Tonight we are in a small motel somewhere in a little Kentucky town just off I-75. Our dinner waitress had an accent exactly like Dolly Parton and the open windows in our room are letting in the sounds of traffic, crickets, and anything that happens to go bump in the night.
We are driving to Indiana to keep our two grandsons while their mom and dad have a weekend in Chicago. The trip is one we used to make in a single day. Now we divide it over two days. We have ridden these highways to the Midwest over thirty years–to and from Wisconsin. . . Illinois. . . Minnesota. . . Indiana. The route to any one of them is the same for at least 600 miles. We can show you the motel where we were staying when a tornado roared through, the one with the miniature golf course and indoor pool, the one where the power went off–in winter.
Yesterday we made our trip preparations. Dearly Beloved washed the car. I did the laundry and went to the grocery store for wine and snacks. Our priorities are SO different!
The car looked really spiffy for a couple of hours until the Great Smokey Mountains began to look like this:
The clouds soon let loose a deluge so hard that everyone slowed to 25 mph except the trucks, which zipped right by, slinging mud.
DB was aggravated. Clean cars are a must on trips. One of the grandsons is a car freak, so arriving in Indiana in a shiny car gives us instant cred. The kid could call out the names of cars before he was potty trained. Arriving in my blue station wagon full of cloth grocery bags, umbrellas, library books to be returned, etc. would be too much to overcome, so we must always drive DB’s sporty little number to Indiana.
DB asked for one of my snacks which I’d put in the trunk which made them inaccessible because if we stopped and didn’t get hit or fall off the mountain, we’d still get soaked. It was gum or nothing in that mud-spattered car. My preparations weren’t working out much better than his.
The first time we drove this car to Indiana–when it still had the new car smell and was all shiny black–Granddad took the little guys out for ice cream after dinner and to their delight, opened the sunroof on a winter night in Indiana. Waiting at a stop sign, he threw the car into park, unbuckled his seatbelt and stood up to stretch through the open top and shout, “Hello, Stars! How is everything on Mars?”
I could bake cookies and make their favorite French Toast and baked spaghetti the rest of my life and he’d still reign supreme. He”ll be requested to take them on the Mars ride while we’re here. Our duties are pretty well delineated; he’s sports and outside games; I’m board games and cook.
At checkin, DB asked for a room on the second floor in case there was a mountain view. I opened the draperies and indeed there was. . . sort of:
The manager’s nametag indicated he was from Las Vegas. When DB asked him what brought him here, he said he came to finally meet his 101-year-old grandmother and get to know her a bit in a hello and goodbye visit. That was two years ago. Still going strong at 103, she has already shared enough family tales for at least one book. He’s not going anywhere.
That, incidentally, is why we have the windows open instead of using the air conditioner. Breathing some of this Kentucky mountain air sounded like a healthy idea.
The recommended restaurant was across the parking lot. We walked through the lobby where two stacks of newspapers were available: The Christian something and the County Republican. As we walked in the front door, DB warned, “DO NOT TALK POLITICS IN HERE!”
One side of the restaurant was blue with smoke. The walls were decorated with rifles. I thought his suggestion was a good one.
Our server asked what we’d like to drink and I asked if they served wine.
“Oh yes! Wine and beer.”
I’ll have a red. What kind do you have?
“Ookaaaaay. . . I’ll have a glass of Merlot. ”
DB decided to have one, too.
She was back in a few minutes with bad news.
“We’re out of Merlot.”
DB ordered a beer and I settled for iced tea. I’ve never liked beer, but I certainly like my nightly glass of red wine.
“Give me the car keys, ” I said. “I’m going to get my bottle of wine out of the car and ask them to open it for me. I can have a glass back in the motel.”
I hadn’t planned on opening it on the trip, thus no corkscrew. I asked the hostess who’d seated us if I could bring a bottle of wine in and get them to open it for me. She thought for a moment and shook her head.
“I don’t think so, but I’ll ask.”
I hastened to assure her I needn’t drink it in the restaurant. I just wanted to borrow a corkscrew.
“That’s the problem,” she told me, “I don’t think we have one. All of our wines are screw top.”