"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd rather eat at McDonald's."
Thank you, Roy Rogers fried chicken from a rest stop off the New Jersey Turnpike, for giving me such a thought. You suck. And you're overpriced. But when I'm at a rest stop at lunch time and don't know when I'm going to eat again, I take what I can. And given the choice between Nathan's, Arthur Treachers, and Roy Rogers, I somehow went with your undelicious, greasy fried chicken. Why? Whhyyyyy?
At least your fries were fine. Crisp. Potato-y. I should've just eaten those. If only I were vegetarian.
I know—what could I expect from a rest stop? The food doesn't have to be good; people eat there because they have no choice. Humans have to eat and pee, and that's where a rest stop comes in: to fulfill those two needs to an acceptable degree until you reach civilization.
But man, even the smoothies sucked. Tristan got a smoothie since it was one of the few vegan items available, but he wasn't expecting a bucket of 30% fruit-based matter and 70% frozen water. It was the thickest, iciest smoothie I had ever forced up a straw, more solid than liquid and only slightly more drinkable than shaved ice, although a spoon would've been a more appropriate utensil. Lee Anne illustrated our struggle with the chewable smoothie with her drawing of a Poofy shaking and squinting with blood-churning effort.
My Jeep of merry Virginia-lovers—Tristan, Lee Anne, Lihan, and me—scootled down to...Virginia.
And we made it! To Tristan's home in Louisa! In all its lush green beauty...
...And high cat population...
...And sleepy dogs.
For dinner, Tristan's parents whipped up a huge-ass pot of vegan-friendly borsch full of chopped beets and onions. Thick chunks of garlic and onion sourdough bread sopped up the liquidy bits. Frighteningly, I forgot to take a photo. Completely out of character, I know. And pointless for a food blog.
Tristan's friends Ryan, Dan, and Katie joined us later, resulting in the need to find sleeping quarters for seven people. And that meant...
Camping. And setting up our tents by the blog of my car's headlights.
Which took a lot longer than if we had been aided by the sun.
Since I had never slept in a tent before, I had really been looking forward...to...lying under the moonlit sky...nah, that's a lie; I wasn't really looking forward to sleeping outside with only a few layers of synthetic material between my body and the bug-filled lawn. But I wasn't dreading it either. I think extreme exhaustion is what drove me to fall asleep. Awesome.
Honestly, it was nice. I woke up to see the early morning sun unencumbered by buildings and concrete and pollution. Unfortunately, I only enjoyed it for about a millisecond before hobbling across the lawn while clutching my cell phone and water bottle, trying not to release the contents that had built up in my bladder over the night.