Up at 5:30 a.m., nothing new. Still tired, so I rolled over for another hour. Showered, checked in with Gladys, and I'm ready to hit the road. Need to eat first. That is most important. Checked out and strolled to the car. Glass on the ground! Oh, no. Why didn't you park in the driveway entrance to the hotel like you were told? Wait a minute, the window is intact. Where did this glass come from? They skipped my car and smashed and grabbed from the one beside me.
Obviously couldn't get away with his big tv in the backseat. I guess they decided Abby was just too much trouble because of the "greenhouse" effect. Thank you, Jesus.
Being a good citizen, I took down the tag number and went back to the lobby, thinking they could track down the owner. Not. As I'm going back to my car, the owner of the one broken into is coming back to the lobby. A young man, traveling from TN to parts unknown. Gassed up and made my way back to I-81. Decided to travel to the first Cracker Barrel and have a leisurely meal. After all, what's the hurry? I had divided the trip, a thirteen hour drive from DC, into
segments and, by my calculations, should be in Memphis by 5 p.m. That's the plan, Stan.
Pulled into Cracker Barrel at 9:30 a.m., and was back on the road by 10:30 a.m. No problem. Still moving on down the road, I-81 south to Bristol. Silly me, it is NOT Bristol, VA, but Bristol, TN. Still got some geography lessons to get under the belt. Two hours later, at 12:30 p.m., I crossed the TN line into Bristol. Whoohoo! I'm on my way.
Bristol, why does that name ring a bell? Bristol Motor Speedway. And, I learned in putting up this blog, that Bristol is actually a tale of two cities, VA on one side of the street, and TN on the other. Get out!
Stopped at the visitor center. Potty stop and need a map of Memphis. Making conversation, I ask the lady at the desk about what time I should arrive. 10:00 p.m. Are you kidding me? 10 p.m., about 900 miles away. Surely she is making a mistake but, just in case, I'd better get a move on. 10:00 p.m.?????
The first thing I noticed is that the state is incredibly green. And, clean. Well, sure, all visitors' centers are clean and landscaped nicely, so what? But, the roadside stayed clean and green. The speed limit has changed to a legal 70 mph, a license to go 75 or higher; just don't go crazy. And the trucks are increasing. They aren't traveling in convoys but there are millions of them going in both directions. Nothing to do but keep up.
The way I planned this trip was to stay over in Roanoke, stop in Knoxville, and end up in Memphis. Nice little blocks, right? Wrong. I need to make Memphis or at least where I'm staying before dark. I don't know where I'm going! Clean, green, and mountainous. The mountains have changed from gently-rounded slopes of VA into very, distinct shapes. Not the crags of the western U.S., but you know you're looking at serious mountains. Headed to Knoxville.
Oh, my. I'm in Davy Crockett country. King of the Wild Frontrier. Fess Parker, coonskin cap, all that good stuff. Remembered enough of the theme song to croak down the road, "Davy, Davy Crockett...." His home is a historic site in Limestone, TN. On to the Cumberland Gap. You remember hearing about that in school, right? And the Great Smokie Mountains? Time changes to central time when you cross the Cumberland county line. Change the watch, so you won't be confused. I'm living my history and geography books. Can't stop, though.
Trees, trucks, and Tennessee, will always be intertwined in my mind. Pulling up outside of Knoxville. Can only see a small portion of the city but it looks big. The road does a bypass of the city, reminding me of the bypass around Richmond. You only catch glimpses. Stay alert, girl, you've got to merge onto I-40 West, Nashville. Alright!
Abby's wheels are rolling. Like Brooks and Dunn, I'm letting the hosses run. I'm right proud of Abby; she was good on gas. I stopped at the half-full mark and filled her up; tried to run without air because I didn't want her to overheat. But I was guzzling water like a champ; talking about hot. After all, there were no funds to get a checkup before we pulled out. And, you know I don't know where I'm going so I'm not taking any chances. She probably thought, like many of my friends, that I had lost my mind. She hadn't been run that fast, that far, in the three years I've owned her.
