Benedict and Rita: Jersey Bound – Day 22

Last full day on the road!

Where were we?  Oh yes, we woke up in Louisville.  Where in the hell are we?  I’ve stayed in this fair city before but this was different.  We had booked our hotel on Priceline while driving to Louisville and somehow we wound up in 1983’s groovy hotel of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing seriously wrong about the place.  It was just, well, you know what, we slept, woke up, and drove away.  I’m not going to beat this dead, tacky horse.

We headed south again and Karla instructed me “If you see a sign for a Dunkin’ Donuts, you may as well stop because we might not see one again.”  She’s right.  They don’t have too many of my favorite coffee franchise in Texas and I needed my fix.  We saw one and took off for it.  I took the exit and searched for it.  What I found, instead, was something called “Dunkin’ Express”.  When they say “express” they aren’t kidding.  It was a self-service counter inside of a gas station convenience store.  O-kaaaay…  Before leaving the parking lot I spotted a tractor parked in the lot.  The picture below will give it away.  The Truckers’ Chapel.  Yeah…

Our next stop was Nashville.  Here we parked the car, walked around, got lunch, and then got back in the care.  Again, Karla took the wheel because, you guessed it, more rain was approaching.

Before getting too far outside of Music City, though, we found our way to yet another celebrity gravesite.  The day after Marigold died, my favorite music artist of all time also passed away.  Donna Summer was buried near her home in Nashville and I couldn’t pass this one up.  Again, thanks to findagrave.com We located the cemetery.  However, the website gave no further information other than a picture of a freshly filled-in plot in a generic looking field with dying floral arrangements atop it.  Imagine this — me and Karla driving around a cemetery trying to match a picture on my phone with the surrounding landscape.  But we found it; only in the intervening weeks, her family had planted a number of box hedges and other plants around the plot.  I guess this was to prevent people from actually standing on the grave.  Whatever.  This was as close as I have ever stood near my idol.  I said a prayer thanking God for her gift and praying for her soul.  God bless you, Donna Summer.

We headed west on I-40 and before long found just one more roadside attraction.  This was to be our last diversion since it was getting late.  About fifteen miles north of the highway, in a little town called Camden, TN is the crash site of Patsy Cline, another favorite of mine (and I dislike Country music so that says something).  But like all things worth seeing this one took a little work to get to.  We followed the signs and headed up a thickly wooded mountain on a gravel road.  When we reached the end of that road, about five miles up, we parked and looked around.  Clearly we were meant to walk another tenth of a mile down a winding gravel path into the forest.  I tepidly set out on foot with the kids in tow.  As we got up to the actual marker — a stone in the woods — I began to wonder how many snakes and bears might be lurking nearby.  Another quick prayer and then I grabbed the kids, threw them over my shoulders, and bolted back up the hill to the car.  “Come on, kittens, let’s book!”  Then I remembered that Karla and Campbell were still walking up the path.

We hit the road yet again.  We passed through Memphis and then stopped for dinner in Arkansas.  Karla drove a few hours and then I took the wheel for the last time.  It was 11PM.  I drove us all the way home.  It was 4AM.  The kids were asleep.  Campbell was asleep.  Karla was asleep.  I shepherded my family into their beds and then closed my eyes.  We were home.

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