Sunday, May 20, 2018
We weren't looking forward to it. Both of us had come down with bad head colds that week, and the virus seemed to be getting worse as it progressed. None-the-less, we could do nothing except head out early that Saturday morning, heads throbbing, noses running, coughing and sneezing as we pulled away. Our first mishap happened while I was sleeping: Bob missed the turn for I-40 in Knoxsville and I woke up to signs telling us that we were just outside of Chattanooga. The wrong turn took us an hour out of our way, but we eventually reunited with I-40. Our next mishap happened when we stopped at our first rest stop in Tennessee and, upon opening the door to let the dogs out, we were presented with the partially digested contents of Sophie's breakfast sliding down the side of the seat.
We drove and drove, listening to Herman Wouk's "The Wind's of War", 45 hours in all, something we could fall asleep and wake up to without missing too much of the plot. We checked into the La Quinta Inn in Little Rock, Arkansas after 13 hours of driving. Exhausted, moving like the living dead, we took care of the dogs, and then stumbled into bed. The next day we took off again, determined to make it back home in one long day's worth of driving. I-40 was an endless stream of 18 wheelers, us passing some, some passing us, shaking our little truck each time they did. Rain that was so hard we could barely see drenched us outside of Memphis, and then a gradual browning of the growth on the sides of the road as we continued west. Another 13 hour day, both of us trading off the driving, sleeping when we weren't driving. At 9:30 that night we drove into our driveway, breathing in the familiar warm, dry desert air, glad to be home, wondering if we had really arrived or were just hallucinating.