First stop, Little Rock

A view of downtown Roanoke from the overlook point at Mill Mountain. The city’s lights are bright and colorful, and the view seemingly goes on forever. The green tops of some trees are in the foreground, with the dark night sky in the background.

I left DC just after noon on Thursday, and I am writing from Little Rock right now. I spent a few days on the road, stuck in traffic of one form or another. I’d planned on 6-7 hours of driving per day, and I thought I had accounted for things like stops, food, and traffic, but maybe not enough. I mean, even Thursday, it look me nearly 5 hours just to get from DC to Warrenton, VA. But that was my stop for the last Wawa on my way out west so it was pretty worth it.

Eek. I am so very tired.

a huge 5-pointed star, its neon outlines are all lit up in white, and it’s a stark contrast to the dark night sky.

It was getting late Thursday night and as much as I wanted to get into a cozy bed, I wanted at least to have one sightseeing stop, so I detoured into Roanoke, went up Mill Mountain, and got a most spectacular view of the city all lit up at night. The Roanoke star is also an amazing sight to behold. So amazing, in fact, that there were a bunch of late teen guys getting high for one of their birthdays, and one of them shouted out, "Dude, it’s so fucking beautiful up here." Dude wasn’t lying.

The next morning, I drove down to Wytheville because I wanted to see the giant pencil at the office supply store, but it was no longer there, although it seems it’s being fixed and will return again soon! Since I was stopped, I looked around for a coffee shop and found The Grind, which has delightful lattes, even thought I was slightly confused by the touchscreen ordering. Next up after that was the Virginia-Tennessee state line in Bristol. Just as I was getting out of the car, a very long train came by, and I was easily able to take a crapton of photos.

a large sign spanning over State Street at the VA/TN line that reads: Bristol, a good place to live. The left side of the side points to Virginia, the right to Tennessee.

I tried to check out the Parthenon in Nashville. I figured it would be closed by the time I got there, but thought it would still make for neat photos at night, except there was a party or private event, meaning absolutely no parking! I wasn’t familiar with the area at all, and wasn’t sure where to park, and continued on to my next hotel for the night. I woke up in the morning and decided on impulse hair cut, then made it to Memphis for dinner at Imagine Vegan Cafe. After living on snacks and smoothies, sitting down for a meal was sorely needed. I ended up with more food than my stomach needed in that moment, and got to take all the leftovers back with me, for breakfast this morning.

a dinner plate with fried chik’n and hush puppies, and a cup of mac and cheese, with another plate of mozzarella sticks and marinara in the background

I didn’t want to venture too far around today, and it was mostly spent checking out preliminary conference stuff, like registration, lunch, and a tech check. After doing some last minute edits on my presentation for the morning, I hit the welcome reception, which was a lovely time. Hello, new friends from Clemson University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga!

I’m hoping to do more blogging from the road when I leave Little Rock on Wednesday, but again, I may be overestimating how much pepper I’ll have when I stop for the night.