There is a point in each journey when the tide turns. Something changes and sets the tone for the rest of the trip. For us, it was the sudden realization that the tables in the back of the car weren't going anywhere unless we took 'em, and we were falling behind. If we continued at the current rate, we'd never make it to the end.
We started our morning in song, unable to resist humming the strains of Elton John as we ate breakfast in The Tiny Diner attached to our motel. We perused the morning's news (which happened to be from the previous week since the paper was only published that frequently) over our meal. We contemplated but ultimately did not get the vengeance omelet, featuring chicken AND egg, just to report back to SIL, who is skeezed out by such things.
After passing Pal's, a local fast food chain with an eye-catching design, we made our way towards Bristol, a town which straddles the TN/VA line, and is known for being the birthplace of modern country music, recording Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family and many others over a period of only a few days. Presently it seemed a bit run down, trying to reinvent itself as an antiques shopping hub. We browsed a little but didn't find any gems.
As we entered VA we began to see more and more old roadside signs for motels, restaurants, drive-ins, garages and the like. Not sure what the uptick was due to--maybe the more southerly part of Route 11 was cobbled together later from more minor roads, whereas this portion was legitimately part of the historical driving route of the early 20th century. At any rate, it broke up the monotony some. We also began to travel more through the centers of towns at some point, which both slowed us down and kept our eyes busy.
Our next stop was to the Dip Dogs stand. We were getting into the territory that I had researched at this point, and naturally my investigations led me to food. Now what differentiates a Dip Dog from a regular corn dog? I couldn't rightfully say, except I think there was less of an emphasis on corn in the batter. I wasn't particularly hungry but had to try one in the name of Science. It was good. I'd stop there again, although I'd be more inclined if they had a public restroom.
And from then on, we careened up the road and then got on the highway, stopping only for a sub-par early dinner in Staunton. It was sad having to leave the route for an extended period, but much of 11 through VA was already known to us so I didn't feel that bad about it, although I did miss out on my Route 11 potato chips in Mt. Jackson, one of the reasons we had gone on the trip in the first place. We got home at some late hour, surely alarming the neighbors who had presumed us out of town for another several days (but not enough for them to call the cops, thankfully).
But the tables were out of the car. That was the important bit.