VA to CA, day two

Today was our first real day of travel, a full day on the road.

The dog and I started the day with a short run in Lexington, Virginia.  It is always hard to take a good run from a highway motel:  you are a long way from the nice roads; you are in the midst of the gas stations and big roads.  But we went over to the local high school and had a nice view of the sun rising over the mountains.  Indeed we were surrounded by mountains there.  Further proof that we are in the South was breakfast:  biscuits and gravy as well as the usual fare.

We were on the road before eight, good time.  Lydia got in the back with the dog, worked on her SAT math books.  I drove along and enjoyed the rolling road and the lovely green scenery.  I think of Virginia as having one climate, but they must get a lot more rain in southwestern Virginia than we do in suburban Washington, for my lawn when I left was a sad brown, and everything this morning was a vibrant green.  Green and blue:  the Blue Ridge really is blue, when viewed from any distance.

One aspect of travel that has changed in the past few years is the internet:  even the most modest motels now have some form of internet connection. Last night I went online to research today, and the research worked out well.  Our first target was Stan’s Barbecue in Greeneville, Tennessee, a slight detour off route 81, but well worth it.  The place was packed with locals, including some folks who looked to be the local lawyers or accountants, in coat and tie.  We sat outside, with the dog, and had great pork barbecue.

Another aspect of travel that has changed is the cell phone.  With a handsfree phone, one is never really out of touch, even in rural Tennessee.  We were approaching Greeneville on a small country road when my mother called Lydia, and we learned that Amazon has named my book one of its hot nonfiction books for the fall.  Number eleven on the list, to be precise.  Again, I do not know what this means for sales, but it cannot hurt.

Our second stop was Andrew Johnson’s tailor shop in downtown Greeneville.  One understands, when one sees his very modest home and shop, why he always resented the rich.  The explanatory movie was rather one-sided:  it gave the impression that Johnson wanted to defend the Constitution and the Radical Congress to tear it up.  Nothing about the way Johnson insulted southern blacks, suggesting they would NEVER be ready to vote.  And insulted the Congress, indeed suggested that Congress should not legislate AT ALL until it seated the Southern delegates.  No mention that the southern delegates were, in many cases, former Confederates, elected by whites only.  The bookstore, sadly, did not have David Stewart’s great book on the impeachment, a much more balanced account.

Our third stop was our present motel, in Dickson, Tennessee, a pleasant spot, if a little close to the highway for my taste.  And our fourth stop, still the result of last night’s research, was Bart’s Barbecue in Dickson:  good although not as good as lunch.

We are now about 1980 miles from Newport Beach:  we should be able to get there in four more days of driving.  Tomorrow we cross the Mississippi, something I have never done by car.