Published March 16, 2012
My journey here was quite long. Day by day, it went a little something like this…
Wednesday, August 8th:
Say goodbye to my family and pick up Jess. Leave Pennsylvania, drive briefly through Maryland, and then make it to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Lose GPS and cell phone signal in the mountains. Feel grateful that my generation learned to read paper maps. Go on a hike, enjoy the scenery, and successfully survive an encounter with a black snake and a black bear.
Thursday, August 9th:
Almost run out of gas on the Parkway. Take the closest exit for a gas station, as instructed by a Park Ranger. Arrive at the gas station at 7pm to find that it closed at 6pm, and the pumps do not take credit card. Be saved by friendly southern strangers, who ride around the corner on their lawn mowers and give us three gallons to get us to the next station.
Friday, August 10th:
Explore the Biltmore Estate (home of the Vanderbilts) and decide that North Carolina is absolutely gorgeous. Go on a tour of the Biltmore winery and taste free samples. Then go on a hike to a waterfall. Borrow a stranger’s tripod to take time-lapsed photos of said waterfall. Give back the tripod, but forget to return the little piece that holds the camera in place. Leave it at lost and found, feel awful, and hope he calls looking for it.
Saturday, August 11th:
Spend the day in Nashville. Check out the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon as it originally appeared in Ancient Greece. Pretend I am in fact in Ancient Greece. Then check out the Tomato Arts Festival, an East Nashville celebration of both tomatoes and art. Grab a quick drink at a honky-tonk and head back to the hotel to sleep (because it’s been a long week, and I’m getting tired!).
Sunday, August 12th:
Drop off Jess at the Nashville airport and start my book on tape (I decided on Grisham’s The Firm, if you’re curious). Then leave behind all traces of civilization and disappear into the Alabama wilderness. Spend three hours waiting for a rest stop so I can use the bathroom. Eventually give up and stop at a park with toilets off some random Alabama road. Make note to self not to follow GPS or Google Maps into Alabama next time. Arrive on campus for the first time (it’s quite pretty) and meet my new roommates (Idamis and Janice, from Puerto Rico). Give a sigh of relief and hope that I will like Mississippi better than Alabama!
Rachael has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently applying to graduate school for broadcast meteorology.