US Road Trip Epilog: 24th June 2005

Today's route is fairly simple - Highway 221 to Roanoke (no, I don't know how to pronounce it either) then Highway 11 to Harrisonburg. The 221 is as nice as yesterday and the 11 is less scenic but faster. Alex's map reading manages to surprise me today when he actually warns me about a road junction before I get to it. There's hope yet.

Highway 221 through the woods
Highway 221 through the woods.

A few days ago I bought a turkey baster when we stopped at a Kmart. This may seem like an odd purchase, but it has a purpose. Since the car had stopped leaking coolant I'd managed to overfill the radiator, and the car seemed like it was running hot. I don't know much (obviously) about cooling systems but I was guessing that with too much coolant in the system - hence no room to expand when hot - it was, in a word, constipated. I'd seen Larry Paisley back in California use a turkey baster to remove excess coolant from the radiator and that's what I do now. It seems to make a difference, and the car feels happier now.

The weather has been getting hotter all week, despite us traveling north, and it's quite a relief to get to Harrisonburg. Alex's map reading skills haven't yet evolved to the point where we can actually find a motel at first attempt, but after checking the rates at a Quality Inn (too expensive) a quick call to the Best Western finds us rooms with internet access - lacking for the past few days - at a reasonable price.

The driver has a real thirst on. Being so hot, being that it's a Friday (but it could be any day with a 'y' in it, to be honest) or whatever, it's good to find an O'Charley's next to the motel. Tall frosted glasses of cold beer, a decent jukebox and an interesting barman to chat to all make for a good chance to cool off.

After a few hours it's back to the motel to make use of their internet access. Except that, after half an hour talking to their helpdesk, it's obvious that the wall socket in my room doesn't work. Nothing for it then but to disturb Alex's rest and borrow the connection in his room. He could tell me to bugger off, but then again he could find himself by the side of a dusty road tomorrow with all his belongings ...

Whilst using the internet connection in his room, Alex tells me he's seen a big group of bearded guys (ZZ Top-style) unload a coach. A band on tour, perhaps, and a chance of some live music tonight? Later on I see one of the guys in the corridor and ask if he's in a band. He looks a little puzzled, but replies that he's not and that they're just passing through. Then I see his wife, complete with apron and bonnet. Yes, they're Amish - or something similar - and I've just made a complete prat of myself. Alex had seen the womenfolk, but hadn't chosen to tell me. He's definitely walking for at least a mile tomorrow.

In the evening we return to O'Charley's for food and more beer. For somewhere surrounded mainly by shops the place is buzzing and a good time is had by all.

US Road Trip Epilog: 25th June 2005 >