Cross Country 2005 - Timing is Everything

Reprinted from West Meets East

I did virtually no research for this trip before leaving San Diego. Iím not the type to typically over-plan a trip anyway, but I do like to read about the places Iíll be visiting beforehand to get ideas of what to see and do. This time, all I did was go to AAA and grab a stack of free maps. Thereís something to be said for the magic of winging itóbut itís also an easy way to miss stuff.

My timing has been off for most of this cross-country adventure. I got a late start last Friday, and got caught in two traffic jams before finally escaping southern California. In Oklahoma, I intended to track down and greet the Fat Man Walking (who also started his journey in San Diego), but by the time I remembered to check his Web site, I had passed him two hours back. After sleeping too late several days in a row and arriving at the next dayís destination after dark, I set my cell phone alarm to wake me up extra early in Arkansas—only to sleep late again when the phoneís battery died in the night. And I canít even count how many photo opportunities Iíve lost by not slowing down in time to safely pull off the road.

Today was the kicker. After spending a couple of hours exploring the underworld at Mammoth Cave National Park, I intended to visit Jim Beam, Makerís Mark or one of Kentuckyís other bourbon distilleries. I left Mammoth Cave a bit late, thanks to another late start out of Nashville (of course), but according to my watch, I still had time for a quick visit before closing time. I risked a speeding ticket racing the clock, and finally arrived at Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center with about 20 minutes to spare. Long enough to browse the gift shop, maybe taste a bourbon or two. Good enough. I grew suspicious, however, when I pulled into an empty parking lot. I tried the front door: locked. Just then, an employee walked around the side of the building. I asked her why they closed early (my watch read 4:45). ďWe closed at five,Ē she replied in the past tense. Apparently I crossed from Central into Eastern time somewhere on the drive between Mammoth Cave and Heaven Hill.

Yes, indeed, timing is everything.

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