Friday, September 9, 2011

Heading Home

Remember how I said that Sara is as much of a Matilda Jane junkie as I am?  Well on the morning of our departure, to have a bit of fun, we had all the girls dress up in their favorite MJ pieces.

It boggles my mind that we have five girls between us - and seven kids total.  If you had told me back when we were growing up and spending so many of our family holidays together that we'd end up with this many kids - I'd have thought you were insane.

But here we are - with a bright and full future sitting right before us.


So after saying our goodbyes - we headed South and for home.  We ended up being sidetracked in Richmond - and stayed the night in a hotel - that the kids thought were fabulous.  It's amazing what a night in a hotel - with a pool no less - will do for a kids spirit.

We poked around Richmond in the morning, let the kids play at this awesome park just outside of Short Pump, and finally headed home after lunch.  About the time we were reaching the limits of North Carolina, the kids' legs were starting to twitch - and they needed to get out and stretch.

So - what did we do?  Took them to the classiest place ever.

South of the Border.

Now, if you're reading this blog from outside the confines of the I-95 corridor - you might not get the hidden humor here.  I'm still not entirely sure of it's history - but I think SOB was constructed some time in the 1950's or 60's as a travel destination if you can believe it.  At one time it had several hotels, restaurants, penny arcades, miniature golf, gift shops, and the creme-de-la-creme - Pedro.

It got it's name by being located in South Carolina - just 'South of the Border' of North Carolina.  And with some weird play on words - took on a Mexican motif - I presume because Mexico is south of the US border.


It's heavily marketed up and down I-95 with billboards starting as far south as Florida (I think) and up to the North into Virginia.  Crazy signs that catch your eye - and are completely ridiculous.

Over time, it lost it's allure - and all but fell into ruins. Everyone laughs about it - calls it a completely gawdy and horrible attraction - and a place that only rednecks would stop.  Recently though, the owner is trying to renovate - or revitalize the area and is diligently working to draw tourists.  (For the record, I seriously doubt it will ever EVER be a destination.)

So it's weird there.  It's like a ghost town.  Like the land that time forgot.  The buildings and machines and decor are all straight out of the 50's.  And it's not recreated - it's truly the same and original stuff.

While I've stopped there on a few occasions as I've traveled I-95 for work - I've stopped for one purpose only - get gas and get the heck out.  So when I casually suggested to Deonne 'hey - we should take the kids to see Pedro' he thought I was nuts.

Until I took the exit - and drove right up to the base of Pedro (the giant Mexican sombrero in the sky that you can see for miles around.)

I'll admit - it was creepy there.  We were the only souls other than the two girls who worked there - who looked spaced out.  (That's putting it nicely.)  And yeah, it did feel a bit like we were taking our lives in our hands when we rode the rickety elevator to the top of the sombrero.

But the view up there was amazing - I'll give the SOB people credit for that.  And, it was dirt cheap.  It was only $1 per person to ride up (and down.)  And the base of Pedro is a penny arcade with loads of antique rides - that cost - .25 cents to ride.  Seriously.

The kids had a t-total ball.  And while it was weird, a bit creepy, and we sort of felt like we were caught in some weird alternate universe at times, it can't be beat for a place to let your kids run around and stretch their legs.  (Just make sure to keep an eye on them at all times - lest the weirdos surely hiding in the walls come out and snatch them.)  Just kidding.  I think.

Anyway - they had so much fun that we had to drag them out - literally kicking and screaming and crying.  They wanted to ride MORE rides.  They wanted to see MORE of the weird yet funny-looking statues.

But it was time.  We needed to get home.  And after one more stop for dinner - we finally returned, safe and sound, to our happy home around 9 o'clock that night.

And that brings this Long Family Adventure to the nation's capital to an end.

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