I’ve always loved those Southwest Airlines commercials where at the end the chime rings and the voice—presumably, the Captain or one of the Flight Attendants—says, “You are now free to move about the country.”
Well, given all of the ins and outs, ups and downs, and overall uncertainty surrounding our current global shelter-in-place “opportunity,” I haven’t been so sure if I’m “free to move about the country” or not!
But start to move I have.
After what was supposed to have been a two-week housesitting gig in Florida turned into 3-1/2 months (and like I wrote in A Sunshine State of Mind, I was fortunate that the homeowners still needed me to watch their home and animals since their travel was interrupted as well), it was finally time to hit the road.
The previously planned month in Arizona, followed by at least a month-and-a-half in California, driving from San Diego all the way up to the Bay Area, were now off the table, so I had to regroup. Instead, I decided to drive back to Kansas City, breaking up the 19-hour drive by stopping in Chattanooga for two nights.
It had been almost 10 years since I’d last visited Chattanooga, and even though they too were mostly engaged in shelter-in-place, it was still even more beautiful than I remembered it.
My first stop was the pedestrian-only Walnut Street Bridge connecting the North and South Shore districts across the Tennessee River.
Once on the north side I sauntered along Cherokee Ave., one of the main thoroughfares, just window shopping, exploring the artwork, and enjoying the small town ambiance.
After consulting the Happy Cow app, the ultimate source for the best vegan and vegetarian food near you, I found a great plant-based eatery called Sluggo’s Vegan Café. A Chattanooga favorite, the creativity and food here are incredible!
Because I’d been here before, and not wanting to drive all over town after being in the car already for about 8 hours, I then enjoyed a quick stroll along the Riverfront and past the Tennessee Aquarium (it is now open), one of my favorite attractions here and arguably one of the best aquariums in the country.
On the way back to the car “Vegan Ice Cream” and “Vegan Cookie Dough” caught my eye on the menu board of Downtown Dough, so of course I had to go get me some! I opted for the former, choosing Cookies & Cream, and I was in heaven! It tasted just as good, if not better than the dairy version from my former dietary ways, and definitely hit the spot on such a hot day.
Next it was off to the AirBnB I’d reserved for a good two nights’ sleep and a day of work in between, followed by an early 3:45 a.m. departure for Kansas City.
After a quick stop in Jefferson City, MO—bringing my visits to U.S. States, Capitol Cities, and Capitol Buildings to 45, 26, and 19, respectively—I arrived at the home of some friends where I’d stay for the next four days.
The next morning I went to the appropriate locations and hugged, kissed, and generally slobbered all over my two kids who have been back from college and staying at their dad’s since March.
Yes, they objected a bit but deep down I think they liked it (at least that’s what Momma decides to believe!).
A quick drop-off and pick-up at my storage space and getting a few other things organized, and I was off to the airport. And yes, I’m going to make you wait with bated breath to find out the next destination!
A heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to everyone who reached out to me with concern, well wishes, and love from near and far. It was greatly appreciated!