You will want to begin your road trip during a snowstorm in April. Try and make sure the wind whips the falling snow straight into your windshield, so that you feel like you’re entering hyperspace in the daytime. You will be discouraged, but you can expect that. Snow may be the last thing you wanted to see, feel, experience, etc. on this road trip, and here it is right out of the gate, but head south and it will disappear.
Next, when you stop for the night, consider a Comfort Inn that has inhabited some old, run-down Super 8 or Motel 6. Do not actually stay at a Super 8 or Motel 6. Once you’ve reached your room at the end of a musty hallway, set down your things and head to the nearest KFC. Joke about ordering the twenty-piece bucket for the two of you in a way that suggests you’re not joking and you do really want at least fifteen drumsticks. Settle for two three-piece meals complete with biscuits and mashed potatoes. Be sure to order your fried glory to-go, then return to your hotel room and watch the Final Four on a pixelated TV screen. Eat the chicken in bed.
The following day, step into a wolf habitat and pretend you’re not afraid. Take some pictures. Remember that it’s been awhile since you read The Call of the Wild but now you think you’d get it. Watch the one you’re with live out her dream.
Drive south until you reach a Ruby Tuesdays up in flames. At this point, you’ll be approximately seven miles from a beautiful cabin in the Smoky Mountains, but it will take you two hours to get there because of the fire trucks and spectators and traffic. Try and guess what started the fire. Hope that everyone is alright. Hold your pee.
When you finally reach the cabin, sometime around 8 p.m., breathe a sigh of relief. Open the fridge, notice that it’s empty, and get back into the car. Find a restaurant (not Ruby Tuesdays) to eat at, preferably a place like the Old Mill where you can eat so much before your entree comes that you don’t want to eat the slab of chicken and dumplings in front of you but you do anyway. Look across the table at the one you love.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a place more beautiful in the world, so be certain to go hiking in the Smokies. Veer off the trail and run along toppled trees down to crystal streams surrounded by rocks. Watch the stream roll over the stones. As you climb up the path, be friendly to those on their way down and make a fun little joke like “Are we almost there?” and then laugh before you hear their answer. When you reach the summit of your hike, beneath a waterfall, sit for at least a few minutes and eat a snack together. A nice snack suggestion: Cliff bars and Gatorade (which you should relentlessly call Haterade). Talk about the things you haven’t talked about in too long.
Return to the cabin at night and listen to an early spring rain water the mountainside.