Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sidewerds Glances

During my recent earthquaking (literally) business road trip, I occasionally enjoyed the luxury of spending time traveling the back roads of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Given my druthers, this is how I'd always get thyself from Point A to Point B: by winding my way up, down and sidewerds, as my Grandma used to say, on the grey roadmap lines between them. But alas, sometimes I'm just stuck with the airlines, and you can interpret that any way you like.

Will Allen III, another business traveling blogger, and one I always read, describes his occasional road trips in glorious detail—including traffic conditions. Sometimes we choose our cars over the airlines in a desperate attempt to assume and resume our sense of control over traveling matters, and sometimes it actually works. Other times, getting behind the wheel feels a draw at best, and an exhaust sucking nightmare at worst.

As for me and my auto traveling tales (and since I'm known as a "humorist"), I most enjoy discovering and sharing the uncommon, the absurd, the splendiferous and the Say WHAT?!s, even when at the time they seem nothing more than the terrible. Ain't it funny how hindsight can birth the amusing, when in Real Time, reality, and especially airline reality (is that an oxymoron?), is often nothing more than a headache.

But since I'm currently sitting here in Hindsight Mode, I'd like to share a few of the highlights you miss when you choose the commuter airlines over a sidewerds trip in your own comfy vehicle in which you can choose your own music, pack as many bags as you like with however many over-sized liquid containers as suits you (Bring it ON, you 3.5-oz bottles!), pull into any restaurant or drive-in that grabs your taste buds (LOVE Sonics!—and did you know that "participating" Sonics have a "happy hour" every day from 2 – 4?), and remember that the miniscule details of the Real Earth in Real Time are actually more lush and fascinating than any Google Map view, or the view from 27,000 feet.

So, in no particular order, I present to you a few highlights from my Chicago-to-Nashville-and-back-again journey. Yes, the business (you'll find me listed as a bonified AUTHOR) got done, but so did some mental refreshing away from my typical keyboarding grind.


*A Coney Dog from Sonic, although we've already covered that.

*Wild flowers and a few wild-and-woolly (one on the floor, face down, getting handcuffed--no KIDDING!) in Nashville.

*The opportunity to "Sleep In A WIGWAM," (they're cement) which we did not because we had to move on, but maybe one day. This is nothing new folks; this establishment had already been there for 60 years in 1997, it says so on their website! We would never had known this place existed if we hadn't accidentally discovered it alongside one of our "Let's try THIS road" choices, even though in looking up the info I discovered that NPR talked about them in 2001. You can listen to the audio! (That last click is SO WORTH IT, just for the READ!) If I wasn't currently stuck on a dial-up network (yes, they still exist), I could listen, too!
*TWO breakfasts at Waffle House, one in IN and another in KY. I've never been to a Waffle House where I wasn't greeted with a hearty HELLO! We don't have Waffle Houses in my home area, so I'm always excited to get the opportunity to order a "Regular hash brown, all the way," which means it comes smothered (onions), covered (American cheese), chunked (hickory smoked ham), diced (tomatoes), capped (mushrooms), and topped with Bert's Chili. If you think Bert's Chili isn't special, did you know there is an official Ode to Bert's Chili? I also get jalapeƱos in the "all the way" mix, too, but I can't remember the "call" for them. I just know they're included. Mm, mm, mm. The only thing that could be better as a hearty breakfast is the "double" or "triple" order of same, but that's more than I can handle, which I learned the hard way several years back.

In case you think Waffle House doesn't consider your health, please know they stock sugar free syrup. Neener-neener.

*A marvelous starry sign . You can see the lit version here--although I'm still wondering if it flashes. The motel's exterior was neat and tidy and their lot was filled with cars. We didn't get to stay here either, but like the Wigwams, maybe one day.

*A farm house with a giant sleeping dog on the front porch, and a wide-awake goat standing next to him or her. I'm still sorry I didn't stop and take a picture!

I'll leave you here with a word picture of one of the best reasons to occasionally take your business traveling backside to the back roads. People out in their yards in rural areas, and those traveling toward you on the county roads, almost ALWAYS wave or nod at you, and smile. You feel welcomed, honored, seen—really seen—and glad to be waving and smiling back. Whether traveling frontwerds, backwerds or sidewerds, now there's a travelin' grace worth gittin'. As Arthur Landers, a character in my Welcome to Partonville series would say, "Ya perty much don't in-counter that kinda be-havior in the airports no more. And that's a serious cryin' shame."

No comments: