Fernando’s car, Maude, which he’s owned for about five years, doesn’t get out much. Sure, she’s all over D.C., but I think her odometer has clocked about a dozen miles. It would be even fewer if Fernando didn’t hate his feet so much. A road trip for us means heading to Rehoboth. Any farther and we’re heading to the airport.

Our road-readiness was challenged at the end of summer 2012, however, thanks to an invitation from pals Oscar and Will to join them at their place in Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Wilmington has an airport, but it’s a fortune to fly to. There was really no way around this but to drive the six hours south. Oscar and Will do it all the time and promised those six hours would fly by. So why not?

Neither Fernando nor I had ever been to Wilmington, but a beach is a beach and great company was guaranteed. The first sign that we might be a little out of our element, however, was Will’s suggestion of dinner at “The Club.” Oh, my. “Bring a blazer.” OK…. The closest thing I have to a blazer is a vintage tuxedo jacket. I calmed my anxieties after locating an outlet mall that wouldn’t take us too far off our path.

We packed up the car on Tuesday morning and set off. Remarkably, there was hardly any traffic. By lunchtime, we were in Smithfield, N.C. In signature style, Fernando zeroed in on a Mexican restaurant, El Sombrero. He’s so good at finding these places. The next stop was the outlet mall and Banana Republic. “I bet you’ll be able to walk in and just wear something off the rack,” Fernando told me, bitterly. And he was right. We walked in, there was a display of coats about 20 feet from the door, walked over and tried one on, fit perfectly. Good thing Fernando had just eaten that hot salsa to calm his nerves.

Arriving at Oscar and Will’s place, we finally understood the Wilmington/Wrightsville disconnect. Technically, their condo is in Wilmington. Their development is called Wrightsville West. So, while we could walk to the beach from their place, we weren’t actually sleeping in Wrightsville Beach.

Below, please enjoy the video and photos of the trip. And you’d better laugh at my hilarious captions.

This short vid illustrates, in gripping detail, our D.C. departure.

This was our first rest area, about an hour out of D.C. It’s gone to the dogs.

Maybe they should call it an “arrest area”?

Fernando, takin’ care of business.

If you want to see a Richmond highway in motion, hit this vid!

It’s the Gay Community Center of Richmond, y’all! That’s how you know you’re in the South: LGBT community centers all over the place!

We passed this thing on the highway. At first we thought it might be sculpture. After we passed a second, we assumed they had a real function. Don’t know what.

We followed Fernando’s nose all the way to “El Sombrero” restaurant in Smithfield, N.C. It’s uncanny how he finds these places. The little bowl he’s so excited about is their super-spicy hot sauce. He got a pint to go.

Nearer Wilmington, spotted more road food. Did not try the p-nuts. Then again, the sign was all there was. Not a nut in sight.

We have arrived!

Hey, y’all, let’s head down to the marina for some drinks! Will and Oscar lead the way.

And Fernando brings up the rear! For my part, I discovered an amazing beer, SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. (http://sweetwaterbrew.com/brews/sweetwater-420/)

We learned quickly that the good people of Wilmington/Wrightsville take healthy living very seriously.

Seriously. Local taxes = Zumba.

Seriously.

Oscar flexing for the camera. Then he kicked sand in my face.

Oscar flexing for the camera. Then he kicked sand in my face.

Will looking stately in the bar at the City Club at de Rosset. O my.

Will looking stately in the bar at the City Club at de Rosset. O my.

Now all my boys are looking stately on the Club's porch, gin & tonics in hand.

Now all my boys are looking stately on the Club’s porch, gin & tonics in hand.

These fellas were not looking so stately in their garbage-bag ponchos. But rain is rain. Fernando's first assumption was that these groomsmen were actually a gay triad getting married at the club. Seriously.

These fellas were not looking so stately in their garbage-bag ponchos. But rain is rain. Fernando’s first assumption was that these groomsmen were actually a gay triad getting married at the club. Seriously.

The jacket never made it to The Club. Or swanky dinner was elsewhere. We were overdressed.

The jacket never made it to The Club. Or swanky dinner was elsewhere. We were overdressed.

Thanks for a luhvly stay, gentlemen.

Thanks for a luhvly stay, gentlemen.

Fun Southern signage on the way home.

Fun Southern signage on the way home.

And then there was a flood that forced all the I-95 traffic onto country roads. Click the vid to witness Fernando nearly drowning me!

And then there was a flood that forced all the I-95 traffic onto country roads. Click the vid to witness Fernando nearly drowning me!

As you might imagine, a couple miles of closed highway led to a bit of a backup.

As you might imagine, a couple miles of closed highway led to a bit of a backup.

Driving past the U.S. political landscape.

Driving past the U.S. political landscape.

Richmond marked the homestretch.

Richmond marked the homestretch.

As did more rain.

As did more rain.

But despite floods and traffic, we made it home in eight hours.

But despite floods and traffic, we made it home in eight hours. Click to watch our exciting return!