virgina!9 maj 2005
ok, so here’s finally a report on the fraud(road) trip down to virginia. i could never imagine it would be so easy to scam the south like we did! the night before take-off, whilst in the state of drunk, we took our picture for the ID-cards we were going to wear during the trip. the picture chosen for me included a 40s bottle in my left hand and a glass filled with beer in the other. i looked more like a crazy prison intern. actually, the photo worked quite well with the title tom gave me (roadie/PA) which was printed together with my birth date and access restrictions (all). tom’s photo also included a bottle of balletines while the swedes’ (sara, sara and johanna) photos and titles were slightly better (producer, interviewer, camerawoman).
on the day of our departure we headed over to staples to buy badges to put our ”access all areas”-passes in and then off we went!
after toll after toll after toll on the highway, we finally arrived in maryland where i thought it was good time to exchange the big road for some smaller roads with more possibilities (if you are on a high way it’s hard to stop somewhere nice unless you like mcdonalds or gas stations). after a few minutes we found a waffle house connected to a small plaza/mall, where we all, except for tom, had waffles with jam and whipped cream.
note: from the minute we left nyc we were wearing our badges 24 7.
the lady behind the counter informed us that the building site we could se outside the window was soon to become a wal-mart. i was excited, because i was still amazed/in love with big suburban malls. when the same lady saw our name badges she ran off into the back room to get something for us. she came out with five waffle house hats and two waffle house balls. each of us got the hat and me and tom had to accept the balls (hello old world!). i put on the waffle house song on the juke box and we felt like no one could stop us on our quest to find snake handlers down south!
after waffle house we drove up to the supermarket (1 minute walk max, but we were in car country now! wroom wroom!) where we bought dinner ingredients: canned beans, tortillas, sour cream etc for making burritos. i found a 99cent store next to the food lion, where we got water guns, visors and some other junk that could only be found in 99cents stores. then it was time to load up with booze at the liquor store next door. walked out of there with a 24 pack of coors (or some other cheap american beer), a plastic bottle with their cheapest vodka (the bottle even had a handle – big!) and ginger ale.
we were all set for virginia now: badges, booze and burritos!
passed washington dc and turned right towards west virginia. after a few hours – the sun was no longer with us – we decided to stop in front royal, a small town by the northern border of the blue ridge mountains. after some help from the ladies at seven eleven we found a cheap motel to stay and trash in (we just didn’t know it yet). we tried use the can opener on the ”swiss” army knife we got from the 99cent store to open the cans but it as strong/sharp as using a plastic knife so we had to run over to seven eleven again and buy a proper can opener. dinner was nice – diy burritos in the bed of the motel room. the model room consisted of two beds and a small bathroom. me and tom was going to sleep in one bed and the swedes in the other.
dinner was accompanied with the beer and then later groggs of vodka/ginger ale – with ice purchased at seven eleven. everything was so nice.
but there was one thing missing:
we decided to go for a ride in the car! to somewhere we could listen to the car speakers without waking up a whole neighborhood. once again we walked over to the seven eleven people to ask for advice. (in a town without tourist information – seven eleven is a good supstitute). the ladys recommended us to drive up to the beginning of the skyline drive, just a few kilometers up the road, where there was supposed to be a lookout point where you could see the whole town from. a little bit tipsy, sara drove us us up to the lookout point and hell oh hell again! it was so beautiful. and it didn’t get worse when we finally could blast the speakers! the trunk functioned as bar and the road as dance floor. around four in the morning maybe, tom woke up from his sleep (he passed out a few hours earlier in the back seat) and was all furious/freaked out: ”we can’t drink alcohol here! we can’t play music here! it’s illegal! i will get busted! they will tow away our car! fuck you sara! fuck you forever!” – something like that. for some reason tom let all his anger out on sara, which wasn’t the smartest move in town. well, anyway, even though tom wasn’t really capable to drive he decided to take the car home – so we just had to obey his orders and join him. when he lit up the front lights of the car we saw a big sign ”no alcohol!” infront of us. oops!
when we got back to the motel i was too excited/happy to go to sleep so i took yet another walk over to the seven eleven (this was the third new set of employees). i noticed that the later it got, the fatter the employees were. this poor woman was so fat she couldn’t really stand up so she sat behind the counter on a big bottle-box. i had a snack attack and decided to load up on nachos, chips and liquorice. poured accidently a big chunk of chili (texas-meat-chili) on my nachos and asked kindly for a new one. got it and filled it with melted cheese instead. back to the motel room where everyone was a sleep so i walked into the bathroom and started reading my book and engulfing snacks. when i was all out of snacks i hit the sack next to tom.
