Of course, it rained as I was leaving town on Ponce de Leon Avenue, and continued raining through Decatur, where I got my final Krystal and decided not to have any more of those annoying flashbacks.
I’ve always wanted to drive from Atlanta to Greensboro using only old US Highway 29, and that’s what I was going to do, by God, no matter how tedious it might be and how long it might take. Plus I was too sleepy and irritable to drive on the freeway.
Highway 29 from Atlanta to Greensboro was about the longest 330 miles I’ve ever driven. It was fun and all, but I think I saw just every podunk town in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. That was the point, I guess…
The first big stop was Athens. My last visit was in about 1991, when I was thinking about going to grad school there and opted against upon seeing the town. It was just too much of an annoyingly cute college town. It seemed less so this time, with the rain and the lack of students, and I enjoyed walking around a little, but I’m still glad I didn’t move there ten years ago.
I realized in Athens that traveling on Easter Sunday might be a little odd. All the stores were closed. Funny, but I don’t remember it being like that when I was a kid (and neither did my mom when I asked her). When did Easter become such a universally-observed holiday? The first open place I found to take a crap was a K-mart, where some old man kept tapping his foot in the next stall.
Fortunately, I found a nice open used bookstore downtown.
The it was onward to Hartwell, and Anderson (which was more interesting than I remembered), and into Greenville (which wasn’t).
Spartanburg, though, was great. Lots of old buildings downtown (where the speed limit was an inexplicable 15 1/2 MPH), and even more just north of downtown in what was, I guess, the first suburban area built.
After Spartanburg, everything got pretty rural to the North Carolina state line. It was getting dark and I started getting a little tired. I stopped at a Piggly Wiggly in Blacksburg, and a cheap cigarette store in Gastonia, and decided to bed down in Charlotte.
Everything was closed in Charlotte too, even the Hardee’s (which didn’t have the cool sign with the old logo like the one above). I finally found miserable food at an Arby’s and checked into the cheap Travelodge which used to be a cheap Knight’s Inn and where I’d stayed once before with some cheap drag queen.
Once settled, I went out for a late-night drive through Charlotte. It was the first time I’d really driven around there on my own in years, since I’ve usually stayed with Duncan (without my own car) on recent visits. I hit downtown and the old neighborhood, etc. It felt disturbingly like home, which is something I never thought I’d say about Charlotte again after living there for three years.
It felt even more like home when I went back to the room, watched cartoons, and went to sleep.