All things built on expectations have the potential to collapse like a house of cards. Someone from my past used to tell me that it wasn't about the destination, but the journey. The journey itself was incredibly freeing from a place in life that I'll describe as a "funk." This summer has been muddy and heavy and an accumulation of a hundred things that I let bring me down. Spreading the burdens of the past several months along 600 miles of interstate made me feel lighter. Since the latest, but relatively trivial "bump in the road," I've put off my chronicle of the trip because it was easier. After a good mourning of dashed hopes, some retail therapy, and a night out with my bests, I think it's time - whether or not it means anything to anyone who reads this, here is the detailed account of getting there and getting back:
Leave Nashville around 1pm
Our journey begins with a full tank of gas, a peach Enviga, and the open road. More play-by-play updates as the miles close in. Asheville or bust!
Nearing Crossville w/ ears popping, I am accompanied by Maria Taylor and the notable silence of the new front tires. The temperatures are forecasted to be 2 degrees shy of 100 at home and for yet another reason I am thankful to be pressing Eastward. The growing hills are a hazy blue-green in the Aug. heat and humidity, but appear to remain beautifully tranquil. I want an old aluminum Airstream trailer to travel roads like this in search of myself.
2:45pm - mile marker 347
Mountain overlook to hazy valley, winding roads, sunny sky. Slam on breaks for first police car speed trap. Kudzu blankets everything and I am reminded of the things that I love because they are characteristically Southern.
drive away...just get on the interstate...you said don't let love break you down...well, just show me how and let me never be broken.
First pit stop - Watt Rd.
Petro station advertises a "Travel Plaza & Iron Skillet." This is a truck-stop mecca. Maria Taylor still keeps me company. Stopping is non-negotiable or I would not be here...damn all that caffeine!
Traffic halts in Knoxville. The sky weighs heavy and hangs low with the gray foreshadowing of more rain...it's so hot and the air is wet and heavy before the storm.
Finally a cool breeze before the storm moves in. Knoxville traffic sucks!
I just passed a motorcyclist with really big horns attached to the front of his Harley. And the rain begins. I laugh at his bike, but not at his current situation.
Downpour. - thankful for the new tires!
The storm passed quickly. Second stop...somewhere before picking up I-81.
Windshield catches a rock and breaks. Damnit!
SUNLIGHT! And cows, and hazy mountain silhouettes.
Arrive in Johnson City sometime around 6:30pm. I'm so happy to have arrived at my first stop! We head out for groceries and stop by TJ Maxx where I nab a hot little kimono-style mini-dress on clearance before stocking up on organic veggies and shrimp for pasta at Kroger. Once we're back to her apartment we drink a bottle of wine on the front stoop and attempt to solve the problems of the world from right there on that concrete slab. There is nowhere I'd rather be than right here...except Asheville with my drummer. Hindsight is crystal clear...I should have never left that stoop and that bottle of wine and the view of the mountains from Tennessee. The rest of the night is fabulous.
Dinner is amazing and eventually we all pass out at an early hour of the morning.
I rise around 8:30am and call to see if he's on the road yet. No answer. Begin to worry he's not gonna show.
Everyone leaves for work or summer classes and I eventually get dressed and scrounge up a most fantastic breakfast of organic granola, lots of blueberries, and milk. Heaven.
Anxiety sets in. It's been 10 MONTHS since we've seen each other!
I get a final "OK" on my "first impression outfit".
Stop by her office to say "goodbye" and "thanks!" She sends me off with a Sprite to settle my churning stomach as the butterflies have turned into mild panic.
Leave Johnson City on I-26 toward Asheville. I'm VERY nervous.
I've finally heard from my drummer. He's running late, but is en route (whew!). Stop at a scenic overlook. The mountains are gorgeous. The crack in my windshield has worsened in the heat.
Rest stop. Welcome to North Carolina!
I'm so anxious that I stop logging time and events and concentrate on not throwing up or launching into a panic attack.
Check into the Days Inn Downtown Asheville. Pace the floor. Check the mirror. Check mirror again. Put on Ingrid Michaelson. Check the mirror. Open the door and the windows. Check the mirror. Try to chill out with Jack Kerouac and his travels. V calls. I calm down a bit talking to her.
He texts: I'm 2 miles out. Calmness canceled. Check the mirror. Try to read.
::gasp:: he's here!
Dinner at Ed Boudreaux's Bayou BBQ
Coffee at Double Decker Coffee Co.
Purple Hazes and an attempted game of pool at Barley's
Drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountains are perhaps the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. We drive through clouds. The temps drop so we open the windows and Incubus blares from the speakers. We are quiet for the first time in weeks. Peace.
20 mile hike through the mountain trails...in flip-flops.
Mild exaggeration on the distance traveled.
Back to the hotel for last night's leftovers and some relaxing by the pool.
Stranger Than Fiction.
A hunt for "legit" coffee begins (i.e., a coffeehouse). We land at a cute little place on the corner with a cupcake for the sign. Ugh, it's hot! He gets a sticky bun and I order 2 iced coffees. Even though it's nearing 7pm, I'm still stuffed from lunch. We finish our coffees and decide to drive back up the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the sunset.
Sunset. Brr...I comment at my surprise that there is anywhere in the southern United States that has temperatures this low in August. It's so quiet up here. Just this inherent peacefulness. Gorgeous.
Dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe
Breakfast at Eaties - the coolest "cereal bar."
We walk around for a bit.
My heels are blistering in these wedges.
Goodbye. I cry 'cause I'm a baby.
Nashville Bound...I'm reminded of how I loathe Sundays marked for leaving. 300 miles of I-40 stretch Westward before me...lots of thinking time. Sunny and 89 degrees. Ingrid Michaelson again serenades me. Tank on E - must get gas.
wrong way on 40. Turn around.
The drive through the mountains is awesome.