The day we have been awaiting since Jim left on Sept. 20 has finally arrived! Arrangements all made, the first contingent of Allens is ready to set forth for Texas! I worked until 1:00, then scrambled to do last-minute tasks such as...you know...packing the van, and inconsequential things like that. First contingent is my mom (henceforth known as Grammy here), Greg, and me. We are the wimps who don't want to fly. I mean, really, now that they are doing full body searches before you can board a plane, who needs that?? (Steve has told me what he plans to say when they start searching him, but we'll leave that for another blog far, far away from here)
Greg was a big help packing. He found the bottle of oil Steve made us take along for our poor old 2001 van, in case it gets thirsty along the way. He also remembered a few things that I would have forgotten, being the rather ditzy person that I tend to be in excitable situations. Mom has been indispensable all along the way as well. I'm glad to have them as my travel partners.
We left home around 1:50 PM on Monday, Nov. 15. The GPS, which Gram has named Maggie, guided us expertly. I drove most of the way, but Greg took over when I had a meeting to attend online at 3:00. Around that time we ran into some heavy traffic in MD including major truck traffic, so Greg was happy to give back the steering wheel.
We found a Shoney's at dinner time in VA. Greg had never heard of Shoney's, but Gram and I were familiar with it from our experiences in the South. It was an ok meal. Greg and I were at the buffet at one point and when we came back, our seat was damp. Gram said the waitress had been filling our waters and had made a major spill. I was disappointed that I wasn't seated at the time; I might have ended up with a free dinner (although I guess my clothes would have been uncomfortably damp for the remainder of the trip!)
I wanted to snap pictures of the state signs as we approached them, but Greg was usually driving and refused me this pleasure since he was afraid we'd get annihilated by an 18-wheeler while out of the vehicle. I did get some photos of the traffic and a few water towers along the way.
Around 7:00 in the evening my cell phone rang while I was driving and Greg excitedly announced that it was Jimmy! I practically screamed into the phone at the poor boy because we hadn't heard from him in 4 weeks (other than a few letters during that time). I believe my exact first words to him were, "Hi Jimmy! We're in Virginia! We're in Virginia!" It was great to hear from him, especially on an unprecedented Monday evening. He has always called on Saturdays before that. He told us that it's getting colder and wanted to make sure we were dressed warmly. He also said he needed us to bring $65 because he owes people money. When he left, they told him not to bring more than $20, so I'm not sure who he got the money from or what he needed it for, but his mommy and daddy will supply his needs!
Steve had determined that we would stay in Kingston, TN the first night, and we made it there before 11 PM. It was a welcome sight--and a wonderful place to stay! High ceilings, two rooms in our suite with French doors--very nice. Really comfy beds. We didn't want to get up in the morning! Hence, our 9:30 departure time on Morning 2. The best part of all was that it was a free stay due to Steve's massive number of Holiday Inn Express points gained over the years.
All in all, a four-star first day on the road.