The Tennessee Trip

It has been a pretty wild weekend. Bones and Morgan invited me over to their place Friday night to hang out and get “not sober”. At some point, Bones and Morgan talked about wanting to go on a road trip, to somewhere warmer, and then settled on visiting Bones’ dad in Tennessee. At first, it just seemed to be wishful thinking. But being the instigator I am, I did my level best to provoke them. I said that if they were serious about a road trip, I was all in. And it worked! By about 11 o’clock at night, we were gone and on our way to Tennessee.

Grateful for Such Friends

This trip is going down as one of my favorite road trips of all time, and maybe even THE best road trip I’ve embarked upon. Words cannot describe how much it means to me that I do, in fact, have friends who are willing to drop whatever they’re doing on a moment’s notice and commit to a road trip like this. I am overjoyed.

Bones, Morgan, and Ben

Benjamin, Bones, and Morgan

This was no small trip, either. We were gone for over 74 hours (spanning five days) and traveled over 1,600 miles cross-country. Nothing was planned. We had no accommodations lined up or any sort of itinerary. From the moment we decided to go, it took less than an hour for our two households to pack, load, and get underway. There were the three of us, plus two dogs that knew even less of what was going on than we did.

Bones and Morgan were great travel companions, too. We didn’t bicker over restaurants or lodging or music, or any of the dozens of other decisions that can erupt into fights between travel buddies. Having super-chill friends and travel companions like that is rare and something I value.

Bones and Morgan are not the first friends I’ve traveled with, and I don’t want to give the impression that other friends I’ve traveled with were rotten travel companions (some were). But Bones and Morgan were especially good companions. Add to that that they were willing to be spontaneous, and itt would be disingenuous of me if I didn’t acknowledge how awesome and special they are.

I was honored to share the road with them this past weekend.

New Perspectives on Solo vs Companion Travel

Great Smoky Mountain National ParkAs I said, this is not the first time I’ve gone on road trips with other friends. Usually I travel solo. I enjoy solo travel, and solo travel has certain advantages over companion travel. But damn… the advantages of companion travel were on full display this weekend. The disadvantages were practically non-existent.

Memories are sweeter when they are shared. In the coming weeks, months, and years, I will be able to talk about this trip with Bones and Morgan in a way that I have never been able to discuss most of my other road trips with any of my other friends.

But what really stood out for me was the laughter. We laughed so hard and so often. So many jokes… the vast majority of which would never have existed had I been travelling solo. A lot of funny moments go unnoticed and jokes go unmade when there’s no one else around to play and bounce off of.

Tennessee Trip Summary

We left around 11:30 pm Friday night and drove to Knoxville by way of Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Lexington. We stopped just north of Indianapolis around 5am for a couple hours of sleep at a highway rest area. Then we continued to Tennessee where we met Bones’ dad at his home in Stanley for about an hour or so. We then went to a Motel 6 early Saturday afternoon. We all got some proper sleep there, and then went out for a late supper at Cracker Barrel. Afterward, we met Bones’ dad again at a pub and remained there until after close.

CabinSunday morning, we met with Bones’ dad again at a Waffle House. He informed us that he arranged a mountainside log cabin for us to stay at Sunday night for a mere $55 for our whole group. After we checked in, he took us on a tour that included Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. After a dinner of southern barbecue, we spent the night at the cabin, once again getting “not sober” while enjoying the cabin’s patio hot tub, indoor Jacuzzi, billiards, and other amenities.

Monday morning, we left the cabin and made our way back home, arriving shortly after midnight early Tuesday morning.

Jokes and Funny Shit

I’m primarily sharing these for my own future reference. There were so many that I quickly started to lose track of these stories. I’ve jotted down all the ones I remembered, but I fear I have already forgotten a few.

The Cyclops Car. For about 90 miles, from about Manitowoc to Milwaukee, we were followed by a car (with a missing headlight) that apparently didn’t have cruise control. We also figure the driver was either intoxicated or tired, because he kept passing us, and then he’d slow down and we’d pass him up. And this kept happening over and over and over and over again. Several dozen times – literally. It got to the point that I seriously considered calling the police, and we did jot down his plate number. As fucking irritating as the driver was, his behavior was so unbelievable that it was also entertaining.

Kenturkey Fried Turkey. How is this not a thing yet?

Single Cigarette Vending Machines. Morgan thinks this is a million dollar business idea, and that they should be installed in women’s bathrooms next to tampon dispensers. I couldn’t help but note that some drunk woman would inevitably try to smoke a tampon and stick a cigarette up her hoo-hah.

TennesseeBonnie. A few times over the weekend, I accidentally called Bones “James” instead of Jamie (his actual first name). At one point, he remarked that I could call him anything that started with B-O-N. So… Jamie is now Bonnie.

