We’ve just crossed the Georgia-Alabama state line and gained an hour by entering Central Time.
The day began with a wonderful home-cooked breakfast: classic bacon & eggs with toast, cooked by host and (novice) chef Jeff Shinabarger. Jeff started GiftCardGiver.com to collect gift cards with remainder amounts and aggregates them for donating to the poor & needy. Here’s what you can do with used gift cards — we’ve all got a few dollars left on gift cards here and there — mail them to:
554 West Main St, Bldg A, Suite 200
Buford, GA 30518
We’re destined for Memphis tonight for BBQ at Rendezvous, recommended to us over the famous Corky’s. I consider Memphis the epicenter of barbeque, so tonight’s dining will be a particular delight. We should arrive in Memphis right around the recessional time of the Peabody Hotel ducks. Lunch might be around Birmingham – Highlands Bar & Grill looks really good. [update] Well, Highlands did look great, it’s one of those high-end dinner-only places, so we walked across the Five Points South intersection and got some smoothies from Planet Smoothie for lunch. Decided to forego the Peabody ducks and jump in the pool at our hotel ourselves instead.
We’re about 60 minutes from arriving into Charlotte for lunch at Hillbilly’s Barbeque with Steve Knight, a friend of emergent, and a friend of a friend named Migum, who’d helped me with putting on a 2002 conference together in less than 2 weeks. Steve and Migum were both part of a relevant church community called Warehouse 242. (Migum also had moved maybe 6 months ago from Charlotte to the San Francisco Bay area with less than 2 weeks notice.)
Today’s morning fuel-up was courtesy of a Shell gift card from Eleanor Tse. She’s an old friend from my Virginia Tech days who’s lived in Southern California for years now.
[update] great meetup with Steve (with 3 kids) and another emergenty friend Jon; wow, that was some very delicious BBQ pork, and the ribs were smokey outstanding! Hush puppies with bbq sauce delish too. photos and podcast later when I can get more bandwidth.
Special thanks to Joe & Tina Chen for the use of their incredibly smart Garmin Nuvi GPS navigation equipment! We put it through its paces today driving around Creedmoor and Raleigh, giving audible and visual cues with ample time to switch lanes. Very cool hi-tech gadget! Thank you Joe!!! (tho’ we’re using it on loan, it may very well be quite addicting)
Putting it to the real test at lunch time, we looked for a BBQ place. We found one a few miles further down the direction we were headed, and we started salivating for authentic Carolina BBQ. We pull up to the plaza along Leesville and Strickland, and looked for the Bar and Grill. Turns out it was a Mongolian BBQ place! Gasp – there are other kinds of BBQ in this ‘hood. We opted out, and settled for Back Yard Burgers.
Driving through Virginia in the summer is very lush. The gradations of green are broken up by the occasional billboard which I find optically stimulating. (I tend to prefer billboards to break up the visual monotony, thatâ€™s why I find driving through Maryland eye-numbing)
When we approached Virginia Tech I saw memorial magnets on bumpers in the classic orange and maroon emblazoned in our collective memories during the April tragedy. Most of the evidence of that day has been taken down on the campus. Iâ€™m struck with how global the tragedy was but when we walked around campus and Norris Hall things seemed much smaller and much more localized. The famous VT limestones seemed weighty and silent.
Collage #2 is a bit more abstract. Iâ€™m tired of the over-literalism of VT images and this seemed appropriate to my mood of the day.
Breakfast: Sheetz in Winchester. We both had the â€œSeriously Bold Coffeeâ€ drinks custom-ordered on a touch pad screen. Nifty! P.S. Unleaded Gas was $2.75/gallon
Lunch: Souvlakiâ€™s in downtown Blacksburg. Seriously yummy cheesecake, slow on service with a busy lunch crowd.
Dinner: Jasonâ€™s Deli in Raleigh. Graphics, cleanliness and menu presentation was outstanding but we were utterly disappointed with the price and quality. Jeremiahâ€™s kidâ€™s meal was a microwaved pizza with 3 pepperonis. Jeremiah gives it a â€œ4â€ which is the lowest score so far on this trip. Rachelle took a trip to the salad bar (passable) and ordered a Fiesta baked potato. I used to eat baked potatoes at Jasonâ€™s Deli in Dallas all the time. In fact, I was eating one at lunch time when I first heard about the Oklahoma City bombing so itâ€™s a distinctive memory. I was looking forward to this potato! However, it was shockingly gross, like a pseudo-cheesesteak smashed under a tire. The potato itself was huge but swimming in a pool of butter and orange liquid that calls itself â€œcheese.â€ There was supposed to be chicken in the mix but I think I only counted 5 chunks bobbing up and down somewhere. I couldnâ€™t bear to eat more than a couple bites but passed it down to our â€œnever-say-noâ€ friends (i.e. Joe Chen). Dj ordered a sandwich/potato chip platter. Add drinks and it all cost $30. Fortunately, we weren’t there for the food, but for our awesome Raleigh friends whom we met when we lived there from 1995-1997.
30 minutes before we meetup with old Raleigh friends from almost a decade ago. Most are married with kids now, so there’ll probably be lots of family talk over dinner at Jason’s Deli. [update: Yvonne shot 5 great photos at Jason’s]
I managed to finally get a decent mobile Internet connection during the drive between Greensboro and Raleigh, so we lifestreamed and broadcasted for about an hour of our driving, switching between a view of the road and a view of the vehicle from time to time. From time to time, I got an “The server is full please stand by while I attempt to reconnect” error message. We had as many as 6 viewers simultaneously, so it wasn’t like we brought the Ustream.tv servers to their knees. So, what this means is we probably can’t broadcast with a predictable schedule, and maybe less broadcasting than we’d hope, b/c mobile Internet coverage isn’t pervasive enough along our route.
Just before 8:30am, we left Winchester, fueled up at Sheetz for $2.79 per gallon, and hopped onto Interstate 81 South. First destination will be Blacksburg for lunch and a Virginia Tech campus visit.
Was going to turn on the live video lifestreaming early, but the Ustream.tv technicians are performing scheduled server upgrades. So I’ve got the webcam recording a time-lapse video of what it looks like to drive south along the Shenandoah Valley. [tech note: I’m using a mobile broadband card for Internet connectivity on the T-mobile Total Internet network, and it looks like connectivity is decent so far.]
Sorry, folks, may not be able to run live video every day on the cross country drive. During the 11:00am portion, best we got was an intermittent signal and that won’t cut it for lifestreaming. Plan B is to record some videos and shoot photos that I’ll upload via Wifi in the evenings.