Day 1: Roanoke to Birmingham

The nearly record breaking snowstorm only set us back by about 2 hours Friday, and we left Wilbur Road around 11 a.m. with 122,557 miles on the Camry. Tissues, dog bones, lots of water bottles and Valentine’s Day brownies tucked in the little car, the 3,000-mile trip began.


The first day of driving, aside from the snow, was fortunately uneventful. On Interstate 81, we passed several tractor trailers overturned in the median and other wrecked cars in the ditch. So glad that we had heeded the advice to stay home Thursday when 8+ inches of snow was still falling, and, really, that we had planned anyways to leave Friday morning. The sun reflecting off the snow along the interstate was so bright! Who said sunglasses were only for summer?

Somewhere along the way, once we crossed into Tennsessee, we turned on the first audiobook: Tina Fey’s Bossypants. When you accidentally re-listen to an entire chapter and its jokes twice–and still laugh the second time–you know it’s funny. This book got us through the first state-and-a-half, and we’d highly recommend it. Fey, a UVA grad, narrates the audiobook herself, and you hear about how she learned about womanhood (or didn’t) as a preteen, hiked Old Rag in the middle of the night, raises a daughter while working til wee hours of the morning, and the details of the weeks surrounding 30 Rock winning Emmy’s while also portraying Sarah Palin on SNL. (Our second audio book choice failed a chapter in–we need action! suspense! laughs! not details about your alarm going off at 5:30 then you hit snooze then you slowly woke up and pet your cute rescue dog yawwnnnnn–so my dad’s looking for another now.)


Somewhere in Tennessee, we pulled out the great insulated bag of food and snacks, and slathered peanut butter and my mom’s homemade strawberry jam on sandwich bread. And, because I have a great mom, we enjoyed still-warm brownies baked that morning with red and pink M&M’s, a little something for Valentine’s Day. Thanks, mom 🙂 Brownies and wine became “dinner of champions” in our Motel 6 that night, so, we’re serious with our gratitude. They sustained us for days.


While driving with a dog, we’ve been looking for green spaces on the iPhone maps. She needs somewhere to walk, and, it’s good for us to get some exercise out of the car, instead of plopping onto hotel beds to watch Olympic figure skating for the rest of the night. Chattanooga’s riverfront park offered a sidewalk along the Tennessee River, a massive body of water with a strong current that Rachel really wanted to jump in. Sorry, pup, not this river!


Lots of couples were enjoying the waterfront and the downtown restaurants, many dressed up and perhaps at least one preparing to propose. We certainly didn’t fit in at any of those places though, a dad and a daughter with a dog, one full of energy and the other two sneezy and sniffly. So after one hour, onward we drove to our hotel, just south of Birmingham. And had we hoped to stop any sooner that night, we couldn’t, for there’s really nothing along the stretch of road between Chattanooga and Birmingham, except for a pounding rain storm and very, very few exits.


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