Long day's journey into Tennessee

The heading is of course af paraphrase of the title of Eugene O'Neills famous play, "Long Days Journey Into Night".  I find it appropriate though, as our day was long, as boring as I personally find the Pulltzer Prize winning play, and we ended up spending the night in Tennessee. Our plan was originally to drive from St. Louis to Knoxville, Tennessee with no detours. Before leaving home, we had decided for a single detour though, namely by going via Louisville, Kentucky. Tim, who is a Facility Security Coordinator with UPS in Denmark, wanted to see UPS Worldport in Louisville International Airport. Worldport is UPS' main airtraffic hub. So we decided to head east on I-64. That is, first we had to get out of St. Louis. I don't know what's wrong with that city. We couldn't get into it and we couldn't get out of it. When Dorte and I tried to leave St. Louis in 2004, to head southwest, we had to cross The Mississippi three times before finally findíng the right direction. This time we crossed the river OK, but ended up on a wrong Interstate, and had to go back one more time Once more we blame it on the gps and the changed exit numbers. But finally we ended on I-64 heading east.

That was when it started to get boring. Along the 125 miles through Illinois to the Indiana border, absolutely nothing interesting happened. No interesting sights, and no interesting events. 125 miles is about halfway between Saint Louis and Louisville, and after crossing the border, the first stretch in Indiana was no more exciting than passing through Illinois. The only thing that was remotely exciting was crossing the Wabash River on the state line. And crossing a river on a freeway bridge is not what I call a harrowing experience. Indiana may very well be an interesting state, just not where we were driving through the state. For the first 60 miles, the most interesting view was when we passed a dairy farm! Around milepost 61 we passed from Central Daylinght Saving Time to Eastern Daylight Saving Time. When Dorte and I drove the same route in 2004, even if in the opposite direction, we passed a sign telling us about the change of time zones, but to make the trip more boring, even that sign was removed. We knew from looking at Google Earth that the time zone passes between houses rather close to one another, which could cause some interesting discussions between neighbors of "what time it is". Unfortunately none of those houses were visible from the interstate, so no picrures here. That was when we decided that the boredom had to come to an end or at least a pause, so we would leave the freeway at the next exit to take just a few pictures from Indiana, and not return to Denmark, with only the picture of the dairy farm that Tim took from the car window, when we were passing by.

Exit 63 was next one up, and the signpost said that it would lead us to Jasper, Ferdinand and Santa Claus. The latter souded most interesting but as both Santa Claus and Jasper were too far from the freeway, we decided to visit Ferdinand, only three miles from the exit. And so we did. With it's population of 2,000, Ferdinand is not exactly a metropolis. It has a church though (actually two churches), and it's catholic (the other one is of baptist orientation). We took some pictures of the church and a statue in front, the post office and some other houses before returning to the freeway. Had we stayed a little longer, we would probably have discovered, that Ferdinand is also home of Monastery of Immaculate Conception, a large, Benedictine nunnery. If we had continued on the road that lead os back to the freeway, we would have arrived in St. Meinrad, home of St. Meinrad Archabbey, another Benedictine Monastery, but this one a priory. We were definately in a catholic area.

When we returned to Denmark we discovered that Santa Claus (originally Santa Fe) would probably have been more interesting. In the area aound town you find Lake Holly, Lake Noel and Lake Christmas. In town is a post office that receives several thousand letters each year addressed to Santa Claus. A group of volunteeers write personal replies to all these lettters. Outside the town hall is a statue of - of course - Santa Claus and the town also hosts a themepark is decidated to a christmas. But we didn't ger there this time and instead we continued our eastbound travel - back to boring it was. The only thing, that did cheered us up a bit, was when we passed an exit to Corydon, former capital of Indiana from the state was a territory in 1813 to 1825, when the new state was 9 years old, and Indianapolis took over. It was not the former status that was interesting, but the name. Tim commented that even in the United States we couldn't get away from our ubiquitous Secretary of the Treasury! (Present secretary - in 2014 - is Bjarne Corydon). But finally we got to Louisville, and once more the roads were cause of excitement. This time because we couln't leave. Our faithful gps recommended an exit, but it was closed dueto road works. So was the next it suggested, so we decided to just exit somewhere, and let the lady in the box lead the way from whereever we exited to.

