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Day 5
Thursday, April 14
                     Central Tennessee                      

Tennessee vista We didn't introduce Windy and Bentley last evening since Beth was busy -- so the dog stuff transpired this morning which meant I didn't leave Memphis until after noon. I took I40 as far as Nashville in the interest of speed -- but it was a bit of an ordeal. I have never seen so many trucks, all driving like maniacs, as one sees on I40 through Tennessee. I thought the same thing the last time I was on this road. At one time I was surrounded by 14 trucks, biiig ones, all tailgating each other and scaring the life out of me. Old bridge on US70

In those few moments when I could take my eyes off the trucks and look at the scenery, it was gorgeous. I40 is pretty much a corridor surrounded by forest and cuts through interesting rock, so there wasn't much variety, but the dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom and so the forest greens are livened by splashes of intense blinding white and smudges of dusky pink. The dogwoods on the sunny edge of the woods are much more lushly grown than the usual dogwood inside the wood with its open growth. They were spectacular. Alas, somehow I deleted my dogwood pic so I can't show it to you.

Tennessee farmland I had lunch in the Natchez Trace State Park, sitting alone in woods absolutely ringing with bird song. A wonderful break.

Tennessee vista After passing Nashville I got off I40 and drove the rest of the way on US70, which more or less parallels I40. Ah, that was so much better!! Goodbye stressful boredom. US70 takes longer, but you hardly notice it because you are enjoying your drive instead of enduring it. Boats on a river One of the things I found fascinating were the intermittent "haunted landscapes" -- areas where there is nothing but humps and mounds of graybrown yuck -- like a landscape covered with fungus. It was dead kudzu. They must have RoundUp-ed the rampant kudzu but have not pulled out the dead vines yet. These patches are positively science-fictiony -- like nothing you expect to see on Earth. Tennessee vista

Life looks different here. Even smallish plain houses are surrounded by large lots -- and almost nobody has any privacy fences. In California, the very first thing you do is get your backyard fenced and if your fence is not a 6-foot privacy one, you get it planted for privacy. Here, the houses are just plopped down on their land, no fences anywhere, and just a bush or two instead of an elaborate garden. I wonder, don't they have dogs? If so, do they keep them in the house all the time? And if they let them out in those unfenced yards, how do the dogs survive? These houses are right on US 70, with traffic going by at 55 mph. Or how about families with little kids? shudder to think of a 2-year-old playing in one of those unfenced yards. The dog and kid question aside, Tennesseans obviously don't mind if their neighbors watch everything they do.