Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 13.1- Wilmington, NC

Why is this post Day 13.1 instead of 13? I was so tired yesterday that I fell asleep right after dinner and never posted on day 13. It's now the next morning. Thus, you get a little .1 of a bonus in your update.

Let's start with the bonus .1 first. I'm in bed. It's really the start of Day 14 now. Well, that about covers that part. Now, back to day 13.

When I was in 5th grade in San Jose, CA, I had a friend who transferred into our school for only half the year. I asked him where he was from and he said North Carolina. That sounded cool, a state with two names must be special so I asked what it was like. He said it was nice, and it had a lot more trees than San Jose. Pretty articulate guy, for a 5th grader being questioned by a stranger 5 minutes after meeting him. We got along great. I still remember having a tooth come out in the Now-n-Later candy I was eating in class when the two of us were in a corner as reading partners. We were always reading partners. Worried I would get in trouble about the candy when asking the teacher if I could go to the nurse and stop the bleeding, I pulled out the tooth from the thick candy and asked my North Carolina friend if he could hide it and trash it when the teacher was distracted with me and my dental issues. He took it in his hand. What a horrible gross thing to ask a friend, I think now. "Please hold my slobbered on and slightly bloody candy, would ya?" But he did it for me and I would have done the same . Probably not just out of some sense of noble friendship but because this was also that stage in growing up where friends would lean over and drink water from the street gutter runoff to show 1) we were cool enough and 2) because it looked a little bit like the cowboys on TV stopping at a river. Yeah, gross. But, a small price to pay for the glory a 5th grader could aspire to.

Oh, yeah... day 13.

So, my friend was right. A lot more trees than in San Jose. The highways we took through Virgina and North Carolina were mostly tree lined. A nice sight. At one point we got off to get some southern bbq in North Carolina. That's when I was reminded something. We saw a good looking highway for miles but the other side of that is that we didn't see as much of the land behind the trees until we got off that rode. And wow, what a sweet looking town we pulled into. Simple houses surrounded by plenty of fence-less grass. Property lines rolled onto each other and the street. Brick in abundance. Trees quite different from what I see in California towns with lots of trunks close together and branches that don't start until a ways up. Very nice and comfortable looking place to be. I liked what I saw and I got to thinking. I have not seen the U.S. I have traversed the U.S. but I should not let myself get to thinking that I know the country, that I have seen the country, or that I understand the country. I have see a small sliver along the rodes I have traveled. I have sampled culture in small 10 minute increments here and there, and I have added some reality to my imaginings of what the country is like. But it would take a lot more to know the people and the places. Going cross country was for the adventure and to some degree for my ego. I won't know for sure how much was for my ego until some time has gone by and I notice how often I slip this trip into my conversations. The reminder to myself here is that I should remember, regardless the needs of my ego, that I don't know the places I have visited. Though, I have certainly learned and developed as a person by visiting- that's the adventure part.

How was the southern bbq in Rocky Mount, NC? Completely different from that of Missouri. I'm staying a vegetarian now so I did not sample the meat but there were way more vegetables to choose from. You can see my meal in the picture. Collard greens, black eyed peas, green beans, hush puppies, banana pudding, and lemonade. Yum. I was most looking forward to the collard greens and they were good. The interesting thing about the foods that I noted was that everything, including my vegetables and the meat and cole slaw on Nathan's and Laurie's plates, was cut up really small. Not sure if this is representational of southern bbq. It was good. I tried the cole slaw and it was more tangy than I have had before, and it was yellow rather than white. I was glad to eat an entire plate of vegetables again. Delicious and a new experience in style of cooking. It was funny when we sat down and there were two squeeze bottles on the table. 'What are those" Laurie asked. "Those are your vinegars" the server answered. "Well what do we do with them." "They are for your bbq." Laurie chuckled and said, "you're gonna have to teach us how to eat." Then the server understood. Turns out you put the vinegar, white is plain and red has chili, on the meat and it is also good on the collards. She was right, it was good on the collard greens. You should have seen the long pause and the mental calculation when I asked what a hush puppy is. Good times, good meal, and desperately needed air conditioning. That was Gardens BBQ restaurant.

Now we are in Wilmington, North Carolina. The people look just like they do in California, but they have accents. Glorious accents by the bucket full, not just isolated bursts of audio flavor. We are swimming in accent sauce. There are large trees shading the streets, some handsomely bearded in what I am told is called Spanish Moss. Impressive looking. In this historic town, there are many huge square houses and many of them have historical plaques. They look great with the big trees and Spanish Moss. I wonder how these large square brick and wood homes look neat and the new large square homes by my house are not very attractive to me. Could it be the stucco? The years? The trees? Well, here and there it is nice to walk around. So, off for breakfast and a walk in historic downtown.

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