Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 5 on the road (August 14th, 2013)

The first few photos were taken in Gaitlinburg, Tennessee

I had trouble getting on line in our hotel last night, the connection kept going in and out so I gave up after a while.  Tonight we are in Amarillo, Texas and are heading to Santa Fe in the morning.  This is the capital of New Mexico.  From there we head to to Flagstaff, Arizona. 

I am doing a bit of back-tracking on yesterday's Day 4 first.  We have decided it prudent to call ahead to book a room, when we are pretty sure where we will end up that night.  When we arrived at our hotel Gregg went inside while I waited in the car.  He took a long time but eventually came out and as he looked at me he rolled his eyes and shook his head.  Unusual behavior for Gregg do this and I was very curious. When he got in the car he told me that the woman on the desk made a big deal about looking through their reservations and telling him that his name wasn't there, kept this up for way too long to the point that it became darned uncomfortable, before finally telling him she was only joking and that of course his room was ready and waiting.  He turned away from the desk only to be bushwhacked by a man who gave him a hard sell on time shares.  It was all a bit too much.

After driving 500 miles and feeling very weary, he wasn't too happy with their humor or their sales technique, he didn't think it gave a very good first impression of their hotel and felt they needed to change their welcoming tactics.  I thought the whole thing was a very peculiar way to greet a guest and because of these silly shenanigans we will not be returning to this particular hotel.  I would definitely knock the comedy routine off because it was not very funny and a hard sell from the time share guy, well that went down like a lead brick.  

Apart from this, however, the hotel itself was lovely.  It was brand new and when we got to the room we were surprised how nice it was, a separate bedroom with a king sized bed, a spacious living area with flat-screen TV's both in the main room and the bedroom, a full kitchen and it even had a washer and dryer in one of the closets, not forgetting the free wi-fi.  We were surprised considering that the price for an overnight stay was very reasonable.   Then we realized it was a resort and the penny dropped, they were hoping people would buy those time shares, and the meantime were trying to fill up their rooms.

The hotel was off the main road but we decided to walk down the hill to find a restaurant as it was dinner time.  We liked the first one we found which was right on the corner at the bottom, and that used up the rest of our evening.  The young lady who took care of us had a very pretty accent and Gregg asked her where she was from.  She said Jamaica, she had been here for two months working, that she was having a good time but was very homesick and would be glad to go back home in September.  When we had finished our meal it was getting late and we were were looking forward to a good night's sleep.  We slept like a couple of logs.

Back on the road 8-14-2013.  We left the hotel at 8.45 a.m.  In the elevator three adults stepped onto the elevator the floor below ours, along with a toddler in arms, and two little live-wires, boys, who were around three and six.  The six year old immediately asked us if we were going to Dollywood and when we said no, not skipping a beat he said he was but they were going to have pancakes over at the pancake house first.  His grandmother smiled, his mother looked at me and rolled her eyes.  That's twice in two days someone has rolled their eyes at me.  She looked very tired, her husband who looked as tired didn't say a word.  Mom said it had done nothing but rain the whole time they had been there.  Grandmother smiled again.  Off they got on the way to their pancake house and us in search of a Starbucks on the way out of town.

At 8.47 we were driving through Pigeon Forge, again not stopping except when we found the Starbucks.  It is a kitschy place and fun to drive down the main road.  Here are a few views we saw.  It has its fair share of electric lines and telephone wires!

9.59 a.m. we passed Sargent Alvin York State Park.  I immediately thought of that great movie of Captain York starring Gary Cooper. Alvin York was born in a two-room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee.  You can read about him here.

10.28 a.m. we drove over the Clinch River and I took photos of a power plant.

Today our drive took us through Tennessee and Arkansas.  At one point we got totally boxed in on all sides by 18 wheelers, and we weren't able to get over to exit the freeway at our turn.  Thankfully the GPS got us back on track.

10.40 a.m. became 9.40 a.m. as we entered the Central Time Zone.

11.20 a.m. passed a sign to Andrew Jackson's Plantation, The Hermitage on Old Hickory Lane.  Jackson's nickname was "Old Hickory".  The Hermitage's home page can be found here.

By the time we got through Nashville we went over 1,000 miles on our journey.  Gregg took me on a driving tour of this city.  He wanted to show me where he worked from 1998 to 2001.  His company sent him to work with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  I don't remember much of this time, except that he was gone a lot.  It was fun seeing where he worked, showing me the doors he walked through every day, the hotel he stayed in, the places he ate   He has good memories of the people he worked with all those years ago and told me a little bit about them, stories I had heard before but as they hadn't been told in a while it was like hearing them for the first time.  Here are several photos of driving around Nashville.

I saw a super hero and I am still trying to figure out who he was supposed to be.

At 1.24 p.m. we passed Exit 152 for the town of Bucksnort.  What a great name!  

At 1.34 p.m. and at Exit 143 (still on Rt. 40 west) we saw a sign for Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch.

We did pass field upon field of what we thought were rice crops, and when I looked it up tonight I found this page here.  

We drove until we reached tonight's hotel, stopping at around 7.30 p.m.  No one decided to have any jokes with us this time, and no one tried to sell us any time shares.  Gregg has a point system with this particular chain of hotels and his profile is in their system.  When the young lady asked him if he wanted a wake-up call she said, "Oh no, you don't need one, I see you're retired!"  That's about as sassy as it got.

Happy for the rest but also happy at the thought that we will be heading west again in the morning.  We really do love our road trips.