Travel Days: Asheville to Nashville to Summertown, Tennessee
I like to move around.
Throughout this journey, I’d always been happy to move on to the next spot—but leaving Asheville hurt just a little. Still, there were adventures ahead. No time to stop, not now.
I took the bus to another bus, to another bus, to a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The road wound through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and was lined with new sights: little towns that seemed to be no more than bus stops… soda-sipping teenagers in camouflage, heading off to war… endless ridges fading from green to emerald to blue to purple to grey, forever into the distance… and here and there, little bursts of red on the leafy hillsides, signaling the onset of autumn.
I’d hoped to be in North Carolina to see the leaves turn, but with red leaves come cold nights—and after New Mexico’s horizontal snow and Colorado’s ice rain, I didn’t want to get stuck in the cold again.
And so I went to sunny Nashville, where Kevin and Nicole joined me.
We walked Nashville’s strip that night, trying to get excited about Music City USA, but mostly nonplussed by the tourists and the beer-drinking party hoo-ha. We had better reasons to be here: we were in Nashville to visit a friend we hadn’t seen in a while.
Several laughs, a few tears and one bad movie later, I was ready to hop another bus. Nashville had been a renewal, and I was heading toward something exciting.
The next bus was piloted by a driver with Elvis glasses and a pompadour, who had the thickest hills accent you ever heard. He grinned ear to ear while asking me ten questions about where I was from and where I was going. He seemed to know most of the passengers by name. Three of my fellow passengers were Amish: a quiet family in black and purple.
Later we pulled off the two-lane highway and waited for nearly an hour next to a hospital. The driver explained: there was another Amish family in there, the girl had come down with bronchitis, we were waiting for them to be discharged. Nobody on the bus seemed to mind waiting. We all sat silently in the green heat.
Eventually our passengers arrived, and the bus motored on through lush woods, a sunny winding highway into the southeast corner of Tennessee. Traffic got scarcer as we drove, until finally we pulled off at the Summertown bus stop.
I had called ahead to have someone meet me here, but the bus was now an hour behind schedule. Nobody was here. The town was little more than a scattering of shops, most of them Amish souvenir stores. The six Amish people had all gotten off the bus with me, and were now riding away in black buggies. The Elvis driver winked a goodbye out the window as he guided the bus back onto the highway.
The bus stop was closed. I was out of food and water, and it was late afternoon. My cell phone didn’t work, and there was no Internet reception; how would I get where I was going?
But I hardly had time to worry before the lone bus-stop employee reappeared from someplace. Country manners kicked in immediately: in short order I was being given a tour of the establishment while phone calls were made on my behalf.
And thank goodness: I hadn’t missed my ride, because they’d forgotten to come pick me up. If I hadn’t called, I’d have spent the night at the bus stop. But they were on their way now, for sure this time. I sat down out front to wait.
Soon enough, a muddy Subaru stopped out front. Two barefoot and bedraggled dudes stepped out, all hair and patchouli. I hopped in the Subaru and we toiled up the hill, a few miles outside of Summertown where we came to:
And I’ll tell you all about that very soon.