Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Part Two: Sahara and Miss Monk Go To Florida

     We very quickly go from Michigan to Ohio. This is cousin country! I think a lot about Linda, Carolyn, Sean and Kathleen and their families. When I was little, they were the most important people in my life. You never forget that kind of bond, even when you're apart for long periods of time. They've been through a lot lately, but at least I was able to be with them.
    Once in a while, the girls give soft little complaints from the back seat, but for the most part, they are quiet. Maybe that pheromone stuff really does work. Or maybe they've figured out that we must have passed the vet's office by now. We make a couple of comfort stops (ours mostly, but the cats get food and water too). Outside it's brutally cold, mostly due to the frigid wind.We duck into roadside stations and stops very quickly.
     There is snow everywhere, perhaps a little less than at home, but not much. Alongside the highway, the wind has sculpted the snow and dirt mix into drifts of toasted meringue.  All the rock faces have white ice beards.
Toledo, Bowling Green, Findlay, Lima, Wapakoneta. Dave Hunter (Along Interstate 75) tells us the river Teays existed here in ancient times. We're warned as we go through Sidney and approach Piqua that there might be wildlife near the highway as we cross the Great Miami River, but they are too cold to come out from the warmer brush.
     We read one of Dave's tips about a hotel chain along 75, so we push past Dayton and land in Middletown about 6:30 p.m. Fortunately the Drury Inn and Suites has a room for us, but happy hour and dinner end at 7. So we unceremoniously drop the cats in the room and dash downstairs. Pasta, salad, buns, desserts - and three beverages of a social nature each - all included! We decide we love the Drury Inns. Even the girls like the place. It's apparently the best kept secret along the interstate, so please don't tell anyone. We don't want a no-room-at-the-inn situation. The next morning we enjoy the full hot breakfast they provide as well. Oh, and Internet, and an hour's worth of long distance calls.
What's the clue that tells you this is an old billboard?
     Just past Cincinnati and the Ohio River, we enter Kentucky. Although there is still snow, it's not what we Canadians think of as "snow". It dusts the fields. Still cold enough for the ice beards, but some of the water still runs. Lots of lovely green expanses and rolling hills. This is horse country. Ranches, farms, race tracks, equestrian parks, all beautifully maintained. Stone walls, white fences...black fences. Dave says the traditional white, which is expensive because it must be replaced every year, is changing to black because they now have non-leaded. Used to be the ranchers could only use white for the safety of their animals.
     Lexington and Richmond begin to qualify as bucolic. Our rules for this designation are that they have to be verdant (green) and there must be at least one cow.
     We stop at the stunning Kentucky Artisan and Rest Centre, which Dave says has the cleanest restrooms in the state. We think he's right. Not only that, it would be very tempting to shop here for lovely, handmade shawls, scarves, ornaments...if only I weren't trying to downsize!
     The Daniel Boone National Forest - wait a minute, wasn't he born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, killed himself a bear (pronounced bar) when he was only three?
     Former land of the Cherokee, Shawnee, Miami and Wynadot natives. Apparently, old Danny was a significant contributor to settling this land with white folk. I picture them chopping and hacking their way through the bush and forest.
     Nearby is where Colonel Sanders began the whole fast food obsession. Incredible that he started with what he thought was "good, wholesome food". Tell that to the fat conscious population now.
Wish the girls liked sitting in bars and listening to music. This would be an amazing area to stop and soak in the local talent in Renfro Valley.
     The hills make their way up to the Pine and Jellico Mountains as we pass into Tennessee. We have sunshine and warmer weather, so the vistas are breathtaking.  Steep grades up, then down, as we travel along the valleys. The traffic is light and the day is clear. There are deer and fog warnings posted here and there, but we don't see either.
     What we do notice are enormous white crosses poking toward the sky every few miles or so. Dave has the explanation: Some fellow, who clearly has too much money, buys up an acre or two next to any location where an adult store establishes itself. Then he builds the cross. If I were the business owner,  I'd use it as an advertising symbol.
     By the time we reach Chattanooga, we're tired. There aren't any Drury's here, but we find a nice clean La Quinta that's pet friendly. It's cheaper, but not as sound proof and apparently very popular with dogs. The girls aren't very happy here. We pick up a take-out at the Wendy's next door and spend the night inside with them. No one even asks, "Is that the cat that ate your new shoes?"


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