Road trip Meanderings

It is a Sunday afternoon and I seem to be pleasantly content with myself and the world about me. I have an inkling or rather a topic on which I will “explicate.” Ha! It’s a new word I just found in synonyms, I could have used elucidate or illuminate or even expound but you can see my propensity or partiality for using new words. Maybe Not!

To get back to the topic, if there is one? My wife just purchased a new car and instead of trading her old one in, she hands it down or bequeaths it to her older sister and she in turns hands her car down to her daughter. It is sort of a family tradition amongst her family and who am I to question. You don’t argue with a salesman about what an overstated trade-in amount should be but basically receive the book value of your car and everyone knows the previous owner, so there you go!

Getting back on topic, if that’s possible. My wife’s sister lives in Tennessee and they were dithering on how to get my wife’s old car to her. Her sister was to fly down and she and my wife would drive it back to Tennessee taking turns driving and my wife would then fly back. They were talking about driving non-stop for 18 to 20 hours on the Interstates. This raised my “concerned factor” by about 100% so I intervened or rather interposed myself into their business. Being the perfect male chauvinist person that I am, I offered to drive the car myself being I used to be a professional driver (Halliburton). My wife could sit pleasantly by my side and enjoy the ride.

My alternate motive was that I like to drive. I love road trips, I absolutely love seeing things I’ve never seen before. I am retired, so yes! I get bored and this is what I felt I needed as well as relieving my wife and sister-in-law of the burdensome task before them. What intrigued me was not to be in a hurry and enjoy the trip. My wife studiously arranged for the house sitter and our dogs care along with all the other animal menagerie (Bird, fish, plants, etc.) while I gleefully mapped out our entire route or rather adventure. It’s what we males do! Like planning a military campaign.

I informed my wife I was in charge (Really! Hands on Hips stuff) and there would be no 18 or 20 hours of straight driving on the Interstates. At my age, I am in no hurry to get anywhere. I informed her we would “sight-see” at our leisure and stop as our curiosity prompted us. I told her we would travel only during daylight hours, being I don’t like missing the things I can’t see at night. I informed her we would ride until we found the local diners which I so loved from my motorcycle days. I was becoming nostalgic about eating hamburger steaks and onion gravy with greens and cornbread and flirting with the waitresses. Just meeting people and striking up conversations. I was almost becoming giddy as I envisioned our trip.

As in all things big and small, things don’t go exactly as planned. We planned our trip in the middle of a severe cold front moving down from the arctic. Severe cold weather, ice and sleet were in the forecast as we traveled north. I might mention that my wife nor I had ever, ever, ever turned on the heater in her Lincoln being we lived in Laredo, Texas. It turned out that the heater worked fine for the driver’s side but not for my dear wife’s side of the car. For some unknown reason (catch 22) we could not get the heat to work in the dual mode. We punched and mashed every button for hundreds of miles in our vain attempt to get it to work. Upon returning home my sister-in-law called and said she took it to the dealer and the mechanic stated we had confused the computer by all our button mashing. A.I.(Artificial Intelligence) Don't ever let a machine know you are in a hurry or desperate!

I offered to let my wife drive but she declined. I want all of you to imagine my wife with her winter coat, the hood up, swaddled and muffled with face scarfs and wool blankets around her legs and wearing thermal underwear. I would look over at her and snicker inwardly(shame on me) because she looked like an Intuit Eskimo in animal pelts. Really quite hilarious(my perverted sense of irony) and such moments are endearing. I will decline sending this post to my wife for I fear her recriminations if she knew I was amused by her predicament. The stuff that legends are made of and stories retold and retold.

We traveled quickly over to Hallettsville, Texas and then headed north on Hwy 77. I had intended to reach Texarkana, Ark. But only made it to Shreveport, La. the first day. We found a room at the Marriott and visited with a nice couple the next morning at breakfast. I love meeting new people especially funny ones. The man approached me and said “see how she comes when I whistle” talking about his wife. I responded ‘that I had trouble with whistle commands and that I had to resort to hand signals and rewards to get my wife to obey” Both our wives arched their eyebrows and we all smirked. Good fun and good people.

We traveled east into Louisiana and into Northern Miss. where I picked up the Natchez Trace scenic roadway and headed north again. This is an enjoyable ride, no stores, no buildings, just scenery. The speed limit was 45 mph on a smooth two lane asphalt road with small grassy lots alongside to encourage wildlife to step out, stopping at historical markers and reading them as well as seeing the old churches, Indian mounds and “the old road” or Trace, over which the wagons once traveled. Two hours of no wildlife encouraged me to jump off at Tupelo, Miss., the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Such cities and towns amused me immensely because of my contorted sense of whatever. We went thru Crockett and Buffalo,Texas and a little town called Itta Bena which I quickly called Itta Bitty. There was another town called Biggersville for which I substituted the i for a u and called it Buggersville. Dang! I am so easily amused!

I had intended to drive into Arkansas and southern Tennessee but again daylight limited us so I continued on to Mussel Shoals, Ala( home of the band"Sweet Home Alabama). and started looking for a hotel. These alternate routes are fairly barren and it wasn’t until I reached Huntsville, Ala. that I found an adequate motel at the Huntsville Airport. I might mention it was getting brutally cold and we were feeling it. After leaving Texas we saw no temperature above 14 degrees and most mornings 4 or 5 degrees. I might mention that most motels no longer have restaurants or lounges so I was lacking a nighttime toddy and fast food was the fare for supper. Of course we were out of our comfort zone and we both sleep fretfully no matter how nice the motels beds were.

I might mention that God looks out for ignorant people such as myself. We were only about two hours away from Chattanooga, Tenn. and I pondered pushing it on in, making it all the way to my daughter’s house. I am so glad we didn’t. I was so tired and it was dark. The next morning at breakfast we met a lovely couple from Argentina who were there for their daughter’s wedding. As we continued on the next morning, I literally thanked God for saving us. The road became winding, crooked and mountainous and I would have surely killed us both that night because we found no other motels until we neared Chattanooga.

We programmed our car’s guidance and followed it’s instructions to my daughter’s house. I made the remark as we viewed a mountain that my daughter probably lived up there. She Did! Snaky, hairpin turns all the way up and then we surrendered our driving duties to my daughter and granddaughter. We spent Saturday and Sunday touring Chattanooga and the Smokey Mountain National Park and visited Gatlinburg, Tenn. for the New Year’s festivities. It was so beautiful, it was snowing and we looked like tourist in the Swiss Alps.

The next morning we got ready and said our adieus to my daughter and granddaughter and headed north again to Nashville Tenn. where my wife’s sister resides. A very pleasant drive on an Interstate for a change. We arrived to warm kisses and hugs and a stunningly tasty caldo (soup) my sister-in-law had prepared just for me. It was just a two hour drive so we again resorted to the lazy mode, my wife enjoying her sister and niece’s company.

The next day my wife and I caught a late morning flight back to Laredo, Texas and arrived home to be greeted by our loving dogs’ whom we had sorely missed. We discovered that the weather had been brutal in Laredo as well with some people losing electricity for two days. I toured my yard and grimaced at the shrubs that had been burned by the freeze. I was not home to cover them and I hope they will re-emerge in spring. At least all the leaves were now off my trees and can be raked to fill my flower beds. It was an enjoyable and memorable road trip and frosted with adventure. I hope my wife can one day fondly remember the Icelandic trip we made to Tennessee one winter’s day and smile. Such are our lives! What would we be without an adventure and a story to tell? And of course there are the Triple Decker Moon Pies we purchased in Tennessee that I will enjoy immensely!