Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Driving From DC To Atlanta And Back*

For Spring Break, we decided to visit family in Georgia. I had the brilliant plan of driving through the night, so we got the kids bathed and ready for bed and then loaded them into the car in their pajamas. The idea was that we would avoid any traffic, particularly in Northern Virginia, and allow the kids to sleep during the drive. Turns out that the plan wasn't so brilliant. Although we left around 8:30 and didn't hit any traffic during the trip, driving through the night is tough. Basically, if life is a highway, I learned that I do not want to drive it all night long. I had to stop twice to take power naps while the kids (ages 8, 5, and 19 months) were all awake for the majority of the drive. At some point, we didn't even fight it and just put on some videos for them to watch. While I'll write about the trip home momentarily, here are some notes from the drive:

We ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Chattanooga, but it was sad and discouraging to pass so many Zaxby's and Waffle House restaurants and not stop.

By the way, major props to whatever marketing person came up with this billboard:

Can I just share that I'm not a big fan of crosses on the sides of highways. Crosses on church property are fine, but it seems out of place and a little intimidating to see a cross or group of three crosses on the side of the road or on a hill adjacent to the highway in seemingly the middle of nowhere.

Although Virginia is only the 35th state in total area, it takes forever to get through it. I'm looking at you, I-81! Yes, I know that you're going to be on I-5 in California or I-10 in Texas for many more miles, but it just felt like I'd never get back home. It's almost exactly 300 miles on 81 from the southern Virginia border to I-66. Then, it's another 50 or so miles on 66. Of course, it didn't help that a tractor trailer overturned on I-81 on the way home adding at least 60-90 minutes to the trip as we just sat on the highway with the oldest (The Moose) regularly asking how long we would be in traffic.

Eventually, we made our way to an exit several miles beyond Natural Bridge (which I would like to check out some day) for dinner. In looking for food options, we saw that The Red Hen, a restaurant somewhat famous for denying service to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. This brings me to an important question. The Red Hen is a good 3 hours from the White House and could be even more with DC traffic. Assuming that you're going somewhere only for the purpose of a meal, how far would you drive? I don’t think I’d go more than an hour away.

Taking some side roads before getting back on to the highway, we passed what turns out to be Hull's Drive-In movie theater in Lexington, VA. It would be fun to go to a drive-in theater again since I don't think I've been to one since the Greater Pittsburgh Drive-In in North Versailles closed at least 20 years ago. There can't be many around anymore.

You’ve seen plenty of movies and television shows featuring heists of armored cars. After passing 4-5 consecutive Little Debbie trucks in Southern Virginia, I think that a robbery of these tasty treats would make a terrific Hollywood plot.

During the drive, we went by Blacksburg, Virginia (home of Virginia Tech) and Knoxville, Tennessee (home of the University of Tennessee), and I wondered why these two schools don't compete against each other in athletics annually. Then, I-81 hit, and I realized that they're not THAT close. It's actually 236 miles. I doubt that there are many Knoxville to Blacksburg (or I guess Roanoke) flights, and you probably don't want to drive that.

There's a several-mile portion of I-81 North where you're also on I-77 South. Conversely, you can be on I-81 South and I-77 North. Yeah, that's not at all confusing.

Despite the tiring first drive and the long second drive, I think I'm ready for another road trip! Just give me some time to recover.

* The drive was actually from Northern Virginia to just north of Atlanta, but DC to Atlanta sounds better.

Interstate photo by jimmywayne on Flickr.

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