Travel Rookie mistake Number One

1.  Visiting Knoxville when University of Tennessee is not in session 

Traveling in parts of the country you’ve not seen before doesn’t calculate what websites don’t tell you……there are good times to visit a town, there gooder times to see a town, and then, like our stay in Knoxville, there are times not to be there.

It was a walking ghost town, except for all the old white men who are homeless. We decided to get an overall view of the city by taking all three trolley loops. One to Old Town, one to UT and one along the waterfront and the Coliseum. 

Us, the driver, and shortly after I took this pic, two homeless men came aboard and stayed aboard the whole loop. The trolley is free and air conditioned, hence the homeless find it attractive. 

We were taken by how gorgeous and sprawling the UT campus is.. lots of building going on now, including a gigantic new student union. 

Needless to say, the center of the campus is the Vol stadium.  I can imagine how jam- packed the stadium is in the fall, and how the entire town would come alive.  

Here’s a side eye view of the ugly World’s Fair sunsphere. I mean, it’s hideous.

A river runs through it…..

At NO point along the three separate trolley rides did we see anyone other than construction workers and homeless white guys. One man shaking so badly and scratching himself, I’m sure he was coming down off some opiod high.  

So, we bailed on Knoxville.  Drove 7.5 hours to Little Rock, along a horrible stretch of I-40 West. Two lanes.  Very old.  Winding.  Trucks passing in a hill, oh my, it holds up the whole line. 


The blue sky here is deceiving.  It went from blue to deadly downpours in a split second, the squalls short lived but so brutal it was impossible to see.  

People driving east were hung up for miles, an overturned truck on fire.

The worst leg was from here, over the bridge from Memphis into Arkansas. 40W in Arkansas is nothing but pot holes, a road that looks unchanged since it was built. The towns from the Tennessee border into Little Rock are the true definition of the Middle of Nowhere. We stopped for gasoline about twenty miles outside LR in a one-station town and the poverty hit us over the head. You could feel and see how poor the people were who came into the station. It was tough. 

Now comfortably camped out in LR, with a stellar view of the Clinton Library from our room.  Looking forward to touring it tomorrow.

Hope you all had a good day. 

19 thoughts on “Travel Rookie mistake Number One

  1. Yes, the wrong time of year to travel down there.

    Keep off the moors. Stay on the road. Good luck to you

  2. So far, this seems like torture trip.
    Hopefully Crystal Bridges will make it all worthwhile, and you can make it back to RI in record time!

    1. Not torture. Any road trip is an adventure. We’ve had more adventure than usual but the best is yet to come. Tomorrow the Clinton Library etc.. Sunday to Dallas for three nights, the Bush Library and Waco, then Crystal Bridges.

  3. Despite the glitches, are you having fun yet?? My husband’s niece went to UT. She loved it. It’s a southerners haven. Probably not too many New Yorkers enrolled.

    We got hit with rain today too but driving in it isn’t the same as sitting at my window looking out at it.

    1. Fun? Well, not completely. Interesting.. learning from mistakes. Seeing things we never have before. That’s always to the good in my mind.

      I meant to add, we haven’t seen one other NY plate. Nor a CT or NJ plate either. Lots of Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, above and beyond the Tennessee and Arkansas plates. I guess NYers don’t venture here. I’m glad we did. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

      1. We only saw a CT plate once on our down to ATL(Atlanta) trip and that was in VA when 2 able body guys were double parked with the engine running so one could go in and get lunch. It was embarrassing, I nearly knocked on his window to tell him to go park his car in a real space. We were always looking for CT plates, did see NY and Mass in the Blue Ridge Mtns. Only saw one Tesla and that was in ATL.

        1. Says that CT and NY residents head to the shores or north. It is odd they don’t come south. Have seen only one MA plate. No RI plates, no NJ. Strange. Maybe once in Texas they’ll all surface.
          Around Memphis and Nashville I saw some pretty high end cars. Mostly we’re seeing families with trucks and a fifth wheel camper.

      1. Yep – been there. It’s a long story – short version is that I did a fair amount of business travel to both Memphis & LR early in my career and drove that stretch of I-40 a bit.

        1. So you know all the potholes of which I speak. The road is an utter abomination. Ironically, in the Clinton movie he talked about all the improvements he made to Arkansas. I sure as hell don’t see it. I see lots of abject poverty. Even LR, while the downtown tourist streets are nice, we drove across the river to North LR. Not as nice. Also drove around LR proper. Like all cities, LR has it’s fair share of homelessness and business decline.

    1. No. She left the blog community a year+ ago and I will respect that decision. I never begrudge anyone who bails here. It’s a very opinionated blog.

    1. Memphis and Nashville are special destinations that require several days each. I’d love to do both another time. This trip started out being about presidential libraries then morphed.

  4. Thank you again for detailed road-trip commentaries with news we can use. In visiting the Clinton Library, please keep an eye out for any information or references to the Drug War and our Latin American policy under #42.

    My daughter came to Bolivia in 1992 under Bush41. The country was soon transformed by Al Gore’s interest in setting up a strong internet backbone. An American Oil Man from U. Chicago was elected President and all proceeded well as the War on Drugs was carried out.

    Fast forward 25 years, and the Country has turned its back on the US. In 2008 an indigenous organizer of the coca leaf growers union (yes, it’s a thing) became President, and the payback began. The money is still rolling in. My taxi driver this morning told me narcotraffico is up 30% in the past few years.

    Nevertheless, for this fantastic trade deal, most Bolivian buying is going to China. Both on my flight and my daughter’s coming down here from NY, the first class sections were 100% Chinese, connecting in Panama or Lima for the last leg into Bolivia.

    I took photos at the car dealerships this morning. GMC has been replaced by the Chinese JMC, which looks identical in the model lines.

    At any rate, you’ll get a full guest post from me. But this is your road trip to the Presidential Libraries. I watched Clinton and Bush43 live streaming from the Bush Library a few days ago. It got me a bit upset to see the two together getting jolly, since I believe the whole Latin American direction was set by Bush41 at the CIA, with help from Reagan and George Schultz of Bechtel. #42 – #44 just went “with the flow.”

    Bechtel is still dominant here, pushing water distribution through its system, whereas Coca-Cola dominates the bottled water and delivery trade.

    I’ll save my tirades about natural gas and lithium for another day.

    Thanks again for the great photos.

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