I decided to spend a few weeks in Florida this winter in order to break the Montreal winter. As a fan of live poker my plan was to hit a few casinos along the way.
Maryland Live was a stellar experience especially since I was upgraded to a suite because my room wasn’t ready when I arrived VB at 530pm. The steak house was incredible and the filet mignon was cooked perfectly. But the front desk employees were the stars wanting to make sure my experience was magical.
Once you get to Virginia, the weather starts to change. The snow has disappeared and the balminess in the air. I had stayed at Live Maryland the night before and played poker the next day with a group of nice guys who welcomed a token Canadian to their table. Their questions were intriguing. Is everyone in Canada French? How come you are English and live in Montreal? Do you play hockey? Why do you guys say ay after every sentence?
I dined at the Prime Smokehouse the next evening and stayed at a Holiday Inn in Rocky Mount. I asked the guy at the desk about a good local restaurant but when he suggested that I dine at Cracker Barrell or Outback, I went to Yelp for help and it worked as the Prime Smokehouse was rated #2. The Prime Smokehouse is now the premiere destination in eastern North Carolina for those seeking good food especially good barbecue, soul food and southern cuisine and great entertainment. Each weekend, patrons in this crucible of jazz and blues history, are treated to local, regional and national touring musicians and entertainers in addition to good food.
South of the Border has been a landmark of the southeast for nearly 70 years. In 1949, Mr. Alan Schafer built a simple 18 x 36 foot beer stand known as South of the Border Beer Depot. As it adjoined the North Carolina counties, which were dry of alcoholic beverages, business boomed. A few years later a 10-seat grill was added and the business was re-named South of the Border Drive-In.
In 1954, Mr. Schafer added 20 motel rooms. Materials for the addition were shipped to “Schafer Project South of the (North Carolina) Border”. Mr. Schafer shortened the name of his business to South of the Border.
Business was steadily expanded with Mexican trinkets and numerous kitsch items imported from Mexico. The site itself also began to expand to include a cocktail lounge, gas station and souvenir shop. In 1962, South of the Border expanded into fireworks sales, potentially capitalizing on the fact fireworks were illegal in North Carolina. In 1964 it was announced that the route for I-95 would pass right by South of the Border, and the facility would be next to two exits and within view of the highway. By the mid-1960s, South of the Border had expanded to include a barber shop, drug store, a variety store, a post office an outdoor go-kart track complete with other outdoor recreational facilities and the 104 feet (32 m) tall image of the mascot, Pedro.
Clarks Inn and Restaurant is a perfect place to stop for a lunch along the way. I would recommend the fried oysters, shrimp and corn soup and the down home Southern hospitality is phenomenal. A couple of observations on the USA
- They drive slowly especially in the middle part of the USA
- No one is in a rush – good lesson
- There are more restaurants than people
- Dick’s Sporting Goods has a wall of guns for sale – see next picture
- There are more trucks than cars
- Speed limits in some States are 70 mph
- The roads are impeccable and there is virtually no construction
That’s a scary sight. Wouldn’t you agree that if something is readily available, it could cause a proliferation of mass shootings. In Canada, you can legally buy a gun but they are not available at the local sporting goods store.
Savannah, a coastal Georgia city, is separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River. It’s known for manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Its historic district is filled with cobblestoned squares and parks such as Forsyth Park shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss. At the center of this picturesque district is the landmark, Gothic-Revival Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.
If you live to shop, the Tanger Factory Outlets are just off the highway in Georgia. The stores include . . .
- Ralph Lauren
- Michael Kors
- Old Navy