Being Spring Recess, we were encouraged to take days off, so I jumped at the chance, taking four days around the Easter weekend. Having this free time, I had to go somewhere, but I just couldn't make up my mind; Gulf Shores, road trip through the South or to Oklahoma... I COULD NOT decide. That all changed when I talked to my dad on my way home from Springfield. He had a trip the next day to North Carolina. Yeah! I didn't even ask, I just automatically knew I was going -- and he knew it too.
Since Dad had to do some minor mechanic work and fuel up, we didn't leave Salem until 1:30 in the afternoon, with the goal being the 135 mile marker on I-24 in east Tennessee; he'd been told there was a motel with truck parking there.
Taking a detour to see if a new road had opened, we drove by the lock and dam system of Lake Barkley in Kentucky. Back on 24, we headed east, knowing we'd get into Nashville at the wrong time... rush hour. Just at Briley Parkway, traffic came to a standstill on 24 due to a lane blockage seven miles ahead, so we detoured around that, hitting thick traffic on 440 just at 65 converging until back on 24. We then made decent time, making it to the Days Inn (not a Super 8, as we'd been told, but it did have truck parking) just before 8 o'clock (just in time for me to watch Grey's Anatomy, making my mom happy because she didn't have to watch it to tape it at home). Lights out soon after; the alarm is set for 5 AM.
Dad was up before the alarm, I knew he would be.
I was awake, and so we were able to be leaving the motel just after 5:30.
The route took us briefly into Georgia, and we were through Chattanooga at 6:30. Not very long after getting on 64/74, the road was marked for a detour; closed to to rockslide. Well, crap. We ended up detouring through the mountains of east Tennessee, taking an extra fifty miles. Not knowing where we were, we kept driving through some 'hellacious' curves (as my dad kept calling them) and mountain roads, just following the detour signs. We arrived in Andrews about 11:15. The guy was there, and he and Dad figured out a loading ramp. Since the tractor runs on tracks, Dad's ramps would not work.
Cheerwine, the NC-brewed soda
So the guy pushed up some dirt to the back of the trailer. And that's when we ran into problems. The tractor blade was hanging over the trailer, making it too wide. We're only allowed to be 8'6" without a permit. A permit's not a big deal -- except this was a holiday weekend; no oversize loads can run the highways. Promised this was a legal load, the guy had to finagle the blade and take it apart to get within the 8'6 restrictions. Since this was taking awhile, and my help wasn't needed, I went over to the nearby convenience store. I had JUST seen (literally the night before we left) in a Food Network Magazine article featuring regional foods: North Carolina Cheerwine soda - and I found it, in a glass bottle, no less!
Once the load was as close to 8'6 as it was going to be, we still had to chain down.
I tend to forget to use gloves.
As soon as this was done, we went to the convenience store to wash up (I tend to forget to use gloves and get rust and grease practically up to my elbows), and buy bottled water (I got another bottle of Cheerwine, this time in a plastic bottle to try; my glass bottle is a souvenir. It reminds me a lot like Cherry Dr Pepper). Then I went over to the Subway since we were leaving much later than anticipated, we wouldn't be taking the time to stop anywhere, effectively meaning we would not be trying North Carolina barbecue. Hitting the road, we had to go the way we came through that detour through the Cherokee National Forest. Somewhat knowing the route now, and seeing as how we'd end up closer to Knoxville and I-40, than Chattanooga, I navigated using good old Rand McNally, seeing that the detour Route 68 kept heading northwest, eventually coming close to I-40, instead of sticking to the Interstates and going out of our way to Knoxville.
That's the one thing about my dad -- he actually prefers to drive 2-lane roads; and another: he tends to not go the same way twice, especially not the the same way he came. We drove through some more mountains, and once we were westbound on 40, it was smooth sailing. Traffic in Nashville wasn't bad; we stopped for fuel in Kentucky. Once back on the road (pushing 11 PM) -- a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee passed us... my cousin's family who was coming home from vacation on Dauphin Island, Alabama! She didn't know it until I facebooked her to tell her I saw her taillights briefly in Kentucky. Once we croseed into Illinois, I gave into my heavy eyelids... I couldn't fight it any longer.
I am so glad this trip came up during my Spring Recess break. It's the biggest trip I've gotten to take in the truck, but it was totally worth it. I saw a part of the country I'll probably never see again, and I got to spend time with my dad, doing something I absolutely love.