Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ron & Bill's Annual Excellent Adventure Day 1

We're here folks! In Johnson City, Tennessee.

I didn't announce our trip in advance because Bill didn't want me to advertise that we were leaving our beautiful home in Milton, Delaware. However, do not worry folks because our good neighbors Bob and Barbara Murphy are keeping a watchful eye on Casa Tipton-Kelly.

First things first: I'm typing this post on my iPad so my typing speed is impaired. Of course I did bring my new MacBook Pro but I just found out that my power cord for the iPad doesn't work with my MacBook Pro. I left that one at home. So I will cart my useless MacBook Pro arou d with me all week here in the south, hoping I don't forget it or someone steals it. This is what I hate about leaving my home base, as much as I plan I invariably forget something. The older I get the more of a wreck I am when I leave my comfortable, secure surroundings.

Back to the first day of our trip. Bill and I picked up our Dodge Grand Caravan rental at Enterprise ip. Rehoboth Beach this morning at 9:30 am. It is a beauty! This is the third year we've rented a Dodge Grand Caravan. We love it! It is big and comfortable. I love my Subaru Forester but I took my brother John's advice years ago, never take your main car on a long road trip. Brother John almost got squished by a tractor trailer behemoth in Texas some years ago while he was driving his personal car. We Tipton boys do rentals now.

Bill and I took our Dodge Caravan back home and loaded up for our annual trek To the Southland.

Bill is from Toccoa, Georgia. My brother John and his wife Barbara live in Greenville, South Carolina. And last but not least, my father was born and raised just over the Tennessee state line in the hillbilly hills of North Carolina. Both John and I like to visit our "roots". This year I want to visit as many family cemeteries as I can up there In "them thar hills" to take photos for my Find a Grave account.

When we go south Bill and I usually go onto the end of the Delmarva peninsula and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Even though I hate going through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (so claustophobic and that scary oncoming traffic while we're traveling beneath the bay), and the confusion of going through Norfolk, Virginia, we go that way to avoid the perceived worse traffic around or through Washington, DC. This year we decided to brave the Washington, DC nightmare traffic. Keep, we did it and it was every bit as bad or worse than we thought.

First all that winding roads through Delaware to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is an erector set bridge waiting to collapse into the blue waters of the fish and oyster depleted Chesapeake Bay. Then, I screwed up my navigation. Responsibilities (Bill was driving), I advised Bill to take the wrong exit to the Baltimore-Washingotn Parkway. So instead of going north around Washington we went south around Washington. Yes Virginia, we got caught up in the Saturday morning gridlock of Alexandra, Virginia traffic. The way we were creeping and crawling on that eight lane highway bringing back memories of that time many years ago we visited Rehoboth Beach on a Fourth of July weekend. Oh - My - God.

We both agreed that should we make this trip again next year we'll take our chances and go under the Chesapeake Bay again and aim our Dodge Caravan through that narrow, scary tunnel with the oncoming traffic that we freverently pray doesn't cross the solid yellow line and send me and Bill to our heavenly maker, or worse.

However , once we got on I-81 south our trip was clear sailing. This is the part of the trip we were looking forward to, a pleasant, stress free, scenic landscape od the Blue Ridge Mountains. That we had until we entered Johnson City.

We couldn't find the Hampton Inn! I've been here before but we couldn't find it. Up on down the main thoroughfare of Johnson City which is Old Franklin State Road. We even stopped several times and asked directions. A couple of times we were given wrong directions and twice the folks we asked didn't know. One guy said "I'm only a student here.". Uh, okay.

Finally, I figured out to call the Hampton Inn. And tell them where I was and ask Sean, the front desk clerk who had the misfortune to take my frantic and stressed call (we had been driving ten hours) and he held on to the phone giving me step by step directions to the Hampton Inn. Yes, I was now one of THOSE guests.

Viola! We finally got here. After checking in our two rooms for two nights (yes, we get separate hotel rooms) we were ready to have dinner.

Unfortantely, The Hampton Inn is like a lot of hotels today, you need a car to get to an eating establishment. We did 't use our rented car. We had been in it long enough today. In fact I think I have the beginning of a bed sore on my left cheek from sitting so long today in one position.

So there we were this evening, crossing the four lane highway that runs through the center of Johnson City. How did we get across? We ran. Guess what, I run like a old Dodo bird with a stubbed toe.

We passed up Taco Bell, (no one was in there) and Arby's (three people were in there but they looked like they had voted for their state's constitutional amendment against same sex marriage). I think Bill and I holding hands gave us away that we were one of THOSE same sex couples. We were too tired today to take up The Cause this evening.

There was a little mix up with my order at Chick Filet (they forgot my order) but I decided to Be magnamous and overlook it. Stuff happens I say. I got a couple of 2,000 calorie brownies to take back to my luxurious accomdations at The Hampton Inn and Bill and I risked our lives again running across multiple lane highways in the center of downtown Johnson City. God I hope no one took a video of us running. Sad thing to see two old men running, especially two old gay men. I used to be able to run, I don't know what happened. Weak knees I guess.

So here I am now in room 301 (Bill is in room 323 at the other end of the hallway, same as home sort of) of the Johnson City Hampton Inn typing this sad little post of our first day of Ron and Bill's Excellent Adventure Down South.

Tomorrow we head for the hills over "thar" in North Carolina looking for those small family graveyards. Treasures that they are.

Right now I feel my Cracker Barrel lunch and Chick Filet "dinner" backing up in my throat and I DID forget to bring my Nexium.


  1. I have never ate at Cracker Barrel; and I won't go to Chick-filet.
    Cracker Barrel used to be very anti-gay - I hope it is no longer so
    It is my understanding Chic-filet gives a lot of money to anti-gay organizations.

    1. Dr. Spo,
      the Chick Filet I was at last night had a gay manager and the cute guy who messed up my order was also gay. Wayne ("The Cajun") won't shop at Walmart because he says they are also anti-gay. Some don't want to buy anything made in China because they claim our purchases would hurt American unions. I don't have the time or desire to keep up with all the latest boycotts because of anti-gay or perceived anti-gay. I only have the desire and time to actively boycott homophobes like the current version of the Republican part and Romney and the rest of the right wing nuts. Everyone has to make their own choice in what makes them comfortable living in this world. That is my choice.


  2. Wow Ron you are certainly a risk taker. Neighbors or not, announcing to the world where you live, with pictures no less, and that you are away is just asking to be robbed. Hope not and you enjoy your time away.

    1. Max,

      From the day I was born I was a risk taker. Every morning when I get up from bed, and venture out into the world I am taking a risk. I could choose to hide and be anonymous but that is not the way I live.


    2. What works for one is how he should live.

      All the power to you both! (wink) Max

  3. Ron - Have a great trip, you and Bill stay safe.


    1. Melissa,

      Thanks for your well wishes. We need it! We both have trouble driving in the city these days. It is a combination of being unfamiliar with the roads and the congestion. We NEVER drive at night. Other than our stress driving, we're having a grand time. Bill loves the mountains (as do I) and I am photographing hundreds of grave headstones. I love it!


  4. Look forward to your trip updates down here in the South !


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