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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)

TITLE: My Big Adventure
By Deborah Engle


Me? Drive from Michigan to Florida? Not likely, or so I thought, until the day I found myself pulling onto the freeway heading south. Stocking up on maps and investing a considerable amount of money into my car to make it road-worthy had eased my apprehension a bit. I figured if I ended up in Minnesota, I could simply turn around. After all, eventually, all roads lead to Florida, don’t they? Anyway, my cell phone made for a pretty good security blanket. After dispatching urgent petitions for journey mercies, I resolutely set off, knowing my first challenge was less than an hour away.

Have you ever been through Toledo? The interstates and the business loops and the connectors are all tangled up. The sign you’re looking for is on the right, but your exit is on the left, the traffic is crazy, and something is always under construction! To get through Toledo without incident didn’t seem likely, but before I knew it, I was watching it fade away in the distance. My white knuckled grip on the steering wheel relaxed, and I took my first complete breath since leaving home. To celebrate my success, I treated myself to pizza for dinner.

My planned stop the first night was at my friend Irene’s house in Kentucky. “It’s right off the freeway, and it’s just sitting empty. My sister’ll have it all ready for you,” she said. Apparently, “right off the freeway” has a different meaning in the “hillbilly” tongue. Forty-five miles and an hour later I found it, and after a long, hot day in the car with no air conditioning, I was ready for a shower.

Did you know that when two different people turn on the hot water heater, the water never gets hot? The first one turns it on, but the second one turns it off. Millie and Fred both meant well, but they really should talk to one another. My shower that night was short, but invigorating.

The next day I headed for North Carolina. The scenery on the freeway was spectacular. The road curved around one mountain, and then onto the next. It was there, on the top of the very highest peak that my car broke down and I discovered that cell phones don’t work on the top of mountains. Six hours later…yes, I said six hours later… I met Caleb, the tow-truck driver. His pronounced southern twang and courteous, professional manner put me at ease in spite of his rough appearance. I hardly noticed his lack of teeth or his limp, stringy hair.

Caleb towed my car 30 miles into Tennessee where Red’s Auto Repair/Guitar Shop replaced the water pump. The many rows of guitars on display made for an interesting waiting room, but I really didn’t spend a lot of time there. The break-down had occurred before I had found a place to eat and by this time I was feeling pretty hollow. While they worked on my car, I ate at the only restaurant within walking distance-a pizza place. That was okay, though. A person can never have too much pizza, right?

I was soon back on the road and making good progress…until it got dark. With the darkness came torrential rain and visibility of zero. After floundering through the wakes of numerous semi-trucks, I frantically dove for the first exit and motel I could find. Had it been daylight, I definitely would not have chosen Smokey’s Inn, but with the unrelenting downpour, it became my refuge in the storm.

By this time, I really did need to eat again, but I wasn’t about to go out looking for a restaurant. The good thing was there were take-out menus in the room. The bad thing was the only one that was delivering on that miserable night was Tom’s Pizza.

The next day, conditions were much better. I made it to my friend Carol’s about the middle of the afternoon and was looking forward to some of her good cooking. She told me she had a nice meal ready for me…yesterday…pot roast and all the trimmings. When I didn’t show up, her husband ate it, so today they were just going to–can you guess? Get a pizza!

The rest of my trip went without incident, but seeing the USA through the lens of a pizza box was a memorable experience. Florida, too, I found, has its share of pizza franchises, but it was a long time before I ventured into one.

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This article has been read 685 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Payne01/16/09
Enjoyed your piece. I had to smile as I was reminded of some of the many trips I have taken with and without children in tow.
Somehow, as we look back, it is all these little "side trips" that make for good storytelling.
Joanne Sher 01/17/09
Hehe - cute and clever. Enjoyed this very much. I love the pizza thread woven through. Creative.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/17/09
You presented an interesting travelog,your undertone of humor keeping it moving right along.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge01/19/09
Oh the joys of driving to Florida! Done it more times than I wanted to visiting my folks.
Jan Ackerson 01/20/09
Love the voice here--witty and fun.
Teresa Lee Rainey01/20/09
What a miserable trip! But you made it fun and humerous for me- the reader. I really enjoyed this article. :)