Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Long Drive East

Do you have one of those places you regularly visit where you never wake up rested?

I have that issue at Shorty's current residence. It's not the house or the occupants -- it's the neighbors. The cars that go by. The people up talking and arguing in their yards.

The freaking rooster a few houses down.

Friday morning, I woke up in that very house. I'd driven down the afternoon before, had dinner with Other Brother (because he rocks and made burgers), and crashed. And when that rooster started crowing, I was up and moving.

The goal for the day? Cover as much ground as possible on the way to Virginia. Mr. Rogers was aiming for a Sunday morning start to his bike trip ... but there were also 1,600 detour-less miles between us and that starting line.


Friday wasn't exactly exciting. By 8AM, I'd made it to his house and we'd gotten everything loaded. Then came ... over 13 solid hours of travel.

Across Kansas.

In the sun.

Mac and cheese with brisket ... and iced tea, because
of course. Oh, and a band playing not too far away.
I loved Nashville.
... Look, it wasn't fun, but we managed around 900 miles. That was nice.

We landed in East Saint Louis, which baffled me by being in Illinois, sometime after 10PM (now in Central Time). And that was it. There was no thinking too hard after that.

Saturday morning was another early start as we continued down the road. The day before we'd agreed to a change in plans; we both wanted to detour through Tennessee instead of taking the northern route (which we would see later on anyway) and so we aimed toward Nashville, pulling into town a little before 11 that morning.

I should say right now that Tennessee surprised me. It probably shouldn't have, but it was prettier, friendlier, and generally more fun than I expected. Starting right away with Nashville.

We parked and wandered downtown and were instantly caught. Between the perfect weather and the live music ... everywhere, it was a glorious break in the miles of highway. As we walked, another opportunity to detour came up -- so after lunch we hit the road again, aiming for Lynchburg and the the Jack Daniel's Distillery.

Given my general fascination with fermentation, I had distilleries on the general list of Things To Tour. This had the added advantage of being one of the bigger places offering tours -- but perhaps more importantly, it was also the intermediate destination of a another friend currently from SoDak. Alaska [I don't use real names, do I?] was on his way through in the opposite direction and we ended up touring simultaneously ... although twenty minutes apart. Alas, luck wasn't quite that good.

So. Cool.

The tour was awesome. Our guide, Ben [okay, occasionally I use real names], was more than happy to field the questions of a couple of engineering nerds and generally helpful besides that. I geeked out over the water source and their home-built filtering process.

Seriously. The chemistry of the entire production was way more interesting than even I expected.

We stuck around to chat with Alaska after that (because he's awesome, and also the chance for a SoDak/Colorado meetup with Alaska in Tennessee was too good to pass up) and hit the road again, altering our plans shortly after to stop at a reasonable hour in Knoxville. Mr. Rogers had already decided earlier in the day that he'd be starting a bit later than originally intended -- and now he determined that a Monday morning start would be a better idea for rest and preparation.

Sunday's drive, then, would go from Knoxville to Blacksburg, Virginia ... by way of North Carolina since Mr. Rogers hadn't been.

Detours. My favorite part.

And so it was that after about 54 hours and a little over 1,800 miles (or 68 hours and 2,200 miles since I left Rapid City), we stopped in Virginia Tech territory to recuperate and plan. There were 16 hours till launch and a lot was yet to be done...

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