She and I headed out at 4AM last Thursday morning for Marion, NC. Right off the bat the trip was crazy. The little town of Manchester TN, population about 10,000, was a traffic planner's nightmare as 100,000 people were arriving for the annual Bonnaroo music festival held here. It's a 4 day event, and for those 4 days there is an extra exit off I-24 for people getting to the farm where it's held. Manchester normally has 3 exits, 110, 111 and 114. People arriving from the west are directed to proceed to exit 127 then come back west to exit 112. Signs on westbound I-24 direct Bonnaroo traffic to use the shoulder. The gates are opened late Wednesday afternoon, and at times the cars on the shoulder can be backed up for 15 miles. I've heard horror stories of sitting on the side of the interstate for 10 or 12 hours waiting to get in. This was the scene about 4:30 AM somewhere around mile marker 120. Law enforcement was everywhere, and the event traffic was creeping along slowly.
Sorry for the lousy photos, they were taken with my ancient cell phone.
Luckily once we were past exit 127 things cleared up nicely and we arrived in Marion around noon. We went directly to the storage unit and proceeded to pack the truck as full as we could, and got the load tarped well since rain was forecast. SIL took us out to eat at his favorite Mexican restaurant, a little place called el Jalapeno in Marion, and after a quick nap in the camper and daughter and I headed back to TN. We got home, unloaded everything into the small storage shed here and slept for a while. After waking up we headed back to Marion, taking both the truck and the Prius. This time the packing took longer, getting the rest of his things out of the storage unit, then helping pack up everything he'd been using in the camper. It was starting to look like we might actually be able to get everything in one trip, instead of having to come back for the camper. We put the heaviest boxes in the cars, packing them to the ceiling. The lightest items stayed in the camper, and the rest was paked in the back of the truck.
The campground where he had been living had fairly large lots, but the camper was parked tightly along a tree on the road side so I was concerned about trying to wiggle it over in order to have enough room to back it out onto the street. It turned out that the neighbors across the greenway/alley behind him had a fire ring that we were able to move and I could just pull the camper forward between the other two campers. Yay! It was starting to get dark, and I was worried about heavy traffic when I got to the construction area before Knoxville. They're redoing a bridge, and it's one narrow lane with concrete barriers on each side. I planned to stop at the first rest area and nap for a bit so I wouldn't hit it until late night when traffic would be light and I could creep through it as slow as I wanted.
I-40 has some steep, twisty areas so it was a slow drive. I was usually in the truck lane going 35 on both the uphills and the downhills due to the weight I was hauling. The kids had spent some time saying goodbye to friends and neighbors, but they caught up with me around the NC/TN border and we stopped at a rest area and napped for a couple hours. The timing was perfect, by the time I hit the narrow bridge there was almost no traffic, and going through Knoxville and Chattanooga was a breeze before the Monday morning rush hour picked up. Going through Chattanooga I noticed the signs for Bonnaroo again. The flicker makes it hard to read, it says Special Event 24W Near Manchester 66 miles. It changed to say Stay Alert Be Prepared To Stop. Nothing like warning people far in advance.
Once I got away from Chattanooga it was getting quite light out and the Smoky Mountains lived up to their name.
There was a recent rock fall in one spot, I'd hate to be driving past some of the higher cliffs when a bunch of that limestone let loose. Some of the cliffs are quite high and very close to the road.
When we had all made it back to Manchester mid-morning we unloaded the back of the truck and the cars, and lazed around the rest of the day, with very early bedtimes. Tuesday was spent unloading the camper and getting everything stashed in the tool shed. These boxes and totes are the things SIL wants in Utah. It's a good thing I wasn't planning on doing any work around the house here, since I can't even walk into the shed let alone get to any tools which are all on the far wall. LOL The kids took off for points north on Wednesday, stopping in Metropolis IL to visit Superman, and then on to Chicago. SIL had never been to Chicago, so they're doing it up right, staying downtown in the historic Palmer House hotel. They plan to drift over to MN in a few days and visit family and friends, then slowly meander westward taking in some sights along the way and visit family and friends on Washington and Oregon. The plan is for them to get to SLC around the 3rd, while I will rent a U-haul trailer, load up his things and meet them there. Boy, am I a great MIL or what?! LOL Actually it gives me a great excuse for a road trip, and I'll stop and visit some friends in Colorado on the way home once I've gotten rid of the trailer.
My daughter isn't staying in Utah yet, she'll be coming back here once they've found a 5th wheel and a year-round campground and gotten somewhat moved in. There is still some discussion about whether she will fly back to Nashville or if I'll drive the Prius out to Utah to get her. Last minute plane tickets are not cheap. Then I get to come back here to TN and hook up my camper, and the summer will officially begin for me. Better late than never I say. :)