My husband, wisely, does not accompany us on this trip.
We’ve been making this trip for, what, seven or eight years now? We’ve got the routine down.
Although it never, ever goes as planned.
We usually split the trip into two legs, stopping for the night at a halfway point in Tennessee, at a hotel with llamas.
It’s an old mountain resort hotel, which apparently felt it needed a few added attractions to lure visitors. So there are all sorts of concrete statues, and antique cars on display, and a llama paddock surrounding the hotel.
The llamas are quite nice. They have never once spit on us.
The trip usually takes about five hours. This time, it took seven.
There was traffic. And it was 100 degrees.
The heat didn’t contribute to slowing us down. It just made me crankier.
There was road construction.
I can’t believe they’ve been working on that interstate for a whole year and still only have one lane open.
We always stop at the Tennessee welcome center, which has giant mosaic sculptures of fish out on the lawn, which folks are allowed to sit or climb on.
Did you know that a giant mosaic sculpture gets broiling hot when it’s sitting outdoors in 100-degree heat?
We always stop in Chattanooga and ride the carousel in Coolidge Park, down by the river. This year, I rode on a glossy black horse. The kids rode on a Spartan warhorse and a fish named Bob.
Before we hit the road again, we ate ice cream at Klumpie’s. They have a new flavor — cantaloupe — which is my new favorite thing in the whole wide world.
We were making good time until we got to the detour and I got on the wrong highway leaving Chattanooga.
For future reference, the interstate is 24, not 27. But 27 is a lovely little state highway.
It was a beautiful drive, both going out and then turning around and coming back. It was the only part of the trip when we weren’t in heavy traffic.
It was dark by the time we got to Knoxville.
There was road construction in Knoxville. There is always road construction in Knoxville.
This year, there was a road crew out on the interstate in the dark. Three big tanker trucks. Looked like they were mopping the road or something. In the dark.
We finally pulled into the hotel at 10 p.m. Or maybe it was 11 p.m. The change to Eastern time always throws me off.
The llamas were all asleep.
We got a room with a pull-out sofa bed.
Note to self: In the future, try to avoid being locked in a hotel room that contains an 11-year-old boy, a pull-out sofa bed and a rolling desk chair.
When we woke up the next morning, the room was freezing.
“Brrrr! Why is it so cold?” asked my daughter.
“Oh,” said my son. “I got hot in the middle of the night, so I turned the air conditioner down to 30.”
As my daughter and I burrowed back under the covers, the boy headed out by himself to the free breakfast buffet in the lobby.
To the management of the Hampton Inn in Caryville, Tenn.: I would like to formally apologize for the Froot Loop spill in the elevator.