Went up to Knoxville last weekend to see an old friend. I have take almost all permutations of the route between my hometown and Knoxville, sometimes doubling the time it takes to get there just to avoid the inevitable boredom that occurs with repetitive tasks. Although I still prefer to take the back roads when I can, sometimes I just don’t feel like it. I wasn’t feeling too adventurous this trip, so I stuck to the Interstate all the way. Over the years, I have driven this road countless times and spend far too much time thinking about things other than driving along the way.
One thing I noticed this trip that I have suspected before is that there is some kind of space-time disturbance in the southbound lane of I-75 between Knoxville and Chattanooga. Time flows normally on the northbound part of the trip, but it accelerates on the way home. I know this is a common psychological phenomenon (The Return Trip Effect) and I have experienced it many times before, but there is something about this stretch of highway that seems to magnify the effect.
My theory is that because the landscape is very similar along the route, there are no strong visual clues to give me a sense of motion and therefore, a sense of time. The trip does not seem instantaneous because there are a handful of unique places along the route, such as the Tennessee River crossing that signals the start of the run at the north end, the unmistakable smell of the paper mill at the Calhoun exit about half way, and ending with the decent into Chattanooga. My mind is lulled into some kind of stasis, interrupted occasionally by the aforementioned clues and then I wake up fully for the home stretch (truck stop coffee!).
Its either that or a wormhole.