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Watching the temperature rise


The first stop on my drive to Florida was Indianapolis. My daughter and grandson moved there a couple years ago and it was only a little off the fastest route, so it was a compelling place to rest.
The next morning, I headed out at 5:30 a.m. and began heading south. I have an outside temperature gauge in the car so I took comfort in watching the Mercury rise from 5 degrees. My goal was to make Macon, Ga., or 45 degrees, whichever came first.
About a hundred miles and 10 degrees short of my ambition, I saw a billboard touting the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum (ITRHFM) in Chattanooga. The ITRHFM was founded 20 years ago by a group called Friends of Towing. For a mere $10 admission, the public can view antique tow trucks, read about famous wrecker drivers and stand in reverence in front of the wall of the fallen tow truck drivers who made the ultimate sacrifice doing their duty. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the museum, I only know about it by going to its website.
I did make it to other landmarks, including where the Chattanooga Choo Choo called station, the Tennessee Stillhouse for some free samples of whiskey and, my favorite, the Chattanooga Billiards Club (CBC).
Opened in the heart of old downtown in 1982, the CBC proved so successful it is opening franchises in other towns starting with letter C. To date only Cleveland has jumped aboard but who knows what town will be next? Cedar Rapids?
I immediately fell in love because it is one of the few places left in this world where a man can play pool while smoking a cigar.
I’m an ex-cigarette smoker, but I still enjoy the occasional stogie. Sitting at the bar, I struck up a conversation with a man named Rick, a retired cement worker from Michigan now living in the area because of children and grandchildren. I had the most pleasant afternoon with Rick, burning a fat cheroot, sharing a drink with my new friend, swapping lies and playing a game of 8-ball. Some day I hope to return.
Up and out the door again by 6 a.m., I soon discovered there was one glaring strategic mistake in choosing my overnight: Atlanta at rush hour. It took more than two hours to get through the megalopolis with only billboards to keep my mind occupied. From my survey of the signs, I deduced there are only two pastimes in the Big Peach: shopping for a quick and cheap divorce and convincing motorists to not get an abortion.
It’s always seemed to me the world would be a better place if getting married required a hefty fee and getting a divorce was free. And, the energy put into telling women what to do with their bodies should be spent instead on providing good homes for unwanted children.
In any event, another minute stuck in traffic in A-town and I might have wished I’d never been born.
Eventually, I made it through all the way to Ocala. Here I kept my streak of not visiting the local museum, the Appleton Art Museum. The answer to the question of what’s an art museum named after a Wisconsin town doing here will have to wait until another visit.
The following morning, a relatively short four-hour drive, found me at the home of my brother and his spouse in Port Charlotte, where I am finishing up this column before heading poolside with my yoga mat.
Hope it’s extra cold back home.