After a hiatus from writing this column for a few weeks (I wrote several columns in advance of a family trip to Tennessee), it’s time to climb back in the saddle and start “wriding” again.
Ol’ Nevah and I are getting too old to make the trip to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in two days, so we allotted three days going and coming. That makes it more pleasurable and lets us get off the beaten path to see parts of the country not seen from the interstate highways.
Our main purpose of the trip was to share in the celebration of our granddaughter’s 8th grade graduation. She made us proud of her academic, artistic, and athletic prowess. She’s so mature for her years that I had to wonder to myself if any of my absurdly limited genetic traits were indeed passed along to her. If I figgered right, the one-eighth of my contribution to her genetic makeup must all be made up of subordinate, unexpressed genes.
Of course, we enjoyed the four days, five nights we spent with our daughter, son-in-law and all four of our Tennessee grandkids. They are growing up so fast.
Now for a bit of our travelogue en route. We decided to make a big circle out of our trip — take a northern route out and a southern route back home and to miss as many big cities as possible. So, we skirted south of Kansas City through Harrisionville, Mo., and made our way to Sedalia and Jefferson City, then took a scenic byway northwest to the German wine country around Hermann, Mo.
Before we arrived at Hermann, we went through the tiny burg of Chamois (Sham-wah) in the Missouri River bottoms. The funny thing about Chamois was a fenced-in yard with a sign on it that said “Nudist Colony.” Nevah wanted me to stop so she could take a look and find out the membership requirements, but I put the pedal to the metal to keep that from happening.
We stopped at the Stone Hill Winery in Hermann and bought a couple of bottles of its wine — one red and one white — for our evening enjoyment. From Hermann we went east to New Haven through the old stomping grounds of my Lutheran buddy, ol’ Saul M. Reeder. I told Saul after I got home that one of the Lutheran churches we passed had a sign on the marquee that said “Come Home, Saul,” but he didn’t believe me — probably for good reason.
We were traveling the weekend before Memorial Day and at dusk we were passing through Franklin County, Mo. I want to give a salute and a big shout-out to the patriotic good folks who live there. They were out in pickup trucks in teams of four lining Highway 47 on both sides with large American flags. The flags were put about 30 feet apart. We don’t know exactly how far along the highway the flags were flying, but it was at least 15 miles. Perhaps it wuz clear across the county. The folks erecting the flags were a mix of old veterans in military caps, housewives, professional folks, farmers, laborers and teenagers. I wanted to stop and find out how the flag-flying tradition started, who paid for the thousands of flags, and who organized the entire affair?
But, it wuz nearly dark, Friday night spillover traffic from St. Louis wuz heavy and Highway 47 has no shoulders to pull over. So, I never got my questions answered. Suffice it to say, it was a display of patriotism few counties or communities will equal.
After overnighting at Farmington, Mo., we took out early Saturday morning and made our way to Perryville, Mo., where we partook of a great breakfast at the Park-Et Cafe. I’ve mentioned the cafe before as a great place to eat breakfast.
We crossed the Mighty Mississippi at Perryville and went across southern Illinois to Owensboro, Ken., where we joined friends in a party celebrating the graduation of their daughter from the University of Kentucky and the new aggie-type jobs landed by her and her finance. More old friends from southern Indiana joined the celebration and we had a great meal and a great time.
On Sunday, we went east of Bowling Green, Ken., on the four-lane to Interstate 75, which we followed south to the Tennessee state line and then took a side trip I’ve long wanted to take. We exited the interstate at Jellico and followed a narrow, deep valley highway that paralleled the interstate. It was what I’d call the heart of Tennessee mountain country and it wuz a beautiful drive. When we re-entered I-75, in a couple of hours we were in Pigeon Forge.
I noted a couple of mention-worthy road signs in Tennessee. The Tennessee Dept. of Transportation displays lighted signs that read “Ain’t nobody got time for an accident. Slow it down!” Plus, I saw a unique business sign that said simply, “Bud’s Machine Gun Rental.” I wondered how many machine guns Bud rents?
Even thought I’m anything but a true handyman, I’m a sucker for the discount tool stores in Pigeon Forge. This trip I only bought $75 worth of tools that I could have lived without, but am happier with.
I’ll continue the travelogue next week. I’ll wrap this column up with a couple of observations. First, armadillos must live at night on the highway because I saw probably 100 dead ones on the road. Second, it seems to me that folks in the Deep South celebrate Memorial Day more resolutely than elsewhere. I don’t know why. Perhaps it goes back to the terrible Civil War.
My wisdom for the week. Keep fighting the War on Weeds. They’re winning.
Have a good ‘un.