Friday, May 13, 2005

Big Walker Mountain

Things are just starting to get back to normal for me after a quick trip to Greenville last weekend. I left on Thursday at about 1 pm and got there at about 10 pm. Yet for me, the drive itself is actually part of the fun. I've been taking that journey down I-77 for more than ten years now, ever since my sister was a student at BJU. It's funny, but I always stop at the same few places along the way too.

Most of the time, I don't stop until exit 45 in Beckley, West Virginia. It's about four hours into the trip. I guess everyone associates that exit with the really neat
Tamarack Art and Craft Center, but I think that I've actually only stepped inside that place once. What I always stop at that exit for is the cool Travel Plaza! First, I always fill-up my car with the super expensive gasoline. Then I go inside the building where they have a Sbarro, a TCBY, and a Starbucks! They also have a gift shop that sells West Virginia t-shirts, coffee mugs, and key chains for those people who want to remember that they once stopped at a Travel Plaza in WV. Oh, and I can't forget those machines that squash pennies and write something about WV in them.

It's really easy to spend a lot of money in that place. $4 for a slice of pizza, $5 for a Frappuccino. I then head back out onto I-77, eating my pizza with one hand and driving with the other hand. Of course, I always pay cash at the Travel Plaza. First, I don't really trust West Virginians with my credit card number. Second, I need change for the WV turnpike toll booths. There are three of them along the way at $1.25 each.

I keep driving through the mountains and scan the radio until I find NPR or Rush or Hannity. The last thing in WV is the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel, one of two tunnels on the way. Even if I'm the only one in the car, I carry on the tradition of trying to hold my breath through the entire tunnel. I always, and I mean ALWAYS beep my car horn a few quick times just because I like the sound that it makes as it bounces off of the brick walls. For some reason, there are also traffic lights in the tunnels. Isn't that strange? I've never seen them when they were anything but green, but there's no way that I would stop in that creepy tunnel if they ever turned red while I was driving through it.

On the other side of the tunnel is Virginia. It's a pretty short drive. The most exciting thing to see there is the "
shot tower." I've never fully understood it, but I think that it is where they used to make ammunition for the civil war. You can see the tower from the highway, but you have to remember to look for it or you'll probably miss it.

About the time that I make it to the North Carolina border, I can usually pick up
BBN on my radio, and I listen to that until I see the first sign for a Chic-Fil-A - the first reliable indication that I've made it to the South. This last time, I got the regular sandwhich, waffle fries, and lemonade. Then I had this coupon for a free "Ice Dream." The coupon was 3 years old at least, but they still took it; and the fact that they still accepted that coupon makes me like Chic-Fil-A even more!

Near Charlotte I get onto I-85, and I can feel that I'm getting close. I put in a CD of some classic sermon by one of the Dr. Bobs. The one I listened to this time was a sermon from an evangelistic meeting from something like 1986. It was Dr. Bob Jr., and it's seriously one of my favorites. Next I listened to a chapel message by Dr. Mazak.

When I finally reach the Palmetto state, I turn my radio dial to 94.5 FM
WMUU. It seems to announce my presence like a sixty-minute processional. For I know that good times are only an hour away.

Well buzz it was good to meet you this past weekend. You should have told me about your website. The only reason I found it was through my website statistics report. You are one of my top referrers. Anyway, I will throw a link to you on my site early next week. Good stuff...
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