Through seventeen hundred and sixteen (point 1) miles, four states, three shows, five days, here are some things that I've learned:
--Somehow, a six-hour drive is much, much worse than a ten-hour drive.
--Vanity plates are the deal in Virginia. Some of note during the drive: "BLUBYU" on a Beamer. "6ULDVNT." And, my personal favorite (coming soon to a Carolina speedway near you): "YUBH8N" on a pimped Impala.
--Basically anytime you visit a gas station and find out that the entrance to the bathroom is outside, you know you're in for an unhealthy experience.
--Temperatures in D.C. are shoe sizes to the rest of the country. I woke up one morning and it was 12 degrees. (Side note: who tours North in the winter? At this rate, I'll be touring El Salvador in July and Calcutta just in time for monsoon season.)
--There are few things in life as disarming as green-mohawked, black-clad death rockers who are also amazingly affable and--here's the kicker--Christian.
--North Carolina and Kentucky are having a staring contest, and the first one to fix their roads loses. I can't be sure, but I'm nearly certain that there's a 5-mile stretch near Winston-Salem that can only be classified as "offroad."
--85S takes you into South Carolina briefly, before you hop on 40W and head slightly north, back into North Carolina and then Tennessee. And that 45-minute stretch is every bit as scenic as Central Mississippi or, say, Serbia. Meanwhile, literally the moment you cross back into North Carolina, a huge blue ride of Appalachian mountains spread out before you, as if to say, "Here is why you should never go back to South Carolina." I think that, when drawing the border lines many years ago, North Carolina must've said, "Okay, we'll take some of the most scenic parts of North America, cool college towns and awesome basketball; y'all take Citgo's and a few hundred thousand crazy people." And South Carolina said "Deal!" emphatically, because they had just pulled one over on those neighbors up North.
--Driving east from D.C., you pass Newport News, Norfolk, and Hampton before finally getting to Virginia Beach. This stretch of road is known to the rest of the world as 64E. It is known to me and Hokie brethren as "The Fertile Crescent," as about half the damn football team is from here. It is a remarkably beautiful thing. At one point, the interstate actually exists within Newport News city limits (birthplace of Michael Vick), and I could've sworn I was in Bethlehem. I left a message on my brother's work voicemail that should've said something like, "I am in the birthplace of Michael Vick, and every part of me is complete," but through the uncontrollable sobbing and police sirens in the background, he probably only heard "AHHHHHHHH! ME HAPPY....." before the message faded out.
--PF Chang's in Charlotte = 40/40 Club in NYC. Carolina Panthers abound. No clue what that's about, other than possibly explaining their 8-loss season.
--Portsmouth, Virginia (10 miles from Virginia Beach) is to small, colonial Southern towns what chicken wings are to Things That Are Awesome. This place is impossibly quaint, authentic, antique, and charming--quintessially small-town America in a way that's culturally interesting and historic. Less Mayberry and more Stuckeyville. The house I stayed in was built in 1880 and is considered new for its particular block.
--The Commodore Theater in Portsmouth is the deal.
--There is a part of Southern Virginia that is known for boiled peanuts. While driving through this part of Southern Virginia, you will have the oppurtunity to get boiled peanuts at every gas station, restaurant, lean-to, and shanty visible. You should do this, and you shouldn't ask questions.
--Music crowds in D.C. and Virginia Beach make me wanna leave the one I'm with and start a new relationship. Hopefully I'll see y'all soon...