Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On The Road, By The Numbers, The Second Day

Still On The Road, now the Numbers

Number of highways traveled: 17

Number of construction zones: 7

Number of bottles of water: 6

Number of Diet Coke cans: 2

Number of "Tommy Lee Sandwiches" PB&J style: 3

Number of Military Semi Trucks on Civilian Flatbeds: 3

Number of Roadkill: 3

Number of Jets seen while stuck in Atlanta traffic: 5

Number of Tow Trucks seen: Couldn't count them all

Number of Vintage Porsche 944's seen: 2

Number of Cop Cars seen: 18

Number of Windmill blades seen: 2

Number of Old Barns seen: Also, uncountable

Number of Dollars spent on petrol: $43.45

Number of Gallons that represents: 11.8

Number of Dollars per gallon: $3.81

Number of the Average miles per gallon: 25.9

Number of Miles traveled: 450

Number of Dollars I spent on the HollaDays Inn: $28.14

Number of Time Zones: 2

Number of Times I looked Stupid: 1

Now, On The Road, By The Numbers, The Second Day.

Last night, Tuesday, as I do not have cable at my place at the Birthplace of Speed, I stayed up way to late watching Jay Leno, a repeat from May with Robin Williams, still funny as I had not seen it previously, and then some old Hogan's Heroes and Bob Newhart reruns. I got to sleep around 3* am.

Needless to say, this old man was a bit slow on the uptake. Of course, I woke up rather early and, as the remote for the TV at that Taj Mahal did not work, I just laid there reflecting on yesterday's On The Road. I calculated that, as it was about a 1,200* mile trip, and in one day, I covered 358*, it would take me almost 4* days to get there.

Now, I am not really on a time frame but I don't want to spend 4* days on the road. So I shamelessly decided to quit BS'ing myself, get on that I-75* and get on up to north of Atlanta, see oldcarcity and move on toward my next planned stop.

So I packed up the 850* truckster wannabe and head out to the Interstate. Once on it, I let the reins loose, gave the 850* a slight slap on the hindquarters with the crop and put the pedal to the medal, so to speak. Yeah, I know, mixed metaphors, but I spent most of the day thinking that up, so there it is. Anyway, we made real good time on that ole 6* lane roadway.

As I was riding along, it was pretty boring, faster, but not nearly as much to look at, anyway, I got to thinking about how we Americans want everything faster, quicker, less expensive and....nahhh...not really. I was thinking about what a bitch it is to turn around on the interstate and get a pic of that cool old single axle Airstream I know the bus would appreciate. I also was thinking about that ole 85* BMW 735* Mary used to own, when I saw one heading south on 75*.

I stopped just south of Macon to answer nature's call. Upon returning to 75*, I saw a commuter's lot full of huge SUVs. I reflected on that and then I saw:

Further along, a mid 80's* Explorer following a UHaul truck. It was obvious they were moving south. The memorable thing for me, the Explorer had a cheap plastic outdoor garbage can tied to the roof, with the top facing forward. Now, as you can imagine, that old truck doesn't get the best of gas mileage anyway, but with that can putting such a drag on that vehicle, it probably had to fuel up more than that UHaul. It would have been cheaper to ditch the old can and buy a new one.

On the drive up, between Macon and Hotlanta, I was amazed at the construction of the roadside billboards. I mean the bottom of them were 60-80* feet in the air. And there was a bunch of them.

As I was rolling into Hotlanta, I was listening to the radio and knew there was an accident on NB 75* which was almost cleared up and hoping there would be no traffic delays. It worked out well, there was a slowdown but no real stoppage and I was able to move on, although I did count the number of jets I saw landing while slowly moving through the city. I was a bit anxious, not having driven on hilly, multi laned roads, with all lanes filled and traveling side by side, so I was only able to get one shot of the Hotlanta, Georgia skyline. I remember, vaguely, having visited there in my youth but, unfortunately, I was having to much fun and don't really remember that experience. Okay, you youngsters out there, this is not such a good example to set, forget I said it, but it is true.

While cruising through Hotlanta, there was a government sponsored sign, on the interstate, stating that today there was a high smog content in the air and to limit outdoor activity. I only wish I had thought of that in my youth. Mom: "You kids go outside and play", Me, the smartass, "Mom, President Nixon says there is to high of smog content in the air and we should stay inside." Oh well, another missed opportunity.

Much like this one. I arrived at oldcarcity and realized it was closed on Wednesday. I guess I missed this on their website.

I did, however, get a few pics while there.

That is an old Merc much like the one RGL had, can't tell if it is a longroof though. But that 61 chevy is, as well as that longroof Ford Panel Delivery.

An old suburban for Lil Jim and the bus.

This body, on a late model Mustang would be a kicking restomod.

And, of course, we are near Hazard County, Tennessee.

