Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

Good morning, a greeting I offer you without much confidence. Why? Because I’m sitting in the customer lounge at a Ford dealership, waiting on Julie’s minivan diagnosis (“Sir, we’re going to need to charge you $89 for the diagnosis. We’ll let you know in about an hour, hour and a half, what the problem is”). We rolled into town last night after a punishing drive through the rain … and drove around for about 90 minutes trying to find a hotel that could accomodate all of us in one room, as well as Roscoe the dog. It was not easy. We didn’t locate a place till 11 pm … and may I state as loud as possible that the Holiday Inn Express on Strawberry Plains Pike in Knoxville is truly a great place to stay. Leanne was behind the counter when we straggled in, looking beat and exhausted. She could not have been more understanding and more welcoming, which, verily, was balm in Gilead. We got everybody into the room, walked the dog, and crashed hard. The room was large and sparkling clean, and breakfast was generous. Wonder of wonders, the coffee was even quite good.
It’s a great thing that we like this hotel so much, because we may be spending another night there. We noticed a strange sound under Julie’s minivan hood last night when we pulled in. This morning I took a look at it, and while I’m no expert (surprise!), it sounds like a transmission problem. Which, if true, is going to be expensive and time-consuming to fix. We’ll see. I am sure I’m the biggest mark in town, driving into a Ford dealership as an out-of-towner who needs to get somewhere this weekend. I expect they’ll tell me the feemalator is on the fritz, and the jasperator needs bumfutzing, and it’ll cost $1,500. But maybe not. I wish Leanne were running this garage.
We’re about 10 hours from our place in Philadelphia. Whenever we leave Tennessee, we’ll head up the Shenandoah, a drive I’m looking forward too, having done it about 15 years ago, and finding it one of the most beautiful drives ever. We have a choice to make at Winchester, I think it is: to take a hard right turn and hit I-95 in Washington, or continue northward to Harrisburg, then catch I-76 East to Philly. I’m pretty sure we’ll take the Harrisburg route; I’m doubleplus uneager to drive 95.
One good thing about sitting here in the customer lounge at the Ford garage: I finally get a wi-fi connection that works, so I can blog more. Maybe, just maybe, if I concentrate really hard, I can push Rachael Ray to the margins of my consciousness. Is she the most annoying cooking show host ever, or what? And: do you notice that public waiting rooms like this that feature television crank the volume up freakishly loud? Does anybody actually appreciate this?

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