Not one to let grass grow between his toes, two weeks after California and The Broad, The Sweetie had a long road trip planned—a circle tour that began with Idaho, Wyoming, and Missouri. We drove 10-12 hours every day through grasslands, rolling hills, mountains, and plenty of heavy traffic. Maybe it’s the cheap gas and a good economy, but the country is bustling with road improvement projects, long haul trucks full of goods, and giant construction cranes building apartments and condominiums.
On the fifth day we gratefully pulled into my daughter’s driveway in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of my third dog Louie. Knoxville’s old town neighborhoods are graceful and full of charm: shaded sidewalks, large old trees, and Southern Victorian houses mixed in with white-steepled churches, coffee houses, and brewpubs.
After Bridget’s Friday night Lebanese extravaganza, Saturday night pizza at Barley’s, and excellent Sunday church food, the tribe pressed on to Jon’s house (home to Lucy and Sadie, my dogs four and five) in Greer, South Carolina where Lara’s pumpkin bars and Syd’s cinnamon rolls waited. We picnicked at Furman University, topped off our southeastern culinary tour at my perennial favorite, The Pita House in Greenville, then headed for Myrtle Beach for a week to walk off our excessive consumption in the woods and on the beach.
As soon as we left the car at the retreat’s entrance in Myrtle Beach, we were greeted by swarms of mosquitos instead of dogs, pizza, or chili. I am a poor outdoorsman; the West would never have been discovered or developed if it had been left up to me. Recent floods and warmer weather in the Southeast produced hoards of ear-whining, ankle-biters that encouraged the softer among us to remain indoors and read—not necessarily a bad thing. We stayed until the Deet ran out, then headed home back through Tennessee, Missouri, South Dakota, and Montana.