[This entry took place on December 28th. Once again, I'm way behind.]
I don't mind driving when it's dark, as long as "dark" implies night. But when I left my house at 6:15 AM to make the 6-7 hour trip down to Charlottesville, dark implied, "It's really friggin' early and you're really tired and jesus, why are all these people out at such an early time, are they insane, and whatever you do, don't fall asleep, or else you'll die, and don't turn on this ramp, the robotic woman trapped into the GPS is telling you that the entrance to Route 17 South is still another 0.2 miles away, and whatever you do, don't die."
I was relieved when I made it to the end of New Jersey without causing long lasting damage to any living thing. Besides the environment—I mean, that's unavoidable. The only snafu I ran into, if you could call it that, was that the gas station attendant didn't twist the gas cap in tightly enough, meaning that while I was zooming (because I don't drive—I zoom) over the Delaware Memorial Bridge it rattled against the side of the car with an, "I'm going to fly right off, weee!" kind of force. The whole time that I could see the cap bouncing in my side view mirror I pretty much just though, "Fuck fuck fuck," until I was able to pull over at a rest stop and screw it back in.
After my GPS took me on some mildly god-awful (albeit scenic) long-winding roads, I arrived at Tristan's apartment in Charlottesville around 1:15 PM. I hadn't eaten breakfast, but I wasn't hungry for lunch either. I was just glad and pleasantly surprised that I managed to drive for 7 hours—the longest I've ever willingly strapped myself in the driver's seat sans passengers/victims—without doing anything that would require taking advantage of my car or health insurance.
It was a good thing that I wasn't very hungry. Since Tristan was only on his lunch break from working at Hedge when he met up with me, we didn't really have time to eat anyway. I watched him scrape a few spoonfuls of cold leftover lentils straight out of a pot into his mouth until we had to go back to Hedge.
After helping Tristan and his roommate/coworker/BFF Ryan deliver some flowers to a wedding, we went to Revolutionary Soup to kill some time and possibly pick up some grub. The presence of my New England Clam Chowder on the menu, which is full of vegan and vegetarian-friendly options and uses products from Polyface Farms (the farm featured in The Omnivore's Dilemma), was very tempting...oh so tempting (it's my favorite soup)...but my stomach was still in a semi-dormant mode and I thought it would be best to save my appetite for dinner. Later I will have wished that I went for the soup. Euh.
I went back to the apartment while Tristan and Ryan went out to deliver more flowers for the wedding. My initial intention was to take a nap since by that point my brain was running on almost nothing enhanced by a handful of cough drops, but I mostly surfed the Internet and took photos around Tristan's room. You'll see more photos of the apartment, nicknamed the Reichstag, in subsequent entries. It's kind of...the coolest apartment I've ever seen.
After Tristan and Ryan came back from what ended up being a stressful, totally fuxored wedding reception, we hung out until Dan, Ryan's friend from Cornell, arrived at the apartment, and later went out for dinner. But it was too late. Because by the time 9 PM rolls around, people in Charlottesville don't want to eat anymore. They just...I don't know, sleep? Sit at home? Chew on their fingers? I'm sure there were a number of places open at that hour, just not the restaurants we most wanted to eat at. Tristan's two favorite restaurants were closed: Korean House (I suppose because of the holiday weekend, otherwise it's usually open) and Aqui Es Mexico. Our failure was made even more depressing by being pelted by the cold drizzling rain.
We eventually settled on Lee's Grill, which touted low fat, no msg, low carb "International Cuisine." International cuisine? After looking at the menu, it turned out to be a somewhat apt description. How many restaurants offer cold sesame noodles, onion rings, Greek salad, Philly cheese steak, teriyaki chicken, baklava, and pad thai in one menu? The menu isn't even necessarily very large—it just takes a bit from a bunch of different cuisines (although mostly Chinese), curated to include a diverse but compact selection of foods most desired by hungry, possibly hungover college students from UVA. I can't imagine that many people would go for the Philly Cheese Steak, but if you're hobbling around W. Main Street after 9PM and the craving hits, now you know where to get one.
I like sweet potatoes. And I like fried things. So I had to get...sweet potato fries. Lee's lightly seasoned the eeever so slightly crisp potato sticks (do sweet potato fries tend to be mushier than normal fries?) with cinnamon and sugar, which made them much more exciting than plain, unseasoned sweet potato fries.
My dan dan mein, a soup-less noodle dish of egg noodles covered in a spicy peanut and sesame sauce with raw cucumber and mung bean, came in a bowl the size of a small bucket. Or at least the portion was larger than what I was expecting for $5.25. The noodles were much thicker than what I was used to—a little under udon-fatness—and I would've liked a slightly more mouth-searing sauce, but it was satisfyingly belly-busting after having eaten almost nothing for the entire day.
Tristan went for pad thai. He practically inhaled it, I suppose from a combination of it tasting good and starting with a mostly empty stomach. He was the only one who managed to finish his whole dish; Ryan, Dan and I all had leftovers. FAIL.
And then it was back to the Reichstag for a long night of talking and not getting enough sleep.
Day 2 = Washington DC. Oh yeah.