2013 Trip Three, NM and VA, April 18

We could not resist. We had started the day just west of Memphis in Arkansas. I-40 was nice enough. The trees were blooming, the topography was interesting (eastern US mountains), the truck traffic was pleasantly challenging as they passed one another slowly going up the hills, and the wind was strong but no more than we had been used to from NM and the last few days. (The Weather Channel has been on 24/7 “storm mode” for the tornado possibilities in OK through IL, winter storm Yogi blowing from CO through the Twin Cities to the UP of Michigan but we have been lucky enough so far to be between various storm systems.)

Visitor center Memphis

Visitor center Memphis

So we took an adventure, or as Chris calls it, an alternate route. We were about 40 miles shy of Knoxville heading for Dandridge which is east of Knoxville. We made a semi-circle around Knoxville to the south on curvy, hilly 2 lane roads, going through small towns, past Tennessee Valley Authority dams and lakes, through the foothills of the Great Smokies.

The ride was pleasant, We did not get lost. We did not have enough time to take a hike though. Sarah was kind enough to send us a picture of snow in St. Paul so we sent her back a picture of green mountains in TN. The dogwood are starting to bloom, eastern red bush are coming out.

Dogwood along I-40. Sen Al Gore Sr of TN born near here, authored interstate highway act.

Dogwood along I-40. Sen Al Gore Sr of TN born near here, authored interstate highway act.

The area seemed prosperous. Homes were solid and well tended, less vacant commercial buildings. Small town Americana-we even got behind a school bus discharging its kids, frequently two to three per house, once with the kids’ dog running out to meet them as the bus drove up.

View of Great Smokies from Foothills Parkway

View of Great Smokies from Foothills Parkway

The end of the drive brought us back to reality as we drove through Pigeon Forge TN, home of Dolly Parton shows, mini-golf, large hotel complexes, huge billboards advertising one thing or another. (Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts to rid American highways of billboards were long ago and evidently not effective.)

So, today is on to Richmond. Don’t know if we will try another alternate route. If we are lucky, Saturday will not have rain and we can explore the town a bit before we land in Williamsburg.

We had planned to spend much of August visiting KY and TN but a few weeks ago we dropped that idea in order to spend more time in the Canadian Rockies and WA state. I guess we will have to visit them next spring when Knoxville holds a dogwood festival showcasing the dogwood blossoms and garden tours.

Ed April 19 5 AM

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