Having been on the road for a month staying in a different hotel/motel every night it is easy to get disorientated. You come back from dinner with only one of those plastic magnetic key things trying desperately to remember your room number. Is it 212? No, that was last night.303? No, I’m sure we were on the 5th floor in this place, but the long anonymous corridors don’t help. Fortunately I have a secret weapon for this problem. She is called Dee, whose powers of recall far exceed mine these days.
But she can’t help me at 3.00 am when I stumble out of bed needing the loo. Which direction is the bathroom? Left? Right? Straight on behind a partition? I could put the light on but that would disturb her. Mind you, by the time I’ve fallen over a suitcase and walked into a closed door, the light would probably have been the better option.
We left Gatlinburg in the pouring rain but were not sorry to go. Gatlinburg is basically a resort with all the negative connotations that implies. I would probably have loved it when I was 8 years old but now we just found it tacky. Reminded us of Atlantic City without the casinos and the sea. Pigeon Forge a few miles up the road was even worse, at least 3 miles of solid tat.
The rain got worse as we headed for Oak Ridge and the American Museum of Science and Energy. The museum was very impressive. Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Los Alamos, New Mexico, were the two main centres for the development of the atom bomb in the 1940s. We visited the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos last year on our journey from San Francisco to South Carolina so it was good to see its counterpart this year. There’s a very wide range of exhibits in the Oak Ridge museum and we lost 2 hours there very easily. We also met Corvin, a keen bird watcher, but that’s another story.
We stayed the night there, (in a hotel, not the museum) and the next day, the weather having vastly improved, we headed north to the Kentucky border and the Cumberland Gap. Singing the Lonnie Donegan song as we went, (older friends will remember this and will understand why we began singing when we were just 15 miles from the Gap), we made our way to the visitors’ centre to learn how Daniel Boone explored this pass through the mountains in the 18th century, thus paving the way for white settlement in Kentucky. We also met Margaret busily weaving cloth on her loom but that’s another story.
We stayed that night in Middlesboro and met a delightful couple at breakfast who know England well, though last time they were disappointed on a visit to Lincoln. But that’s another story. We then spent Monday wandering through the Daniel Boone Memorial Forest. Trees to the left of us, trees to the right of us, above us, below us, all around us. Magnificent.
And so to Rogersville for our penultimate night of this trip. This hotel, like most we’ve stayed in, is very comfortable. Nice room, so let’s get this sorted. Out of bed, turn left, 3 paces forward, turn left, 9 paces forward, turn left. Aah! Blessed relief. Of course if I drank less of the local beer none of this would be necessary but that would be too high a price to pay to avoid a bit of 3.00 am stumbling.