Here’s my route:
I needed to get to Durham by 4pm (or thereabouts) to check in to my apartment, so I didn’t really have time to dilly-dally, but I couldn’t resist the sign for the Maker’s Mark National Historic Landmark. There was no indication as to how far away it was, so I assumed it was just “right there” somewhere, but I was wrong, and when I found myself following this guy at 15 miles per hour, I knew I should have turned around. But, I felt committed. I drove past a distillery – I think it was Jim Beam – so I felt like I was headed in the right direction. As I drove past, I got this big whiff of a yeasty, syrupy smell that was great. I’d love to live next to a distillery. It occurred to me that there must be Drosophila there, so I turned my car around and drove up to the gate. I think I must have been at a back service entrance or something, but regardless it was locked down like a penitentiary. I strolled along the length of the fence, considering whether or not I should climb over it. I didn’t. I also didn’t see any flies. It was VERY hot.
Right about now, I decided that I should stop to dissect the flies that I had with me in the car, so I started looking for a place. I found an elementary school that had a table near the playground and set up there. I put my hand into the little cooler where I keep the live flies, and it was hotter in there than out, and all of the flies were dead. I tried to dissect a few, but their innards just turned to mush. So, I put them in alcohol and tossed them in the big cooler. Bummer.
I got to the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway without spotting Maker’s Mark. I did smell another distillery somewhere along the way, and it had been a while since I’d seen a sign for it, so I figured I missed it. And, my little detour had turned into a major digression. I needed to get back on the interstate.
I stopped in Glasgow to call the housing people at Duke to see what the procedure was for a late check-in. (There was some indication from the info that I’d been sent that this was an option.) They told me that if I didn’t get there by 4pm, then I’d have to get a hotel. I asked about the late check-in option, and I was told that I could contact the “on call” person if I was a few minutes after 4pm, not a few hours. So, although I’m annoyed, at least now I don’t feel like I’m in such a rush to get there, since I have to sleep somewhere else tonight anyway.
I drove through part of Daniel Boone National Forest, where I would have camped if I’d made it that far, and I was glad I didn’t make it! Even in the hot middle of the day, I was swarmed by biting insects the instant I stepped out of my car. I’m sure it was miserable at night. And, it was still super hot. I didn’t take any pictures through here. It was pretty, but I think I was a little road weary at this point, and I just wanted to be moving forward. Also, it was just lots of trees, so unless I was looking to get artsy, there wasn’t much to photograph.
I connected with I-75 at Corbin and headed south. I should mention here, that my boyfriend was so kind as to surprise me by fixing the air conditioner in my car. So, it’s struggled, but it’s kept me reasonably comfortable throughout this trip. My car makes this screechy sound if I have the air conditioner on while I’m going slow. The sound gets louder when I accelerate. I’ve been dealing with this by not having the air conditioner on while driving slow. After I left Corbin, I turned on the AC once I got up to speed and heard the screechy belt sound. It didn’t seem to want to go away. I left it on for a couple of minutes and it stopped, but my alternator light came on. To make a long story short, my car broke down. This belt broke. This belt runs my AC compressor and my water pump. (This I discovered while driving and reading my User’s Manual.) As soon as I read “water pump” I looked at my temperature gauge and it was red-hot! So I pulled over.
I was roughly halfway between Williamsburg, Kentucky and Jellico, Tennessee. With no cell phone signal. I opened my hood and grabbed the broken belt. I figured I would let the engine cool down, drive a mile, let the engine cool down, rinse and repeat, until I got to a service station. Have I mentioned yet that it was hot? I did not want to go for a walk, and it was going to take a long time for the engine to cool down, so I slumped over the steering wheel. I thought that if I believed that there was a god out there who might send an angel to rescue me, then it was time to start praying. But, I don’t (sorry mom) so I decided to issue a non-verbal appeal to the kindness of strangers. Fortunately, the spirit of kind strangers sent me an angel. In the form of a picture-perfect hillbilly. And, I mean HILL BILLY. Like this. Except without the shirt, and without so many pearly whites. He was probably 45 years old.
He approached me cautiously. I didn’t see him coming because my head was down. He startled me. I showed him the broken belt. He offered to drive me to find a new belt for my car. He explained that he and his son-in-law were taking his mother back to her house (she’d been over for a barbecue.) Since he had his mom and son-in-law in the car (and I didn’t have any other options) I figured I’d be OK. Have you seen the Texas Chain Saw Massacre? If so, I felt like I might have just gotten into the car with that family (and two little dogs.) I couldn’t understand anything they said because of their thick accents and missing teeth. And, mom (he called her mommy, which I thought was weird) kept asking me questions. I just smiled and nodded.
He took his mommy home, constantly reassuring me that he was not going to drive me into the middle of the forest and kill me. (I would have been much less concerned about this if he’d stopped mentioning it!) When I returned here (mommy’s house) to take a picture, note the “no trespassing” sign, the neighbor came running out of his house at me. He didn’t have a shotgun in hand, but I’m sure he yelled for Bubba to get it.
After dropping mommy off, we went to the house/auto repair shop of a friend of his down the street. This old man dug through what appeared to be an old auto parts shop right next to his house. He didn’t find the right belt for me, so we went down the road to a larger shop, and found it. He charged me $11. Then, my new friend drove me back to my car, and spent about 30 minutes putting the new belt on. I left $20 in the back seat of his car because he refused to take any money from me. After repeatedly declining to go back to his house for barbecue and spend the night if I wanted to (no funny stuff, he says), I was on my way again! Ironically, I’d just had all of the belts in my car replaced less than a year ago – the one that broke looked brand new!
I decided after all that, that I would stop to eat some comfort food. I went to Cracker Barrel and had chicken and dumplings, green beans, and corn bread. They don’t serve beer there or I would have had one for sure. My car started fine when I left.
It took a long time to get through the mountains. I stopped at a hotel near Asheville. I got to sleep at 3:30am. I was supposed to be in class at 9am and I was 3 hours away. So, I slept for 2 hours then drove to Durham. I had to pull over for a 20 minute nap, and that made me exactly 20 minutes late for class. Not too bad.