For the first time in the trip, we don’t have an agenda. I wake up before everyone else, wash up the best anyone can in a Wal Mart, and wander around inside. Things I learn: They sell cupcake flavored Fruity Pebbles cereal and keep boxed wine with Valentine’s Day supplies.
I’m depressed and homesick, which was inevitable for this trip. We try to turn finding a place to eat lunch into a funny video, but I’m not in the mood. When we find a tiny roadside hotdog shack, I sit in a corner booth by myself. After we finish and start driving again, I lie down in the back of the RV, headphones on, staring out to the highway. When we finally stop for dinner in Knoxville Tennessee, I still feel down, but I just zone out. By that point, it was snowing so bad that we found another Wal Mart to park at and called it a night.
In the morning, I reprise my Wal Mart routine, though I run a little later and rush to buy some yogurt and apple slices from the Subway and make it back so I don’t hold us up. Once inside I put my food down for a second, until a meeting is called to figure out our plans for getting to Austin. It’s a good twenty minutes, and I assume my food is spoiled by the time I finally reach over for it, but it’s fine. It hits me: The inside of the RV is just as cold as a refrigerator. It doesn’t do anything for my homesickness, nor does knowing I’m barely a week into this.
We start the day by sight seeing, in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, home to the only Zorb track in the country. Giant human sized hamster balls, which are a perfect way for a bunch of comedians to start screwing around. It’s perfectly silent as we pull in, until a loud fire alarm horn goes off in the distance, which to me feels like we’ve just stumbled into a remote bombing range, and we’re about to die.
I think about going for a Zorb ride, but decide to just walk around and watch everyone else screw around, until Shannon throws up in one of the balls. When we finally leave (much to the pleasure of the staff), we’re officially in full on driving mode. It’s Friday afternoon, and we’re in eastern Tennessee. We have to be in Austin Texas by tomorrow night. At this point, if it’s not driving, we’re not doing it.
I keep to myself, headphones on, glued to my phone. After a while, we all start playing games together, to help pass the time. It feels good, like we’re really coming together as friends. My depression goes away, replaced with exhaustion from lack of regular sleep and real food.
At one point we stop for gas. We're still in Tennessee. We take a few minutes just to walk around the gas station to help keep us sane, and Riley is taking pictures of everything. “We’re never going to be here again!” he exclaims. I think back to my own experiences, of ending up at the same rest stops over time, on more than one occasion, by sheer dumb luck, and say “you never know,” before we get back on the RV and keep driving throughout the night.
Next up: It’s the worst day in Austin, except for Joe, who has his best day.