Go west, young man (and mother)

Day Two’s destination was Knoxville. We weren’t in a particular hurry to get there. I’m sure it is a perfectly lovely city, but it just didn’t SPEAK to us.

Natural Bridge on the other hand, almost shouted “stop! Ya gotta see me!” , so we did, and we did. Once inside the Natural Bridge complex, and it IS a complex, we decided to forego the wax museum, the toy museum, the Native American village, and yes, even the Natural Bridge, in favor of the caverns. Hey, they had large pictures of the bridge. I can’t imagine that the real deal
would look a whole lot different. Besides, it was getting a tad hot, and we figured the caverns would be a nice, cool break from the heat.

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We weren’t disappointed. The caverns were quite beautiful, and the sweet young guide did a stellar job telling the story of their creation, as we descended 34 stories into the earth. At least they SAY it is 34 stories. I find that highly doubtful, given that we not only walked down, but back up. Regardless of the depth, it was a fun experience.

The moss on one wall almost had a Jurassic Park vibe to it.

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It was fairly dark down there, so it was a bit of a challenge to get a photo that does the stalactites justice, but I gave it a shot, so to speak.

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Although day two covered almost 400 miles, the drive wasn’t tedious. Great company, glorious scenery and enough stations on Sirius to keep us entertained and in a Tennessee state of mind–who could ask for anything more?

We managed to get hungry just in the right spot…near Daleville, the home of the Three Little Pigs Restaurant. Now, I’m not an expert on barbecue, but I have to say, they had the finest pig I’ve ever tasted. Plus, we loved the decor.

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I'm thoroughly enjoying letting this trip unfold, with little to no preplanning. It is quite a novel experience for me, the Organization Queen. Greg pointed out we are practicing "just in time" delivery, something that Toyota does…and look how successful THEY are.

Our last minute hotel choice proved to be an excellent one, just west of Knoxville, one exit past the Adult SuperStore. No, we didn't stop. Something told us there would be several similar establishments along the way. We sure were right about that, but we were moving too fast for me to snap a photo of the billboards.

Wanting to relive the Cinco de Mayo experience, we chose a Mexican restaurant for dinner, and managed to catch a birthday celebration. The waiters sang, dressed the birthday boy in hat and serape and did SOMETHING to get that white gunk on his face. Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough with my camera to capture exactly what.

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Heading to Nashville for Day 3.

Cross country jaunt…well, almost

The very best thing about being retired is when opportunity comes a knockin’ you can say “come on in, pull up a chair and make yourself comfy”. That’s exactly what I did when Greg announced that he was driving to his summer internship in New Mexico. Mike had prior commitments, so Greg didn’t need to ponder which parent would be the better traveling buddy. Instead, he first had to decide if he even wanted someone riding shotgun, and then determine whether he had room in his car for me and my baggage (not emotional, the kind used to carry clothing–good thing, huh?) He did and he did.

This trip will be the longest that either of us have ever driven. Google Maps calculated the distance at a little over 2,000 miles. Had we kept going through Arizona and California, the total would have been 2,750 miles. So, although the ride won’t be from sea to shining sea, it will be pretty darn close.

Our destination for Day One was Greg’s apartment at the University of Virginia. It took us just about 6 hours to cover the 375 miles. Aside from a short cloudburst, the ride was quite beautiful. Not much traffic at all.

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Great lookin’ set of wheels, no? Here’s the thing. The car’s a standard. One of the many skills I never mastered was the ability to drive a stick. Some might argue that I never completely learned to drive an automatic, but they would just be being mean. Lucky me. I get to sit back and enjoy the scenery while Greg does all the hard stuff, which he does very well.

Charlottesville is such a fun little town. Dinner was at Frye Spring Station, a gas station reincarnated as a great place for pizzas, salads, sandwiches and beers. What makes the place really special is that the huge doors where the service bays used to be are still in working order. When the weather is nice, one wall can be opened up. You feel like you are eating outdoors, except you are sheltered from the sun and the rain. Good thing, because that cloudburst followed us.

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Next stop was the Charlottesville Downtown Mall, for drinks at the Sky Bar. Given that it was only up one flight, the name seemed a bit of a stretch, but the bar did afford a nice view of the mall.

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I loved the artwork. Isn’t this couch great?

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Day Two’s destination is the greater Knoxville area. We plan on getting to Memphis by Sunday, and to Santa Fe between June 1 and 3 but the rest of the itinerary is still in the formative stage. By keeping it open, we can take advantage of random opportunities as they occur. We’ll be listening for those knocks!

The Anse La Raye Marathon

Running with the bulls in Spain would probably feel tame after running the “marathon” with the Kid Step Preschool students.

Like all marathoners, the kids “trained” for the big event.  Here are the “Rising Fives” (the oldest children) with Teacher Henry, two days before the event. The kids are wearing the name tags that I made for them.  Hey, at my age, I need all the help I can get remembering names! 

Don’t you just love the ribbons in the little girls’ hair?

Time for an action shot. The photographer has figured out that while she is taking pictures, she is exempt from running!

The marathon commenced at 10 AM, however we began getting the kids ready to walk the three blocks to the starting point at 9:15.  Boy, did we need every single minute!

My wonderful volunteer partner, Edith, is in the white hat, leading the way, carrying one of the younger children.

The children were divided into three teams, which is the reason for the yellow, green and blue tee shirts.

Look at the little girl on the the right.  At the time, I didn’t notice  Nyla  lifting Sapphire’s skirt.  I love the look on Nyla’s face.

Was this a big event?  Well, most of the town turned out to watch.  Fortunately, some of the parents and older siblings joined the race, holding the runner’s hand.  That was a great relief, because the streets of Anse La Raye are not the smoothest.  I had been worried about scraped knees and elbows, but luckily no one fell.

FINALLY, everyone was at the starting point.  Notice the white truck in the photo above?  We even had police protection, ready to divert any traffic that might appear.

And We’re OFF!!

When we turned the corner, we saw the entire student population from the “Infant” school (our K through 2nd grade equivalent), and the 4 Global Volunteers from that site lined up on the street, cheering wildly.  Had I not been running, that too would have been captured by my camera.

Not to worry, though.  I had another chance, when they followed us back to Kid Step Preschool, and milled about outside.  This made  for an exciting and chaotic day for the preschoolers!

It took a while, but finally the crowd dispersed.

How to get the kiddies settled, after all that excitement?  Art!  Who knew that a little paper, water and paint could calm everybody down?  (I tried hard not to have favorites, but little Jaydin, below, sure made it hard.  They were all cute, sweet and precious, but I couldn’t resist those big, beautiful eyes!)

What a wonderful day! How great that most of the community participated.  Hard to tell who had the most fun–the kids or me.  I’m calling it a tie.

Tomorrow, contest answers and the last set of questions!