Human Rumble Strip. Bones (like most men, frankly) is a talented purveyor of flatulence. Morgan and I made a number of jokes throughout the weekend about his farts. They seemed powerful enough to raise the bed blankets up like Marilyn Monroe’s dress. Some seemed powerful enough to launch him into low-earth orbit. On the way home, we were recounting a giant one he let rip that morning in the cabin that woke us all up. I confessed that I was technically already awake. But his fart was so loud that it really woke us up and drew our attention. Just then, my truck drifted a bit and hit the rumble strips on the side of the road, at which point I proclaimed Bones a human rumble strip.

Graveyard Shopping. Every time someone pointed out a graveyard, I proclaimed my elation that we could do some shopping. #Necromancy

Sugar Ham. At Cracker Barrel, our waitress (who might have been hitting on me) asked me if I wanted the ham I ordered to be country ham or sugar ham. I don’t like making decisions on the fly, and I like to defer to waitstaff for recommendations on local fare. So I told her she could decide for me. To which she replied “I’ll bring you some sugar… ham.”

I’m Not Suicidal. This was the first time Bones and Morgan have been passengers in my vehicle. While describing my reckless driving style, I explained that I’m not suicidal, I’m just not going out of my way to stay alive.

The Mellow Mushroom. I learned from Bones’ dad that Mellow Mushroom is actually a franchise with restaurants located all over the country. I did not know this. I’ve never seen another one, outside of the one I saw 13 years ago in Savannah, Georgia. I became genuinely upset that a special piece of that trip died for me.

Bizarre Semi Message. A semi-truck we passed on the highway had an unusual sign. Next to a phone number were the words “Family Members Wanted”.

Downs Bear. I am known for – among other things – doing my own Meg Ryan impersonation in haunt scenes. Basically, I molest corpses and make really disgusting sexual moans. Oftentimes I will make those noises even when I’m not around corpses. Well, I managed to illicit some laughs from Bones and Morgan by doing that a bunch of times during this trip. Then I started doing an impression of a bear with Downs Syndrome. (This came about from a bear we saw in GSMNP, how a bear mauling would be an authentic alternative to cheap prosthetics for haunt season, how to stop a bear without a gun, and what a bear would be like with an axe sticking out of its head.)

At one point on the way back home, it occurred to me to try to do both my Meg Ryan AND Downs Bear impressions side-by-side. Unfortunately, I found the idea so funny that I couldn’t actually bring myself to do it. I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to do both impersonations. When Bones and Morgan finally figured out what I was trying to do, they started laughing uncontrollably, and it got to the point where I nearly suffocated because I couldn’t breathe.

That’s Racist! Nothing new. This has been my version of “that’s what she said” ever since I took note of it in the Cinema Sins series. And of course, it became a recurring theme during our trip.



$20 Bill. Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t like accepting money, gifts, favors, help, or really anything at all. Bones and Morgan attempted to give me $20 to split the bill on something – I can’t even remember what. I kept shoving back at them, and they kept shoving back at me. When we went in for breakfast Monday morning, the $20 was left in the center console, unnoticed by either one of us. Their new dog, Isley, found it. And ate it.

The Porn Game. At one point, I mused that I had never seen a porn where the premise or story was a couple trying to become pregnant. Morgan hopped on and did a search and found some. We then came up with a game where you hop on Pornhub and take an ordinary search query, and gradually add descriptors until you finally get zero results.

Future Trips

Both Bones and Morgan expressed interest in travelling together again in the future. Just today, we got talking about possibly going up to Alberta. You know – that place where wild horses couldn’t drag me away.

Before TransWorld, I floated the idea of my core group of haunters going up north to Nicolet National Forest for a group camping trip. After TransWorld, I found that there were fractures within my group, and I discounted the idea. But after this past weekend, having seen how they weather my style of travel, I’m reconsidering inviting them to accompany me on one of my excursions.

I’ve also got it in my head to plan an UrbEx road trip (a trip specifically centered around urban exploration).

Future Considerations

Most of what I want to write in this section I am actually going to push over into a private post (now that I learned how to make one) for my own reference because it’s not really appropriate for me to publish it publicly. Especially since some of my friends occasionally read this blog… for some reason.

I will say just a few things here.

First – it occurs to me that every road trip I go on – from cross-country expeditions to short jaunts up to Nicolet – causes me to ponder my future and rethink my plans. The Tennessee trip was no exception.

Second, I find myself conflicted in a way I haven’t felt since last summer. I knew that the danger of being more sociable and hanging out with my haunt friends more frequently would be the weakening of my resolve to leave Wisconsin. That happened this past weekend, and in a big way. I still badly want to get the fuck out of this state, but Bones and Morgan have made that MUCH more difficult for me. I won’t discuss specifics here – I’ll save that for the private post. But suffice it to say, I am feeling very conflicted right now. And with money running lower with each passing week, it is imperative that I start making decisions soon.

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