I just got back into Louisville a few hours ago. Polar and I just completed a 450 mile run down to Charlotte and back to help our friend Joshua move.
I was definitely ready for another road trip, especially after the day from Hades I'd had at work Wednesday.
This one got off to a slightly late start Thursday morning, but it wasn't long before we got Joshua's belongings loaded into the back of Polar's Toyota Matrix, Joshua dropped his key off at the apartment office, said goodbye to a few neighbors and off we rolled off toward the Gene Snyder Freeway (aka I-265) Louisville's outer beltway. The weather was beautiful as we eventually reached I-64 east and pointed the car toward Lexington and rolled past the horse farms in Woodford and Scott counties.
We were having a great time enjoying life on the road again with lots of lively conversation on a wide variety of subjects. However, I was having a hard time getting a word in on this trip because I had two guys dominating it.
We eventually reached the junction of I-75 and I-64 in Lexington one hour later. It overlaps for a few miles before the highways separate and we began our southbound leg on I-75 toward Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains. We decided to grab something to eat and refuel in Richmond, KY before resuming our southward run toward the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
Once we got back on the road, other than noticing the fact that gas was significantly cheaper than inside the Louisville city limits, I also noted that despite the fact we were on a major north-south interstate route that terminates in Florida, there wasn't as much traffic on the highway. I also noted that more than a few gas stations at various exits were shuttered.
When we arrived in Knoxville around 3:30 EDT and prepared to enter I-40 east for our run through eastern Tennessee to Asheville, NC, we had to creep past an army of heavy-duty wreckers trying to deal with an 18-wheeler that had broken its axle and flipped over on its side.
We were still making great time as we zipped through eastern Tennessee, passed the exit for Dollywood and Pigeon Forge, Dolly Parton's hometown and got closer to the Smokies, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Tennessee-North Carolina border as I-40 wound its way through the Pigeon River valley.
Once you cross the North Carolina state line, you also cross the Eastern Continental Divide at mile marker 22. I-40 as it approaches Asheville also runs very close to the highest peak in North Carolina, Mount Mitchell. It is at 6,684 feet the highest peak east of the Mississippi River and has a state park surrounding it.
By 7:40 PM EDT we were in Gastonia, NC and the Charlotte suburbs after being slowed down for two miles by a paving project on US 321, which is a divided highway that runs between Hickory, NC and Gastonia. It also connects I-40 and I-85 and shaves some time and miles off the run to Charlotte. The nearest north-south interstate that cuts through Charlotte is I-77, but to get to it would mean going to Statesboro where it intersects with I-40, which is way east of Hickory.
A few minutes later we were at Joshua's new digs in an apartment complex two blocks from UNC Charlotte. We spent the next hour getting his stuff unloaded, took him to a nearby store to grab some goodies and for a ride around his new Queen City neighborhood.
Charlotte's called the Queen City because it's named for King George III's German-born wife Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Streilitz and was founded in 1768. Queen Charlotte is also a sistah. She's a direct descendant of Margarita de Castro y Sousa, who is a member of the Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House. Charlotte street signs have a crown on the left hand side of them to reflect the city's nickname.
After we got Joshua safely back to his new crib, we said our goodbyes and headed back toward Gastonia, grabbed some food and hit our hotel room to get some sleep for our return trip.
We didn't get up and hit the road until 10 AM. We'd had some overnight showers in the Charlotte metro area that cleared out into a beautiful and relatively cool day for driving.
But neither one of us were 100 percent. I spent most of the early portion of the drive battling an upset stomach. In the process of moving Joshua into his apartment Polar missed a step while carrying Joshua's TV and aggravated an old knee injury.
I spent most of the day drinking mass quantities of Sprite to settle my stomach while talking politics and a few other subjects with Polar. By the time we stopped for lunch around 1 PM in the Knoxville 'burbs I was starting to feel better. We stopped again at a truck stop near Corbin, KY to refuel and I noted the college kids were starting to roll back to campus.
We finally arrived back in Da Ville around 6 PM. Despite the upset stomach, as always I love doing these road trips. I get to see some great scenery, engage in some thought provoking conversation, and change up my daily routine. It was also neat getting to see another part of the country I haven't visited before.