the less than epic adventures of elliott and dave

A few years ago, I promised Falyn’s future siblings-in-law, Tim and Cathy, that I would visit them. They lived in Manassas at the time.

Years passed. They moved to Nashville.

It may take me a while, but I make good on my promises.

I hit the road last Friday with Dave, who was a coworker until earlier that week. He lived in Nashville before and offered to come with me. I was looking for someone to come along, as I figured one person wasn’t going to make it and another said he couldn’t (but swears I never asked him because he’s full of lies).

I was a sub-supervisor of sorts to Dave. I got to direct his work at times but he was in theoretically in another department in the same newsroom. If I were inclined, I could draw an organizational chart but I’m making an effort to not be as boring as I am. It’s not going so well. If you know me, you know I’m not only drawing this chart in my head, I’m choosing the typography.

But I digress.

Somehow, Dave and I became friends. It was probably our mutual love of music and hatred of everything else. And everyone.

On the way down, we passed through the area that’s the setting of my novel. Since we didn’t take U.S. 58 through Grayson Highlands State Park, this doesn’t fully count as the final redo of that trip. I had forgotten how beautiful it is down there, though, and I’m looking forward to finally finishing it up.

Hours later, we were in Knoxville. We waited until Tennessee to get lunch because I needed to be out of Virginia before I stopped. That took a lot of effort since I’m more that 200 miles northeast of Bristol.

Ah, the joys of living in a deceptively large triangular state.

Dave led us to some place downtown and we wandered around on foot to find food. We wound up at a gastropub. Stevie Ray Vaughn blasting. ESPN deconstructing an injury. Ham and cheese sandwich with an unexpected over easy egg tucked inside. Charming accents.

We then went to the Sunsphere. On the way there, I wondered if having the World’s Fair was like having the Olympics as far as decaying remnants an a hit to the municipal budget. Knoxville did a good job of redeveloping the area but I did expect the sphere to be a bit more prominent. I did the touristy things and took a few photos from the top, which were nearly the only photos I took. I made a point to use my phone sparingly and I have noticed that people are beginning to experience things but staring at their phones the entire time.

Surprisingly, there wasn't a wig to be found

I was going to fix these photos to compensate for the gold window tint and such but, no.

Since it's in the Great Valley, I think you can typically see the Great Smoky Mountains.

Apparently, one of the Sunsphere’s selling points is that, on a clear day, you can see the Great Smoky Mountains.

Finally, after about eight hours and another time zone, Nashville. It was my longest drive since my four-hour retreat from Jacksonville last summer.

It was fun.

Especially after I purchased this

Later, I had it aged in an oak barrel and it was delicious.

It tastes like sweat and regret. Don’t ask what the spice is.


Later that night, I was in an airport, as Cathy was coming back from Mississippi. I should not have been in an airport at that time.

Even later, we headed to Five Points and I met up with a friend from Richmond who was visiting his sister. Because you should understand how my life is a closed loop at this point.

I may as well point out now that, because Dave is the type of person I hang out with, I’ve explained this weekend to a good chunk of the staff already, including taking a brief nap in a Subway/gas station. It’s a good thing that journalism is the least professional profession.

The next day, I had Nashville hot chicken from Prince’s, which is apparently awesome. Hot chicken was great and, due to my fingers being greasy, the photos never happened.

If you don’t know what hot chicken is, it’s fried chicken with a spicy breading. I presume it is marinated in it because it’s spicy through and through.

You know how I love my spicy food. I need this shizz in Virginia, like yesterday. Or I need to move to Nashville because, by this point, I totally had a mancrush on the city. It’s now my third favorite city after New York (2) and Richmond (1). Sorry, New Orleans.


But I digress.

Later in the day, Tim and I headed to a brewery to see 2/3 of his roommates play. They are called the Wooly Mamas. They’re pretty rad and from Manassas, hence why Isaac and Tim know them. Remember: My life is a poorly written Charles Dickens novel.

The beer here is delicious.

Another example of my lack of desire to take great photos this weekend.

Afterward, we headed to a house party since it was one of the band members’ birthday. We were supposed to start there and bar hop but the cabs never came. Eventually, we worked our way back to the house and, the next morning, it was time to head back to Charlottesville.

