I am not sure what is so funny about waking up at five in the morning to start a road trip to Indiana, but a few people wanted to hear about my trip so here it goes. We are talking about a 16-hour solo drive through the Smoky Mountains with a KIA loaded with 122 paintings. Some are stretched. Some are even framed. But most of them are rolled up. That is what you can do with linen and cotton fabric. I love the flexibility.
As soon as I wake up I start thinking about the hotel I plan to stay at tonight. I never make reservations because I don’t know how far I am going to get. As you know, traffic and weather are unpredictable forces. I decide to aim for a hotel in Bowling Green, in Kentucky, a four-hour drive from Indianapolis.
I have been driving this road now for almost twenty years. I take I 75 North to Atlanta where I go west on I24 to Chattanooga and drive through the mountains, a highlight in summer and winter alike. The road curls around majestic mountains and eye-catching scenery frames both sides of almost empty stretches of asphalt. The mountains stretch all the way from Canada along the East Coast into Tennessee. They are called Smoky Mountains because when you look at them you see fog that looks like plumes of smoke.
The first big city after the Smoky Mountains is Nashville, with Louisville, KY, next. Then you keep heading north until you see the Chase Tower in downtown Indianapolis. The land is flat and you can see cornfields reaching the horizon, their brown dried-up leaves cracking in the wind. It’s hard to believe that just two hours further North and you are in Chicago.
Why do I already think about bed before the trip starts? Maybe, because I want to sleep just a little longer; maybe it is because when I visualize the end of the day, I feel that nothing bad will happen to me on the road. Either way, the thought of pristine white cotton towels, a bathtub, crispy white feather down comforters and absolute quiet fills me with uplifting thoughts. It bridges the boredom of miles and miles of roads, flanked by hundreds of billboards.
With my goal in mind I head to the ATM first, because somebody needs to pay for the hotel and the gas. It’s not easy finding a bank on the road, and I know my way in Englewood. Happily, a client from Holland purchased a painting and on the morning of my departure allowing me to withdraw money from an ATM using my Dutch credit card. This money, a maximum of $500 per day, is paying for the trip. I found my way around how banks like to do business, thus avoiding the three-day wait for international transactions and at least $45 in fees.
I deposited the $500 in a bank in Georgia, coincidentally located next to a gas station, and transferred it to my American Express Card. This way I can pay my hotel bill the next morning. Credit cards are the way to go in America, because it is proof of payment and American Express will dispute fees if I have a problem or unacceptable service.
Gas was only $1.92 per gallon. Just for my Dutch readers, this compares to 50 dollarcents per liter, which equals 40 euro cents. I think people in Holland pay close to $8 for a liter of fuel today. Think about the difference. The whole 16- hour drive to Indiana will cost me about $65 or 50 euros. More about that drive next time.