- Special Sections
- Public Notices
You know how it is with road trips.
With the wrong people, nothing can be miserable. With the right ones, little in life can be more fun.
I’m coming off of one of the latter.
I’d promised a friend a couple of counties over I’d drive him up to retrieve his motorcycle from Western Kentucky.
His Suzuki’s sudden abandonment was the result of his being a good son. He’d been visiting his mother and father a couple of weeks earlier when his uncle in Texas died. He had left the bike (his Mistress, I like to call it) to help drive his parents to Houston in their van. From Houston, his brother and cousins got him home.
Anyway, I’m a sucker for the good-son type — and for a road trip — so on a sunny Saturday morning, we headed west across the Cumberland Plateau.
We packed plenty of music CDs and stayed on backroads as much as possible.
We stopped in McMinnville for coffee and to allow me to pick up a copy of the well-respected local paper, and in Murfreesboro for a good lunch at a busy diner on the courthouse square.
We also hit up a couple of second-hand shops to look for CDs to add to our music mix.
Then we hit the road again, heading north from Middle Tennessee toward Hoptown — Hopkinsville, Ky., to those of you who don’t know the local parlance — and beyond.
Our destination — Madisonville.
A few months ago, my friend and I had discovered we have some uncanny bits of common history. His father and mine both graduated from the civil engineering program at the University of Kentucky in 1960. They both went to survey camp together. Both were married and had children at the time. Both my friend and I were born in Lexington while our fathers were in school there.
We kept our visit short during our first stop at his parents’ house because his father wasn’t feeling well and his mother was taking him to a walk-in clinic.
Before we launched, I had asked my friend if he would mind going another 30 miles west to Sturgis — to the cemetery where my father, grandmother and a few other relatives are buried. At his parents’ house, we learned that his grandmother is buried in the very same cemetery.
We found all our relatives’ graves, snapped some photos and headed across the street to where one of my cousins lives with her husband. They were gathered around the TV watching the first game of NCAA Final Four tournament.
In-between game action, I caught up on the doings and misdeeds of other cousins and relatives.
As we talked about some of the black sheep in my family, I shot my friend a few “please-don’t-think-less-of-me” looks.
He confessed that his family also had a few interesting characters, so I relaxed.
As we prepared to head back to Madisonville, my friend learned his father was being admitted to the hospital with a serious bladder infection.
So instead of heading to his parents’ house, off to the hospital we drove.
As his father settled in at the hospital, we picked up dinner for his mother and ourselves and altered our plans to head on down to Bowling Green or Nashville.
Instead, we stayed in Madisonville with his mother that night.
The three of us sat up late to watch the University of Kentucky play UConn, and my friend — not much of a basketball fan — looked a little pained as his mother and I cheered enthusiastically (loudly) for the Wildcats.
It was such a well-played game that she and I were only mildly disappointed when Kentucky lost by single point.
The following morning was every bit as beautiful as the morning before.
When we headed out again, my friend was on two wheels with me following on four.
I had worried that this part of the road trip would be less fun because of the vehicular separation.
I was wrong.
We stopped for breakfast in Clarksville, got tangled up in a traffic near Nashville, then got clear to head on down Interstate 26 toward Chattanooga.
We stopped here and there, and then headed down backroads to Mont-eagle for a hike at Fiery Gizzard, perhaps the prettiest trail in the state of Tennessee.
And from there we drove the backroads of the Sequatchie Valley.
Surrounded by stunning agrarian beauty, my friend leaned through the two-lane curves on his bike ahead. Me, I had the sunroof open, the windows down, and brothers Gregg and Duane Allman — makers of the best road-trip music ever — a little too loud on the CD player.
We got back just in time to watch the sun set from the back porch.
What a road trip.
I wouldn’t have changed a thing.