Days one and two were spent mostly in the car, with the exception of sleeping and bathroom breaks (thank goodness for that). Since I worked until four on Saturday, we were planning to roll out of Bloomer, WI, at five o’clock sharp. Fortunately, we made it out at 5:15, which is about half an hour earlier than my family usually manages to leave. I set up camp in the back seat, which happens to be roomy enough for me to lay down in, Grandpa took the wheel, and Grandma was in the passenger seat. We listened to This American Life on WPR for what felt like forever. I tried my best to work on my cactus cross stitch to the sound of the narrator’s lispy voice, and some kind of stringed instrument, but the road was pretty bumpy and I kept poking myself so I had to stop. I wish I could provide you with my roadtrip music but my headphones broke earlier on so This American Life it is. Our only goal that night was to make it to Madison, but by the time we hit it we still had more miles left in us. We aren’t quitters. We knew the farther we made it on Saturday, the less would have to drive on Sunday and the earlier we would make it to Gatlinburg, TN. That was incentive enough to keep going.
Before we talk more about the drive, or the rest of the trip for that matter, I think you should know a little bit about my grandparents. My grandma loves art and violent movies and my grandpa likes wildlife and knowing a lot about space. Both of them are amazing people but in very different ways, they love each other, but they disagree on quite a bit and like everyone else, they have their things. For instance, there was one point of the trip where we had directions pulled up on all three cell phones and a huge paper map. Grandpa just likes to know where he is going, so it’s obviously going to be pretty hard to navigate up to par. They never really get angry, but it isn’t hard to tell when they are a little stuck on something.
The first time I noticed this on the trip was when we were trying to figure out where we wanted to spend the first night. Grandma wanted Elgin and Grandpa wanted Schaumburg. I was a little partial to Schaumburg just because it was a little bit closer to the destination. Both of them said they didn’t care, but Grandpa kept inquiring about hotels in Schaumburg and Grandma kept looking up hotels in Elgin. To each their own, I guess. Anyway, Elgin came and went and we had to really concentrate on finding a place to sleep in Schaumburg. There seemed to be some deals online, but Grandpa was sure that the rooms were probably too small. We decided to try the DoubleTree first and if that was full, just wander around until we found something. The DoubleTree was a little off the highway (I think it was three miles?) and by mile one Grandpa had said, “I don’t see any hotels anywhere, do you?” about three times. Once we found the DoubleTree it didn’t have a room with more than one bed so we moved on. We tried the next hotel and when Grandma went in to haggle down the price for a room, Grandpa got on the horn with another hotel. It was late and we were all ready for bed. We finally landed in a Garden Inn, with a pull out couch and breakfast. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
That first night I made a rookie mistake, I forgot my earplugs in the car. Between my grandma’s snoring and my grandpa’s sleeping machine, I was grateful when we woke up at 6:30 to get going (I never thought I’d say that). After I stocked up on the hotel’s fresh fruit we hit the road.
Day two was astonishingly like day one, but longer. I stretched out in the backseat and read the entirety of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo while we drove through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and finally, Tennessee. We rolled into Gatlinburg around seven and stumbled through the directions to find Country Inn & Suites, our home for the next three days. Gatlinburg is like Wisconsin Dells on steroids, my grandparents were appalled by the crowds. But it hasn’t been that bad. After we found a place to eat, Grandma and I went up on the skylift up the mountain. It was a touristy little ski lift but the view was worth it, even if I wasn’t looking when they took the picture.
After ten hours in the car I needed to move around a little. So I worked out a little bit, and after a good shower I fell asleep promptly after putting my earplugs in.
Watch out for my next post, Days Two and Three!