US Road Trip Epilog: 13th August 2005

I had no plans to return to Nashville yet again, but a few things have changed my mind:

I use Interstate 24 to get out of Chattanooga and was planning to leave it for Highway 41. The car seems to be running well, however, and as the Interstate is more direct I think stay on it for a bit longer. This turns out to be a bad decision.

Interstate 24 in a thunderstorm
Interstate 24 in a thunderstorm. I took this photo after the worst of it - I wouldn't have dared doing so earlier.

As the Interstate heads up the mountain the weather gets increasingly worse until we're in the middle of a fully-fledged thunderstorm. Because of the amount of rain falling visibility is terrible and the road has become a river, with a few inches of water flowing down it. Many cars and trucks pull over on the hard shoulder, either because they've broken down or to wait out the storm, but I decide to push on. We're doing about 25 MPH by now, and every time there's a loud crack of thunder I jump a few inches in the seat.

Further upstream an empty car transporter, which had hurtled past me earlier, has somehow spun 180° and the passenger side of the cab is embedded in the cliff face. This obviously happened some time earlier, and quite a few people have stopped to help. By now the torrential rain is forcing its way through the window seals in the car, most noticeably onto my left knee. Somehow the car keeps running - I've owned plenty whose electrical systems would never have survived this kind of soaking.

At the top of the mountain is the first opportunity to get off the Interstate, which I gratefully take. There's a truck stop near the off-ramp, and we come to a halt with a lurch from the soaked brakes. I think I'll just sit here, for at least half an hour. That should be long enough to get my breathing and heart rate back to normal.

Once the worst of the storm has passed we can continue north and west to Nashville along Highway 41. The vibration from under the car returns from time to time, and is now occurring at lower speeds, and there's a big sigh of relief from me when we make it successfully to the Comfort Inn. Every time I come back to this place the room I get seems to get better and better, and this one is actually quite nice. Just as well, as I could be here a while.

Downtown Nashville
Downtown Nashville. The guys in the white shirts are Promise Keepers, some sort of Christian men's organisation, who are holding a huge rally here. Somehow I don't think I'll be seeing them in the bars later.

I wasn't expecting to be able to see the NASCAR Busch Series race from Watkins Glen, but it's been rain-delayed for 2 hours so that's the rest of my afternoon sorted. It's still a bit odd to see NASCAR racers on a twisty track with elevation changes, rather than an oval, but it's a good close race. A lot of the leaders are taking a chance on how much fuel they've got left, and the winner actually runs out of gas on the slowdown lap.

Broadway in Nashville at night
Broadway in Nashville at night.

In the evening I walk downtown and stop in to see a few bands. Some are ok but the simple truth is that I'm exhausted. Saturday night in Nashville and I'm back at the motel and fast asleep by 11 p.m. Sad but true.

US Road Trip Epilog: 14th August 2005 >