Day 1: December 22, 2012
Dashing Away

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For a Christmas several years back, my daughter gave me a cool wooden bowl filled with nuts in the shell. One of the things she's given me each year since is a refill. This year the nuts were accompanied by the big assortment of snacks on the left side of the picture and the comment "for your trip". I'm proud of the fact that I've restrained myself and not dug into the snacks before departure. The nuts, on the other hand have been getting cracked, dismantled, and consumed at a prodigious rate.

The cookies on the right are from Oven Master Mary. The trivia crowd has been urging her to cut back for a variety of reasons and we all thought that a significant downsizing was on the agenda. There might technically be some downsizing involved but it's hardly significant. There are no gingerbread persons this year but any other reduction is impossible to detect.

So this is the grub stake that accompanies me south and which I'll be sharing with the desk clerks of (mostly) cheap motels.

I know I've posted several pictures of the Cincinnati skyline that slides into view when traveling north on I-71/75. It's a pleasing view that's welcomed me home many times but this is the view I see most often. It's what I see as I enter downtown on I-71 from my home to the north. It's what I saw this morning as I headed to and through Cincinnati on my way to Tennessee.

There were reminders pretty much all of the way that it was cold outside. I stayed with I-75 to the Tennessee line then moved onto US-25W for some curves and gasoline. At the gas station, the pump didn't shut off quite on time and what was probably no more than a quart of gas spewed from the tank. It looked like about ten gallons on the ground. After throwing a little water on the side of the car, I made sure the clerk knew about it and headed down that winding stretch of road that connects Jellico and Jacksboro. It's a favorite of mine and wiggles wonderfully but there are few places to pull over for pictures.

Based on TripAdvisor reviews, I'd settled on Sharp's Motel in LaFollette for my first overnight of the trip. My room was essentially as expected; clean, no frills, reasonably priced. I even had dinner at the Japanese restaurant next door. It's definitely not the most authentic oriental eatery in the world but I had some stir fried chicken & shrimp that was fairly tasty.

Before dinner, though, I went bar hopping. The hopping part was a surprise. The motel is on the south side of town. On the way to it, I'd spotted a bar at the north edge and a car wish somewhere in between. I checked in then headed back to the car wash to put a lot more water on that spilled gasoline. Three bucks for an automatic wash, rinse, and blow dry. However, a sign announced that the three dollar wash would be ending on January 1. Five dollars, I believe, minimum from then on. I got lucky.

I then decided to go on through town and have a beer at the only bar I'd seen. I pulled into what I thought was it although I had a sense that the name wasn't quite right. I settled into the only open bar stool and joined the crowd in watching Washington and Boise in the Vegas Bowl. I couldn't decide who to root for since just about every play brought cheers from somebody and I had no idea why a Tennessee bar crowd would be fans of either team. By half time I had figured out that it was the score getting the cheers and not the schools. The amount of the pool must have been respectable since the guy who won the first half payout immediately bought a round. I guess it was only about seven or eight beers but it was a nice move and I was included. I really did intend to have just one so I thanked him and declined.

Then, as I started to pull out of the lot, I noticed another sign just one lot away. That was the place I'd seen originally. There are only two bars in town and they're right net to each other. So I moved one parking lot to the north and had another long neck Bud with some friendly Tennessee folk. The first bar was Bear's Brown Shack. The second was Big Rock Tavern. Both have drive up windows with bells triggered by rubber hoses like gas stations had back when knowing when someone pulled up to a pump was important. The only thing I saw pass through the windows was cigarettes. I'm not sure what else can be sold that way.

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