So we went on vacation – part two

Last episode, we left our heroes (my family) slumbering away their mediocre McDonalds in Louisville, KY. The next morning we raided the hotel’s free breakfast cereal counter – a legendary delight the kids remembered from last road trip; three kinds of cereal! As much as we want!

Back into the van and away we went. 700 miles yesterday, and about 500 miles today. We should be at grandad’s in the late afternoon. Maybe we can even go swimming when we get there. We grabbed a Starbuck’s in downtown Louisville and we were on our way.

This leg didn’t quite go as swimmingly. The six bladders-on-board were nowhere near as resilient or synchronized as the day before. So more stops. And this was the mountain leg of the driving, which always takes longer.

And we had another last-minute waypoint in the works. Helen was hoping to meet up with a friend who lives in North Carolina. A few emails and phone calls were exchanged as the morning went on on we had a plan. So we typed the new destination into the borrowed Garmin nüvi and it led us on our way. Though the distance was little different than just going straight to my dad’s, it was slower going because of the smaller, winding roads and 30 mph zones as we moved through the small towns. But, man… it was lovely. We ended up going through a bit of Virginia, which I’d never seen before. Wow.

Well, we were making our way – slower than I wanted, but it was OK. But there was a flaw. I tend to be a bit of a ruthless packer: I don’t want to haul extraneous things around. Well, I misunderstood something about the borrowed nüvi. I left the auto adapter at home because I already had a USB auto adapter. Mistake. While it can be charged via USB, it will not operate while plugged in to USB. So I had to charge it, then use it, the see “OK, I have 50 miles before the next turn” and charge it for a while. Monkey business. And part way through Virginia, it ran out of power. I’m in Virginia for the first time and the GPS that took me there is dead. Ken gets grumpy.

I had a paper map and finally figured out where we were. Helen called her friend and figured out where we should be going (enough time had passed that plans had to change). We finally made our way to wide, fast, and welcome I-77.

As a side note: I really like paper. I mean, I love my gadgets – computer, iPhone, GPS, etc. – but paper is so much nicer and more convenient and “information dense” than a screen. (For the geeks visiting, yes, that’s a very Tufte-esque observation.) A paper map shows so much more in such a small space… layers and layers of information. I love paper maps.

Anyway, the evening approached and we accomplished our rendezvous with Helen’s friend a bit north of Charlotte. They hugged and and spun (see photo on bottom) and gabbed, while I enjoyed the entertainment inside the Outback:

Henry at the Outback
Henry at the Outback

Friendly waiter, but not very satisfying food. I’m 0-2 on culinary satisfaction so far on this trip.

Back on our way. We approached Charlotte. On a number of levels, I always love seeing “Billy Graham Parkway” on a street sign. I know my way by heart from here, and we rolled in to grandad’s place sometime around 9:30. Get the stuff in and the kids to bed. Day two done.

Driving totals:

Ken: 1,200 miles

Helen: 0 miles

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