Friday morning I left for a long-planned weekend trip to Lexington, VA for a cousin’s wedding. I should’ve known that the weekend might not go exactly according to plan when my alarm malfunctioned. I woke on my own, opened one eye and saw light. “Hmmm…that can’t be good,” I thought. You see, the alarm was set for 4:45. I woke up at 5:16. But exactly frantic 51 minutes later, we were on the road…only 5 minutes late.
The drive through east Tennessee and Virginia were full of beautiful scenery and we arrived well in time for the rehearsal dinner followed by a luncheon the next day and, of course, the wedding and reception on Saturday night. The bride was lovely. The groom was handsome. And my cousin, the mother of the bride, was unflappable–at least on the outside.
We set our departure time for 8 Sunday morning.
About 6:30 I turned on CNN to hear that a section of I-40 was closed. I quickly reasoned that I-40 stretches from coast to coast and the odds that this stretch was one that we would travel are exceedingly low. I should’ve taken those odds because the 10-mile stretch was just about the half-way point of our journey home. To make matters worse, traffic was being diverted from Knoxville down to Chattanooga and then to Nashville on I-24–about 2 hours out of our way.
Let the fun begin. Herewith, a timeline of the day.
8:00–leave our hotel in Lexington, VA (484 miles from Franklin, according to Tom Tom.)
8:01–stop at 7/11 for diet cokes and diet pepsis
9:00–call niece in Chattanooga to see if she can suggest alternate route
9:30–pit stop #1–also buy gas because car’s owner doesn’t like to go below a 1/4 tank
10:03–start searching maps for alternate route that will help avoid Chattanooga
10:22–attempt to call husband in China to see what he would do. Evidently direct dialing to China is not included on my Verizon plan–attempt failed
10:45–pit stop #2 and driver exchange
10:47–torrential downpour starts
11:30–pit stop #3 at Tennessee Welcome Center. Also attempt to find out more about the situation ahead. Attempt failed.
12:14–decide to create our own detour and avoid Chattanooga by taking the “old road,” — Hwy. 70.
12:51–pit stop #4, buy more gas because needle was hovering dangerously close to the half-empty line.
1:00–drive near interstate and see traffic going in both directions. Yippee we think–they reopened it. Get on I-40 feeling very smug. Forced off at next exit. Smugness gone.
1:02–Tom Tom GPS just up and dies. My theory is that it knew what was ahead and didn’t want any part of it.
1:03–interviewed by local tv talking with motorists stopped along the road. Noticed a couple of hours later that I had poppyseeds stuck in my teeth from homemade cookies. That’s just great. Nothing better that speckled teeth when you’re on tv. But am assured by sister that cookies came after the interview.
1:05-3:30–an exercise in patience as we navigate curvy mountian roads in bumper to bumper traffic. Remember that we have forgotten to eat lunch and wonder about the feasibilty of having a pizza delivered to the side of the road. Try to remember that we are almost at the end of the detour while the cars coming toward us were just beginning.
3:30–finally make it on to I-40. Figure that even with all our traffic, we were better off than going to Chattanooga.
3:55–5th and final pit stop
4:00–Tom Tom is miraculouly healed and decides to start working again. Nice to know I can rely on it when the going gets tough.
5:30–Home sweet home. At last.
Cutting the grass can wait ’til tomorrow.