This post contains affiliate links.

We left early on a Wednesday. Raleigh was enjoying a gorgeous 60-degree spring morning.

Our bags and bins were piled by the front door the night before so loading up the car took mere minutes. Jeff and I ate a quick breakfast and then woke the boys. They dressed, grabbed their allotted one lovie and one blanket each, and climbed into the backseat. By 7:15, we were on the road. Since the boys take roughly 96.4 minutes to eat breakfast every morning, they ate in the car.

The goal of Day One was simply to put pavement behind us. The boys are great car travelers so we knew we’d knew we could be ambitious with mileage the first two days and then start slowing down by day three when we’d all likely start tiring of the monotony of the road. So, after encountering a bit of rush hour traffic heading to RTP, we merged onto I-40 on the west side of Raleigh and had no traffic complaints for the rest of the morning.

This part of the I-40 is quite familiar to us, driving through Durham, Greensboro, and on to Asheville. Enter the mountains, however, we were already entering new-to-us territory on this trip. From here on out, all of the roads we traveled and sights we’d be viewing would be brand new!

Jasper plays with Legos while Gavin counts cars

I had planned on eating our packed picnic lunch around Asheville but we weren’t too hungry yet and our second state was so close so we decided to continue on and have our first meal on the road in Tennessee.

The I-40 drive through the Appalachians was gorgeous, traveling through a valley beside a meandering river and enjoying the forested peaks and violet blooms. This part of the drive definitely makes my top 5 list of Dashboard Views On The Interstate.

In the middle of the mountains, we stopped for lunch at the Tennessee welcome center. The plan was to always eat one meal out and one meal packed every day to save both time and money, and to avoid eating that packed meal in the car.

We continued down the other side of the mountains into western Tennessee and the afternoon drive proceeded uneventfully through Knoxville, bypassing downtown Nashville via the I-440 loop at Waze’s recommendation, and into eastern Tennessee. Somewhere along the way we lost an hour when we entered the Central Time Zone and by 4:30 local time, our tummies were growling.

What’s a road trip without stopping at a Cracker Barrel? We found an Old Country Store in Dickson where we dined at one of a half-dozen occupied tables and were the youngest patrons at this early hour by about two generations! The boys thoroughly enjoyed their favorite pancakes for dinner.

Ready for the final push to our Memphis hotel, we continued east when the clouds began to gather and red lights filled the road ahead of us. Waze indicated this traffic jam was several miles long so we chose to leave I-40, take an alternate route, and pick up the interstate again at the next exit where Waze assured us traffic was moving again.

We exited at the town of Bucksnort, a name that would become legendary on this trip. The directions led us to Only Road which we can confirm is the ONLY ROAD in Bucksnort! We were the only vehicle on Only Road, a lovely tree-lined street several miles long, and caught up with the interstate where traffic was flowing.

We continued westward through intermittent sprinkles until we reached our hotel, a La Quinta just east of Memphis. Day 1 of 20 was in the books!

Only Road in Bucksnort

Family Road Trip