Monday, August 09, 2010

Farewell to Harriman, and on to Kentucky.

One of my favorite things about a road trip is stopping at places like Denny's or Cracker Barrel for a great breakfast. I mean, we could have one any time. We have those places around here, and more. It's just not the same as when you're on the road.

There was a wonderful, seemingly brand new Denny's at a truck stop near Jackson, Tennessee, that we stopped at on the way to Harriman. That place was great. It turned out the kitchen staff and the waitresses were having a contest over who had screwed up more often. The banter between them was hilarious. When our waitress brought me my Moons Over My Hammy (my usual Denny's fare), she looked at it and thought the cook had forgotten to add the eggs.

Before I could say anything, or even take possession of my meal she took it over to the cook and started to give him hell, until he showed her that he hadn't, in fact, left out the eggs. That's when she came back and explained about the contest. We laughed our asses off. So, if you're drivin' through Jaskson, Tennessee, stop at that Denny's and ask them how the contest is goin'.

As I said before, on our last morning in town, Denise and I met up with Paul at the Cracker Barrel near our hotel and we enjoyed a hearty breakfast before Denise and I drove on to Bowling Green.

As usual, our breakfast that Friday morning was wonderful. I had the eggs-in-a-basket, over easy with ham, sausage and hash browns. Mmmmm, good. This is my usual CB breakfast. I love it every time. I can't remember what the others had, but believe me, nobody was complaining.

After a half hour or so, with pit stops made and bills paid, we headed out to the car. The rocks of Buzzards bluff stood over us as we said our goodbyes in the parking lot, reminding us of some of the fun we'd had over those last three days.

This years visit to Harriman ended with the traditional, grab-'em-around-the-neck-and-snap-a-shot, which works out brilliantly a surprisingly large amount of the time. Of course, it helps to be a head taller than just about everyone around me.

With that, we parted ways. Paul headed back down the road to town and Denise and I zipped back up onto I-40, aiming the car towards Nashville. Along the way, the thoughts that usually drift through my head, the sadness at leaving, only made a brief appearance. I used to feel the same way when I left Williamsposrt, after visiting my cousin Bob. I love these guys to death, so I always feel sad to leave. But as we all get older, it's getting easier for the little kid in me to believe that I will be back, and that we'll do it all again.

I even had some encouraging words this time from Judy. She's usually the one that schedules their holidays, and this time she asked me lots of questions about a possible visit to Texas. "What time of year is best to come, etc?" That knocked me out. I've been dyin' to get these folks down to Fredericksburg, or Austin, or Dallas ever since my first visit to Harriman. I want to sit 'em down at mom's and fill 'em full of her chicken and peach ice cream. I wanna take 'em to Dynasty for some awesome Chinese food. Maybe, just maybe. It'd a be a hoot, fer sure.

Not too far from Harriman, Denise pulled me out of my funk when she decided that she wanted to check out the Crossvlle Outlet mall. I'm always game for these places, You never know what you're gonna find in them.

Case in point... While Denise checked out dresses and frilly undies at one end of the mall, I wandered off and found a huge store filled with toy electric train sets. It was amazing, with all these tables laid out with little towns and villages to scale, and trains running through them. I was mesmerized, and I wasn't alone.

Kids of all ages were diggin' it. At one point, the old gentleman you see in the video above, on the right in the railroad hat, was having trouble reaching a car that had jumped the tracks on one of his lines. I stepped up and offered to put it back on it's track. You know, it's one of the things I do... Reaching things other folks can't. Lets say, it's a gift.

I hung around there for a while, to the point where I started to wonder if Denise knew where I'd run off to. I strolled back out into the mall and there she was. She was ready to go, but I had to go back one more time. I walked up to the counter where the train folks were welcoming visitors and answering questions, and I put about $20 in the jar they set aside for contributions. The guy standing there thanked me profusely, and then I thanked him for all the fun. As I walked away I heard him say to someone else, "Obviously, not from around here." That made me wonder if the local folks contribute much to the upkeep of the place. They should. It's pretty cool.

Further on down the road, Denise and I stopped again at the Russell Stover outlet store in Cookeville. We'd tried to stop there on the way from Memphis to Harriman, but we'd arrived right at closing time. This time we made it, but the visit turned out to be much less satisfying than it had been a few years earlier when we discovered the place.

That year, 2008, Denise had bought a stack of boxes of assorted chocolates to hand out to all the folks back at work. This time, to her surprise, she found the prices much higher than they'd been before. She might as well just wait and get the stuff at Wal Mart back home. The result, we got away with just a few boxes of treats, and we were soon back on the road for Nashville.

Pretty soon we had to stop for gas. I have a gas card that gives me three cents off if I use a Wal Mart or Sam's, so we started lookin' as we zipped west along I-40 for one or the other. Then it hit me. I'd been trying to pick up some unrefrigerated Yuengling at grocery stores while we were in Tennessee, and so far I'd only scored a case of cans. But hey, our Sam's at home sells unrefrigerated cases of bottled beer. Maybe these folks do to. It was worth a try. So we gassed up at the first Sam's we found, and then headed inside to see if we could locate the goods.

Sure enough, my mission was a success! My supply of this Pennsylvania brewed nectar (that isn't sold in Texas) was restored. I bought two cases of bottles to go with the one case of cans, and then drove on into the western sun a much happier, contented man.

When we finally got to Bowling Green, Denise had a wonderful reunion with her daughter, Lynn, and her new granddaughter, Payton. It's always a good photo op when Lynn brings the baby out and her Nanna starts to grin and giggle. She's in heaven when she's in that little kids presence. It's hilarious, and you can see the kid's NOT camera shy.

She's about ten months old now, which means she's crawling around, trying to figure everything out, just on the cusp of walking. She stands up next to her mother on the floor and can almost balance herself. Long story short, by the next time we do one of these road trips, dear little Payton is gonna be gettin' into EVERYTHING. She was already testing her Pappa Sasquatch (I'm so proud of that name).

Gee Pappa Sasquatch, can have some? Maybe just a little?

Oh no little Payton. You're gonna have to wait a while. You know, a few years anyway. Until then, STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM PAPPA SASQUATCH'S HOOCH! That's a good girl.

After settlin' in, Denise and I went for burgers. Lynn recommended a place closer into town, called Jimbo's Grill. It turned out to be a great little find.

Looky here, looky here. We're talkin' a single patty bacon cheeseburger with Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, jalapenos, and cooked onions, thank you very much. And it was good, especially after a long day on the road. The onion rings could have been better, but who's counting.

We spent the next three days there in Bowling Green, and then we drove up to Vine Grove and spent four days up there with the rest of Denise's kids and grand kids. I'll retell that story in the next post. Untl then, cool your jets. It's almost over. Cheers.


Mushy said...

Now I'm so hungry I can't wait for breakfast! Come again soon!

FHB said...

Me too. We'll see. My new job situation has lots of things up in the air.