We have just passed our first major milestone on this pilgrimage – 1,000 miles since we left Keene, NH on December 30. We marked the occasion with a celebratory dinner at Tonali, a fabulous Mexican restaurant in Durham, North Carolina. The meal included a Margarita for me; pozole verde (Aztec stew with local raised pork, chicken and fresh hominy) and tacos campechanos (local raised beef, homemade sausage and handmade tortillas) for Peter; veggie empanadas (with mole oaxaqueno and queso blanco) for me; and flan de guayaba (guava and passion fruit topped with caramel) for our shared dessert. The owner/chef Andres Macias has created food that starts with traditional ingredients prepared intentionally, to which he adds local foods, fresh ingredients and beautiful presentation. This is the kind of eating experience that feeds the soul and we left nourished on all levels.
Details and observations: We left Victor, NY on January 2 on Highway 5/20, the first of many “blue highways”(BH), the secondary roads we intended to follow avoiding the Interstates. When we chose this course, we didn’t know just how it would feel. After two days of BH travel we discovered the gorgeous wine country along Seneca Lake in New York; the open river valleys of Pennsylvania, the haunted and achingly beautiful Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, and the majestic Susquehanna River. We crossed into the hilly foothills of Maryland and then over the muddy Potomac into Virginia and through the wide open horse country of the Piedmont, along the historically significant Civil War battlefields of Manassas, and Cedar Mountain. In Virginia, Route 15 was named “James Madison Highway”. We found an historical marker in Rapidan, Virgina noting that in 1948, the George Washington Carver Regional High School was formed to serve the “educational needs of black students in 5 counties where such education was nonexistent or inadequate for college preparation”. And this was 1948.
When crossing into the pine forests of North Carolina, Route 15 became “Jefferson Davis Highway” and we began to see our first historical markers for the plantations that were the economic engine of the agricultural south in centuries past. We drove through sleepy towns with small houses where folks did engine repairs under metal sheds alongside their homes, tractor service centers, convenience stores, businesses with names like “Billy’s Music Store”, restaurants offering “fried chicken, gizzards and biscuits” and more varieties of Baptist churches than we knew existed. The temperature reached 70 near Pinehurst, North Carolina.
We benefited from the dropping price of gas from a high $2.79 in New York to our record-breaking purchase price at $1.99 per gallon in Farmville, Virginia. Even in the snow showers, soft rain, and mists, Peter discovered that the mostly 2-lane byways with their slower pace and light traffic were infinitely more relaxing than the white-knuckle driving of the Interstates. We are so grateful for this early instruction in route-setting. We’ll be in touch.