Friday, July 07, 2006

On the Road Again

It’s almost that time. The time when Tanya and I take a little tour of these United States. We’re heading out on Sunday night to fly to Norfolk, VA, and then it’s on to spend a few of days on the beautiful shores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

I really like visiting the Outer Banks. What’s not to like? It’s the place where the Wright Brothers took their first flight (a fact that the license plates of North Carolina will never let you forget). It’s got some of the largest exposed sand dunes in the country. It has Ocracoke island, a place that was frequented by the dread pirate Blackbeard (and since pirates are all the rage these days, this fact is cool and trendy). And not too far away from where we’ll be staying is the Lost Colony of Roanoke (one of its greatest legacies is that Andy Griffith got his start acting in their little Lost Colony theatrical production – which I still have never seen).

I hope that we’ll find some time to get to Roanoke. I’ve been there before. It’s strange, but every time I visit that place I become convinced that I can solve the mystery of the lost colony. I know that hundreds of scholars and researchers have spent countless hours and used their interminable collective expertise trying to figure out what happened to that hapless group of first settlers, but when I go to the place and see the mounds of dirt and hear the stories, I still feel as if my insight into the matter will crack the case.

I’m an idiot.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about with Roanoke, go here to learn more. The short version is this: Some settlers came from England to establish the first western colony in the new world. They chose Roanoke Island. One of the colony’s leaders, John White, sailed for England to snag some more supplies for the colonists in 1587. Well, some crap came up and nobody was able to return with supplies until 1590. By then, all of the colonists had vanished into thin air. No bodies, no nothing. Only a word carved on a nearby tree "Croatoan." Evidentially, either the colonists were killed by Indians and marauders or they got tired of waiting three years for tea and Guinness and toddled off for greener pastures.

Legend has it that, years later, blue-eyed natives turned up. Ooohh. What a mystery. Did the colonists get killed or come down with a ribald case of jungle fever? Maybe we’ll never know.

Unless, of course, I can make it to Roanoke while I’m at the Outer Banks and solve the mystery.

After we kick around in North Carolina for a while we’re heading back to Los Angeles via road trip. We’re going to be touring through the not-so-deep south. First we visit Nashville and Memphis (to see the Egyptian stuff…or Graceland, whichever one it is that we have in the Memphis in this country, I’m so worldly that I often get my Memphises confused).

After Tennessee, the trip gets a whole lot less interesting…on paper.

We’ll be heading through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Northern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Or, as I like to refer to it, “America’s Nothing Belt.”

Not a whole hell of a lot to see in those places, but I’m sure that we’ll have a good time trying to find something.

While I’m gone, why don’t you go on your own mini vacation across the US with us? Just take out your largest map of the lower states and scoot your butt across it. Sure, it won’t be quite the same, but, honestly, you’ll probably have about as much to look at as we will as we’re actually driving through Northern Texas.

Fun Fact: I’m kind of looking forward to visiting Oklahoma. All I know about the state right now is that the wind comes sweeping down the plane and the wavin’ wheat sure smells sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain. Also, I’ve surmised that their main products are barley, carrots and pertaters, (pasture fer the) cattle, spinach and termayters. They have June bugs, lazy hawks and they call their sweethearts “honey lamb.”

I also know that Tanya’s going to go crazy while we’re there as I plan to try to hold out the first note of the Broadway classic song for the entire duration of our visit to the 46th state.



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