checked out in the morning and headed over to the local diner that were opposite seven eleven. i tried to eat some food but i couldn’t do it. i was too thrashed from yesterday. from the window on the other side of the road, we could see the poor people that had to take care of the big mess we created last night in the motel room. garbage bag after garbage bag was carried out. when my stomach felt like turning inside out i had to leave the diner and lie down in the grass.
when lying there, the others were confronted by a very positive minded liberal small town lady inside the diner who were curious about our badges. when she heard we were documentary film makers from sweden she got all excited and wanted us to come over to the local newspaper where she knew some people. we agreed to join her over there so we followed the car to the northern virginia daily office where we met this young, well dressed man in his best years, reporter who interviewed us for maybe 15 minutes or so. i felt shit so the first third of the interview i sat on the toilet and tried to stay alive. when i came back to the ”interrogation room” we told him about snake handling he said it was just a myth. when the interview was over, their photographer came over and took us out to our car where some pictures were taken of us. when everything was over the lady that had confronted us earlier gave us a six pack of the local beer. thank you and good bye!
well, before we said ciao, the lady drew me a map of some nice nature nearby so we followed the map northwest and ended up in a beautiful forest. the road followed a creek and gosh it was so hot so we decided to stop the car and jump into the river. in the end it was only brave me who took a dip in the ice cold water. when we were going to leave a truck passed with some teenagers and one of the dudes mooned for us!! sooo coool!!!
after the tiny swim my stomach started roaring so next stop: pizza! back to front royal and where we had two big pies of pizza at the italian pizza place down in some plaza in south east part of the town. yes it was real italian – we met the owner outside – italian!
america is funny. in other countries when you have a beautiful mountain range you would probably turn it in to a national park and only let walkers in etc, but here instead, they have build a nice long road on top following the whole range. so of course we took it! deer everywhere and the view was incredibly beautiful.
stopped for a nice walk in the forest and when the day was starting to turn in to evening we left the drive and went west towards the town luray. a town we were going to have a lot of fun in – thanks to only one man. a man with the name daniel – owner of uncle bucks!
it was getting dark when we entered luray. on our way in to the town we noticed a huge forest fire in a mountain in the west. it was scary but still so beautiful. just a few seconds after we discovered the fire, a fire truck blasted by us – but in wrong direction? strange, so we had to ask some people what was going on. apparently the fire was a controlled fire made just to prevent bigger fires.
decided to stay in a budget inn motel in the center part of the town – we wanted to be part of the action! walked to what was the only late open pub/restaurant in town – uncle buck’s! at uncle buck’s we ordered their coctail special – strawberry daquiris. i never had one before but according to the swedes it was not a strawberry daquiri – it was more like a sad sorbet with whipped cream on top. ordered french fries with toast with pb and jelly for dinner – maybe not the best move. when we ordered our ”coctails” we had to show id. me and johanna had forgot ours in the car but it was ok when we flashed our badges (the badges had our birth date on!)!!!
after a while a big and happy man entered the room. this was mr uncle buck himself – daniel degeer(or something). he shook mine and tom’s hands and sat down: ”how do y’all doin?” he had the broadest southern dialect so far. so fun! we told him we were documentary filmmakers on the quest for snake handlers and he got mighty excited and decided to be join us in the quest.
daniel gave us beer and a enormous guinnies hat that he signed. every time he did something he was proud of he gave us a ”howd’ya like me now?” which was incredible.
after dinner we joined took a ride with him in his huge red truck. a little sightseeing around town including a long stop at wal-mart where daniel got os sterno and some camera film for me. the car was equipped with a super high tech satellite radio / multimedia machine with a big screen. daniel gave me an old school joystick and suddenly i was playing asteroids. daniel took us home and we arranged meeting 10am the day after for a proper interview with him.
