Thursday, July 26, 2012

Raleigh-Durham Toll Roads and Gas Taxes Coming to Greensboro.

Tron, or Toll Road?
So I went out to Raleigh Durham Airport today to pick up some Euros from the Money Exchange for my temporary move to Belgium. Discovered that the state had transformed one of the major roads which I take into the airport into a toll road effective August 2nd. "Can they do that?", I replied to myself. Apparently they can. I always assumed North Carolinians paid enough in our gas tax, one of the highest in the nation at almost $.60 a gallon. While I'd prefer the money be spent on rail, I accept the fact we have some of the nicest roads in the country, but a toll now on top of that? Without the state tax, our gas prices of normally $3.50 would only be $2.90.

I assume this will be a lot like Dallas. You drive through the tolls and cameras sneak-a-peek at your plates and send you a bill in the mail after about $5. Don't pay and a penalty of ten-times that follows. I suspect the initial plans were to use the red license plates for better readability a few years back, but too many complaints meant adjusting the technology. So does this mean the plan for toll roads have been in the works for awhile?

It is rather ingenious if you think about it. Greensboro's airport could have been the success story RDU is. We could be charging a toll for everyone in and out of the airport, creating revenue.

Certainly the people in the Triangle can afford the additional tax as it's one of the wealthier areas of North Carolina, but please don't cry to me if this state votes for a Republican because the Democrats are taxing people for health-care. This state is a bit tax happy. God knows what they're planning next.

Since I've never known NC to have tollways, if its a success, I suspect we will be seeing them here too. I have no problem with it if the money goes to the right things or you lower the gas tax, neither which I suspect will happen. The future of North Carolina appears to be a monthly bill just to get to work and back. This might be another reason to consider escaping before you can't afford to leave the state, or celebrating if you love parking lots and black-top in lieu of nature and wildlife.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jordan Lake | Cheap Swimming

I realize this isn't Lake Lure, but it sure makes me think of
Dirty Dancing
Spent the early afternoon at Jordan Lake (near Cary, NC), and it's AWESOME! At only six dollar a car load, it's a killer deal to go swimming and/or have a cookout.

Of course I could stop thinking about how just a few months back, Greensboro was defiant about state law and water run-off and sending pollutants in the Triangle's water supply, Jordan Lake. When I watch Greensboro politicians suggest business was more important than environment, I wanted to reach through the screen and strangle them. Business is never more important than nature.

That said, it's amazing fun. We swam and swam, and when it began to rain- we stayed swimming while everyone abandoned the beach. This of course makes no sense to me, as you're already in the water. It did prove to very fun to have an entire lake to ourselves for more than a half hour. About then a storm rolled through with tornadic winds, and lightning, and we finally retreated to the car, then dinner in Pittsboro before heading home.

There apparently is a phobia of lakes among modern suburbia dwellers compared to when I was younger. The place was packed when I was little, but today there was less than fifty people at Lake Jordan. The beach is spectacular, nice, sandy and clean. The sand descends out till the drop-off with very few plants and animals. The water is fairly clean with some level of natural algae, and floating plants. It's one of the cleanest lakes to swim in I've seen.

We swam at the Parker's Creek entrance, which we really liked though there are several beaches apparently.

Our timing at exiting Jordan Lake was smart. Conditions were quite intense on the way home, and when we pulled into our street, we came home to find the neighbor's tree down. It was a crazy, wild, and fun day. If you're looking for cheap, fun things to do, at $6 for a day of swimming, Lake Jordan cannot be beat.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweet P's BBQ | Knoxville, TN

So, in addition to the casino, and visiting a Triple D diner in Oklahoma on our all-American road-trip, closer to home we hit Sweet P's BBQ while at Norris Dam, also featured on the Food Network channel. Next time you're headed out to the mountains I highly recommend visiting this place, because, honestly, it was awesome. Sweet P's is in the middle of nowhere, just slightly out of Knoxville, TN (about 5 hours from Greensboro). Be sure not to sat-nav to Sweet Peas, as this isn't the place. One P, as in Sweet P's on Maryville Pike. It's just outside of a marina in a tiered porched in a mobile home like building. The food is served buffet style (meaning order, get served, pay, then sit), and  almost everything I tasted was vastly better than my expectations. One rule though, no matter what you get, get some macaroni and cheese- it was fantastic. The brisket is really tasty, and their pork bacon burgers with "thick" sauce on it was one of the best  and most unique burgers I've ever tasted.

My recommendation, buy all of it, get the brisket, the burger and the macaroni. I'm not talking a single serving either, get the bucket sides. If you can't eat it all, get it to go. It's that good.  One should be warned that this restaurant does have a challenge, though not for the faint of heart. Featured on Man Versus Food, you too can take the El Gigante Comida: a 4 pound BBQ burrito and 1/2 pound of banana pudding and mac-and-cheese.  I almost (almost) think I could do it.

Look it's real simple, the next time you're heading into Tennessee, make sure you hit Sweet P's, because you won't regret one bite of it.

No Sweet Peas here.