The Trip to the Memphis Unicycle Convention
We've safely arrived in Memphis. I should specify that we're physically safe. Mentally, I'm not so sure. The billboards don't come in many flavors. So far, half of the roadside ads we saw were for fireworks stores or Chrismas supply stores (there are an equal number of them). Of the remaining billboards, most are for Shoney's (there is no northern equivalent, but it's like a Denny's). A good portion of billboards featured Christian themes, including a bunch of Best Western billboards that just had their name and a big Jesus fish. Almost as many were touting either Dollywood OR the Loretta Lynn compound (which includes a Coal Miner's Daughter Museum). Then there were two billboards advertising adult bookstores. Make up your mind, South!
My attempt to listen to something on the radio was met with an equally bizarre and narrow spectrum of choices. The music selections were either country (50%) or hard rock (45%), with a sprinkling of Christian music (40% -- imagine a Venn diagram, ok?). The talk radio was nonexistent except for this scary ultra-conservative station where the hosts talked about the evils of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and those mean people who want to get the Ten Commandments plaques out of courtrooms. It was the auditory equivalent of the Tilt-a-Whirl: scary and nauseating.
The really good news about this necka is that the speed limit is gen'ly around 65 or 70. This means that you can usually drive 74 or 79, at least if you use my calculus of speed limit + 9 = safe. We even bought a radar detector (christened Chipper) for the long drives, and it came in handy a few times (go, Chipper!) except in Virginia, where it's illegal to operate a radar detector. Apparently they even thwart you with their own radar detector detectors; I think our model comes with a radar detector detector detector, tho I wasn't sure, so I turned off the unit. The other great thing about these parts is that there's virtually no traffic, so we made the 1100-mile trip in about 1100 minutes including breaks. Well, not including the overnight we spent in the north-eastern-most corner of Tennessee last night. We drove 650 miles yesterday (from 9:30am-9:30pm) and 450 miles today (8:30-3:30). Chipper didn't come in handy in Maryland, where a trooper literally stepped into the road, hand outraised, to pull me over for 79 in a 65. See, I wasn't using my caluculus. He'd clocked me with binocs and two white lines, so Chipper had no chance to help. At least the ticket was only $80, or the equivalent of a little more than a tank of gas.