i don’t remember what else happened that night but i sure remember i woke up 5 in the morning with a grime-beating heart. i decided to try out the new pills i had got from my doctor in orange county LA. the pills shut me down completely so i couldn’t join for breakfast in the morning. instead i stayed in bed until we had to check out. my memory is playing tricks on me right now but at some point we went 2nd hand shopping at the local thrift store where i found a yellow sweater and a scarf. during our shopping there a poor inmate walked past in a striped overall. i didn’t know they were dressed like that still? only the chain with big medal ball missing…
we met up with daniel and we followed his car up to the mountains. because of the (controlled) forest fire, the road to the lookout point was closed so we had to do the interview somwhere else. but i say found an ok spot. daniel had done a lot of research and gave us a shit load of information about snake handling. during the interview (i was still messed up from the medicine – but my heart was back to normal) i took some photographs of the event – it was so crazy.
afterwards we followed daniel down to luray zoo, which was a rescue zoo focused on snakes and similar creatures. rescue zoo ment that they took care of animals people couln’t or didn’t want to take care of again. for an example: one 14 year old kid once bought an anakonda over the internet. the snake was huge (i saw it) and the kid used to ride it and play with it in the garden. and in the evening he had it sleeping in the closet. one night the parents (who wasn’t aware of the snake) noticed a weird smell in the house – the snake had been taking a dump somewhere. they found the snake and sent it off to luray zoo.
usually you have to pay to get in to the zoo but daniel made a deal with the owner – a free dinner in his restaurant in exchange for letting us all in. we asked the owner of the zoo if we could do an interview with him while handling some snakes and he agreed! we were hoping that he would have some kind of connections to the religious snake handlers but this guy was a total animal lover and didn’t really like religion at all. but it was ok because he was such an entertainer.
the zoo didn’t only have reptiles – they also had a tiger, some monkeys, a condor and a couple of eagles. mr zoo’s best friend was his eagle that he had for ages. or maybe it was different birds but he had eagles/hawks since he was a kid.
before we left the zoo i bought a cool t-shirt for my nephew and told mr zoo to sign it himself! he wrote ”snakes rule!” and his name.
after zoo it was time to move on and all this action made us hungry so we stopped at a ”mexican” restaurant just next to the zoo and then we left the town. took the road west to the big highway heading north. i learned earlier from mr uncle buck that highways going west-east had an even number and the ones heading north-south had a uneven. i noticed he was right while heading north on the 81.
i was still very keen on adventure so when i saw an icon of some grapes on the map i ordered tom to leave the highway for some sideways fun! a couple of turns left and right later the road ended with a big house in front of us. it was unbelievable quiet apart for some dogs barking. we walked over to the house and met the owner of the vineyard. a german lady who now had been in the us for more than 20 years. she told us it was closed but i don’t know if she saw our badges or something but after a few minutes chat she let us in inside the house to her bar/shop etc. her husband joined. he’d been smoking some beef, texas/southern style. after an introduction to the area and the owners, we all tasted their wines. it was five wines i think. can’t remember. but i do remember that i bought a white wine and got it signed by the owners. it was a wine they won a competition with so i hope it is good – i gave it to my brother last week when i came back to sthlm.
wrooom wrooom. it started to get dark so we pumped the poor car north so we could spend the night in winchester. half of the city was just a big weird suburb/trucker-heaven. motels and trucker-rearranging plants everywhere. we found an ice cream hut where we met a couple. we asked them what to do in the town but they just said it was horrible and wanted to leave the town as soon as they finished college. ok.
we decided to check out the center of the city, since it was supposed to be an old town with victorian buildings etc. found the center – even some pubs. decided on one, parked right outside and walked in. almost everyone stared at us but they were friendly. the owner/bartender was so happy we had got to his bar first so he gave us free shots. me and tom ordered a huge nachos platter and beer. the swedes had french fries.
a weird dude came over and talked to us about the army and irish grunge. he was from seattle or something and had hitchhiked all the way here. he was kind of lost in life and had no education or anything. his plan was to join the marines so he could get a free education. he also tried to get a ride to new york with us (twice) but i told him the car was super full. after a few hours, the owner told us that we were not cool wearing the badges. that was funny.
every night it was easy to find somewhere to sleep but this night it was hard! it took over three motel rejections until we found one.
next day breakfast and i had a coffee. that was a bad move. during our long ride towards home i started sweating like crazy and then a little later i started feeling weird. yeah you have probably read already about it but it was like a panic attack i guess. i felt like i had no control of my organs and that they were shutting down completely. i actually thought i was going to die so i told tom to leave the high way and stop somewhere. we ended up in a small and pretty town where i drank water and rested. scary!!!
then back in the car and wroom wroom north and home. FIN