Friday morning. Wee hours trek in the darkness to Newark, for boarding of an on-time flight to Nashville. The tiny plane has no overhead space suited for even the smallest roll-on bag, and so everything is gate-checked. For which they do not charge me, so I’m all right with that.
I sleep as much as the discomfort of air travel will permit, trying to put myself in a position to be drive-ready and travel-perky at the other end. Because everything was gate-checked, virtually the entire flight must wait on the ramp for bags. Mine is far into the later half to be removed, but I am in no hurry at present. I make the requisite stops post-flight, and in short order am second in line at the Budget counter. I proceed to wait 30+ minutes to even begin the process, while 15 more people line up. I’m not in the most terrible hurry, but still… people have reservations with pickup times; in much the same way this should help ensure the correct number of cars on site, shouldn’t it also ensure proper staffing?
But in short order I have possession of my rental car and my GPS in place and programmed (though initially it is very confused as to my location which is only fair since, after all, I am a bit befuddled initially by the time zone change).
And so my journey truly begins.
I turn on the radio, expecting country music. This is, after all, Nashville. So I am surprised when Katie Perry comes on, making a Friday night disaster and subsequent hangover sound so troublingly perky. I try all the pre-sets, but none of them is country. They could, in fact, be any pop channel back home. Not that I listen to country music (excepting cross-overs, of course) but still, I expected Brad or Carrie or Keith or Taylor more than Katie. In any case, I find something suited to another 2 hours in the car (or as long as reception holds out), and start the adventure.
I am, by this point, desperate for a cup of coffee, but I don’t want to try to negotiate Nashville for it. I’ll be back here on Monday, anyway. Instead, I get myself as far as Route 65, southbound toward Huntsville Alabama, before I start looking for exits. Brentwood, TN is the first city along my route, and I smile a little as I pick an exit that direction to find myself a cup of coffee and a little breakfast.
When I walk in, an old Dolly Parton song is just ending and I think for a moment that – old though it may be – at least I’ve hit signs of the country, after all. But the next song on is Olivia Newton-John singing It Gets Me Nowhere, which is followed by some other, ever less-countryish tune of the same era. Still, the sentiment of the song, juxtaposed with where I am, gives me a private-joke internal chuckle. I hum along with songs of my childhood as I settle in to enjoy breakfast in a brand new locale. And a new locale is always a good thing, in my book.