Writers write. At least that’s what dream hampton says on Twitter when she exercises the discipline to leave tapping out bursts of updates in favor of longer form writing. Real writing. That gets published. In books. And magazines. [Read more…]
Ending day one I’m in Knoxville at my host’s apartment. Saturday, I drive through two more states: North Carolina and Virginia. Click on the photos to see them full size. Here’s the end of my story:
I wake at 8:30, feeling surprisingly rested.
By 9:15, I’m in the car. I thank my host for her sisterly hospitality–she was really a blessing–and pack my overnight bag in the car, making sure not to get my canvas tennis shoes wet. Because of this, I decide I’m taking my alternate route: rolling through North Carolina, instead of going north through the Appalachian mountains. It’s longer, but safer. I get gas, coffee and stupidly pay $3.55 for a breakfast biscuit at McDonald’s! (Still irritated about this.)
I take another look at my map, deciding that my alternate route isn’t the best route. In an effort to stay extra safe, I think driving the interstate is better than taking highways. I get on the road, confident in my new route and I’m ready to travel. I’m in and out of rain, and I’m glad I don’t get stubborn and stick to the safe way.
During this leg of the trip, I choke down major butterflies.
I’ve come a long way. It’s too far to turn back now. I just have to convince myself that the Lord will provide for me. More long lost CDs fuel my drive and Stella–my car–treats me well. Score.
Things are going smoothly.
I coast with ease. Until I see the rolling hills and tall, thin trees transition into mountains. While crossing the Tennessee border into North Carolina, are the Smokey Mountains. They’re amazing, like nothing I’ve ever seen before! Sure, I’ve passed through Turner Falls area and the Arbuckle mountains plenty of times, but they’re nothing like these. These are real mountains. In 3D. I see them. I smell them. And I’m so occupied with looking up and to the left, trying to take in everything about the mountains and processing everything about my trip, I have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road.
Occupied with the view of the mountains, I pull over taking tons of pictures.
I’m in awe of how awesome and large the mountains are. And, how small I feel in comparison. Frustration creeps in that my mom couldn’t ride with me to see this. I know she’d like them just as much. The camera on my phone can’t take pictures fast enough, or clear enough. It can’t capture what I see with my own eyes, and clearly falls short of doing the breadth of the mountains justice.
Getting a little emotional, I’m grateful in being able to stop and take in the mountains, and what this journey really means. I notice that it’s warmer around the mountians. The air is heavy and smells like charcoal, naturally. The highway winds beyond belief and now is the time to really focus on the road. I’m not used to the sharp curves and driving continuously uphill. But when I descend, I’m on such a steep incline, that I’m coasting at 65mph. Coasting. Not on the gas. Definitely thinking I’m crazy for taking this journey. I can’t believe this. I’m in my fourth state.
I’m happy taking the longer way, because I like seeing the cities in North Carolina.
The rest of the state is a decent drive. It’s easy. It gives me confidence. And, I use the map to make my own route, ignoring the Google maps directions I’d printed out, and taking Interstate 85 through Durham to I-95. All without GPS. It’s awesome. I stop in Greensboro, which seems like a nice city and reminds me of how Plano looks off Interstate 75. I immediately think my sister would love this city.
Reaching Virginia’s border happens about two and a half hours after I leave Greensborough.
Virginia has lots of developed, cool looking small cities/large towns. The highway there feels kinda close, like there are lots of trees too close to the highway’s shoulder. But, it’s easy to navigate and I experience no problems with my new route. I like Richmond, and it’s a place I definitely plan to visit again. It makes me think of Dallas. And the Phillp-Morris Marlboro pillars give me a laugh. It looks like a giant lighted cigarette, while also looking like some sort of nod to the Washington Monument.
I decide this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.
But quickly follow up with the idea that it’s also the greatest. Getting to DC isn’t hard. Actually, it’s a straight shot. On I-95, other drivers zoom around me because I’m terrified of getting a speeding ticket. I feel intimidated because these drivers know where they’re going and I don’t. And still dont. It takes me about two more hours to get from Richmond to the DC area and not long to reach Maryland. I missed my photo of the welcome sign on the border of the states, though because it’s dark. Sadface.
I reach my sister’s friend’s house, where I’m staying, at about 9:30 p.m. It’s crazy. I absolutely can not believe how far I’ve come. I’ve been driving for two days and about 25 hours (including rest stops) to get here. I’m thankful and say my prayers of thanks for my safe trip. As a joke to my friends, I tweet “I may be black, I may be ugly, but I’m here!”
Goodbye OKC. Hello DMV.
This is crazy.
Welcome to a recap of one of the dumbest (and by far, one of the greatest) things I’ve ever done: Driving from Oklahoma City to Washington D.C. in two days. Alone. In an effort to be present and conscious, I took pictures along the way instead of choosing to chug along and not enjoy the road trip. I’m glad I did.
There are lots of pics here, and you’ll have to click on ’em to see the full-sized versions. Oh, and keep in mind that lots of these are dashboard pics with me going 80mph. Okay, the technical stuff’s out of the way.
I’ll remember this road trip forever. Here’s my story:
I can’t believe I’m doing this.
It’s crazy! I should turn around. Really, I should turn around because doing this doesn’t make sense. Well I’ve already hugged my mama and told her goodbye, so I can’t turn around. Not now. I have to do this. “Remember, you need to have Oklahoma in your rear view mirror,” I tell myself.
