It's always a toss-up as to how your day is going to go when you wake up after 8, solid, dead-to-the-world, uninterrupted hours of sleep BUT you remember that you dreamt that you were trapped in a subway station, underground, WITH NO EXITS, that was burning to nothingness in a MASSIVE fire. I mean - on the one hand, well-rested. On the other hand - anxiety.
So yeah. Today was already on the fence before I even got out of bed.
But get out of bed I did (at around 6am), and I trundled bleary-eyed out of my hotel room in hopes of finding a nearby vending machine. There it was, right next to my room. I completely overlooked the fact that it was a Pepsi machine and was all set to start my day off with a Diet Pepsi except: the motherfucking hotel charges $2. TWO WHOLE DOLLARS. For a little plastic bottle of a diet soda I don't even care for? I don't think so. Also? I had no singles because of the damn WV toll-collecting turnpike.
Eventually I made my way downstairs to the lobby to the hotel's sundry shop where I stared at the Diet Pepsi which didn't require singles to purchase, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy it. I know. Shut up. And although I love Diet Dr. Pepper, it's really not a breakfast soda. So I settled for a Sobe Zero and a Nutri-Grain bar knowing that we were well stocked in Diet Coke at the office.
Except we weren't. My 9am meeting saw me drinking bottled water (I've never been so well hydrated, so early on in the day) because we were out of Diet Coke which meant by the time I got in my car and pulled out of the parking garage at 10:48am to begin the 270 mile drive back from WV to NC (which incidentally I had made in the opposite direction only yesterday - I swear - I spent about as much time actually in the state of WV as I did in the car driving to and from it) I was:
1) so fucking hungry my stomach was eating my intestines because Nutri-Grain bars are like half a snack and not actually a real meal and anyone who tells you otherwise probably doesn't eat real food.
2) in DESPARATE need of caffeine.
3) in DESPARATE need of caffeine.
4) in DESPARATE need of caffeine.
I remembered from the drive in (all of less than 24 hours before) that there were several full service rest stops on the WV Turnpike heading into Charleston and I figured if they were there on the way in, they'd be somewhere on the other side of the road on the way out.
Right. You can see where this is going. Thirty miles outside of Charleston and no rest stop on the Southbound side. I suppose I could have pulled off and stopped at a gas station or a McDonald's and grabbed a Diet Coke but I was trying to manage my time and my stops and I wanted to make sure that I didn't stop too early because then it would only mean that I'd consume more liquid faster and then I'd have to stop multiple times after the fact to pee. Also? I knew I'd eventually need gas but I didn't need it just then and so I held off on a mis-timed stop to gain a little ground. In general, it's a good thing that I travel alone.
Somewhere around the 11:20 mark though, the caffeine deprivation set in and it felt like leprechauns were gnawing my brain into a million little pieces with their little leprechaun teeth. And around this time I finally came up on a full service rest area but the food choices were Burger King and Quiznos and I didn't really want Burger King and I thought Quiznos would be OK only I've never eaten at Quiznos before and I just knew I'd spend 15 minutes staring at the menu trying to make a decision on what to order and I wouldn't be happy anyway because when I do occasionally order subs from Subway to eat in the car while driving, I don't order them how I normally order them (6-inch turkey on whole wheat, no cheese, light mayo, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green peppers, oil, vinegar, salt & pepper) because the lettuce is messy and the oil & vinegar drip everywhere and driving food needs to be self-contained and not leak on you and so when I order Subway for the car it's basically turkey, mayo, cucumbers and tomatoes (if they don't look green which they totally looked green when I got Subway for the car on Tuesday while driving to WV so I didn't get them) which makes for a really crappy sandwich and I didn't want my first sandwich from Quizno's to be crappy. I wanted it to be toasty and dripping with melted cheese.
Are you following all of this? Because I'm not even up to the part that matters.
So I skipped Quiznos because I was caffeine deprived slash brain dead and couldn't make a decision and pushed on. And on. And on. There would be long stretches of endless mountain driving and then like, once every 10 miles, a gas station would pop up. Or the occasional Subway. And I was all: I know Subway is healthy but it is sucky eat-while-you-drive food so I'll pass, and then it was getting close to noon and I was, at this point, totally ravenous (fuck you Nutri-Grain), and so I couldn't just stop at an Exxon to get a Diet Coke because then I'd need to stop 10 minutes later for food. And for whatever reason, I always pick stops where I have to go like .7 miles off the highway to get to where I am going and it involves 3 left turns, and 2 really long stop lights and yeah - I suck at highway stops.
This bullshit lasted for the better part of 90 miles (because at 1 point I also decided I would hold out for Chick-Fil-A because I love their Cool Wraps AND they have Coke Zero, but I eventually gave up on that notion which is a good thing because I didn't see a Chick-Fil-A until almost 2pm when I hit Statesville, NC - about a bazillion miles later) at which point I thought I was going to die from the lack of caffeine and starvation and so I decided to pull off in Princeton, WV (Exit 9 on the WV Turnpike) which seemed to advertise a fair number of fast food places and hotels and gas stations and while busy, thriving areas are sometimes a pain traffic wise, it also means you have choices. Also? I didn't think I'd see anything else to eat for another 20 miles.
I will say this about Princeton, WV - it is without a doubt the WORST place to exit off a highway EVER in the history of all highway exits anywhere in this country. No. Reallt. Normally, you turn off a highway and you go left or right and maybe you hit a stop light but whatever. The crap you need - the BP, the Wendy's, the Dairy Queen - that shit is all right there on the main drag you just turned onto.
