I've already covered Disney World relatively extensively (in terms of things that are mildly interesting), but you might surprised to know there are a few other places in the US South that aren't part of Disney World. Sure, they may not be as interesting, but they still exist. In the interest of completeness, here are my favourites (which also happen to be all, and only, the places I went to recently - go figure…).
Charlotte, North Carolina
- My introduction to the South was at the Charlotte Douglas Airport - people here seem to really enjoy sparking up conversations with strangers. I know this shouldn't seem that strange, but when you think about it, it does go against normal behaviour these days. Thanks maybe to sensationalist media we are trained to not want to talk to strangers. Ever. We are also thought that if strangers do talk to you, treat them as potentially crazy. Sure, this could also be because sometimes people are crazy, and often it is the crazy people who spark up conversations with strangers... but otherwise it shouldn't have confused me as much. Maybe it was that people in the airport kept feeling the need to say to the people around them (or to no one in particular) where they were going (despite the fact they were all waiting at the gate for the same plane).
- Actually the first taste of the South I got might have been on the flight to Carolina from San Diego when the old guy next to me got really excited when the engines started and then told me a few times how much he likes jet engines.
Fair enough I guess, jet engines are pretty neat?
- Charlotte airport isn't a great place to nap.
- This airport also gave me my first taste of something that became a common sight at airports - people getting rides on little carts from security to the gate. You know, those carts that staff drive through the airport that beep to get people out of the way? Yeah, people who look totally fine get on those instead of walking to their gate.
They seem confused at the disgusted looks people give them due to their extreme laziness. This should have prepared me for Disney World.
- Ugh. Leaving the airport is like walking into a wall of gross. So hot, so sticky.
- Don't wear pants in Florida.
- I probably shouldn't have expected a lot from rental car company staff. I don't have much more to say other than that.
- Apparently Lake Buena Vista in Florida is a 'smart' city. I like to think I disproved that theory with this picture:
- The South is flat. Once you start driving on interstates you can just see everything in all directions any time you hit the smallest bump. Not particularly funny, or maybe even interesting... but, ah, it was something.
- People on flat and straight roads like to not pay attention to road signs that indicate maximum speeds.
- Apparently the horizon is only about 5 kilometers away (I figured I had to be informative too).
- I know I shouldn't like Chick Fli A (because their management actively hate gay people), but the food was kinda good. I wouldn't go back though.
Alabama and Mississippi
- Did you know that you mobile phone will give you alerts when there are emergencies warnings for the area you are in?
Did you know flash floods counted as emergencies?
Yeah - all news to me too. The key is that even if your phone keeps sending these messages, don’t let the driver know, they would just become more uncomfortable driving in those conditions.
- I guess a benefit of the straight flat roads is even when it rains so hard you can't see the front of your car you don't have to slow down. As long as everyone else agrees and doesn’t slow down as well...
- The disadvantage of straight flat roads is that a lot of rain in a short period of time will quickly make the road a river.
- But don't pull off onto the grass. Thats basically a swamp now, you won't get your car back out.
Actually, that's probably why everyone has an SUV rather than a hired Ford Focus.
New Orleans, Louisiana
- NOLA is weird. It isn't clear if it's over Katrina, or how you should act about it. Either that or it is just kind of dirty most of the time?
At least they make jokes though:
- Also, if you aren’t a big seafood fan, be prepared to not find the food all that amazing. Pretty much everywhere.
Although, you can get fried dough things covered in a mountain of powdered sugar. Those things are awesome. Seriously, they look like the fried good that Tony Montana would eat. Think they are called bayonets?
- Bourbon street seems both great fun, and really seedy depending on the block you are on.
- The signs the homeless people in NOLA were holding were the same ones people in Vegas had a week or so earlier. I think that was something I meant to talk about back then but forgot to - a quick run down.
While in Vegas I noticed that homeless people tended to have more interesting signs than in New Zealand. Generally simple jokes such as “Need weed money” or “Why lie, I want beer”. Seemed to fit with Vegas.
The thing is all the signs were the same. On any day, all the signs up and down the strip would all be making the same joke. Then, the next day they would all change (to the same new sign). It was weird, as if at night they all got together and had big sign making sessions.
The point is, in New Orleans they are clearly a little behind (or, maybe the signs cycle), because they had the same signs as I first saw in Vegas days earlier.
Now I tell that story, I think I understand why I might have cut it out the first time.
- The most confusing sign I saw was a guy who didn’t look homeless that said “Kick me in the nuts, $20 ($10 for women)”. I get it, he gets money, but, do people actually want to kick someone in the nuts? Apparently I’m not a terrible person, because I know I would feel too bad to do it, even if I had paid.
- I strongly suggest meeting an alcohol rep. They are great and will get you free drinks all night.
- Be careful, if you don't km know the beers you might end up with a litre of something thats 9% or 10%
- Popcorn is a full dinner.
- Wait, did we have fried chicken for dinner? Cajun fried chicken is the best.
- I don't know for sure if everything in Texas is actually bigger, but when you cross into the state you quickly become aware you are in a very small car.
Apparently your car is much slower than other cars too (still?).
- Everything else you've heard about Texas is probably fine and true too.
- Also, in Houston NASA went all out with a museum all about the fake moon landing! They even built this giant fake rocket
- They are even already setting up the set for the fake Mars landing that you can get an early look at.
And, well, that is the South. Hope it was everything you hoped for. Hot sticky weather, generally nice people, and cars going fast.
Tune in later for the East Coast.