About 70 miles outside of Nashville, I had to pull over to take a breather and get something to eat. Can't recall the name of the town off-hand but had a nice chat with the waitress in, you've got it, Cracker Barrel. I was trying hard to keep my head out my plate. I was just that tired. She told me that she was taking her daughter back to DC for another tour, at her daughter's request. We talked about all the places she'd missed and you know me, just a font of information. After all, DC is my hometown. Found out they'd missed the White House and Capitol tour. Told her to ask her congressional reps to set up a tour for them. She didn't know that they did that or that she could request a flag that had been flown over the capitol. Man, I missed my calling. Should've been a tour guide. And who better to give pointers about places to see, than a native?
Pulled out around 4 p.m., gassed up, and on the road again. Coming up on Nashville. Oh, no! I'm in the wrong lane and there's no room to get over. Rush hour and no one is giving an inch. Where on earth am I going? A bypass? Bypass to what? Stay calm, girl. At some point, I've got to be able to get back to I-40. Whew! The bypass has an exit to I-40, Memphis. Thank you, Jesus. This trip is sanctioned by my mom; I went under the Granny White Pike. Is that a sign or is that a sign? For the uninformed, Granny was the nickname we stuck her with when my son, Kevin, was born.
Down I-40 West. Still mountainous and green. Now I'm on a section called Music Highway. Memphis is about 60 or 70 miles away. No mountains but still green and it's getting dark. Just what I didn't want. Checking directions by the overhead light. Okay, start looking for the exit to Cordova. Here it is, bear right. Stopped at the Costco gas station to find out how far I was from the apartment complex. He didn't know, hadn't heard of Chickering, but I wasn't far. Thank you very much.
Please tell me how a stranger is supposed to find the street they want on a six-lane road with miniscule signage, in the dark? Down Germantown Parkway I go, squinting at the signs and hoping I haven't passed the turn off. I get to Dexter and pull into a gas station. After all, Dexter Lake Drive can't be far from Dexter, right? The attendant sent me out of the lot and in the wrong direction. Okaaay. Make a uie and go back. Do not stop at that station for directions. Drive down Dexter and see if you can find it. Nope. Now, it is time to call the agent for the rental. Drive back to another station across from the one that gave me the wrong directions. Call Theresa while I'm on my way into the station to ask for directions. She can't give me directions. What? How can you lease a unit and not know how to direct me from this spot? The folks I supervised previously could have told her that she was in trouble because the voice kept getting lower and lower and more precise. This is just great, did I mention the fear that the outfit was bogus?
I didn't know squat about Corporate Quarters-Memphis, Inc. Found them on the web a few days before I was scheduled to leave. Was begging for a place to stay. That also gives you an idea of how tenuous the settlement date was. Now, here I am, it is dark, I'm bone-tired, hungry, and can't get directions to the apartment. Just Great! Well, she promised to call her girlfriend who lived in the area, who would call me back and direct me to apartment. In the meantime, the young lady behind the counter is telling me the complex is off Dexter, in the same direction that the first lady sent me. The other young lady is telling me that the complex is just a few feet away, to the right, on Germantown Parkway. The phone rings and the friend of the rental agent is telling me basically the same thing. Look for the flags, she said. Great! Well, they were both right; it was only a few feet away from the gas station, flags and all. I just hadn't come far enough on Germantown Parkway.
The Refuge at Dexter Lake. Impressive name, impressive entry. I'm too darned tired and put out to care. Where is the leasing office so I can get the keys? Pulled into a likely-looking spot and asked a young man if this was the leasing office. "Yes, it is. They're closed." Did I ask him for that information? Thank you was my response. Found the key envelope under the rug as promised. The phone rings and it is the leasing agent. Did I find the keys? Yes. Go into the gates to your left, the building is not far. Fine. I found the building, found a parking space and found the unit. I had wanted a unit on a higher floor but thankful for the 1st floor unit. I couldn't have climbed those stairs if I had tried, much less carried things up them. My legs will heave protests forever when asked to climb stairs after the ordeal on Gresham those last few days, up and down, up and down.
The phone rings again, "Are you in alright?" Yes, and thank you for leaving on the air. Can't unload tonight. It is 9:30 p.m. I have no food except for the dessert left over from my stop at Cracker Barrel, earlier. Check in with the son, brother, and friend. Shower and lights out.