Well, after a nice, quasi-relaxing, week long vacation in North Carolina, I’m back in Florida. While over the next week I’ll be writing about some of the things we did and saw, I’d like to thank Junior for his role as my backup blogger for the week. I’d also like to share a few minor observations I made during the trip:
- Ahhh, That Georgia Smell…: For the most part, Georgia is a fairly forgettable state. Mind you, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Atlanta aside, the state doesn’t have many distinguishing features. One of the few unfortunate features the state has appears for anyone driving I-95, between mile markers 72 and 74. If you find yourself driving around there, take a whiff. Seriously, take a deep breath. Smell that? This is what I like to call “The Georgia Smell”.
If you are planning to drive by there any time soon, take heed: something in that area smells badly. Horrendously, in fact. The first time I drove by there a few years back, I had made the mistake of driving that stretch of I-95 with my windows down. At first I thought maybe something had died by the roadside. If something did, it could only have been a putrid, decomposing troll carcass which was slowly releasing noxious fumes of the pull-my-finger kind. Sewer plant aside, this is the only way I can possibly explain the foul odor having a 2+ mile diameter.
Whatever it was, it had to be huge, however, since the smell seemed not only relentless in its offensiveness, but also amazing in its potency. The smell was so overpowering, so incredibly repugnant that it both scared and scarred everyone riding in the car that night. The only thing stopping us from pulling over and throwing up was the thought of having to endure that stink one second longer than we had to.
Yes, I realize it is not a fair representation of the state, but if you’re driving through Georgia via I-95, watch out.
For Florida residents: Yes, the smell here is worse than that the smell of the Florida Mountains. (Non-Florida residents may refer to these as landfills where eventually high-priced neighborhoods and community parks are eventually built. Remember, when in South Florida, if you see piece of land higher than sea level, there’s a good chance it’s a Florida Mountain.)
- Oh, I forgot that people still smoked: Florida is a “clean indoor air” state. That means that no matter where you go, there’s no such thing as a “smoking section” inside any building. Want to smoke? Take it outside. Unfortunately, I forgot that not every state has yet figured out that subjecting restaurant and hotel patrons to cigarette smoke — no matter how far from the smoking section you may place them — is not only a health hazard, but also rude and obnoxious. Case and point: North Carolina. When we walked into our hotel, we quickly figured out that our floor wasn’t an exclusively non-smoking floor. (Luckily, our room had apparently always been smoke-free.) Going into restaurants wasn’t any different, as we would eventually smell the presence of someone’s cancer stick during the course of our meal. As luck would have it, some restaurants in the Asheville area have started to figure this out, and have eliminated smoking sections altogether. Maybe it’s because they’re enlightened, or maybe it’s because they’re usually so tiny they don’t have room for a smoking section. In either case, those are the restaurants I’d frequent.
- The Power of the Internet: Sometimes I don’t even realize how much the Internet has changed our lives. Even when I said I wouldn’t do anything techie, I still checked stuff like the weather and directions using my cell phone. (Our GPS system also saved our butts more than a few times.) The thing is, I didn’t even notice I was doing it until I had done it. Isn’t the future great?
- Biltmore Tips and Observations: If you’re going to visit the Biltmore house, remember the following:
- The only tour of the house really worth taking is the guided tour. Don’t waste your time or money on the taped or booklet tour, unless you intend to ask a lot of questions to the employees.
- The best time to go to the estate if you want to avoid the crowds is during January, February, and early March. The worst time to go is during December. If you do go during December, however, either get there very very early (since the lines can be up to 3 hours long to get into the house) or tour the house later in the day. In contrast, enjoy the winery during the early part of the day, since no one is really there until about noon.
- Another good way to see the house during the busier times is to arrive 5 minutes after your tour of the house begins, or hang out at the end of the line. This way you avoid the crowds, and you can spend more time viewing the place.
I’ll have more later when I write in detail about our trips to Asheville and Southern Pines (which looks an awful-lot like Brandon, Florida). For now I’m just settling down, unpacking, re-stocking the fridge, and getting used again to Florida weather.