July Road Notes, Day 9: Windy Road Out of Town

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July 13, 2021, Crossville, TN- Some places are easy to get in, and rather a stretch to exit. I-40, in the Memphis area is one such.

I woke fairly early, at the Super 8, near the National Museum of Metal and the Old French Fort, in Memphis’ Riverside District. Despite the rough and tumble veneer of the area, the place was actually quite safe. I had managed to get to this crowded and lively motel, last night, by taking the circuitous I-55 south-Riverside Drive detour, made necessary by the collapse of I-40’s bridge over the Mississippi River, between Memphis and West Memphis, earlier this year. The bridge is due to re-open around July 30, but here we are. The view of Old French Fort, from my balcony, was at least rather enchanting.

Old French Fort, near President’s Island, Memphis

Wanting to locate a comfortable coffee house in Memphis, to get at least a small bite of breakfast and some good java, I came upon a place listed as Bluff City Coffee and Bakery, diagonally across from the National Civil Rights Museum. It turns out to now be called Hustle & Dough– on the first floor of ARRIVE Boutique Hotel, serving Vice and Virtue Coffee. The vice is the delectable coffee-and maybe one or two of the shop’s richer pastries. The virtue is its line of teas, or so the story goes. “Hustle & Dough” is a play on the name of the 2005 film on Memphis life: Hustle and Flow.

Entrance to Hustle & Dough Coffee House/ARRIVE Hotel, Memphis

After breakfast came the fun part: Getting to I-40, headed east. It took about 45 minutes, through not-unreasonable traffic, to find an entry ramp to the eastbound 240, via U.S. Routes 78 and 72, and the business district of Memphis’ east side. The long and winding road set me eastward, finally and along with a front of storm clouds, producing a healthy amount of rain, I drove over to Wildersville, and Patty’s Southern Eatery. Ginger tried to get me to go with their mixed plate of the day which, as scrumptious as it looked, would have been much more than my capacity allowed-so Classic Southern Burger, it was. The lovely lady knew better than to even breathe the word “Cobbler”, and after a leisurely hour at Patty’s, I was headed back towards my friends’ place in this Appalachian foothills town, almost equidistant from Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

It is not a hard route, though, with I-840 as a wide by-pass of Nashville, or the main road through the state capital, with all of Music City’s diversions. I got in to Crossville, shot past the driveway to R and C’s place, opted not to try and turn around at a horseshoe drive, a bit further-as a sign said “No Trespassing” and the look on the face of the teenaged girl watching me underscored that warning. Rather than incur the mouthful of sass and vinegar that would surely have followed, I simply turned around in a nearby cul-de-sac. My friends, their three cats, rooster and Muscovy duck were waiting. Homemade pizza was not far behind. (I will take Miss Ginger up on the Plate of the Day, another time.)

The 2018 Road: Honours, Learnings and Observations- Part 1

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September 2, 2018, Prescott-

The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage.  The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.

There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed.  I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways.  Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.

Honours-

The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day.  I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.

My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well.  This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.

My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail.  My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless.  Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.

Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing.  Thanks, Val and Sparky.

I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss.  I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss.  It was a joy to take lunch at one of  the restaurants of a friend’s establishment:  La Panthere Verte.  I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.

One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Penny’s family will always be my own, as well.  They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal.  A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond.  Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.

There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith.  Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.

Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic.  I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot.  Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing.  Dr. King honoured us all.

NEXT:  Learnings