Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I'm through with the entire state of North Carolina

After an 11 hour day in the hostile confines of a Avis rental I arrived at my destination, Asheboro NC. Soon I'd be in the predictable comforts of a Hampton Inn, first I needed some processed fast food in a timely manner. I made my way to the local KFC.

At around 8:52 I enter the parking lot. I circle the building on my way to order via drive through, receive my mediocre dinner and retreat to look over paperwork in the hotel. With about 25 feet to go until the speaker a Suburban with loud music and large spinner rims cuts directly in front of me, I slam on the brakes. At this point a mac book pro and over $2000 of cameras take flight moving towards the dashboard, papers collect in the foot well and a otherwise uneventful day is marked by this country fried asshole who was fixin' to get some chicken on a Thursday night.
Before I could gather why I had a Suburban grill staring me down Jim Bob threw it in reverse and pulled right in front of me laughing all the way to the speaker. On closer inspection he appeared to look like an aging drunk in a car full of cheap hookers. Smoke rolled out of the windows as the passengers loudly discussed what they felt like eating. I considered driving off but this trailer park on wheels was too choice to pass up, is this the real life Roy Mercer or Kenny Powers? I had to investigate further. The driver argued with the speaker about the availability of discontinued promotional specials. As the conversation progressed a total of $64 was ordered.
Apparently this wasn't nearly enough, he pleaded for more food. "Could you get me a couple of cherry turnovers?", no sorry... not this late at night.
"Why can't I get some barbecue chicken" sorry, that was a promotion that is over.
Reluctantly the Suburban pulled up to the window after an unprecedented 8 minutes displaying what ignorance, selfishness and a lack of social graces personifies in one truly miserable human being.

I arrive at the speaker just in time to be greeted by a recording, "The time is now 9:00 and your Asheboro KFC is now closed." At this point I drive around to the honkey tonk on wheels that is the Suburban to greet them with more horn honking, light flashing and profanity than I had ever cared to express to another driver.

The passengers of the Suburban were more than willing to lay down a country whoopin' and one managed to reverse Dukes of Hazard out of the passenger window looking for a fight. At this point I elected to bail on the situation already in progress. I was no match for a local of the Piedmont, jacked up on Cheerwine and riding a fried chicken high it would have been an absolute disaster to stay around any longer. Don't you ever change NC...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fleabag Motels: A Beginners Guide

I have stayed over 500 nights at Marriott hotels, this creates a unique problem. As a traveler stays at the same chains it becomes less of an event and more of a chore. Unfortunately the more you return to a Marriott or Hilton hotel the more you have to encounter the fake sincerity of a front desk clerk who has been trained to suck up to platinum members like their job depended on it. The familiar trappings of a Residence Inn become annoyingly routine, the constant hoop jumping the staff put themselves through becomes exhausting to watch. I come from modest enough means that a staff waving and smiling as they wash my dishes and rearrange my toiletries on the vanity will never put me at ease.
A traveler reaches the point where the instruments of judging ones lodgings need to be reset and given a full recalibration. The prescription? A fleabag motel.
From the 1950's to 70's these gems of Americana sprung up along highways and helped invent the American road trip. Now 30-50 hard years later they are just the trick for getting out of that corporate chain hotel out by the interstate. How low end to go? Well that's a personal decision you've got to answer for yourself, if it's sign is at all similar to the one pictured below I'd advise to continue searching.
A good cheap motel is often located in a "rough area" closer to the city center than the chain restaurants of the bypass. Staying in one of these areas transports you into a land of mom and pop dining that truly reflects the region. Even a bad meal or disappointing motel will be over soon enough, the story of the broken door or god awful meal will last longer than the indigestion. So stop somewhere random, order the meatloaf special, take them up on a 3 night for $75 deal and lock your doors. Hide the camera and GPS... and lock your doors.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mini-Burger Battleground States

Over 140 years since reconstruction there is a new battle raging betwixt the states. This one is regarding their low grade fast food burger of choice. Yankee and Rebel pride clash as communities are turned once again into battlefields. Each sides fiercely loyal to their own brand of budget dining. The Northern and Southern franchise growth meets in Tennessee and Kentucky for a suburban showdown.
Most readers are familiar with White Castle, a tiny burger that is heavy on the onions and served suspiciously moist. Crystals burgers are the exact same thing, but with a squirt of mustard. When comparing the basics there isn't a whole lot to differentiate one from the next.
The folks at Crystals enter a league of their own when one takes into account the rest of their menu. While White Castle is widely considered to be 'only after drinking' gross, Crystals is 'never a good idea, ever' gross. The minds at the Crystals corporate kitchen push the envelope on what I'll order even in the most dire of circumstances.
The cheese pup is a small hot dog rendered worthless by a layer of melted cheddar cheese. Below is a breakfast promotional menu. Note the egg product in a Styrofoam cup. There is no amount of carb-savings that make it alright to start your day with the value-bowl breakfasts. They must be appealing to a demographic that needs a value bowl after smoking one.