Not in Princeton, WV. Nope. I turned right onto the main drag - saw all kinds of shops and places to eat and get gas to my left and to my right. But none of them were directly accessible from the main drag. There was no actual direct point of ingress or egress. You had to travel .4 miles to a stop light, then turn left or right, and then make a subsequent turn onto a road running parallel to the main drag and back track however many tenths of a mile to get to your destination. If you can't visualize what I am saying, don't worry. All you need to know is that that shit was fucked the fuck up.
Not that this surprised me. Like I said: I have a knack for really crappy highway stops.
I had about 10 seconds to make a decision between turning left and going to Subway and turning right and going to McDonald's and neither really appealed to me because 1) as much as I love plain double cheeseburgers (meat and cheese only thank you), I had McDonald's on Saturday while driving back from the other Charleston and they are just not healthy and there really are no healthy options at McDonald's and seeing as I had spent an assload of time actually on my ass in my car and not being active, I thought McDonald's was a bad idea 2) I had Subway the day before while driving to WV and as I've already stated - it's crappy car food.
In the end, vanity won out and I opted to turn left and go to Subway. Of course, that meant sitting at a left turn signal that took like, 5 minutes to change to green, but whatever. I turned left, turned left again, backtracked, and pulled into the Subway/Marathon in Princeton, WV.
Y'all? I hit a lot of gas stations. And rest stops. And gas stations and rest stops that house a Subway or a Wendy's or some sort of food-serving establishment. They vary in their degree of newness. They vary in their degree of cleanliness. I will say this: The Princeton, WV Subway was the dirtiest, sketchiest, scariest Subway I have ever been into. I walked in and I swear it was like paint was peeling, bulbs were burned out, and the whole place just seemed beyond dingy. I almost walked out, but there was no one there (I've spent 30 minutes trying to get through a line at Subway during lunch rush before) and the whole just getting off the highway thing had taken like, 10 minutes, and I didn't want to waste any more precious time.
I went to go to the bathroom first. Um..No ladies room. Just a unisex facility with a sign saying "knock before entering." Holy crap y'all - having strangers walk in on me in the bathroom is one of my biggest fears. For fuck's sake - I lock the bathroom door in my house. And I live alone. I am that paranoid.
Of course, there was no one else there save for the drugged out looking kid behind the counter. Still - I knocked before entering. No reply. So I entered only the door wouldn't shut and I had to basically slam it and then I thought I had probably locked myself in and I wondered how the Hell I would get out and Jesus why didn't I just go to McDonald's?
The bathroom? BEYOND DIRTY. And no toilet paper although thank God I carry Kleenex. At least they had hand soap. And I managed to extricate myself from the bathroom after nearly dislocating my shoulder trying to yank the door open. And despite the fact that I was BEYOND skeeved out, I figured I'd get my 6-inch turkey, hose myself off in Purell in the car, and move on.
So I approached the ominously empty counter and the drugged out kid asked me what I wanted and I told him a 6-inch turkey on whole wheat and do you know what he told me:
"We don't have any turkey." At which point I stared at him with complete and utter incredulity (is that even a word?) because who the fuck runs out of turkey? Also - there is nothing else that I will order at Subway. Everything else scares me - especially the tuna salad but really, don't get me started. This post is out of control all ready.
Me: "You don't have turkey?"
Him: "No. We'll have some in about 30 minutes." At which point I almost fainted because WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? No turkey now but you'll have it in half an hour? Really? Are you defrosting some in the back? Is the turkey fairy going to drop some off? This is WV - are you slaughtering one as we speak?
But I didn't say any of that. I simply said: "SERIOUSLY?!" Or I may have squawked it because really - I was just so completely dumbfounded. And do you what the drugged out looking kid said in response: "SERIOUSLY?!" That fat bastard MOCKED me. And I was like (in my head of course): "I can't even begin to deal with this bullshit on an empty stomach AND NO DIET COKE" and I thought for one hot second about buying a Diet Coke to quiet the leprechauns chewing mercilessly on my brain but then I was all: these fucksticks don't have toilet paper OR turkey and their employee is a rude, mocking little shit so they don't get my Diet Coke money.
And then I stormed out in a huff. And then I got in my car, back tracked back from whence I came, crossed over the main drag and went the OTHER direction to McDonald's because Jesus - this was the longest stop in the history of ever and I needed food and caffeine and I was near tears and at least there weren't 400 people in line at the drive thru although that would have helped tremendously because when I got to the drive-thru I completely froze when she asked me what I wanted to order. I was like: give me a McSnack Wrap. No give me a cheeseburger. No wait - and then the drive-thru operator put me on hold (probably because it was clear I wasn't functioning) and I was like: Suck it up Rougie and just order. And finally she came back and long story long, I wound up with a plain double cheeseburger (just meat and cheese thank you) and the biggest Diet Coke they had which turned out to be big, but not big enough. And I didn't even enjoy the cheeseburger because I just fucking had one less than a week ago and these things are supposed to be a treat.
My point to all of this is: Princeton, WV is quite possibly Hell on Earth. Also? If ever faced with Diet Pepsi or nothing else at all, I should probably go for the Diet Pepsi because 6+ hours without caffeine does nothing except bring me to a dark and scary place.