The Road to Dragon Con 2021, Part 8 of 8: The Welcomes Back

Doughnut Dollies donuts!

Donuts: our consolation prize as we sadly left Dragon Con behind once more.

It all comes down to this, as every MCC miniseries does: the final chapter in which our energy levels are shot and we have to make the laborious reverse transition from heightened fun times to workaday responsible adult life via a less exciting path that carries us back to the humble holder of all our stuff.

But first: donuts!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In 2019 my wife Anne and I attended our very first Dragon Con in downtown Atlanta, even went so far as to make it the centerpiece of our annual road trip. We were so blown away that we executed an encore presentation in 2021, which was a similarly amazing experience even with strongly enforced pandemic precautions in place. It likely won’t be our last time in town.

We regret we’ll be opting out of D*C 2022 for a variety of reasons despite numerous temptations, but we’re trying to content ourselves with sharing the previously untold tales of our two-day drive down to Georgia and the sights we caught along the way. It’s perfectly okay to make a prequel nobody asked for…

mystery turtle!

My first photo early Sunday morning: a pre-breakfast appetizer of a tiny chocolate turtle, one of our sugary acquisitions from Schimpff’s Confectionery back on Day Minus-One. [CAPTION UPDATED 8/17/2022, with thanks to Anne for having a better memory than mine.]

DAY THREE: Sunday, September 5th.

Much as we would’ve loved to keep indulging in the con life, we had an 8-hour drive home ahead of us. Hotel checkout was relatively painless, though the overall experience was less endearing than our 2019 stay. Beyond the issues previously mentioned: upon arrival Thursday, our bathroom had soap but no shampoo. The next morning, Anne left a tip for housekeeping and a note asking if we could get some shampoo. Friday night after a busy Dragon Con day, we came back to find they left some shampoo but took away the soap. By the third night we got the basics worked out. But little stuff like that kept adding up.

Rather than pause for a seated breakfast after getting gas and before leaving town, we detoured a few miles to Doughnut Dollies, a local establishment with three locations and yeast donuts made from a brioche dough that ferments for 24 hours before cooking. Those are their wondrous wares in our lead photo. Clockwise from the upper left corner: banana pudding, fluffernutter, strawberry frosted, espresso cream-filled maple bacon long john (which they call “the Mikey”), brown sugar fig, and…I forget the identity of the last one at lower left. This sort of memory loss is what happens when I don’t Instagram all our donut hauls right away, or bring a notepad.

Doughnut Dollies!

They’re tucked in between a few other businesses, which made for awkward parking lot navigation.

The rest of the day was mostly the long, long drive home across three states. We can’t take time off for every single Dragon Con regardless of its innate awesomeness, and if we’re to make frequent return trips in the years ahead, we also can’t take a full week off every time, as we’d done in 2019 when we made it the centerpiece of that year’s capital-V Vacation. For 2021 we decided to practice doing D*C as a lean extended weekend with very little margin to catch our breath. Sunday was therefore devoted entirely to the drive home, with the intent to spend Labor Day collapsed in a pair of smiling, disheveled heaps.

Per her passenger-seat tradition, Anne caught glimpses of the state welcome signs along the way.

Welcome to Georgia!

A stretch of I-75 connecting Atlanta to Chattanooga winds back and forth between their two states, so there’s a confusing moment when this sign makes you think you’re going the wrong way.

roadside lake!

Another roadside lake adds a touch of visual pep to the route.

Welcome to Tennessee!

A Tennessee rest stop welcomes us for certain, no more take-backs from Georgia.

Dolly Parton stand!

A Dolly Parton standee offers free travel brochures. For anyone who gets way too excited at the sight of her, lifesaving equipment is right nearby.

DON'T COME sign, Bonnaroo canceled.

Roadside displays again remind passersby Bonnaroo 2021 was canceled. You’d think by Sunday all ticketholders would be well aware and done rending their hemp garments.

Welcome to Kentucky sign.

Onward to Kentucky, another state that really likes introducing its governor.

For lunch we pulled over in Madison, Kentucky, and searched in vain for a non-chain restaurant with unlocked doors so we could sit still and eat, as opposed to getting drive-thru and once again eating while in motion. We ultimately ended up at a chain anyway, albeit one we don’t have back in Indiana, a burger joint called Cook Out. The lobby was mostly deserted at 11:30 CDT, a good half-hour before most churches would let out. We took no photos. We didn’t care. The burgers were fine. The onion rings were served in mountain-man portions. Anne can recommend their peanut butter banana shake, one of their forty (!!!) different flavors.

The rest of the drive had no major obstacles and no stops whatsoever. Neither we nor the rental Prius needed any. The sun was still blessedly in the sky when we got home.

Welcome to Indiana!

The alternative Indiana greeting if you take the smaller bridge from Louisville to Clarksville and avoid the I-65 toll bridge.

…and with that we conclude our unnecessary travel prequel. We returned the Prius to Avis that same night, then spent Labor Day dead. Two Dragon Con zombies were we.

The End. Thanks for reading! Lord willing, we’ll see you next event. Or at the next prelude to our next event, whichever.

Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries:

Part 1: Firefight Club
Part 2: Sweets for Your Sweet
Part 3: The Ohio River Runs Through It
Part 4: Louisville Sluggish
Part 5: The Stones River Runs Through It
Part 6: A Taste of Tennessee
Part 7: The Atlanta Outtakes

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