Lest you think that this road trip has been all fun and games, here’s “the other side of the story,” as Andy Rooney would say.
Upon leaving Happy Valley, TN, I was scheduled to drive for a full day to reach Little Rock, AR.
Alas, a little rock prevented me from getting there.
As I was exiting the fog-filled valley, one of the final twisty turns showed me a rock in my lane about the size of a shoe. I had about 1 full second to react, and decided to center the car over it instead of veering around it, since there was a hard left turn not 10 feet after the rock.
My car may have been able to clear said rock in normal times, but this ain’t no normal times. I am carrying at least an extra 500 pounds with all my stuff, which meant that the rock ricocheted around the car’s undercarriage, taking out some chunks from the Chevy’s cast aluminum oil pan.
At the time though, I had no idea what had happened. I looked behind me as I heard the ruckus, but saw no debris. Did the rock get stuck up there somewhere? I wondered. I let the car coast downhill, as the oil light promptly came on seconds later. I tried to push the gas once, which produced a strange ticking noise, and that decided me: she were done.
Then ensued a tightly choreographed ballet of expert strangers: the AAA operator, Greg with the tow truck, J.R. at the garage, all working to get me diagnosed, repaired, and back on the road as quickly as possible. It was a marvel of American enterprise and efficiency.
And then I got the bill. Sigh.
Oh well. At least I stopped before the bad news worked its way up to wreck the whole engine– now THAT would have been a show-stopper.
The Bonus Round
I was at the garage from 11:30 until 4:15, and then hit the road to get as far as I could before dark. This schedule ended up yielding a silver lining: in Jackson, TN I stayed at a beautiful B&B called Highland Place (people who have called me cuckoo over my Scottish fascination, you may now cackle).
As I was talking to the host Bill, he mentioned off-handedly that their large pottery collection was centered around pieces from “this one guy who used to be an English professor, then moved to the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania…“
Would that by any chance be Tessem Stoneware? I asked.
Yes. Yes, it was.
Even with its bumps in the road (groan), this trip has been full of great connections and happy happenstances. Keeping your mind and heart open creates space for these to happen.