Trucks on the freway

The day had come, when I had to leave North Carolina and return to Denmark. Once more I would have like to have stayed a bit longer, but maybe some other time. My destination for the day's drive was Dulles International in Virginia, but as I had a late flight, I didn't have to hurry too much. Even so I had set my alarm to 5.30, and after getting ready, I carried all my bagage to the car, before eating my final breakfast at the Irish Rose.

View from Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery to Brushy Mountains in the distance.

Breakfast was ready so Rose must have been up very early. I had already paid my bill the previous evening, so I could concentrate on eating and chatting with Rose. As I was going for a long drive, I just had a toast with jam, and some coffee. No eggs or bacon or anything like it. Before leaving I got a big hug from Rose - she is a wonderful woman. It's understandable why she has so many recurring visitors. Around Christmas I sent her a mail, and she promptly asked me to come by for a cup of coffee, when I pass through Lenoir the coming summer. When breakfast was over, I had to go, so I left the Irish Rose for the last time on this trip, and headed for US 321. My plan was to take this route to Boone, and then head east on US 421 from there. I would follow 421 to I-77, and take that north to I-81 and further north to I-66, so a day mostly on freeways. The route from Lenoir to Wilkesboro via Boone was far from the shortest or fastest route, but I wanted to visit just one more cemetery close to US 421 between Boone and Wilkesboro.

The cemetery in question was Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery. It's on top of a hill close to US 421, and I found it easily enough. I was looking for one grave in particular, namely the last resting place of Celia and James Scott. I spent about 40 minutes walking around the cemetery, wearing only a t-shirt (and a pair of pants), and when I got back to the car, I felt rather cold. Back in the car I found that the outside temperature was only 41 degrees, so no wonder I felt cold. In spite of my looking, I never found the grave, even if I think I looked at every stone twice, so I have to give it one more try this coming summer. I saw some other interesting stones, some of which were beautifully decorated. When I gave up looking I continued east on 421, with a short stop in Wilkesboro get some gas for the car and a bottle of water for myself. Then I continued to I-77 and headed north.

I didn't make any stops until shortly after I had reached I-81. I then took a short break to get myself a cup of coffee. On the short trip along I-77 I had seen a lot of the trucks I was counting, and many more was to come on my way north on I-81. Actually on this last day I more than doubled the number, I had counted so far.

Virginia Military Institute in Lexington

Near Roanoke i Virginia I left the interstate to take a short look at town. I took some pictures of a yellow catholic church and a half-timbered style congress center before returning to the freeway and continuing north. In Lexington I once more left I-81 to enter town. I didn't stop much but took a few pictures of Virginia Military Institure, Washington and Lee Univerity and one of the three fraternities, founded in town, The Kappa Alpha Order, not to be confused with the Kappa Alpha Society! This was my first time in Lexington that was not in July, and this time the streets were crawling with young people. Some in uniform (from VMI I guess), some not (from the university). When I had seen enough, I left town again and continued north.

Around Staunton I started getting a bit hungry. At one exit I saw a sign for a Denny's. On previous trips we have used Denny's a lot for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but this would by my first and only visit this time. I decided to go though and left by the exit and found the Denny's easily enough. I had a light lunch, some fish and some salad. Then I continued north to Front Royal and then east on I-66. When I reached Va Route 28, I turned on my gps for the first time that day. That was when I discovered how much the software had developed since my last gps, and it was only two years old. When I keyed in Dulles International, a bunch of destinations came up, among which were Rental Car Return, which I selected. Then it prompted me for the rental company, and I also selected that. Then I was asked if I was supposed to return the car with a full tank, and when I confirmed that it brought up a selection of gas stations in the neighborhood. I picked one, and got the car filled up. The price was $ 2,12 per gallon, the second highest price I paid. Only at the gas station in Linville on the day I got lost, was it more expensive. I suppose they know at the stations close to the airport, that most customers have to fill up, no matter what the price is.

I met a lot of countable trucks on this last day of my vacation. Swift took the lead with 22 trucks, followed by Knight with 12 and J.B. Hunt with 10. Schneider took a leap forward with 7 while Werner settled for 5. I only saw 1 C.R. England and it made this final score:

Swift Transportation 35
J. B. Hunt Transport Services 24
Knight Transportation 19
Schneider National 11
Werner Enterprises 11
C. R. England Inc. 5

The final fall colors heading north on I-81.

I continued to the airport and retuned my car. A bus was ready to leave the rental car office and ten minutes later I was at the terminal. As there were more than 4 hours until take-off, I expected that the check-in counter wouldn't be open yet. A BA employee was at the First Class counter though, and she was happy to check in my business class ticket. We had a short chat about the delay on my journey from London to DC, and she told me, that as the cancelled plane should have brought a lot of passengers back to London, they had also had trouble finding hotel rooms for these passengers, and that she had had to work through the night. I got through security rather quick (fast track is a good thing), and then walked to the British Airways lounge, where I spent the next three hours.The plane boarded and left on schedule, and as usual the flight was boring, but I managed to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep. In London I spent another three hours in the BA lounge, before the final leg to Copenhagen. We arrived on time, and I was picked up by Tim, who brought me home, and this time all my baggage had arrived properly, so the vacation ended a lot better than it had started.

Another nice fall vacation was over. Two years earlier I was too early to see the falls colors in all their glory. This time I arrived two weeks later and was two weeks late! But both in 2013 and 2015 I did see some colors, and I had an excellent vacation once again. As I was only away for a week it got a little expensive. Normally we calculate with an expense of DKK 10,000 ($ 1,500) per week all included, but as the plane tickets don't get cheaper when you only away for a week, so the weekly rate will be higher. This time it cost me around 38,000 DKK or $ 5,800 at todays (april 18th 2016) exchange rate. But it was worth every dime. By the way - for some reason the ticket Tim and I have booked for next summer, is almost DKK 10.000 ($ 1,500) cheaper per person than the ticket I bought, even if it's the same airline, the same route and even the same departures. I didn't exactly stay in cheap motels, and I didn't eat in cheap restaurants, so all in all I could have at least halved the price, but I like it the way I did it.

The drive of this last day was 456 miles or 734 kilometers, the longest on the trip, which was suspected as I used two stints to get down to North Carolina. On the whole trip I drove 2,253 miles (3,626 kilometers), and I have now passed 90,000 kilometers (56,000 miles) on American Roads. Maybe I will reach 100,000 (62,000 miles) this summer.

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