A Genuine North road trip to discover Americana
Contributor: Lynne Ro
This summer the G-Team Family took a 14 hour road trip from Southern Ontario down to one of our favourite spots, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Travelling with a 6-month old allowed us plenty of opportunities for stops at roadside stands, welcome centres, and shops. Yes, it is true that a flight on an airplane is more convenient, saves time, and likely a headache or two. But, there is no mode of travel that can compete with the beautiful landscapes, friendly faces, and tasty treats you will encounter while you drive down the open road.
We started our journey by crossing over the Ambassador Bridge from Windsor Ontario into Detroit Michigan, cheap gas here we come! We are not stopping until we have to … “HA!” Says our 6 month old.
As we rip through Michigan and enter Ohio we are greeted by our first sights of Americana, bridges over the highway decorated with red, white, and blue, painted metal stars, and stripes. We manage to make it into Ohio for our first stop, cheap gas yeah!.
For stop number twoWe crossed over the Ohio River, into West Virginia with a crying baby, we spotted the red and white classic striped tent of a fruit stand, signs for “Georgia Peaches” had us singing alleluia. So began our stop in West Virginia, we picked up a bunch of juicy Sweet Georgia Peaches, larger than my kids head. How to wash your roadside fruit so you can enjoy it right away? Here is our tip for washing fruit on the road. Take the bag they give you the fruit in, pour in a bit of your bottled water and roll the fruit around with the bag partially inflated with air. Voila, clean peaches ready to eat.
Probably the most American thing we experienced was being stuck in West Virginia at the service station, Tamarak shop (the best of West Virginia), while the highway was shut down for President Trump to drive by on his way to a boy scouts of America jamboree. State Troopers surrounded the service station, to ensure nobody was coming or going where they shouldn’t. A helicopter flew overhead to scan the area for threats from above. People lined the highway with signs, cameras, and in the distance a man on a hill with a professional camera and binoculars. Then about an hour later, the convoy arrives, black SUV’s with tiny american flags followed by blacked out vans, panel vans, an ambulance, and a few other miscellaneous vehicles. All so that President Trump could address a “hundred thousand” young boys, who were taking part in one of the most American traditions of all, a Boy Scouts Jamboree!
Finally back on the road again, we were headed to our official overnight stop in picturesque Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. God’s hand crafted greatness formed wonderful peaks that appear to have a plain taking off from the top. A simple sleep at a quiet hotel, then we were back on the road to our final destination of Myrtle Beach. Cue enthusiastic internal screams, and hopes that our baby will sleep for more of the ride so we can get there as soon as possible. #beachiswaiting! Ah Myrtle Beach, home of boiled peanuts, mouth watering BBQ, a billion all you can eat seafood buffets, endless shopping, sandy beaches, and entertaining boardwalks.
While walking the boardwalk the shops are filled with neon coloured souvenirs, designed to catch the eye and entice us to buy buy buy. Afterall, what would a trip be without a memento to remember it by. We scour the shops one by one, partially on the look out, and partially to pass time before our dinner reservation. A lot of the items are made over seas, and many look like they won’t make it through the trip back home, let alone the test of time. So it isn’t always easy to choose North American when shopping the strip, or the strip mall. However, if you do a little label reading you’ll find that some shops are selling made in the USA basic Ts and other clothing, that you can then add a puffy colourful design and have heat pressed onto it.
Another easy and fun way to make sure you are bringing home a little of the genuine article, find it in nature. Depending on where home is for you, you should be able to bring home a few shells and maybe even a small zip lock baggie of sand. When you get home, place them in a mason jar and display! We have started a jar with precious stones, shells, driftwood, and other small items from our trips over the years. Always be sure to clean them well before packing them in your luggage to bring home. This souvenir collection gets you out and active while on your trip, is often free, and will give you a meaning piece of home decor that you can continue to add to as time goes by.
After a week spent roasting in the sun, playing in the sand and jumping in the waves of the ocean, we had to say good bye. It was time to head back to reality. We were tripping out after spending some time soaking in southern charm, and knew the drive home was going to be a long one. Thankfully we stopped at a beef jerky outlet on the way home so we wouldn’t be driving home hunger, and because what is more American than jerky! We went home with some interesting combinations, like gator + terriyaki, buffalo + chipotle, and prime rib which was our favourite!
From the locally crafted gifts at the travel stops, the Carolina moonshine, to the warm sandy beaches our trip through the southern states sent us home with smiles, full tummies, slight southern accents, and tanned skin. Overall an amazing way to soak in some Americana, explore our neighbors to the south, and support North American made businesses!