This past weekend, I finally got out of the ATL for some fun times in Nashvegas! I met one of my college sorority sisters there, because it is really quite a reasonable four hour drive from Atlanta, and we had an awesome time. I will say that if you’re a fan of the movie “Coyote Ugly” stay away from Coyote Ugly Nashville. It’s definitely not the same. There was no Piper Perabo and no rendition of “Can’t Fight the Moonlight.” There were, however, some extremely interesting people there. Wow.
While getting to Nashville was a breeze, driving back to Hotlanta was quite an ordeal. My friend Liz from Atlanta had been my driving co-pilot to Nashville since she had wanted to visit her sister who lives in the city. On Sunday afternoon, Liz and I took Jameson to the airport and then headed out of Nashville around 3 p.m. The first two hours of the trip flew by, and I must say Tennessee in the fall is pretty beautiful. The foliage was more impressive there than it has been in northern Georgia, and this is coming from a fall foliage connoisseur.
Liz and I had planned on stopping in Chattanooga, the halfway point on our journey, for some snacks and fuel. Just before Chattanooga, there is a fairly long stretch of highway where there are limited pull-off options, so the Chattanooga stop was definitely going to be needed. But when we were about four miles away from Chattanooga, we rounded a corner on the highway and came to a complete stop. For some inexplicable reason traffic was absolutely not moving. Initially, Liz and I took this in stride. We called our friend Caroline, talked, and listened to music. After about 45 minutes, we started to get worried, as I was starting to run low on gas. And then my gas light came on. At this point we were still 3.5 miles away from the Chattanooga exit.
Of course I have AAA (which I definitely have put to use on numerous occasions), but traffic was so congested that it was going to be hours before AAA would hypothetically reach us if we ran out of gas. We decided to pull off onto the shoulder and hope that traffic would start moving again. Luckily we had a few magazines with us and we were able to entertain ourselves for another 30 minutes. The October 2010 issue of Cosmo was especially entertaining. Hello annual bachelor issue.
Unfortunately, traffic was not getting any better. Liz and I made an executive decision that it was time to be the horrible people who bypass everyone on the highway by driving on the shoulder. Normally I severely judge these people but we really had no option. And rest assured, we felt horrible the whole time and basically avoided eye contact with everyone on the highway.
We advanced about a mile and a half from driving on the shoulder and then rejoined the traffic on the highway. My car was on a hill and the gas light went off momentarily, which allowed us to tough out the rest of the traffic jam until we finally reached an exit. I have a Garmin, named Lee, who directed us to the nearest gas station from the highway as soon as we excited. I didn’t really name my Garmin, although let’s be honest I would, but I use the Australian voice named Lee. I can’t handle any of the sassy female voices giving me directions – but the soothing Australian man? Yes please. Lee took us to a gas station that was either in Tennessee, Alabama, or Georgia. Liz and I genuinely still have no idea to this day. It was definitely rural. And we were definitely in the South. With a capital “S”.
After getting gas, Liz and I decided to try to figure out an alternate route. I had made some wonderful Southern friends in line at the gas station (no pay at the pump) that had recommended trying to bypass the traffic and head directly to Chattanooga. Liz and I also briefly entertained driving south for a bit in Alabama and then cutting over east to Georgia. We also learned at the gas station that the cause of the massive traffic jam was from a fatal motorcycle accident which was sad to hear. From the gas station in the mystery state, we decided to take the advice of our gas station friends and try to bypass Chattanooga. Lee sent us on this crazy route that involved driving down a dirt road for two miles, but we eventually cut back up to Chattanooga. This was the point that we decided that we felt like we were on The Amazing Race. Liz and I amazingly managed to remain in good spirits the whole time. I would definitely choose her as a teammate on The Amazing Race!
Once we arrived in Chattanooga we learned that there was another reason for the terrible traffic jam. Construction. After sitting in traffic for at least 20 minutes in Chattanooga, we got off the highway again and asked Lee to find us a detour. He found us a detour that involved driving to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and getting onto I-75 from there. At this point we were delirious and starving. Of course we stopped at the first Taco Bell we came across.
After the TB action, Liz and I finally got onto I-75 and cruised our way back to Atlanta. Atlanta has never looked so good to me before. I think I may have even said something about how beautiful the skyline looked. At the end of the day, Liz and I arrived back in the ATL at 11 p.m. We did cross over one time zone, but what should have been a four hour trip had definitely taken us three extra hours. Ironically we had been trying to get back to the ATL in time for the new episode of The Amazing Race at 8 p.m.