Putting in eighteen hours on the road in two days can be tiring. Part of my mind has never comprehended this, because you reason that you’re not actively “doing” anything. But then you remember that you have to keep your mind extremely focused and always paying attention to what’s going on around you. Unless you want to be in a car accident, of course. And we were driving through the mountains, no less. Gotta have your brain in gear.
Of course, I split the driving with my brother, on the first day, so my brain wasn’t completely exhausted from the trip itself. Couldn’t sleep, the night before, so I think I only got about three hours of shuteye. Hey, it happens.
For reasons of health (that I won’t go into), I was getting coffee at gas stations and fast food joints, but I wasn’t putting any milk or creamer into them. I wasn’t drinking the coffee to stay awake, because caffeine doesn’t affect me, but I just like it. However, I found out how many terrible things can be covered up when you lace your coffee with rich cream or Irish Cream flavored creamer.
On the first day of travel, I sampled coffee at McDonald’s, Burger King, and more than one gas station. And I am sorry, but every one of them tasted like they’d been sitting on the burner all night. I could smell a burnt odor, when I got the cup near my nose, and I could taste it after I swallowed it. My brother can attest to the fact that I made horrible faces over every cup. And no, it wasn’t just the bitterness of coffee, because I usually put in plenty of sweetener. So, during the whole day, I tried cup after cup, and never finished a single one.
You can imagine that I had a slightly jaded opinion on the subject, when I walked into my first gas station on my second day of travel. It was 9 am and we’d hit two gas stations by that point, the day before, having left earlier. I wasn’t very hopeful. But I took one sip of my coffee, and my face lit up. This cup was fresh! It wasn’t burnt! It was marvelous! And then I realized that one of the station workers was in the process of brewing another pot for the other flavor. Proof that it really was fresh! I went up to the cash register and told the lady how wonderful my cup of coffee was, and she assured me that their coffee never lasted long enough to get burnt.
Burger King saved its reputation with me, when I stopped to eat lunch. My two cups of coffee for the day were wonderful and lasted me for most of the trip. I happily could’ve hugged someone. But it reminded me of my last job, before I became a nanny. I finally remembered that, sure enough, we would brew a pot of coffee in the morning, and with only 2 or 3 of us drinking it, it lasted all day. By the end of the day, so we didn’t waste it, I’d load it with more creamer, sweetener, and sometimes even a pack of hot chocolate mix. If there was a can of whipped cream in the fridge, I’d add that, too. So, all these additions covered the multitude of sins which seem to be incorporated into a pot of coffee that’s been left on the burner way too long.
If the coffee hadn’t been so good, I don’t think I would’ve survived my trip. I was peeved enough after missing my turn, getting all turned around trying to find where I should go, and the roads being badly labeled. Before you ask, no, I do not have a GPS, but I’ve never needed one, between my atlas and Mapquest (or Google Maps). Also, I have absolutely no problem with stopping to ask for directions. Considering how I usually do quite well with directions and finding my way, it figures that everything had to go wrong on this one.
And then, an hour or two later, I got my road numbers flipped, and went on the wrong one when US 64 and 74 split! I backtracked, took some more back roads and eventually got on the right one. Even in the mountains of the South, did you know you can find a church every mile or two? I saw signs for at least 5 of them within 10 miles, on the same road. I’m still wondering a bit about Vengeance Creek Baptist Church. No offense to its members, but I’m still wondering if it would sound totally cool or just a bit odd, when someone asks you where you attend, and you say “Vengeance Creek”.
By the time all my other travel issues had resolved, I was almost resigned to getting stuck behind a large truck and a cement truck, going into the mountains. But when I finally found a sign that I was in the Chattahoochee National Forest, I knew I was golden, and almost home.
Seeing that sign also reminded me of how many (probably) Native American Indian names I saw on rivers, lakes, and forests, while I was driving. We think that all the Aboriginal names of towns and places in Australia sound or look odd (Wooloomooloo, anyone?). But it’s probably the same for any Aussies who come over here and listen to us talk about the Chattahoochee, Chattooga, Ocoee, Nantahala, Issaqueena, Cherokee, and several more than I can’t think of. Come to think of it, some of my Northern friends think they sound odd, too.Then again, up north they have the Keowah, Chippewa, Menominee, Dakota, and many more, and from my visits to the U.P. of Michigan, I know those names abound on towns, rivers, and camp cabins, too.
Before I forget, the pictures of Dam #2 are part of the Ocoee system, all of which are downstream from the location of the 1996 Summer Olympics whitewater area. I saw whitewater rafters arriving at the top of the dam, so they have to be cautious that they don’t go over the edge, while several other large groups were heading out down below it. I didn’t actually stop at the Olympic site (fees to park there) and the water wasn’t running there, so LOTS of rocks sticking out. I think they save up the water and run that for weekend groups and training.