2:51am – I stopped for gas and a restroom trip in Lake City, TN, in part because I know the next 30ish miles are devoid of anything and really, I couldn’t wait any longer. I almost had a fit when I walked into the Pilot station on the exit because their bathrooms are broken. I thought about being petty and not even filling up with gas there, but it was $3.08 vs. $3.12 across the street at Shell, so I tried not to do a potty dance while I filled up. Then I made haste across the street and was pleased to find their restrooms working properly. Huzzah!

The drive is going pretty decently. There’s been a fair bit of rain but thankfully most of it wasn’t so hard it was hard to see. There have been some pretty wicked lightning displays though none quite topped the one just outside Ooltewah. About five jagged strikes lit up the sky at once making a spectacular display. I wish my brain could take pictures because that would have been epic to share. I pondered pulling out my camera to try to snag a few lightning shots, but that’s really not super practical while driving, more’s the pity. There’ve been some beautiful flashes in amongst the clouds.

We’re heading higher up into the mountains now, and I’m hoping the rain holds off until I hit Kentucky. This stretch of 75 isn’t as fun in the rain.

Anyway, I need to stop dithering and get back on the road…

Well, I said that and then got back to the car to realize Rin hadn’t actually woken up and come inside, so I had to coax her awake and get her inside. ‘Course now she’s back in the car, so it’s time to go again. Go figure.

7:00am – Why does the car smell like burning rubber?!

I got off at an exit to get breakfast because I’ve actually known what I wanted for hours but couldn’t find a stupid Steak & Shake. I finally found one and was just going to make a quick stop and get back on the road as fast as possible in order to not deal with awful Cincinnati morning rush hour. That’s when I smelled it…

Rin and I (mostly Rin) tried to check and see if there was anything obviously wrong. We know we need to get the serpentine belt replaced, but we were hoping to get back in town first. I’m trying not to be super frustrated because I was FINALLY making up time since Lake City. (My hopes for no rain until Kentucky were met with the exact opposite. In a section of road that has a 70mph speed limit and that’s fun to go a little faster, I couldn’t see jack diddly doodah. There were places where there were two inches of standing water. I was lucky to be doing 40mph and that is SERIOUSLY hard through that stretch of mountains. I got an unexpected upper body workout trying to ensure we didn’t go hydroplaning off the damn mountain. I thought about stopping, but the reality was that a) there was nowhere really safe to stop because that’s 20 miles of nothing, b) it was still pouring buckets and that was only going to make the water on the roadway worse, and c)I am stubborn and have a secret fear of getting plowed into by a semi if I stop on the side of the road in that area. So, I braved it best I could and cussed a lot. That’s part of why I was thrilled to have made the time I did from Corbin almost to Cincinnati. So, yeah, frustration.)

We are hoping that the smell is actually just the area. There are a couple of factories very close, so it’s a real possibility. I guess we won’t really know until we get back in the car. Blargh. For the moment, we’re getting breakfast…

10:00am – Long Breakfast

We ended up sitting for awhile at breakfast chatting and relaxing a bit. I’ve been regaling Rin with Cracker Barrel stories which has been entertaining. Part of our sitting was to avoid Cincinnati’s rush hour and in part because we kept nibbling on food. Pur server, Corrie was very good and quite sweet (she reminded me of Veronica). We were also entertained for a bit listening to the two older gents at the booth behind us tell each other war stories and talk books. Apparently they are regulars. One of them was disappointed in the gravy because it was very watery today. He asked to speak to the cook and he was polite with her but a bit stern; however, he explained exactly what was wrong and asked her a couple of questions. She went back to the back and apparently complained to her manager…and then proceeded to act like a raging bitch. She was angry because she hadn’t made the gravy and she let criticism ruin her morning. Rin and I had already had some food before that, but we ordered more of what we’d had. Mistake. While her first breakfast taco had been fantastic her second almost made her wretch at the table. And while the sausage on one of my minis was fine, the other was burnt. She also kept snapping off at our waitress who was being very polite. We ended up speaking to the manager because we were so not paying for the second taco and we wanted to give him the heads up that the cook was still being tetchy. I also commented that we had overheard the discussion and not only was he polite, he was also specific in what was wrong. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated a customer who could tell you exactly what was wrong instead of just saying it was terrible. I also pointed out that it wasn’t near so bad as what servers deal with every day. He was sufficiently appalled and agreed to take the taco off. So that was fine.

It’s nearly 11 now, and we’ve driven a bit away from where there was fresh asphalt and weird factories and the car seems fine…so I slightly spazzed unnecessarily. I’d rather that than ignoring it and it being something huge. So, back to driving we go. (The sun is very bright today…*mutters*)

2:16pm – Adventure!

We were set to head into Indiana when my girl lamented wanting Schlotzky’s. After doing some map checking, I realized it wasn’t that different in time from our normal route and tasty sammiches sounded good. As we headed into Cincinnati, I wished I’d had my camera ready to shoot. The cityscape is gorgeous! I think K will love seeing it and we’ve already planned on taking her that way at some point because of the bridges. She LOVES the metal bridges across rivers and other places and there are several around Cincinnati. She will LOVE it! The route also offered a different view for me and eliminates some of the most irritating parts of Indiana. The detour has been totally worth it as this is a very good Schlotzky’s (it’s even tasty enough for me to forgive them for teasing me with Barq’s Red Cream Soda on tap and it being utter crap. I thought the mix was just off…alas the guy told me it’s always been that way here and they don’t know why. I was very bummed. Also it was the only reason we bought a soda, though the regular Barq’s on tap was pretty tasty.). Now we’re briefly going to investigate Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream Shop before heading on the road again. I’m so not looking forward to getting back in the car…

10:49pm – At the Grocery Store

I will say up front that I volunteered to make the trip, but it is vaguely amusing that after long trips I end up at the store for something.

Long trip was long. We took an interesting route that included a detour to outrun a house. Two halves of a house to be specific. I got stuck behind them on what was the last stretch of the road. Rin found me a back road detour that let me go much faster. I’m sure there were other things I was going to say earlier, but other things have since run them out and I spent an extra chunk of time standing in the garage talking to K than I’d expected, and I only have a finite amount of moving energy left. (To be VERY clear, I do not begrudge the time or the conversation, simply wishing I had chosen a more sensible location. So, yeah, no making assumptions about my time with my daughter.) Do, yes, I’m going to pick up a few things we need and do some brooding. For some reason, while there was definitely relief to make it home, there are too many things looming and too many thoughts on my mind, so I’ll stop incoherently babbling and go be useful for a little while. Until tomorrow…(when I will not be driving to New Mexico as Mana teased. :P)