South of the Border. I have long seen these bumper stickers growing up in suburban New York. Being a fan of nonsensical roadside attractions, I had to appease my curiosity and make the swerving merge from the left lane to exit. The time of our visit was perfect: dusk in late January. The place was almost completely vacant. And so the fiber glass zoo of creatures was at our total disposal. Posing for pictures atop large mushrooms, in the arms on tall gorillas and oversized cultural stereotypes, the stop was well worth it. As a side note, the South of the Border billboards received a makeover a few years back as they were beginning to be perceived as insensitive to Mexican culture and non-native English speakers.
Driving off the continent and into the Florida Keys was a bit unnerving. Finding suddenly white-sanded shorelines, a large pelican population sitting pretty roadside and lengthy seven mile bridges… it plays with your equilibrium. The weather didn’t permit swimming unfortunately, never getting above about 70 degrees and being extremely breezy. Either way, there are no public beaches on any of the Keys (!) until the very end, Key West. It was a beautiful drive but the Keys were more geared to fisherpeople and scuba divers.
From sunny shores to an ice storm in Greensville, SC! Some playful patron of the Econolodge made a little snowman on my car during the overnight. Since I had initially planned on staying in only South Florida during my trip and packed accordingly, I quickly hit some Greenville’s amazing thrift stores to get warmer wear. The folks in Greenville were so friendly (attitudes grew less so as I headed west) and pointed me in the right direction. Greenville also gave me a welcome break from Subway’s veggie delite. Brixx’s offered vegan cheese substitution on all their pies.
This was one of the strangest natural sights I’ve ever seen. In South Miami the birds were congregated on the power lines chirping with great intensity. The bird-filled wires spanned blocks. This picture captured just a small portion of the chaos.I’ve seen ribbons for many issues but this one supported Lap Dancing! This supporter cut me off heading North on the I-95 towards Jacksonville, FL. I was lucky enough to be behind him in traffic and captured his idiocy with my camera, much to his rearview curiosity.Next time you’re in Key West, FL, look for the brand new roadside attraction: American Gothic muffler man style. I spied her husband, pitchfork in hand, en route earlier in the day so I had to pull over to photograph the Mrs. as the truck driver rested aside the highway.
There is a Fountain in Youth in St. Augustine, FL. You don’t have to follow a fairy to uncover the spring. Just follow the billboards and neon-lit signs, pay the outlandish entrance fee along and experience it between the busloads of tourists. Or take pictures of the signs for kitsch value, use their public rest room and walk back to your rental car.
Looking for something to do in Knoxville, TN, I stumbled upon Trampled By Turtles. They put on a great show that evoked spontaneous line dancing amongst uninhibited on-lookers… something a dame from Brooklyn doesn’t see every day. I even “yee haw”ed a few times but this was under duress. Dave, the banjo player, can certainly duel with the best of ’em.
Living in NYC, I never get to see uninterrupted and expansive sky. Somewhere between Savannah and Atlanta I fell madly in love with her cottony dress and electric blue, thumping the car to the rumble stick-lined lane as I fumbled with the camera. Somewhere abouts Charleston, WV I lost her.
The Museum of Appalachia was one of the big highlights of my winter break roadtrip. About an hour or so north of Knoxville, the museum housed an obsessively thorough collection of Appalachian mountain folk relics. The museum’s 63 acres contained thousands of artifacts and 30+ log dwellings depicting the everyday life of these mountain folk. And they do weddings. I was impressed with the extensive collection of stringed instruments from the era, including this banjo made from a ham can and others made from toilet seats. Those crazy mountain folk!
Colonial Park Cemetery in beautiful downtown Savannah, GA contained the antiquated and dishevelled tombstones you’d expect from a historical cemetery, most being illegible. The majority of the bones earthed there passed with a epidemic of yellow fever that hit the city in the 1800’s. The grey overcast and straw-like grass complimented perfectly the dancing souls within its perimeter. This poor soul seemed to be carrying out the latter half of two consecutive life sentences.
Also within the cemetery was the largest aloe plant-looking monstrosity of chlorophyll I ever did see. So large that hundreds of visitors had etched their initials and hearts upon its leaves. Vandalizing plant leaves: all’s fair in love I suppose.
J.R.’s (North Carolina) is to the I-95 South as Wall Drug (South Dakota) is to the I-90 West and when I first realized I was a long ways from New York. After way too many billboards, our expectations were growing. But ultimately it was a disappointment. Sure, they had talking Jesus, Mary and Joseph dolls, Moonshine jam and Hummer perfume but I wanted even weirder random consumables.