Friday, 30 April 2010

Beware the Swamp Bunnies, and Other Tales of the South...

So, most people who go into an alligator infested swamp worry about the alligators. Not me. It's the bunnies you gotta fear. There David and I were, having our leisurely stroll through the swamp (as one does), and an Eastern Cottontail darts into the bushes along the trail, ahead of where we were walking. We walk up to the location (wondering where the rabbit has gone, since there is a particularly swampy bit with a big alligator in it to the left). As we approach, both of us spot the rabbit, hiding along the trail. Apparently, it decided that this was a particularly good time to flee - problem was, it didn't seem to notice that I was standing there, and crashed head first into my right leg, did a sort of pirouette, crashed into my left leg, scratched it, then darted off into the bushes again. I'm pretty well flabbergasted by this point. Only I could manage to walk out into a swamp and sustain a bunny rabbit injury. I have a small bruise on my right leg where its head crashed into my shin, and a scratch on the left (which bled some). David wondered, idly, if bunny rabbits carry rabies. I don't think they do, but that would be just my luck to be felled by a rabid rabbit (I wonder if that's sort of like a rampant rabbit? But I digress...).

Anyway, before the great Bunny Terror of 2010, David and I spent a few days in Charleston. Charleston is absolutely just the cutest city ever - I really liked it a lot. The whole downtown area is full of 19th century and earlier houses, leaning in various different directions. Lots of live oaks with Spanish moss. The city gives off a sort of feel of quiet, genteel decay, while being quite obviously full of loads of money (though, as usual for me, I managed to find the really awful areas with the shotgun houses and sofas on the front porches...). We walked all over the city, ate huge amounts of really good food (including fried alligator - yummy!). We drove down to Folly Beach and walked a few miles along a deserted beach (it was cool and very very very windy, which might have had something to do with the lack of people). Anyway, Charleston was thoroughly enjoyable, and I would go back there.\

The drive down to Charleston was mostly quite dull. I-95 is a sort of endless repetition of highway walled in by forest. Deciduous, then mixed deciduous and conifer, then conifer as you drive south. At least driving around the west or midwest you get a view. Not on 95 - endless 'beauty strip' of forest, with the occasional really trashy truck stop. We managed to pick one of the trashiest, in North Carolina - huge truck stop with an 'outlet center' selling every conceivable type of schlock known to mankind. And - big surprise, men doing naughty things in the toilet. I mean, really - the place smelled like the ass of a sick wildebeast (I'm imagining, anyway), and was tended by some ancient toilet troll, who made the occasional half-assed attempt to clean it. What a good place to pull off the road and have a quickie in cubicles that clearly show multiple pairs of feet! Charming! Ah, the American road...

Yesterday, we drove the 350 miles up from Charleston to Pigeon Forge, TN. David's been driving, which is fine with me - I never get to be the passenger - it's been a nice change... Lots more boring driving up through SC, then we hit NC and the mountains just at dark (figures). Had dinner in Asheville - wow - talk about people with banjos falling out of their mouths every time they talk! Anyway, we got into Pigeon Forge late last night, and we spent today at Dollywood!

I think that Dollywood is perhaps the most fun I've had at a theme park ever. For one, we hit it on a non-crowded day - we managed all the really good roller coasters twice. The place itself was full of old people and Bubbas. (Also a bit odd, for someone from CA, living in London - the place was, literally, about 99.9% white). Country music played from all the speakers (including all the live shows), and all the rides were themed around Appalachia Americana. Pigeon Forge is one big (very big) strip of tacky motels, crappy restaurants, kitsch shops, and general 1950s American schlock. It's a bit like South Lake Tahoe on steroids. It's fabulous. And dinner tonight was a huge steak at a Texas Roadhouse, with a proper southern waitress who plopped her butt down next to us and just started talking.

I love going to the South. I don't think I could ever live here, but what fun to visit!

I'm going to have to go on a fennel tea and stick diet when I get back to London. Moo!

Tomorrow we are driving down to Birmingham, via the aquarium in Chattanooga. Pretty random...