As nice as it might be to stay on a permanent vacation, the time came on Sunday for me to leave Arkansas and return home. I left refreshed. My heart was filled with the love shown to me by friends, and my suitcase was stuffed with the dirty laundry I accumulated. I loaded up the car, checked the oil, and said goodbye to Donna
and her family.
I dawdled somewhat in getting out of Conway. I needed to get gas and add a quart of oil. I couldn't leave without stopping at Sonic
to buy a Route 44 soft drink, a beverage size so large that it's obscene. I had plenty of driving to do, so I was going to need something to help stay cool.
I listened to the radio a fair amount on the drive down, but it was almost all iPod on the trip north. The new Kelly Willis album got things off to a breezy start, and then I plowed through the entire Fountains of Wayne discography. Something about the cheerful and modest suburban pop felt like the right music for the occasion.
And now the play-by-play:9:44 a.m.
Leave Conway.11:15 a.m.
Spot the first Ohio license plate I've probably seen in a week. Shortly thereafter I see another.11:20 a.m.
To my right I see a plane circling like a vulture hovering over its prey. At first I wondered if it was having some trouble. It was flying fairly low. When it made a second pass, I assumed everything was OK.11:53 a.m.
Cross the border into Tennessee. I-40 east: that's how I got to Memphis
A backpacking hitchhiker sits alongside the interstate. You don't see someone trying to thumb a ride every day, which is probably just as well considering that conventional wisdom says serial killers and other unsavory characters are the only ones who do so.12:57 p.m.
Stop at Bailey's Restaurant in Wildersville, Tennessee. Except for my Sonic fixation, I've eaten at local places during this trip. The partial dust and gravel parking lot, the basic brick building...maybe this is one of those road eateries where I can find a good, cheap meal and a gum-snapping waitress who calls diners "hon".
I enter and am not sure if I must wait to be seated or should sit down on my own. Since there doesn't appear to be a hostess, I sidle up to a long table in the non-smoking section. Yes, smoking is allowed, witnessed by the old ladies at the front puffing on long, slim cigarettes. The place is filled with real salt-of-the-earth types--something I mean no disrespect in saying--and probably looked the same twenty years ago except for the credit card machine. A wall near the bathroom has a line of country music singer autographed photographs made out to whom I presume are the owners.
I pondered the menu's options for some time before settling on the country fried steak sandwich with onion rings. The meal was OK but not the revelatory find that Alton Brown
might have come upon when he did his Food Network show about road food. The onion rings were most likely from a plastic Ore-Ida
bag, not homemade.2:11 p.m.
After refueling the car--and spilling leftover gasoline in the pump on my left hand--I get back on the highway.2:55 p.m.
The inevitable post-meal lethargy sets in.3:25 p.m.
I wrote down the time in my planner but didn't indicate what was worth commenting about. Maybe it's that I crossed the Nashville corporation line. That'll have to do because it's gone.3:35 p.m.
Oh no oh no oh no oh no. As I make the leftward turn to get onto I-65 north, traffic slows to a crawl. When doing this much driving in one day, getting stalled is more aggravating than usual. It turns out to be just a blip in the flow, so all is well.4:04 p.m.
Cross the border into Kentucky.4:48 p.m.
Someone used blue spray paint to proclaim "I (heart) BUTTS" on the overpass.5:09 p.m.
A sign directs tourists to Lincoln's birth site
. By all accounts, Lincoln was a great President, but like Indiana's border proclamation of being Lincoln's boyhood home, this all seems like a challenge to Illinois' claim on the man that cannot be won.5:11 p.m.
Call my friend who is usually driving from Virginia to Ohio at this time. I'm getting bored and could use someone to talk to. He hangs up because he's going through a tunnel. We get cut off later because I'm in the hills and losing my signal.6:11 p.m.
Actually, it's 7:11 p.m. since I returned to the eastern time zone at some point. I pull into the hotel parking lot. This is the second time I've used Hotwire
to book a hotel, and I'm pleased with the result. Research led me to believe that I knew what hotel I'd be getting before the travel site named it, and I was spot on. I got a great price and location, so no complaints here. I stay the night in Louisville, Kentucky with almost 550 miles of the trip out of the way.Monday, August 13
I was slightly uneasy about the drive because the coolant temperature had been creeping up some on Sunday. It never peaked into any troublesome areas, probably because I sacrificed running the air conditioning when it approached the halfway point. The car had also become a little balky on starting on the first try. I'm going to chalk it up to the heat--Sunday was another scorcher--because I didn't have any problems today.10:10 a.m.
On the interstate.10:31 a.m.
Choose to make one last stop at Sonic. An enormo-drink and some food should take care of me until I get home.11:00 a.m.
Back on the road.12:12 p.m.
Cross the border into Ohio. Donna and I had talked about bridges and our dislike for driving over them. Apparently it isn't the I-71 bridge that bothers me as much as it's concrete. The one on I-75 must provide a more frightening view of the Ohio River.12:25 p.m.
Hmm, why would I take a picture of this? It's also around this time that I give up the "shuffle songs" iPod option for the Cary Grant audiobook. I've made this part of the drive several times, so I need something to engage me for the last leg.1:29 p.m.
Enter Franklin County, my home county.1:39 p.m.
Pass the southern city limit for Columbus.1:59 p.m.
While I was sad to leave, it's good to be home too. I'll finish off vacation ruminations and photos tomorrow.
Labels: Arkansas, driving, vacation