Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 1: Staunton, VA to Lebanon, TN

Now that I'm settled on Catalina Island, I think it's about time that I tell you my travel stories. Some days will have longer entries than others, but there will be an entry for each day.

Day 1
Wednesday the 8th.
484 miles from Staunton, VA to Lebanon, TN.

I didn't sleep well the night before. I wasn't really sure when my mom would get into town, and I felt like there were a thousand things I was still forgetting. Consequently, I started the day tired and understandbly emo about driving away. Jer and I had breakfast, packed up the last of my things, and loaded the car before Mom got in at 9 am-ish. Since she took a red-eye, she napped while Jer and I got gas, checked tire pressure, etc.

11 am rolled around and Mom wanted to get out of town. I will save you all the scene that got me out of my apartment and on the road, both because I don't want to kill any chance of this post being funny and because I've no desire to retell it. At any rate, Mom and I were in the car and, after brief stops at Split Banana and MugShots for gelato and coffee, on the road by noon.

I had already driven south on I-81 before, so the scenery wasn't exactly interesting to me until a few hours into the drive. Instead, I distracted myself with music (7 days of music on my iPod put on shuffle) and asking my mom questions out of the Would You Rather? books. They are excellent methods of in-car distraction, btw. About the time that the scenery got interesting, I realized that my giant goodbye latte had a metric fuckton of caffeine and that the caffeine was taking over my bloodstream. Caffeine is an even better in-car distraction than music or Would You Rather? books.

Suddenly, every topic of conversation was awesome and most jokes were taken too far. This led to a discussion about Catholic communion wafer. I'm not Catholic. My mom used to be, though, so she knew what it tasted like. This led to a bunch of jokes about the "melt in your mouth, not in your hand" nature of the body of Christ which were made far more hilarious by the caffeine and my desperation for a good laugh. Yeah, I'm going to Hell if it exists, and to those of you that are Christian, I promise there are no more Jesus jokes in this post. You can keep reading.

Either the Welcome to Tennessee sign is really small or it doesn't exist. Either way, we had no clue we had crossed the border into a new state until at least 30 miles into Tennessee. It's a pretty state with leaves that are already changing color for Fall. The only drawback to the forest is that it's getting totally swallowed by Kudzu, which is pretty much evil in plant form. Not that Kudzu isn't kind of pretty, it just destroys natural plant life underneath the pretty. Seriously, do an image search. That stuff is crazy. Actually, you don't need to search. Here's a picture of what used to be a house (not taken by me).

Seriously, that was a house! A frakking house!

Knoxville was the only big city we went through on day 1. Things I learned: Knoxville is really dirty, they love strip clubs, they love 24-hour "adult superstores," and they love fireworks. Next to the freeway, we saw 3 strip club signs and at least that many adult stores, one of which claimed to be the "Largest Adult Superstore in the South." By far my favorite roadside Knoxville sight was a neon sign shared by two businesses: Romano's Macaroni Grill and a "gentleman's club." I was amazed. I mean, Macaroni Grill is a national, family-oriented chain. I guess franchises can do whatever they please with their signage.

As we left Knoxville, the adult superstores decreased and the firework emporiums increased. Apparently, explosions are better than nudity in West Tennessee. This part of the state is very pretty, except for the giant freaking nuclear plant that kind of distracts from the pretty and adds an ominous feel to a chunk of the state. Maybe that's why they like fireworks. All the little explosions are a preparation for the nuclear holocaust they're expecting.

We put some distance between us and the nuclear plant, stopping for the night in Lebanon at a Hampton Inn and Suites. By then, I was exhausted emotionally and physically and was very happy to see an Outback Steakhouse next to the hotel. Hunk of beef + vodka = happy Kitty. When we got back to the hotel, they had really good chocolate chip cookies which made a great before bed snack.

So, that was pretty much Day 1. Day 2 gets us to Texas and a story about Titus county, super fast cows, and stupid alcohol laws. Stay tuned.

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