BARBOURSVILLE, West Virginia — I just listened to the first 30 seconds of John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Road. That’s all it took to confirm that I strongly prefer Ray Charles’ cover of the song. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that song playing through my car stereo when I crossed over the Ohio River into West Virginia yesterday. I appreciated the beauty of the bridge and the river and the Appalachian scenery in general, but the day had taken its toll and apparently zapped my enthusiasm for such audio accompaniment. As usual, my expectations got the better of me. A drive that I expected to take maybe a hair over five hours stretched to more than seven. It was a rough day on the road as I traveled crossways across Ohio but didn’t experience anything cool in any of that state’s cities. I completely missed Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton, skirted around Toledo and though I gutted Columbus (seriously, I traveled on Highway 23 right through the middle of town, stop lights and everything) I didn’t even get a good look at The Shoe. But I made it safely and dined at The Cracker Barrel last night. After dinner, I finally cranked up Ray Charles’ Take Me Home, Country Road in the car and played it twice in a row as I winded down a state highway for a look around. You know you’re in West Virginia when you’re driving on a highway and the trees from either side of the road just about touch each other.
It’s going to be a long day today. An exciting one, but by far the biggest stunt I’ll attempt to pull off on this trip. I’ll be at Saints camp in White Sulphur Springs until about seven this evening and then begin a seven-hour trek to Indianapolis in order to be at Colts camp at 10:30 tomorrow morning.