Saturday, November 12, 2011

My testing adventure! The travelogue.

As you know by now, Cooper and I traveled to Collierville, TN.  The tests were offered by the USAR Foundation and the Tennessee Task Force. It was extremely pleasant to travel with a dog who doesn't destroy his bed or get nervous diarrhea, let me tell you! The weather was good for our drive down here, which, other than being long and extremely boring, as fine. Hwy 57 and 55 took me the length of Illinois. Straight, flat and dull. I passed one "drug check point" where they announced the check point was just up ahead... and oh gee, there happened to be an exit prior to that location. I had to pee but was not about to take that exit!! My route also took me into Missouri and Arkansas.  That was slightly unnerving and left me momentarily wondering if I had somehow taken a wrong turn.

The Days Inn hotel that I stayed at was across the street from the Schilling Farms development.  It has wonderful green space around it to exercise dogs and each room exits outside, which makes it nice for hauling in crates and such.

Cooper and took a walk through the Schilling Farms area.  For anyone interested in a little history check out: to read about the Schilling Farms development. I thought it must be part of a historic site, perhaps a family farm sold, but as it turns out it is the vision of the developers. Amazing! It reminded in some ways of the Greenbelt community of Greendale. The developer created a multi-use space with green areas, that maintained the intregrity of southern architecture. The hotel is located across the street from the Schilling Farms development, which is bordered by beautiful white fences and gabled buildings. Collierville was actually burned to the ground after a battle during Sherman's "March to the Sea" and was later rebuilt.

The following photos were taken on our walk about Schilling Farms:

After our test, we visited the Town Square of Collierville.
It was very quiet, with several people sitting on park benches and reading. There was no loud music or squealing tires.  Cooper and I walked around the Square, reading the signs commemorating the Confederate bravery.  It leaves a Yankee with a different perspective because you realize that all those lives lost were the sons and fathers of someone who loved them and believed they were fighting the right cause.  My great-great-grandfather is buried in Dickson, TN, having been killed in battle as a Union soldier.  There are a number of plaques located around the square, explaining the significance of pieces of Collierville history.

I thought that it would be nice to eat dinner there, perhaps get a taste of regional cuisine.  Since I noticed a cafe right there on the Square, I popped in.  The proprietors appeared to be of Asian ethnicity, and I saw a buffet.  I was still optimistic.  There could be redneck Asians, right?   I ordered a bowl of something I recognized to be a southern dish, more cajun than Tennessee, but what the heck.  I asked for a bowl of red beans and rice.  In modern parlance, apparently what I got was "fusion".  A bowl of red beans (kidney beans) and sausage that did have a delightful cajun flavor, and on the side.... sticky rice!  I do love sticky rice and found it quite good along with the beans and sausage, but it certainly wasn't the customary dirty rice.  The fortune cookie on the table made the final twist to my palate!  Unexpected, but still very good.

"Unexpected, but still very good" can also describe my drive home.  I was up at 4 am, packed and on the road by 5.  I wanted to get home before dark and avoid the suicidal deer that had littered my drive down.  Near Perryville, Missouri, my van broke down. Again.  One minute I was whipping right along, passing a semi, and the next.... no to the side of the road I coasted.  It seems to be a matter of routine to be towed in each state I visit and by now, I just take it in stride.  AAA should be on my speed dial.  I'm just grateful that they don't have a cap!  A wrecker was dispatched and apparently AAA, after discovering one dealership had a 3 day waiting time for an appointment, wanted to send me 40 miles back the way I had come.  The wrecker driver, bless him, knew a local shop that he said specialized in getting stranded motorists back on the road.  Go for it, I said!  He took me to TLM Auto Body in Perryville, Mo.   If you are EVER near and need help, this is where you want to be!  I hauled Cooper's crate out and perched myself out back on a log while they worked on my van.  Tim, the owner, is assisted by his father and another man; his father brought out dog biscuits for Cooper.  At lunch time, he invited me to share their meal and we ate heartily of ham hocks and beans, with cornbread, cooked up there in the crockpot.  Oh my goodness, was it delicious!  I have never been treated so well at any of the places I have broken down before.  These are genuinely nice people.

What could have been a horrible day, was brightened by the goodness of these folk.  My distributor was chewed up and had to be replaced, and once that part arrived and was installed, I was on my way again.  This made my day later than I had hoped and it rained for the last few hours of my journey.  Friends in Milwaukee had invited me to stop there if I was tired, but when I was within three hours of home, I just wanted to press on.  It was a good thing I did.  Within an hour of arriving home, sleet was pelting the window and the next morning I was greeted by a blanket of snow.

So there it is, another cross-country trip where I had unique experiences and met great new friends! I'm looking forward to returning to Tennessee for another visit.  In a new vehicle.