Driving down to Knoxville, I went via Nashville. Despite being almost exactly a hundred miles longer, it had the important advantage of the highway being intact the whole way there, a feature not shared by I-75 South.
I had planned on coming home via I-75, but Shannon showed up in the gunsmithing shack yesterday morning with a cheery "You're boned. Someone flipped his eighteen-wheeler across the median of I-75 just south of Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. The whole interstate's closed 'til at least noon." so it was back through Memphis again.
Somewhere around Crossville, I overtook Wesley Strader, apparently a professional stalker of the wild bass. Perhaps Walmart could use some of their sponsorship dollars to send him to a fancy driving school, where they teach things like "When a car is overtaking on the left, that's not your cue to speed up and keep them from getting back in the right lane." I will say that from Crossville all the way to the eastern outskirts of Nashville, Wesley was a dedicated, albeit frequent, user of his turn signals.
It had been a while... late '07? ...since I'd been on the Nashville-Knoxville stretch of I-40. I note that the giant U.S. flag that flew on the hilltop on the north side of the highway around mile marker 299 has been replaced with an equally huge, auto dealership-sized, Third National. at some point between then and now. Someone's not feeling as patriotic as they used to, apparently.
Cops were, like usual, few and far between, unlike my recent experience on I-40 in west Tennessee. On the eastbound trip I saw one pair of county mounties in Crown Vics parked in a conspicuous location on the median, probably shooting the breeze. I prefer this form of highly visible display to skulking in the bushes with a laser. I doubt they were paying much attention to passing traffic, but if your front bumper had given a big ol' mens rea nosedive, it might have caught their eye. I rolled past with the cruise control set at 69.5 kias, (78 mph ground speed according to the GPS.)
On the return leg, there was one Black and Tan with a guy pulled over up on the plateau. That's comes to one po-po sighting per hundred-'n'-fifty miles of interstate. Not much for 'em to do in the ticket-writing department, anyway; it was pretty tranquilo out there.
My clever plan to avoid the flipped semi in the median was foiled by an idiot who flipped his pickup and camper trailer into the median about fifty miles south of Louisville. I got there early enough that the back-up was only about a mile-and-a-half of clutch-melting stop 'n' go. I can only imagine how bad it got after I squeezed past.
I chewed my steering wheel in half as all the minutes I'd carefully whittled off the "ETA" on my GPS came ticking back, one at a time, like Chinese water torture, while I sat and fumed, immobilized in traffic.
Eventually, I got past and proceeded to make up for lost time, only to hit Indy in time for Friday rush hour. Joy.
I am so glad to be home.