The sun had barely warmed the truck's windows when I started the engine. My family tiredly piled in. The gas tank had been topped off the night before so there would not be the need for any unnecessary pit stops. The road lay bare before us on this early Saturday morning and we had miles to go.
The excitement didn't really set in until we reached the first state line. Pennsylvania came in less than two hours and with it came the snow. A full whiteout that blotted out the highway and mixed the sky, the ground, and the horizon between. We were driving into a wall that stayed just ahead of the truck's hood. It only took 30 minutes of white knuckle driving with the hazards flashing before we encountered the first pile up in the slow lane of the highway. The snow crunching beneath our tires as we inched by the accident, the weather relented shortly after. Once again we were cruising at highway speeds and we had miles to go.
West Virginia came surprisingly fast after passing the Maryland state line. We blew by the plaque on the side of the highway marking the Mason-Dixon Line. Before lunch we had officially crossed into the South. The journey had finally become real and we had reached the marathon section of it. Virginia would be six hours due south, more than 300 miles of rolling farm land on both sides of us, and to our east rising above the farms, the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sandwiches would become crucial during this leg of the journey. Lunch would be in Virginia at 65 miles per hour as the skies cleared and the temperature began to rise and we still had miles to go.
We had passed cavern attractions, drive through safaris, historic markers, and Civil War battlefields. This was only day one and we had miles to go. Sightseeing would wait until some more miles were between us and home. Tennessee seemed like forever to get to but the sun had only begun to touch the horizon. A solid day of driving, through sun and snow and rain and sun again, was enough to transport us a world away. A quick stop in Knoxville for fuel and Hardees brought the sun to the horizon. The passengers voted for stopping for the night at 8 but that time would have to wait as we crossed over an imaginary line that changed our clocks and gained our travels an extra hour. A new time zone and extra hour allowed us to reach Nashville by the end of day one. There were more miles to go but perhaps it was enough for one day.
Nashville was somewhat strange to this family from the suburbs of NYC. Although the nightlife on Saturday seemed alive, it only consumed a few city blocks. The weather had warmed enough for the venues to have their doors open to the night air and music filled the streets. But the nightlife seemed more akin to a NY neighborhood and not a whole bustling metropolis. We gathered tourist info and rolled down the neon-lit streets taking traveler notes for a return visit. In the overall plan Texas was our finish line and Nashville only a mile marker to reach before resting for the next leg of the journey. Exploration would have to wait and the day's efforts had already proven that Nashville is less than a day away and we had miles to go.