But once more "she" was tricked, as a lot of the roads we should have been using were also closed due to roadworks. Tim claimed that a visit to Worldport was no that necessary anyway, but now I had become stubborn, and would not give it up, and finally we found the airport and UPS Worldport, which is a rather big place. Tim could enter with his id, but I couldn't, so we both only looked at it from the outside. Whithin he center, 20,000 people handle the 450,000 parcels that pass through the center each hour. A little bit more that what Tim handles in Denmark J. When we had enjoyed the view of the many UPS airplanes on the airfield, we returned to I-64 and continued east to Lexington, "the horse capital of the world", even if they have to say so themselves. The town is home to many stud ranches and racehorse traning stables, and we saw a few hundred horses from the interstate, though not as many as Dorte and I saw in 2004 when we drove west on Bluegrass Parkway from Lexington to Elizabethtown. While getting to the airport and back to the freeway, the roadworks caused us to see sights of Louisville, that we wouldn't have seen otherwise, so something good came out of it after all.

Shortly after Lexington we changed interstates to I-75, who took us the remainíng 170 miles to the Tennessee stateline.  Another stretch of boring freeway, even if it entered the mountains as we got further south. Even entering Tennessee, the fifth state of the day, was not interesting, as we had already been in five states in one day earlier in the trip. Before leaving our hotel in the morning, we had decided not to stop in Knoxville but to continue to Sevierville, around 30 miles southeast of Knoxville. The reason for this was our dinner. In 2004 (Opelousas, Louisiana) and 2010 (Marrero, Louisiana ) we had had dinner at an Ryan's Bakery and Grill, and we had discovered that the closest such place was in Sevierville. Therefore we changed interstates once more to "our motherroad". I know that The motherroad is supposed to be Route 66, bur our motherroad is definately I-40. More about that in my next update. 20 miles from Knoxville we left the interstate and headed south on TR 66. Three miles north of Sevierville, in the small settlement of Catlettsburg, we found a hotel and got ourselves a room. After having carried our luggage to the room, we heade out for dinner as it was almost 6.30 pm, and it was to be the first meal of the day.

If you don't know Ryan's Bakery and Grill it's a buffet restaurant chain (it also is by the way, if you already know it). You pay for foot and drinks up front, and then everything else is included. This year the price was $ 11.95, which is very reasonable even if it is a large increase from the $ 7,95 we paid 10 years earlier :-). There are large buffets with fish, poultry, meat and sides, and also salad bar and desserts.  Also included is a carvery with turkey, ham and roast beef. And I almost forgot the roasted crabs and t-bone steaks. The problem is, that normally I never get to the meat, because I eat too much from the salad bar, but this year I managed to have a slice of ham and some garlic mashed potatoes. Tim can hold a bit more and he don't eat salad, so he managed to try a bit more, but in the end we were both well fed.

After dinner we headed for the center of Sevierville, just to see town. Two years before, we had been passing through on our way to Gatlinburg, 12 or 13 miles south of  Sevierville. Somewhere in between is Pigions Forge, which is a genuine tourist trap as is Gatlinburg. Pigeons Forge is the home of Dollywood, the Dolly Parton owned theme park and many hotels in town tries to compete with that, sporting rollercoasters, carousels, ferris wheels and other kind of entertainment and fun parks are plenty. Sevierville is not quite as touristy, at least not at the historic center of town.  Sevierville is the birthplace of Dolly Parton. (Actually it's not, but the boast of it anyway. She actually was born 10 miles southeast of town in the Locust Ridge community, closer to both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and even closer to Laurel, Caton and Oldham and she didn't move to Sevierville until she was 5 years old, but who cares?) Outside the interesting old courthouse is a statue of Dolly on a boulder with her guitar. We took some pictures of the courthouse and the statue and some other pictures from town, then headed back to the hotel.

At this hotel we got a two bedroom suite, connected by a passage that gave access to the bathroom. Tim got the first room next to the gallery outside from which he had a nice view of the TR 66 and the sex shop across the road. I had the back room with a balcony overlooking a small creek. I sat on the balcony and had a cup of coffee while I enjoyed the 86 degrees it ad become in the evening, after being "only" between 77 and 82 for most of the day. It was nice being able to relax after a day, when almost 13 hours were spent on the road (except for the time spent at the Ryan's)  including the hour that disappeared in Indiana. We have to learn some day to plan our vacation, so we don't have to coss from one time zone to another while heading east on a day with far to travel!! Luckily there were no more real long drives left on this vacation, and some were even short drives only.

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