-tracks being a part of the Plymouth Fury III trade-in deal, innocent victims of the Arab oil embargo. This odd automotive purgatory left me plenty of time to contemplate why yellow ribbons were being tied 'round old oak trees and whether Billy got shot or blown up being a hero. We're talking pre-Ritalin days here.