We left the house only one hour later than planned. Not too shabby, I'd say. We planned to stop in Roanoke that night and see friends the following morning before finishing the last bit of the trip. It was one million degrees outside. Sarah was grumpy. I'd gotten everyone 2 mini-doughnuts from the Dancing Goats coffee shop, baked by Duck's Cosmic Kitchen. They are especially delicious doughnuts. Kate ate my second one while I was packing up the car and even though she'd apologized, I was a little grumpy too.
It's usually about a 6-hour drive from Atlanta to Roanoke. It took us 9. Unlike Jimi Hendrix, when 6 becomes 9, I do mind. I do mind. But it could've been worse. We made the best of it. Once you get out of Georgia and nearly to NC, the ride becomes extremely beautiful. Lush, green mountains surround you. I love these mountains. We stopped roughly every 5 minutes to try to wear the girls out by making them stretch (I wish I had video of Sarah mimicking my little baby-stretch routine. Adorable.) and run up and down any hill we could find.
The best one was the 800-foot path with the 150-foot ascent at the scenic overlook in Tennessee. Kate and Sarah both climbed the whole way up by themselves. Kate even did a little of the puppy-on-a-hike back and forth thing, causing her to walk much further than the rest of us. The cicadas are back and when we got out of the car at the overlook I couldn't figure out what the noise was. It sounded like high-pitched feedback or maybe distant traffic on the other side of the mountain. That couldn't be it though because on the other side of the mountain was another mountain. No, it was the chorus of cicadas all around us. Sarah and I studied one up-close and personal. I hadn't stared down a katydid in years. You can't really see it in the picture to the right, but it's there. Just looking at us. Sarah, I could tell, was thinking about crushing it.
It was late by the time we decided we were starving. We were just about to Johnson City, TN. We figured that would be a good place to stop so Jeremiah took the exit he thought he'd taken before and I steeled myself for boring road food. But fate had other plans. In fact, Jeremiah had gone the opposite direction from the familiar by mistake and we found ourselves in front of a spot that just screamed local. Cootie Brown's it was called. Despite the use of superfluous quotations marks around the tag line "real food" (I'm willing to allow that it might have been quoting some satisfied diner), we made a bee-line for it and I allowed myself to get excited at not ending up at Applebees wondering how anyone could manage to make even bacon taste bland. Cootie Brown's is getting mentioned here because, by golly, it was real food. And good. Everything made in-house. Kate & Sarah got little pizzas that were fantastic. Jeremiah and I each ordered sandwiches that came with their homemade chips. Oh, those chips made of potatoes sliced razor thin with the skins still on then fried. OK, so, not exactly the picture of nutrition but that was some yummy stuff right there. We were energized enough to make it the rest of the way to Roanoke. Thank-you Cootie Brown's. Thank-you.
We arrived in Roanoke with just enough time for Kate to take a quick dip in the indoor/outdoor pool at the creepy Holiday Inn near the airport where we stayed. Somehow, they'd gone the entire day in the car and neither of them had slept for a single moment. Not one.