Day 3 of my East USA road trip. Today’s route was from Harrisburg, PA to Charlottesville, VI, driving down routes 15 and 29 through Gettysburg and the farmlands of northern Virginia. The sun finally peeked through the clouds, timidly at best, but giving a slightly diffused, surreal light to the Civil war battlefields we drove through. The most important of which is Gettysburg of course. Now why on earth did the Michelin guide give this area 3 stars is beyond me. Rolling hills and large spans of hay fields dotted with canons, monuments, farms and fences make for a slightly interesting vista, but not much more. Now — I know very little about the civil war. Maybe it’s more interesting if you imagine the carnage that happened here, but for uninformed tourists, it’s definitely not worth the trip.
So away we went after I busted my chops trying to make interesting shots at this less than inspiring place. As we drove down into Virginia through the upper suburbs of Washington, I marveled at how rich Americans must be to be able to afford rows and rows of obscenely large houses atop acres of perfectly mowed lawns, with 5 or 6 cars in equally gigantic driveways. This went on for miles and miles. And then we drove through apparently small villages that nonetheless boasted huuuge pharmacies (drive-thru no less), huuuge specialized stores and a dozen fast food outlets (I mean, how many variations of a hamburger can you come up with to justify so many brands?). Plus malls, large and small. With such small population bubbles, you figure people must spend all their free time buying drugs, eating junk food and getting lost in endless superstores just to justify the existence of all these consumerist landmarks.
Oh and I must mention churches, of course. Here we are crossing a village with a handful of thousands people, and seeing no less than 8 churches on a one mile stretch of main street USA. All different denominations. That’s without counting the mysterious Assembly of God halls that we cross once in a while. Oh, and we saw our first gun superstore. That’s probably necessary to protect yourself against the weird guys who go up to that weird church up the street. One can never be too careful with those shady people.
Well, I settled at a Hilton near Charlottesville and enjoyed a crab cake burger with my first cobbler of the trip at a cosy joint called Bel Rio, with for once a younger and leaner crowd than what we’ve seen so far. The food was ok, no big revelations, and the restaurant’s owner must be thankful to be facing Tavola, a very popular Italian restaurant – people who got turned away, appalled at a 90 minutes wait for a table, more often than not crossed the street to eat at Bel Rio. It was honest for the price.
Well I’m signing in early tonight… big driving day tomorrow, and I’d like to catch a few of the sights around here before taking off.
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