I, then, decided to move on to my next adventure, as this had really opened up my timeframe and allowed me to get toward a schedule which would work for me. I got on up to Chattanooga for the tow truck museum. On the way, I had to go through several short tunnels, such as this. They were pretty banged up as, I guess, truck drivers in Tennessee aren't sure as to how tall their trucks are.

The Museum of Towing and Recovery is pretty cool, but unfortunately, like the orange truck, a COE didn't allow me more pics. No, not a Cab Over Engine, but Cuz of Operator Error.

After leaving the tow truck worship madness, I was driving up I-24 north of Chattanooga, on my way to Nashville. I still love these geological pictures of our subsurface, seen only by most people on our highway system. I remember studying Geology at SMS(U) and my instructors would take us down on Hwy 65, near Branson to check them out. It was field study. To me, hell, I was 1/2 way to the lake, that is where I am going this afternoon.

After having spent nearly the entire day on the Eisenhower Interstate System for National Defense, I needed a break and decided to get off on Tennessee's Highway 41.

So I pulled off the Interstate at South Pittsburg, Tennessee. I found a RaceTrac with gas for $3.81 a gallon and immediately dropped in to fill up. I struck up a conversation with the pick up driving associate at the next pump. "Excuse me, are you from around here?" "Yes son, I am." "Do you know where US 41* is?" A huge grin appearred on his face, "It is right there." Pointing to the road in front of the RaceTrac. Due to some signage error, read "I missed it", I did not realize I was on the highway I was looking for. I mentioned I was a "Floridiot" and thanks for the info. He was real nice and wished me a safe trip.

So, being the excellent geographer I am, I got out the trusty Tennessee issued map and realized that the 41* I was looking at goes back to Chattanooga to the south, but to the north only goes up about 10* miles to the next interstate exit, then stops and returns in about 18* miles.. I decided to get back on Eisenhower's road and do a quick 10* miles and then pick up 41* when it returns. That is where I saw the preceding cliffs along the interstate.

Once I reached my proposed exit point off the interstate, the absolute first thing I saw was this, across a gravel parking lot. Not knowing what it was, I had to find out. So I did. Surprised?

I drove up to those guys standing there, got out and asked them what they were? Windmill blades. I was floored. They couldn't come out with the information quickly enough. 'Yeah, they are manufactured in Denmark, shipped to the Port of Pensacola and we are taking them to Indiana.' Remarkable. These guys are helping to reshape our energy dependence, in their own way. By The Numbers: Blades: 135'*; Overall Vehicle Length: 160'*; Escort Vehicles: 3*; Top Speed: 45* mph, "daylight hours only". A pretty cool sighting and, if there were no What I Saw Today's on this trip, this would be it. I was talking to these guys about how I was heading to the Ozarks and trying to stay off the interstate system and they, like everyone I mention this to, told me how cool they thought that was. One of the guys mentioned to me that we were standing on top, of what the locals called, the rock. Okay.

Across the street, I saw this. VW running gear with an unidentified motorcycle front end. Apparently, this one was done up pretty good as the inside of that former Type I* Volkswagon is filled with trophies. Never did talk to the guy but an interesting piece.

So I mozied on up US41* and got some interesting views of the vistas of south central Tennessee.

Later, I was driving down off the rock and could only gather my wits for this one pic. Now there are probably a whole damn bunch of you fellow bloggers to whom this is an everyday, or otherwise, often experienced adventure. I have been living in the flat Sunshine State for nearly 30* years, and although I have ventured to the Carolina's, it has always been on major 4* lane roadways designed for the masses, never through the rural heartlands, designed for the hearty.

Later, in the valley, I snapped a pic of the "rock", although this is through the windscreen of the truckster due to the nature of mountain roads, behind me.

Double click on the above pic to make it bigger. Do it, Do it now.

For you youngsters out there, businesses used to buy barn roofs to advertise their attractions. I am 48* and I remember this vaguely. I am confident there are some who follow the Numbers who remember this well. The reason this captured my attention is it is for Meramec Caverns near St. Louis, a place I visited as a kid. Now I am in south central Tennessee, at least a day's drive, on US41* from St. Louis. What visionary adman thought this location would be a good one?

So I get to Murphreesboro, Tennessee and in the middle of town, I see this. Check out the intersection. 2* 4* laned roads intersecting. And this dude is hauling, not 1* of these feed wagons, but 2*. And yes, it is an INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER.

So here I am, the confident geographer, tooling down old US 41*, in now Central Tennessee, thinking about how I have the route of this trip all expertly evaluated and, now, timed to the perfect degree. I, on the web, have located a campground just north of Nashville, that is camper friendly, not Bonaroot wary, and within an hours drive, now that it is just after 4* CST.

So, while stopped at stoplights in the not quite rush hour traffic of Murphreesburo, checking out tomorrow's route, I realize this expert geographer is going to far north. A sudden, abrupt, western bound, left turn is immediately required. Oh well, so much for the grandest of plans. So, thus far, I have traveled on 5* highways, I thought that would be it. As those of you who follow the numbers, you know today I traveled on 17*. This is the reason why.

