Report from the Road #4

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Our penultimate day saw us eating more good food, driving through horrendous rain and see some amazing sights.WEDNESDAYWe knew it was coming but waking up to rain was no fun.We were up at 7:30 and our goal was to be out by 8:30. We were close, perhaps lingering over breakfast a bit too long (nice biscuits and gravy and a better waffle than Waffle House).We gassed up ($1.37!) and hit the road by 9. Our first stop was some place with the ham biscuits Matt wanted to try but when we realized how close it was to the hotel, we decided to pass it by.Instead, we continued to wend our way north, the rain pelting us now and then, the skies gray and threatening. We instead drove to Dude’s Drive-In, also known for their ham sandwiches. It’s an old fashioned drive-in with cap hop service and the sandwiches were tin, toasted to perfection and most tasty. With Second Breakfast complete it was time to drive.As we left North Carolina for Virginia, it poured and poured. Then it stopped and as we entered the Shenandoah Valley, we were treated to the best views of the entire trip. Low hanging clouds and fog decorated the hills and valleys as we drove.We swung by University of Virginia to give it a look then programmed the Garmin to take us to Staunton. The rain let up by then and the time passed as we listened to music and podcasts. The GPS led us in the wrong direction and Matthew thought a closed building might be Wright’s Dairy-Rite but I gave them a call and got the directions straightened out.Wright’s apparently invented the Big Mac before Ray Kroc adopted it so I had to try their Super Burger to see what the fuss was about. It was exactly like a Big Mac but with better ground beef. The onion rings were better than Tuesday’s and the chocolate shake was divine.From there, we headed to Fulk’s Run Grocery, which took us out of the way and added time to the trip. Our goal was to meet Kate for dinner at 7. Still, Fulk’s has Turner Hams, slow cured and bountiful so he really wanted to buy a ham for home. It’s a small grocery well off the beaten path but the ham is salty goodness. We each bought small portions, some recommended sauce and a few other treats then returned to the highway.We hightailed it out of town but stopped for gas and as we pumped, the skies cleared of rain and the sun broke through. We were treated to several of the most impressive rainbows either of us had ever seen. Huge and colorful and stretching across the horizon.Our final stop before dinner was an Inn we wanted to look at and again, that took us a little out of the way. We got there later than hoped for so saw it in the twilight but it’s a nice set up worthy of exploration for future stays.By then it was apparent we’d be late so called Kate to change the reservation to 8. Traffic and rain allowed us to make up some time until we got to Washington and got snarled in late rush hour volume. All of our swing time, over 30 minutes, got eaten up by traffic.We arrived in Columbia at 8:01 and patted ourselves on the back. Kate zipped by us as our lumbering truck settled into a parking spot. The dinner was at her local mall and she selected P.F. Chang’s, a trendy Chinese restaurant chain, again, something neither of us had tried before.The food was shared and was fine by all accounts but nothing special or memorable. Our waiter though, was a hoot. Every time he came by there were comments and anecdotes and his life story was spilling out. Turns out he’s a long time comics fan and we got into a long chat about comic book movie adaptations and the X-Men and a fine time was had by all. Throughout this, Matthew and I were debating the final course home. We wound up deciding to continue our adventure by detouring through Pennsylvania and a few morning stops before New York.Our waiter hailed from the vicinity and made suggestion after suggestion. Kate was enchanted and scribbled her number on the check, something he didn’t notice by the time we left.The rain was long gone as we hit the road at 10 and then tried to get past York, PA and find a place to stay. Driving by the Hunt Valley Inn was odd but I’ll be back there in July. Meantime, we finally found a Comfort Inn in Columbia, got our room and then checked online before sleep. By 12:30 we finally recognized we were long past needing to sleep and turned off the light.

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