I flew to Knoxville yesterday arriving about 3:30 on a sunny, warm and slightly humid afternoon. I picked up my rental car - a Nissan Versa. What a disappointment. No electric locks or windows. The car has one lock on the driver door so you have to reach over to unlock the passenger side and then contort yourself around to unlock the doors in the back seat. Drives like a tank and the engine is sluggish going up an incline. I kept wanting to shift into a lower gear, but alas, it was an automatic.
The drive ahead of me was about 2 - 2.5 hours which I didn't mind. I like to drive "cross-country", watching how the landscape changes and noticing the regional differences. Once I got onto I-40 (two lanes) through Knoxville and for a ways beyond, the driving was a bit difficult. A lot of people drive at least 15 miles over the speed limit, a smaller portion drive the speed limit and then there are the trucks cruising along at whatever speed. Great fun; keeps you on your toes.
After turning south on I-40 where it divides from I-81 you enter the Cherokee National Forest. This part of the drive was beautiful as the road winds through the mountains. As a storm front moved up from the south, the sky lowered and the light became flat. The autumn foliage on the mountainsides had a pointillistic style in the same colors as Unakite. It was gorgeous, but I had to keep my eyes on the windy road with all the trucks. I arrived at the house about 6:45 and was greeted by a group of women gathered around the island in the kitchen, drinking wine, eating chicken and pulled pork and chocolate while we caught up and introduced ourselves.
Big day tomorrow.