So, I cut left on 96*, went to 840*, a major, new, 4* lane divided highway running from Murphreesburo to Spring Hill, coincidentally the name of a town in Florida, home to a former female acquantance, who shall remain nameless, forever. So I am cruising toward Spring Hill on this modern, majestic, almost superhighway, and trying to figure out, Why is it here? I roll into town and see an abundance of new commercial construction going on. I mean, Starbucks, Target, Super Wallyworld, Beall's, I couldn't remember them all.

Well, it turns out, Spring Hill, Tennessee hosts the Saturn automobile assembly plant. Duh? You think I would have timed that a little better to, at least get a tour in, instead of seeing the plant in the distance traveling along County Road 247. What county? Hell I don't know, and, Quite Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn.

Yeah, so literally, I am on County Road 247, west of Spring Hill, Tennessee, on my way to Centerville. I am passing through the most beautiful countryside I have seen in years, maybe ever. Working farms, kids out in the fields hauling bales of hay, kids on horses riding through creeks as I passed over on the bridges above, clothes on the clothesline, a couple youngsters fishing in the distance on a small pond, a dad mowing his field, ready for the hay bailer to come from the next valley. Majestic Mountains, Serene Valleys.

As beautiful as it was, and it was, just know, I saw a multitude of signs looking just like this one.

On that County Road 247, it has a variety of levels of elevation, and on the top of the mountain, the one next to the rock, is a commercial establishment I wish I had stopped to keep in business. It is called the Hilltop Market. Old pickups out front, okay maybe mid 80's trucks, but two men in overalls on the front porch in rockers, probably solving all the world's problems. I thought I needed to be somewhere else and missed that, forever lost opportunity. Don't you miss it.

I continued on to

Centerville, Tennessee? you say?? Why yes, it is the birthplace of the most famous Big Hatted Woman in the World. But with a much smaller ego.

This statue of Minnie Pearl sits on the square in Centerville, Tennessee. No, I did not look up her skirt. Wanted to but, seriously, for posterity's sake, did not.

I then got on that virtual superhighway, 50*, over to I-40*, in the elusive search for that cheap campsite.

Now State Road 50* has been reconstructed in recent years and is a boulevard wide, full shouldered, high bridge, stout type of passageway. Not a sense of history remains, just a means of getting carsntrucks where they think they need to go. One spot, though, there is a big bridge and I could tell it was majestic. There is a bridge which goes over a "hollow" and the sign at the beginning of the bridge names that hollow. I had to stop, on the bridge, believe me, traffic is at a minimum on these roads, and take this pic. Although I was standing on a modern super structure, I was still scared to get near the edge. The hollow's name is "Happy Hollow". It was wonderful.

So on to the campgrounds along I40*. Well, it seems tents are not in alot of favor these days. I stopped at three campgrounds, including a State Park, near the Interstate. Now, I am no slouch, I drive a nice looking car, am well dressed, well versed and, except for the Bandaids on my forehead, not a bad looking specimen, but I could not talk my way into a campsite. The cheapest one I was quoted was "$22.50* for the night but if you want a shower, it costs $5.00* more." And that was at the Natchez Trace State Park.

Now my thoughts were towards the $33.00* motel room I got last night down in Sweet Dixie. I then headed back to Eisenhower's Highway and gathered up a Cheap Hotel Guide. I found a, and i mean it, "Holladay's Inn" in Holladay, Tennessee, for $24.99* a night. I struck Gold. I mean, no pitching a tent, no setting up the lantern, no cooking over the Coleman stove, no striking a tent, no sleeping bag. I am all over that.

So I head down to exit 126. The 850*truckster and I whip into the Holladay's Inn and get a room. Now you can imagine by the name. this is an experience. Not So Skinny Margarette had to thrust her lithe body out of that BarcoLounger, just to get to her feet. She checks me in, and gives me the usual, How Many, Pets, How Long is Your Stay, Vehicle Type, Color, State License Plate, she gives me the key. I give her my cash and ask, Is this a smoking room? She states no, I requested a nonsmoking room. Well, as much as I wish it were different, I smoke tobacco and probably will for a long time. Now, this woman was projecting a Big Sister Jane attitude toward me, so immediately, I apologized, "I have been On The Road for a number of hours and probably just missed that question." So, of course, I went from room 105, on the ground floor, to room 255, in the center of the access points on the second floor. Sometimes, I should just keep my mouth shut.

And here I am, in Holladay, Tennessee, which believe me, is not one. Just downwind of the convenience store selling the most nasty smelling fried crap, you all know it, in a total, but cheap, dump of a motel room, and the killer is, there is an Adult Novelty Store immediately adjancent to this place. And they have a Holiday Rambler Travel Trailer permanently parked just outside my second floor window. Wished I had packed those binoculars....

Til then......

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