We’ve been on the road for 24 hours and in some ways it feels like we haven’t left New England. As we walked out of the Marriott Residence Inn, Blacksburg, VA, this morning we were a little dismayed to see the truck covered in snow. Our winter coats, hats, mittens were buried in boxes that we thought we wouldn’t have to open until March in CO.
Our hunt for the best coffee place in town led us to Bollo’s Café. It was pleasant to walk to the shop down a charming brick alley at the edge of a university campus in the snow. Fittingly, the café vibe was Vermont general store and I felt perfectly at home ordering my café au laits and scones. I got to chatting with two women who also reminded me of country hippies and we discussed my Blundstone boots and taking care of elderly pets. The barista asked if I needed those coffee cup holders or could we preserve the paper. Of course I declined and in all ways I felt that these were my people.
In other ways it feels like we are a long way from home. While it was comforting to see a Black Lives Matter poster on the glass door of the café, I noticed as I was leaving that the door had been shattered as if someone had thrown a rock at it. Perhaps I was reading more into that than was fair but I was eager to get back in the car to head for... Birmingham AL?
As we checked out of the hotel this morning (much to Charlie’s relief. She is not a fan of the elevator's door dinging.) I watched many young, white, male basketball fans (apparently there was a big VA Tech game last night) streaming in and out of the lobby, not a mask in sight other than mine. (I was wearing two to compensate.)
So we are back in the car. I am happy to find that I can work on my computer without feeling car sick. (This might be less of a getaway than I had imagined.)
Yesterday’s 11 hours of travel was not as bad as we were expecting. When you start off on a drive of that length you don’t mind the first four hours at all. It was interesting to drive over the Tappan Zee Bridge (I don’t like name changes) and see road signs for Nyack (where our son’s girlfriend grew up) and Bernardsville (where my nephew and his wife live).
Our first audio book is of course Travels with Charley: Search for America, by John Steinbeck. We were astonished by the similarities of feelings and impressions that Steinbeck described in the first few pages. How the night before leaving you notice how roomy and homey your house is, and the great comfort of your bed, and the lack of COVID in your bathroom…
And then there are the sights. For example, we just passed “Hungry Mother State Park.” And there is the dreaming…we should invent a Venmo-type app for tipping hotel staff. And Brose’s commentary: “Maybe we should do a shot every time we cross a state line.”
My first time in the great state of Tennessee!