The Countertop Chronicles

"Run by a gun zealot who's too blinded by the NRA" - Sam Penney of

Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Trip South, Or
Whatever Happened To Knoxville and
Guns, BBQ, and Sweet Tea

Had a nice leisurely ride down to Chattanooga. We left D.C. a little late and got stuck in some horrid traffic on I-66 west and it ended up taking us 2 1/2 hours to reach Manassas. Yuck! Anyway, once the traffic cleared it was smooth sailing and we spent the night in Roanoke - where we enjoyed some great ice cream at Brewsters before driving into town.

I had never been to Roanoke before - only stopping along I-81 to get gas or stay in a hotel. As we drove down into the city, along a seven mile long strip of fast food joints, pawn shops, and car dealerships, we were not expecting much (and my wife kept saying "I don't think there is a downtown, this is probably it"). Well, we found the downtown - coming upon a gorgeous Hotel Roanoke in all its Tudor splendor. Just beyond, on a hilltop overlooking the city was a stunning Cathedral and as we continued into the historic downtown, we were greeted by a most welcome sight

(Check Out This Great Page of Historic Signs)

Now, let me tell you, any place that celebrates Dr. Pepper is fine by me, and it didn't take more than this sign to convince me that Roanoke is just fine by me. Of course, the happening historic downtown, where we saw no less than 7 bars hosting live bands - from punk to bluegrass to folk to straight ahead rock and roll - was really bustling at 11:00 pm and has a looking at the calendar to find time to truly explore this fine and deserving railroad town.

After waking up and leisurely packing the car we continued heading south, hitting little traffic and arriving in Knoxville around noon. Its been a couple of years since I last stopped off in Knoxville, and to be fair, its been 12 years since I lived there (boy, does time fly), but all I've got to ask is - What Has happened to Knoxvegas????

We got off on Summit Avenue and drove through the Old City which looked pretty run down compared to its re-vamped splendor 12 years ago. Followed it up to Gay Street - which hasn't looked great in decades but looked especially quite on a Saturday afternoon and drove around the TVA buildings and market square. It was nice to see Market Square full of people and I always liked the street art in downtown Knoxville - it was still there. Its also nice to see they have opened the bridge over the Worlds Fair Park to vehicular traffic again. We took Eleventh Street down to Cumberland and drove up to the Krystals where I was greeted by a shocking sight - the Strip no longer exists. The Library is gone . . . the Last Lap is gone (The Last Lap - the sleaziest bar ever, I thought that place would survive Armageddon, what with its trough like urinal and moat of puke) - both have been replaced by new, giant, chain drug stores - at least the Tap Room was still around. Beyond those two disappearances, it seemed 75 percent of the storefronts on the Strip had closed down.

Is this a temporary thing?

Is Knoxville really hurting that bad??

Is this what happens when a Campus goes dry???

Enquiring minds want to know.

After stopping off at the McMillans and picking up some of the requisite UT wear for the son (and a golf shirt for me) we continued on our merry way south without any sign of the Instapundit himself.

Our trip was delayed once more with a brief stop in Sweetwater at the Western Wear store where we proceeded to purchase the son his first pair of cowboy boots. Look for pictures real soon.

Of course, it was a bit warm and my wife decided to leave the car running with the air conditioning on - locking the door and not realizing that the remote door locks don't work with the car running. With our only set of keys in the ignition, she had to go ask the nice folks at the Sweetwater Western Wear store to call a cop (who, surprisingly was a women, but not surprisingly was packing a Glock - as was I) for us to open our doors - I've never been so embarrassed in my life, and she isn't going to forget about this one for a long long long time.

Once that was set, it was only a short ride further to our home and after unpacking, taking a short break to shoot a couple of old rotten apples and some golf balls with the 10/22, we hopped in the car and headed out to Armstrong's BBQ in Summerville, GA. (A review is located here (they were sold out of the Stew by the time we arrived tonite as well) and another great one is located here.) Some people, my wife included, think that the Fresh Aire BBQ in Jackson, GA is the best in the world - and its dam fine BBQ - but I just love Armstrong's. Were going to Jackson on Tuesday and I'll post a report then, but tonite I had the double minced pork plate with Armstrong's famous vinegar based spicy tomato sauce, slaw, beans, some sliced pickles and Sweet Tea.

Folks, it doesn't get much better than that - guns, BBQ and Sweet Tea.

Mmm Mmm Mmm


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