Day 5: bits of NC, TN, VA & all the way home

It was an excruciating drive home.  Normally, with the anticipation of getting home and putting my life back together, I can bang out 11 or 13 hours at a time.  But last night, I was just beat and kept pulling over for naps.  I could tell it wasn’t safe otherwise.  Drove about two hours, then pulled over for an hour, repeat, times about a half dozen times.  Another nap when I got home and then off to work.  Ugh.

Anyhow, let’s wrap up.  Some stats:  five days, 2,743 miles.  I didn’t add up the gas money.  I did get one speeding ticket – no surprise yet.  Northern VA on the dreaded I-81 where if you go over the 65 limit at any point, you’re likely to encounter blue lights.  I bet half the state’s budget comes from the proceeds of that highway.  $136 for doing 80.  A “warning” ticket in NC.  Which was a relief.  Middle of farmland highway, following someone else but I was the one that got snagged.  I’m really trying to be more careful but it’s a delicate balance between obeying the law (or close to it) and actually maximizing the photo ops.  I did get tons of great photos on this mini trip.  95% of the time, fantastic sun.  I still had to ditch a lot of Western VA plans on the way home.  I’ll try to make that up next spring on the way to OK/TX. 

The temps back home here in NYC are a vast improvement:  highs in 80s with far lower humidity.  Never thought of 80s as “comfortable” til now.  On with the show —

A couple shots from Hickory, NC — a nice mid-century screen:

and on the side of a bakery building — must photo all signs with bakers and chefs:

An old billboard above the Sunbeam Bread bakery in Shelby, NC:

A perky plastic sign in Kingsport, TN:

A storefront in downtown Kingsport – you either love it or hate it:

Just across the street — a real novelty these days:  an entire store as newsstand:

A mystery building in downtown Kingsport.  Looks bank-ish.  Surely, the lettering on the sign was updated with those plastic letters.  And I’m betting that there was a clock on top:

Lots of long stretches of driving today meant much dozing for the dogs.  Grem parked on her favorite sofa (Nik) a good part of the day.  He barely noticed.

Into the hills (mountains?) in SW Virginia for things that have been on my list for years but I just never had the time.  Highway 23 which loops through there is known as the “Trail of the Lonesome Pine”.  Big Stone Gap has an old car dealership building with terra cotta letters that pays reference to this.  A vintage photo:

And in Coeburn is the long abandoned Lonesome Pine Drive-in theatre:

SW Virginia is coal country.  Banks and billboards have signs referring to the industry.  This sign is in Norton, VA:

That business is just next door to piles of coal and equipment.  Pretty depressing in terms of ecological and human impact.  Especially in light of the deaths during recent mining disasters.  And how little the industry and lives of coal workers seem to change.  

And then after a very, very long drive — back to my own and very different reality.  My personal “coal mine” in NYC — a far more safe and comfortable living.  But anything but glamorous or personally rewarding.   This trip concluded with a trek through the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan.  This photo is of the Municipal Building in Manhattan just before the turn onto the Brooklyn Bridge heading home.  The dogs go on alert with all noses in the air back at some point in NJ just before crossing the river into NY.  So by now they are all revved with the excitement of reclaiming their territory.  Add much barking, panting, whining sound effects to this photo:

And so concludes this mini trip.  I’ll be doing another mini trip in just a couple weeks.  4 days in PA.  I hope you’ll join us then for more photos & adventures starting July 2.  Then, a five-week biggie starts July 24 when the dogs and I take on the Midwest.

Meanwhile, I’m still pounding away at the website adding photos every chance I get.  There’s no way I’ll catch up by the Midwest trip but you can keep tabs on my progress here if you like:

ONE FINAL NOTE.  A friend pointed out that she didn’t know that my blog photos opened to full-sized photos when you click on them.  So maybe you didn’t know that either.  I guess most blogs don’t offer this but I think it’s an important feature.

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