I would say the weekend went too fast but it was basically a day longer than any trip I’ve ever taken to New York and New Jersey. Speaking of that, I haven’t been to Newark or New York in more than a year. I used to say a year without being in New York is a year wasted. I should visit some of my Jersey brothers on an extended weekend and head into the city. Also, I really need to head up to Boston one of these days. It’s a nine-hour drive. I now regret promising my mom I would spend an upcoming five days off in and around Hampton Roads. I do have three vacation days left though. …

But I digress.

I kinda wish I named this blog “but i digress” back in 2004.

The ride back was uneventful. Much like going to New Orleans with Joseph, Dave offered to drive part of the way. I declined. He did bring up another aspect of the weekend.

“Ready to move a couch when we get back at midnight?”

I had purchased Dave’s couch as we never got around to buying one, didn’t think one would fit and would like one when we have a full-sized house toward the end of the month.

I don’t know how I still had the strength to haul the couch out of Dave’s house and into my apartment. It managed to fit. It was in an odd spot until earlier this week. I was going to make it less awkward today — along with doing the dishes, cleaning the house and doing laundry — but only laundry happened. Today was my first true decompression day since the trip; the remainder of the chores have to wait till Sunday.

As I mentioned a couple of times before, Dave is heading to Oregon. I didn’t exactly know when he was leaving.

“Well, this probably is the last time we’ll see each other,” he said after we got his couch into my place.

He was right. I’m not going to Oregon just to visit him and he won’t come all the way this way to visit me. Since we both are degenerate transients, we’ll probably cross paths again by happenstance.

I did hope he wasn’t leaving so soon. I wanted a couple more evenings on his porch before I faced the reality that, despite having a handful of friends here, I don’t have a go-to person in Charlottesville at the moment.

“I’ll probably continue to harass you electronically,” he continued.

Ah, technology.

At least there’s that.

And then that was it. I grabbed the rest of my stuff out of my car. His station wagon rounded the corner and disappeared from view. I went inside.

If anything, last weekend showed me that, regardless of how long or short the relationship is, it is easy to have a profound effect on someone’s life. My innermost circle of friends consist of people with whom I know I could take a road trip or people I’d take a road trip to see.

Something will happen. Dave and I will cross paths again. For now, it’s time to focus on what adventures lie ahead. For starters, all this wedding stuff needs to be nailed down and this bachelor party in Cheyenne, Wyo., need to be planned.

Yes. Cheyenne.

I wonder if they have hot chicken.

on the road again

This time next week, I’ll be in Tennessee. Last weekend, I was in Northern Virginia. At the start of this month, I was in Fredericksburg. Since the end of June, I have been in Roanoke, West Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond.

I haven’t torn up the roads like that in a while. It feels good.

I’m looking forward to the Tennessee trip for a few reasons. I promised Isaac’s brother Tim that I’d hang out with him a few years ago. He lived in Manassas at the time. Procrastination has led to this trip because I keep my word, damn it. Dave is taking the trip with me. Dave is a copy editor at my paper. Dave will no longer be a copy editor at my paper by the time we take this trip. This wasn’t planned.

I don’t have any other major trips planned the rest of this year beyond two fraternity-related trips (I think I accidentally scheduled myself to miss one) and Renée wants to go somewhere for her birthday. There was supposed to be a giant joint birthday party but that fizzled out. I blame it on everyone’s age.

On the wedding front, I’m 95 percent sure we have the venue down. Now that that’s essentially done, we can actually do the rest of the preparations. We need to do that soon because my mom is starting to freak out and I’m obsessive with planning major events in advance so I’m starting to freak out.

In other news, we’ll be in the house upstairs in 30 days or so. I’m looking forward to getting out of this mostly basement. I’ve been partially packed for some time now and we might buy Dave’s couch. We’ll still need furniture for the rest of the house. I wish I still had my seating for 11 people I had back in 2006.

I’m continuing my writing breakthrough. The biggest, easiest fix to that chapter that became my brick wall was killing some of my favorite dialogue, including my favorite line in the novel. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s how you get it done. You can’t be married to any part of it. There’s very little left of the original 25-part outline: There’s a lot of dialogue that made it over and the plot’s the same to an extent. I passed out some “final drafts” a few years ago that are nothing but red herrings at this point. To that I say, good.

We’re approaching my year anniversary here. It was Sept. 10. Last year had a lot of turmoil and September was the beginning of me coming in for a landing. A lot has changed in the past 12 months and I’m relieved that, overall, it’s been for the better.

Let’s continue.