Crossing through Arkansas.
I’m cool! Gotta grab a postcard for my mom. Too bad the Arkansas welcome center lobby isn’t open yet. I’m making good time, so I don’t mind waiting. I’m excited; I can do this! Looking forward to Memphis.
Downtown smells like chilli though. Wow, the Mississippi river! Cool! And the riverboat gives the scenery a nice touch. The architecture is pretty and kinda reminds me of New Orleans. After walking around, I notice downtown smells like a mix of chilli and sewage. Yuck!
I like the statues of B.B. King and The King.
There at the entrance of the Memphis welcome center. It’s nice that the center is in downtown Memphis. I’m taking this as my long driving break and decide to walk around downtown. I ask the white-haired lady at the front desk for postcards, but they had none. (At this point, I’m on a mission to send my mom a postcard from every state I pass through, with a postmark from each state, so I’ve got to find postcards and Post Offices.) I don’t have the heart to tell the lady at the welcome center “No” when she suggests something, so I end up with three Tennessee travel and coupon magazines. On top of that, she has me walking through downtown to a Walgreen’s to buy postcards. Gotta get a postcard, though, so I do it. And, walk a few more blocks to a Post Office drop.
I spend about an hour walking around and taking pictures. I almost get hit by a trolley/lite rail car. The conductor honks at me to get out of the way. To do that, I jog out into the street. Then, I almost get hit by a regular car!
Overall, I like it here in Memphis, and decide I should come back for a proper (and ratchet!) visit.
I’m ready for Nashville!
I want to see Dollywood!* 2Chainz’ song “Spend It” has me going! Ratchet music keeps me company, courtesy of Shade45. Of course, it’s a must that I record myself singing, “I’m righ’roun’ and I’m gettin’ it. I’m righ’roun’ and I’m gettin’ it. It’s mine, I spennit. It’s mine, I spennit!…SIMILAAAAC!” and send it to some of my friends.
ZOMG! This drive from Memphis to Nashville is taking forever.
I’d thought it would be two and a half hours, but it was four and half! Bad surprise there. But, listening to Kelis’ Wanderland CD has me live. The song “Young, Fresh and New” describes my situation perfectly. In it, she sings “run away from home.” That’s how I feel now, like I’m running away from home. My hype is waning. I hadn’t expected it to take four and a half hours to get to Nashville.
I’m tired. And still thinking, “Krishia, what in the world are you doing?! This is crazy.” I remind myself this is THE roadtrip I’ve wanted to take for the last couple of years. And, also, that this is a leap of faith. A giant one. One that rivals the step of any decorated long jumper. I keep quoting Shira** in my mind. In one of her YouTube video series, she says, “You’re not meant to create the miracles. That’s not up to you to create the miracles; it’s just up to you to believe in the miracles and do enough work towards the miracles [so] that they do come true for you.”
That works for me.
Over it. No pictures. It’s dark. I’m ready to be in Knoxville. Just getting gas on what is probably the wrong side of town. Oh well. All I know is that they had better give me correct change. All money is green; now give me gas. And stop watching me through the windows.
Finally, I’m on the way to Knoxville. I’ve sat behind my steering wheel for about 12 hours so far. I call my sister. Talking to her about nothing instantly perks me up. I’m driving through winding roads, with lots of semis and other cars. It’s kind of in the mountain-like area with unstable rocks jutting out, and fences to keep them in. There’s even a warning sign to look out for falling rocks! Gah-lee! There are several accidents on this stretch between Nashville and Knoxville, and I understand why. I’m glad I’m driving in the dark, because seeing mountains looking down on me would make me nervous and imagine stray boulders.
My eyelids feel like sandpaper.
Made it into Knoxville, and I’ve had three peanut butter and honey sandwiches today, one at each stop. I said I wasn’t spending extra money, but I’m getting real food when I stop.
I made it all this way without GPS, yet this is where I get lost. I take the wrong exit to the hospital, the one where my sister’s friend works, I ran an obvious red light, and left turned out in front of a car that had the right of way. I have got to get off the road. Now. Kanye’s College Dropout CD helps me through my directional blunders. Made it! Plus, I eat real food for free! Yay!
Uh oh, my sister’s BFF tells me about signs of flurries in the DC area. I find this info out on the way to my host’s house (to which she graciously hands me her keys and says, “make yourself at home.” Gotta love that). Precipitation means I’ll take the alternate route I decided on in case of questionable weather, and not drive through the Appalachian mountains on I-81 as planned.
Since I’m losing focus, I accidentally cut a car off on the highway while taking a super sharp right turn for an exit just before making it to my host’s apartment. Thank you Jesus that I didn’t flip my car, Stella. And, I’ve really gotta get off the road and into a bed.
I’m here. In my host’s apartment complex. Okay, why can’t I find this effing apt building?! The numbers on each of the buildings are tiny, its dark, and it’s raining a bit. It takes 20 minutes of my sleep time to find the correct apartment building.
Finally inside! Shower, then bed.
*I now know Dollywood is near Knoxville. I thought it was in Nashville during my trip.
**I talk about Shira a lot; I’ve watched her YouTube videos for years now. She’s totally my homegirl in my head.