I was going to talk about chocolate. Then I was going to talk about cookies. But then I remembered that I had forgotten to share one of my favorite parts of my May trip to the Great American South. How could I? After all, this is memorable.
I’ll let the photos speak on their own after explaining their location.
In planning this trip to the south, multiple people exclaimed that we absolutely had to stop at South of the Border. Have you heard of this place? It’s right on the North Carolina / South Carolina border, along Highway 95. Sources tell me it’s America’s Favorite Highway Oasis, a title that I suppose one could be proud to claim. Established in 1949, it’s a kitschy tourist trap of epic proportions, that will henceforth be remembered by me as the place where it was difficult to find a bathroom. I did consider buying a replacement mercury thermometer for my mum, since I broke hers a while back after two decades of enjoying having a fever – just so I got to use the shakedown thermometer. I always knew I was truly sick when I couldn’t shake it back down all the way. I’m sorry I didn’t buy you a replacement, mum. I guess I was eager to get out of Tacky Town, rather than spend the $2.50.
Clearly, South of the Border held no attraction for me. But the place you see here, which was just on the other side of the highway, did. We walked around quietly, I much more muted than usual. Who abandons an entire motel, leaving everything in it to rot and be looted? Who leaves such an iconic playground to decay?
I grew up with a rocket ship, similar to the one in the photos here, close to my house, and climbing up into it was to imagine myself among the previous generation of rocket ship-admirers. I have since made up for the generation discrepancy as best I can: in high school, by wearing cat eye glasses, and ever since by purchasing every 60’s-styled Bobbie Brooks clothing item I find at Goodwill.
But wait, we’re just about to discover the best part of my favorite highway oasis.
In case you feeling like taking a dip, please notice that a sign clearly demarcates no lifeguard on duty here. Bummer.
This wasn’t the only fully-abandoned motel we noticed on the drive home – it seemed to be a trend, with other such curiosities noted at least as far north as Petersburg, Virginia. I can’t think of a more interesting way to break from the monotony of endless highway driving, or to catch a glimpse of a more prosperous past.
Don’t stop at South of the Border, if you can help it. There’s nothing of substance there. But despite the obvious desolation on display here, there was something magical about wandering amongst the carnage of time and weathering. Surprises such as this are often the best-remembered parts of my travels. What sticks with you most?