Sunday, February 03, 2013

Road Trip: Day Two

Day Two: Bristol, VA – Chattanooga, TN
Miles: 361-615
Weather: Blowing snow, icy, windy and mid-20s

This travel day was planned to be shorter than the others as we had a fixed destination: visiting my husband’s brother and sister-in-law, plus step-sister and her family in Chattanooga.  Having not seen them for years, we wanted to arrive as early as we could to extend the visit beyond just pulling in for dinner and then heading back to the hotel. The weather had other plans.

First, the cats had to be persuaded to come out from under the bed once again. Persuasion might be the wrong verb, but I’m not sure which one to use that accurately describes the escalation in force which begins with begging, bribing with treats, pleading, threatening to leave them behind and finally pressing our cheeks flat against the hotel carpet in order to reach said putty-tat by the scruff, turning them sideways and not-too-graciously dragging them out from underneath the furniture. Besides asking about government rates and easy car-to-room access when making hotel reservations, I’m now inquiring about the weight of the beds and sofas, and whether or not these pieces can be lifted to fetch reluctant fur travelers. Frankly, I think a petition should be started requiring hotels to use platform beds, thus saving us all a lot of time and effort in the stressful packing-up and moving-out process.  But that’s just me.

Once loaded into the car, they quickly settled, and by the time we got up to a steady highway speed, Daphne and Dodger had found their perches on the mounds of luggage behind our heads. Toby, not known for either his jumping or climbing skills, caterwauled for a while and then resigned himself to nesting in the litter box. Really Toby, have some pride, man!

Leaving Bristol, on the VA-TN border, it was 23 degrees and the small amount of snow that had fallen the day before wasn’t going anywhere.  We drove for a ways and then at the first break, I took the wheel. Shortly outside of Knoxville, TN the blowing snow started. It wasn’t the big, fluffy flakes that hypnotize me when I look up into them (thankfully), but rather the driving, pelting granules that formed a glossy sheen on the highway. Soon the line of traffic ground to a stop and we realized there must be a wreck ahead, and not surprisingly either.

“Honey, do folks from Tennessee know how to drive in the snow?” I asked my husband, who’s from the South, and thus the subject-matter expert for all inquiries for the next three days’ drive.

“Sure, it should snow some here every year.”

This lead me to conclude that the 10-car smash up we passed shortly afterwards was either a freak ice storm that took otherwise perfectly prepared motorized by surprise, was involving only people from other states making their way to the Super Bowl, or just a case of plain bad luck for all involved. The dozen or so other cars we passed littering the ditches, wrapped around trees, flipped over in the slushy roadsides or simply slid off the roadway put to rest any question about their winter driving capabilities.  My brother-in-law later told us, “Oh heck no! People in Tennessee can’t drive in the snow!”

We crept our way between Knoxville and Chattanooga, and by the time we got to our hotel the streets were simply cold and dry, but no longer slushy or snowy.

After the first night’s hotel room, sharing the bed with the Tabbies, we opted for a suite at Hotel Two with separate living and bedrooms. It was super nice, actually nicer than our Oakwood Apartment, and once released from their carriers, the kitties immediately set out exploring all corners, undersides of all beds, behind each dresser and the topside of each pillow. We left them in peace for the evening, and shared a lovely dinner and night of catching up with my husband’s family.

Tucking into bed last night, my husband admitted that it would be nice to stay here a few more days. It’s only Day Two, and already the packing-unpacking-packing routine is getting old. However, with having a hotel suite instead of single room, we were able to give the cats the living room and then close the bedroom doors to give us some relief from the feline parade that generally starts about 04:00 a.m. and doesn’t cease until all humans are awake and preparing bowls of food for the true masters of the house.

We spent the morning visiting family again for breakfast and letting the cats explore their beautiful suburban home, complete with screened-in porch with view of a pond, a brook, birds in trees and real grass. What could be better, right? According to Daphne, it would be better if they got rid of those terrifying raptors suspended from the ceiling in each room, spinning and preparing to attack unsuspecting kitties. She was smarter than that, and promptly bolted under the love seat.

Yeah, she has a point; and we realized that we’ve never had a ceiling fan in the house before. Poor love.

Next Phase: TN, GA, AL to MS!

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