Traveling with those two is never less than exciting. Oh, the stories I could tell about our various family trips, everywhere from New York City to Greece, but that's for another day. They're a pair of early birds (you know, the ones you always hear about getting the worm) so they left home at 6:30 AM (!) and picked me up around 8:30. We had to be there in time for the game at 4. (You caught the part about it being a five-hour drive, right? Okay, good.) Mr. Ax is all about expediency. He has a Schedule and we must not only stick to the Schedule, we must transcend the Schedule. It's like a race between us and the Schedule. (Spoiler alert: Mr. Ax always wins.) So while we had time to stop at the Waffle House for breakfast, the Schedule did not allow ample time for dilly dallying.
Have you ever been to a Waffle House? They're awesome. This one was especially awesome because it was legitimately Southern. As a Northern Virginian, I live in a very different world than that of the rest of our fair state, and I am superbly fascinated by Southern culture. When the waitress greeted us I was hypnotized by her Southern drawl. Dad and Mr. Ax ordered hash browns and she asked, "Would you like anything in them?" We all stared at her in befuddlement. (We don't have that question in Northern Virginia. Our hash browns are just hash and brown, often in a neat little fried brick at McDonald's.) Mr. Ax responded, "Umm, yes. I would like a thousand dollars in mine, please." *chuckles* After further investigating this Southern custom at the next Waffle House we visited, we learned that people often request various comestibles in their hash browns, such as onions, jalapeños, and other adventurous additives. Who knew? My favorite thing about Waffle House is the atmosphere: Garth Brooks playing on the juke box, five pick-up trucks in the parking lot, and a warm bowl of grits. There's really nothing like it up North.
The Waffle House was only the first stop on our exploration of Southern culture. After grabbing a quick lunch and stopping for a brief rest stop (as long as the Schedule granted us time for), we were only about 30 miles away from our destination and it was only just after 2 o'clock. (Schedule: 0, Us: 1) Mr. Ax is essentially allergic to free time, so he was trying to find an exciting place for us to stretch our legs. (Finding anything remotely exciting in Generic-Small-Town-Off-a-Highway-Exit, North Carolina is no easy feat. Luckily, Mr. Ax is a pro.)
There must have been some kind of divine power at work because by some miracle, the heavens parted, the angels sang, a ray of light shone down, and we found it: The North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame (translation: Nascar museum). I know what you're thinking, and yes, of course I bought a t-shirt. I could not believe this place existed. I know it shouldn't have surprised me, I mean, they have museums of weirder things, like wood-carving or dental hygiene, but I had never really grasped the importance of auto racing in the South. Until now.
As devoted autophiles (yes, I know it's not a word. Shut up.) Dad and Mr. Ax were absolutely giddy walking through this place. I'm not gonna lie; it was pretty awesome. Decades of old race cars, signed memorabilia, and creepy life-size cardboard cut-outs of men in jumpsuits and mullets popping out at you from every corner. (Seriously, it was like the nightmare version of Where's Waldo? where Waldo finds you.) They even had tires from the cars of famous drivers for sale. (Only $5!) For some reason I cannot explain (I'll blame it on the Waffle House grits, which clearly possess some kind of brainwashing power), I really really wanted to buy one of the old Nascar tires. (Keep in mind, they're probably about two and half feet in diameter.) The delightful old man at the front desk showed us how to make a table out of your old race car tire with just a circular piece of glass! A race car tire coffee table can add a touch of character to your otherwise dull living room. (Martha Stewart would be so proud.) Sadly, we did not have room in the car, and I knew my mother would be mildly (by which I mean extremely) appalled if my dad and I brought one of those tires home.
Someday I hope to go back and buy myself a whole set of used race car tires with which to decorate my home. I just hope all the good ones aren't taken by then. If you ever find yourself in Exit 36, I-77 Moorseville, NC, I highly recommend you pay a visit to this exquisite cultural establishment.