Leaves are falling and so is the temperature. Days are shorter and sleeves are longer.
Yes, summer is rapidly drawing to a close and semester midterms are arriving.
What can we do about this? Nothing. What can we do to get our minds off of this? Road trip!
With Fall Break about to send students off campus in a great wave, many will find themselves with an extended weekend that will allow for something more fun than a stop by their parents’ to do laundry.
With UTM tucked away in the country, sometimes students feel cut off from the many exciting places that surround the region.
In reality, there are actually several great travel destinations within reasonable distance from Martin.
All a person wanting a quick getaway has to do is call up some friends, pack a bag and pick a direction for the weekend (Planning for a road trip really should be off the cuff…it only adds to the excitement).
If you have a group of willing travelers but feel better with definite plans, there are several Web sites that can assist you.
Check out sites such as Orbitz.com, Priceline.com or Hotels.com for discounted rates at hotels if your car seems too snug for over-nighting. There are even several sites dedicated solely to road trips, offering travel advisories, road conditions and tips for pre-departure.
Some things road trippers need to consider before heading off on the open road include obtaining a recently published atlas, being certain the vehicle of choice is in good working order (especially the tires), being certain the radio/CD player is in good working order (including good travel music), what snacks to bring and checking that the driver is properly licensed.
Sticking some emergency cash in a shoe is not bad advice either.
Once in the car, it doesn’t matter which direction you choose to journey, because fun escapes are bound to be ahead.
If the east catches your eye, you’ll find several of Tennessee’s treasures.
Nashville (about three hours away), the capital of both Tennesseee and country music, offers a variety of activities.
Prime shopping centers, movie multiplexes, music venues, nightclubs and the Country Music Hall of Fame are found throughout the metro area.
Should you go, make sure you stop by Printer’s Alley and Second Avenue in downtown Nashville for some after-dark fun!
If you want to take some time for the great outdoors, try the Tennessee Aquarium, Ruby Falls and Rock City in Chattanooga (five hours) or head for the big hills, the Great Smokey Mountains (seven hours).
Chattanooga and the mountain cities Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg offer outlet shopping, should you want to grab some new items for the approaching chilly months.
Remember to look for the “See Rock City” billboards and barn roofs as you get closer to Eastern Standard Time.
If the south is screaming your name, there are several timepractical spots.
Memphis (2.5 hours) offers entertaining distractions for the college age crowd, with Beale Street and Peabody Place, among other riverside attractions.
If your group consists of people who are legally and morally able to have fun at a casino, check out the bright lights and slots of Tunica, Miss. (3.5 hours).
If you’re willing to bypass all the fun Mississippi has to offer, travel down to New Orleans (nine hours) and live it up on Bourbon Street for a couple of nights. Don’t forget to enjoy the Cajun cooking before returning to northwest Tennessee.
To the northwest, visit St. Louis (3.5 hours) and take in Six Flags. In the mood for more? Go north and visit Lake Michigan along with the shops of Michigan Avenue in Chicago (seven hours).
Should you make it there, you can’t leave without grabbing a classic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
This time of the year is also ripe with Halloween and harvest-themed entertainment.
A number of organizations have designed haunted houses that, for a fee, allow willing participants a chance to get scared.
Not in for frightening experiences? Road trippers should be on the lookout for roadside stands offering unusual harvest goods, such as Elvis-shaped gourds and gigantic pumpkins.
Granted, weekends are only two days, and the anticipated Fall Break only consists of four days. However, people who are the road trip state-of-mind can find themselves in the most interesting places in a short amount of time. For those who really don’t mind the drive, Toronto is a mere 15 hours away.
Who needs an excuse to see Canada?
No matter what you do or where you go, if you’re with people you enjoy, you should have a good time and make happy memories.
RoadTripAmerica.com offers these positive thoughts for those considering venturing on a road trip:
“Road trip” is a state of mind.
There are no boring places.
The journey’s the thing.
Your vehicle goes where you tell it.
Enjoy the unexpected.
Go with the flow, and realize that true adventure is sometimes scary.