DAY TWO - Saturday, 16 February.
First Destination: Pioneer, Tennessee.
Morning in Knoxville!
We awakened from our first night all relaxed, and rarin' to hit the road. We left our hosts' household just before 8:00, and right on schedule. Our initial stop called for breakfast and filling the tank of our Rupert King Family SUV-ster. Hardee's was on our mind -- that is, until we saw the bright red CHICK-FIL-A banner rising behind it. Well, everyone knows chikun trumps goofy, retarded smiling star any ol' time. Sera got the Chik-n-Minis (or however the hell it's spelled!) and I enjoyed some Chick-Fil-A biscuits. Yummmm-yum!
Gasoline was procured just north of Knoxveeeeeel at the (again, relatively) cheap sum of $2.82/9. And then it was back north on I-75.
The plan was to take yet another 'scenic route' toward Mount Nebo, W.V. We had four (4) things we wanted to accomplish today:
2) The Cumberland Gap tunnel.
3) Travel the "old highway" over East River Mountain south of Bluefield, W.V.
4) Explore the struggling coal town of Mullens, W.V.
"Wait a cotton-pickin' minute, Talmadge -- where's #1 on the list?"
"I accomplished that before we left this morning."
"That joke really 'pissed' me off, Tal."
"Yeah, I know. Ain't I sumthin'?"
Okay, number one (1) on the list was something we just had to see, after passing it on our way back from Mount Nebo last year (and a side visit to the Kentucky Fried Chicken birthplace in Corbin, Ky.). At first, I couldn't believe my eyes. But, indeed, it's real:
There are outlet stores for damn near anything else, why not the illustrious "As Seen On TV®" items? (And would you believe that "As Seen On TV®" is a registered trademark??) It's located at Exit 141 on I-75, near the community of Pioneer.
This promised to be fun. Seraphim was jonesin' for a "Buxton Bag", and maybe a "Vidalia Chop Wizard" (and that's pronounced vi-DAIL-yah!!).
I've seen a couple of blog posts about the store (would that be "as seen on Blog?"), especially this one. We wondered if "Victor" would still be working there ... and if I could find a T-shirt like the one he's wearing. I so want one of those.
The curiosity was raging, even more so after seeing the billboards going up I-75......
Maaan, this is almost like how Stuckey's used to be! There's nothing like the power of frequent roadside billboard adverts to reel in the travelers, especially the ones from points northward, and make 'em part with their "dollahs." Just ask South of the Border!
"Thank God the North won the war. It would have been awful if there hadn't been any Yankees to sell to." --William Sylvester Stuckey, founder of Stuckey's.
And speaking of Stuckey's, all this deja vu yielded one powerful "vu" once we pulled into the parking lot:
Holy Flowbee, this was gonna be good ! ! !
And it was, too.
It was your typical "kitsch" store, and there were plenty of little TV/DVD combo players running loops of product demos. (shouldn't that be "As Seen on DVD Player"?) Victor wasn't working this morning, but we had a very pleasant lady in there.
As Seraphim browsed the store, I quickly got diverted by the little 'museum' of old ASOTV products from the '70s and '80s, all displayed on a long shelf near the ceiling.
I resisted the temptation to do my imitation of the fast-talking leather-lung'd K-Tel announcer from the commercials of old. (besides, SCTV's Dave Thomas did it much better).
But wait ...
There was a little corridor connecting the main ASOTV store and a convenience store (no, the gasoline wasn't branded "As Seen On TV®" - don't I wish it were, because then I could "order one gallon and they'd double my order" .... no, it was just plain ol' garden-variety "Shell")
Well, in that corridor was another flashback:
Both of the machines were unplugged, but the "Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga" combo to the left was working. Talmadge Gleck is always up for a nice game of Galaga; after my pocket was one quarter-dollar lighter, the oh-so-familiar fanfare filled the building, and I started to play.... Seraphim soon came over to me and said, "I heard the music and thought 'Oh geez, Tal found the Galaga!'")
The machine was placed in a weird position, so I had to play it from a 45-degree angle, which of course affected my (rusty) game. I made just 62,000 (high score was 69k and change) -- very sucky because I can usually make well into the 100,000s. ANYhoo, I wished "Space Invaders" worked, because that would've been fun. Haven't played that in ages. Ahhhh, high school memories.
Did I mention there was even a snack bar? You guessed it, it's called "As Seen On TV® Deli & Grill" Alas, we were a bit early for mealtime (it was about 9:30 when we got there). Besides, our gastric chambers were still processing the Truett Cathy vittles.
"Order one hot dog and we'll double it. We'll even use our old Veg-O-Matic to dice, slice and chop the pickle-relish! Oops, did one fall off? The 'Buttoneer' even reattaches fallen food bits, too!"
A couple more amusing items to share:
Relax, Refuel, Refresh -- A Stuckey's stop keeps America going.
And nothing says "STUCKEY'S" like these puppies!
And nothing says "STUCKEY'S" like these puppies!
So. Did Seraphim find her coveted Buxton Bag?
No. They did not have those yet. #$%&!!!!!! (cue "losing horns" from The Price is Right)
But we did exit the building with:
One (1) "Vidalia Chop Wizard" (Sera was one-for-two): $19.95
One (1) "Dryer Max" lint cleaner (Will this work? We shall see!): $19.95
One (1) "Ped Egg" massager thingy (Seraphim says it works! And yes, her feetsies are quite smooth!): $12.99
One (1) "Mesh Dryer Bag" (to keep the shoesies from bouncing around in the dryer - see "will it work?" comment above): $6.99
One (1) "AS SEEN ON TV® Outlet store souvenir shot glass" (no fridge magnets, as we usually collect): $2.99
And, last but not least ....
Dammit, I had to have one. A "Mr. Mystery" invisible ink game book. Underneath my curmudgeonly exterior lays a child at heart. $3.49.
Total ... with 9.25% sales tax (at least Tennessee has no state income tax; what's Alabama's excuse??) .... $72.50.
And we were on our way ... next stop: Cumberland Gap, Tenntuckyginia!