Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Day 9 on the road: North Carolina to the Mississippi River
Miss D. and I left Brevard, NC on Monday morning, on our way home to Texas. We made a brief stop at the Bear Tracks Travel Center, which we'd visited on Day 6 of our tour. The owner (an older lady) had three large amethyst geodes for sale in her shop, which we'd noted on Friday. They were all tall half-cylinders of various heights. We were struck by their exceptionally reasonable prices. We're used to seeing good-quality, large-size geodes priced at thousands of dollars apiece in retail stores. These were all listed in the hundreds of dollars, far below what we'd normally have expected (and far less than others available from various businesses in the area). After thinking about it over the weekend, we decided to "bite the bullet" (or, rather, the bullet-shaped geode) and buy the largest of her three. It's riding in the back seat of our car, well wrapped and strapped in with seatbelts, until we get home. Now we have to find the right sideboard on which to display it, and get some earthquake gel to keep it safe from rampageous cats, who might take it as a personal challenge to knock it over! It's heavy, sure, but it's also tall and relatively narrow, and Ashbutt's a big enough cat that he might endanger it. Can't be too careful.
(If any of you like geodes and want a nice one at a very reasonable price, there are two left. Give Bear Tracks a call, and ask them to send photographs and other information. They'll pack and ship them, if necessary, although shipping's going to be expensive for such heavy items - I'd pay for insurance, too, if I were you, in case of accidents. The owners also run a gas station and convenience store, and sometimes ferry customers to and from the river and elsewhere, so they may be a little hard to get hold of, but patience and persistence will pay off eventually.)
The first couple of hours of our journey were relatively slow, making our way out of the mountains into South Carolina, and then picking up Interstate 85 at the Georgia border. We didn't mind the slow pace, though. It's a beautiful part of the world, one we hadn't seen before, and we've been sufficiently impressed by the beauty of the southern Appalachians that we'll definitely be back someday for another visit. We ambled along at a safe speed for the twisting, winding road conditions, not being bothered by occasional slower traffic in front of us. It was very pleasant.
Getting through the Atlanta metroplex was something of a surprise to me. I'd heard all sorts of horror stories about its traffic, so we were expecting delays, and also for Google Maps to route us around the city via the ring road. However, the nice automated lady providing directions sent us straight through downtown Atlanta, not taking any diversions or detours. We understood why when well over half the traffic approaching the city veered off onto the ring road, leaving the main highway relatively free of congestion. Apart from one short-lived slowdown passing through the center of the city, there were no traffic problems at all. I reckon those who took the ring road probably had a lot slower passage than we did.
We picked up Interstate 20 in Atlanta, then headed west. From there on it was simply mile after mile of driving, without anything particularly interesting to divert us. Traffic was moderate, and the few construction zones were not unduly bothersome. There was one incident that made me smile. A speed merchant hovered on our tail through one construction zone, clearly very impatient indeed to get around us. Given the number of trucks on the road and the poor condition of the surface at that point, I wasn't about to be hurried, so he just had to wait until I could safely change lanes to let him through. He zoomed past us and roared off into the distance. Five minutes or so later, at the end of the construction zone, guess what? Yes, there he was, pulled over by a State Trooper. I could almost imagine the predatory smile on the cop's face as he saw him coming. If his speed at that point was anything like that he'd displayed as he left us behind, that's going to be one expensive ticket!
We'd planned to break for the night in Jackson, MS, but decided to push on a few more miles to Vicksburg, on the Mississippi River and the border with Louisiana. It was a long day on the road - over 11 hours - but we're more than halfway home now, with a shorter leg tomorrow (probably about 8 hours' driving, plus stops). We intend to stop at one of our favorite burger joints near Dallas for lunch, and to pick up one or two of their amazing razzleberry pies to take home to our friends. My mouth's already watering at the thought!
Regular blogging should resume from Wednesday morning onward, starting with a final post about our travels, then getting back to normal with articles about various and sundry issues. Thanks for your patience with our travels. We've greatly enjoyed the break from routine.