Kim and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in a Waffle House in Paducah, Kentucky.
We were on our way home from a Thanksgiving visit to family in Chattanooga, and we had spent the previous night sacked out in the only hotel in Paducah that had any vacancies – one of those corporate suites kinds of hotels that has a full kitchen and an actual living room so you could have seminars there if you wanted, even though mostly what we wanted to do was sleep. As someone who survived over a decade of graduate studies I do know how intimately connected seminars and sleeping are, but still. One rarely gets pillows in seminars, as they are considered unseemly in an academic context, but in hotels they are sort of expected and we made good use of them.
We woke up with miles to go before we would get home, but the girls insisted that any trip to the South must involve a Waffle House, even if it meant going backward an exit or two. In their defense, they do make some pretty good waffles there, and the waitress practically oozed charm at us as I believe all waitresses in the South are required by law to do unless there is meatloaf involved, in which case they default to “plucky.” There are worse ways to spend an anniversary than at a Waffle House in Paducah.
We very nearly didn’t go on the trip at all. We’ve traveled quite a bit this year, and the thought of driving for four days to spend two or three days with family was a bit daunting. But we haven’t seen that side of the family for a while, and the lure of a new baby proved to be a powerful one.
Those new babies. So adorable.
We drove down the Wednesday before the holiday, stopping in – wait for it – Paducah on the way, though we did stay at a hotel where they served us breakfast in the lobby so there was no need to go to the Waffle House the next morning. We arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house outside of Chattanooga late on Thursday afternoon, just before the waves of family started showing up.
All of my first cousins and their respective families were there, except for one cousin-in-law who was somewhere in the midwest at a competitive BMX event. I must admit that the entire rationale for such things escapes me, but then I’m the sort of person who would go to an evening of competitive barbershop quartets so what do I know? Eventually my parents arrived as well, and later my brother and his family Skyped in, so all in all it was a festive family weekend.
It was a warm weekend, too. There was plenty of sunlight and a creek that runs nearby, and if that isn’t an invitation to explore then nothing is.
We had our Thanksgiving on Friday, because holidays happen when you have time for them and we didn’t have time to eat together until then. Life is so much simpler once you understand that people matter more than schedules, and food is better shared. There was turkey and enough other foods to remind us that we did in fact have a lot to be thankful for, and that a good chunk of it was sitting at the table with us. So a successful Thanksgiving, yes indeed.
Most of Saturday was devoted to Lookout Mountain.
I’ve been there before, way back when my aunt and uncle first moved down there, but Kim had never really seen the actual Lookout part of Lookout Mountain. So most of us piled into our various cars and – with a side trip to visit the new baby again (so adorable! Did I say “so adorable” before? Definitely adorable) – we headed up the mountain.
It’s very tall. And twisty. And the views are, in fact, magnificent, though the claim that you can see all fifty states and large portions of southeast Asia from the top is probably exaggerated. We saw the large New York Peace Monument and walked up and down a few trails, had lunch at one of the tourist traps (because we were tourists, after all), and left happy.
Then it was a quick dinner and back on the road to Paducah, because it’s a long way home from Chattanooga and Monday is a work day.
All roads lead to Paducah.
And then they lead away.