I feel like a driving maniac. I drove to Pierre Part for Christmas, Natchitoches the next day for a girls’ trip and I’m now in southeast Tennessee visiting my high school friend Nancy. All I can say is I’ve still got it. You’d think I’d be exhausted but I’m feeling pretty good.
I planned on leaving this morning for Tennessee, but I got home from Natchitoches about 1 PM Saturday and decided to leave as soon as I swapped my summer clothes for winter ones. The weather was forecast to be horrible both days, and I didn’t relish making a tense 8-hour drive all in one day. I left Baton Rouge around 3 PM and headed north in a monsoon.
As I got close to Meridian MS- about halfway to my destination- I called and made a reservation for the night. We tried a pet-friendly hotel chain called Drury Inn and Suites. It was really nice, and Ashok got to have her own bed. By the time we got up this morning, the monsoon had stopped. I got off-and-on drizzle for the final leg, but the weather wasn’t bad.
My route was the same route that I drove for 10 years when I lived in Knoxville. Each little small town sign jogged a memory of trips once taken. I remembered our favorite lunch spot at McFarland Blvd in Meridian. I remembered how as a young woman I wanted to stop in Ft. Payne to see if I could catch a glance of my favorite country music band, Alabama. I remembered each of the rest areas as we had stopped at each one of them at least a couple of times over the years. Most of all I remembered the lift my heart took as I passed from pine forested flatlands to the limestone cliffs in the Appalachian landscape. I found myself daydreaming about returning to the state where I’ve spent 17 years of my life.
Nancy and her husband Jay live just east of Chattanooga in Sequatchie. They are not far from several hiking trails and state parks, and I plan on hiking tomorrow. We had a late lunch at Dave’s Modern Tavern in Monteagle. I had an amazing burger in the truly cute Modern Tavern whose front room resembled a fine dining establishment and the back room featured a nicely decorated tavern. My friend John from Nashville met us after lunch, and we drove through the dense mountain fog to The Smokehouse restaurant for hot chocolate. It was so foggy that I couldn’t see a thing more than 20 yards away. But the restaurant was cute, and they had a shop that made Cracker Barrel look like a Quick Stop.
Now we’re hanging out in their living room catching up on their lives and their recent move to Tennessee. This is the first time I’ve seen Nancy in 35 years. Ashok seems to have stolen their hearts with her gentle disposition, but I don’t think their cat is really happy with their weekend guest. I’m blogging on my phone for the first time ever because the hills apparently don’t offer reliable internet. So I apologize if the blog doesn’t look right. Hopefully tomorrow I can share some Tennessee scenery. As for tonight, I’m looking forward to climbing in my beautiful little four-poster bed.