When we decided to visit the few remaining members of Tink's family who live in Connecticut and New York, we chose to drive.
Yes, it's 15 hours in a car but we're tired of airports, security and planes that run late. It just seemed easier to get in the car and go. I caught up on all the magazines that had stacked up plus a week's worth of the Wall Street Journal while Tink drove. He loves to drive. In any trip we've ever taken, he has never let me share driving duties though I offer repeatedly.
From Georgia to Connecticut, we chose to stay away from I-95 since it runs through major cities and took the beautifully scenic I-81. It is the longest South-North interstate that does not end in a "5" such as 75, 85 and 95. Beginning in Tennessee and climbing into Virginia, the drive is so gorgeous that it doesn't look like an interstate. It was well worth the trip and was, in fact, so pretty that we drove it again a month later.
It winds through the hills of Virginia and crosses many Civil War battlefields and places of interest for that era. I had just read an excellent book called "Rebel Yell" about Gen. Stonewall Jackson and the book had detailed how war was fought on those hills. As I surveyed the rolling landscape, I saw it differently. I thought of the blood that ran into the nearby rivers, the smoke rising up from guns and cannons, the fear, the dread and the dead. It was thought provoking. Once we were out of Virginia, though, I would be on to a new mission: Looking for a comfortable bed.
Night closed in on us somewhere over the Pennsylvania border so we began looking for hotels. Four places turned us away somewhat gleefully because "we're full." Finally, near Harrisburg, a Hampton Inn had one room remaining -- a queen. That struck me as odd because most hotels have two queen beds in a room but I grabbed it in less time than it takes to open a package of instant grits.
"This is a full size bed," I said the moment I saw it.
"It's only a few hours. We'll be fine," Tink replied. The bed was tight and a bit too short for Tink but we made it. When I went down for coffee the next morning, I told the desk clerk. Not in a complaining way but in an "I just want you to know" manner. He stared at me blankly.
"Huh," he finally said and shrugged. That was that. Tink laughed when I got back to the room. "This isn't the South."
"But," I began.
"They don't want complaints."
"It wasn't a complaint. It was information. A full size not a queen bed."
In Chappaqua, N.Y., Tink had booked at a bed and breakfast in the ancient Kettle House. I'm always wary of bed and breakfast inns despite a couple of excellent experiences. He showed me the rooms on the website so I agreed -- charming rooms with four-poster beds. When we checked in, they took us to a depressing attic room with linens as old as the house and hard, tiny beds. I was speechless. Tink was thankful for that. He asked if there was another so they took us to a room that was slightly better. The bed wasn't as hard. For the duration of our stay, Tink would not let me ask the owners why our rooms were so different than advertised.
"It's information," I replied.
When we got home, though, I called. I couldn't help myself. Two women stumbled over their words and one promised that the owner would call me back. He never did. But later, the website changed. The photos of the beautiful red-painted rooms came down and were replaced with other photos including the rooms we saw.
It seems they listened to my "information."
Ronda Rich, author of "What Southern Women Know," writes the Dixie Diva column that appears in several newspapers.