Here is a quick general map of our progress. ~3500 miles of rolling rubber goodness up to this point.
After about a month on the road, we checked into our first hotel of the trip. It received pretty terrible reviews, but it was last minute, didn’t look that bad, and it was only ~$40 per night. If it was that bad, we would have stayed elsewhere. It was fine. The roaches did not have to ride in dune buggies, but it definitely had personality. Personality such as a very impatient elevator (with mismatching carpet on the walls, that might have been powered by a small team of hamsters in wheels), a handful of loitering guests at all hours, a mild one-day-old-sock aroma, and individually wrapped grab and go “breakfasts” in brown paper bags.
We visited the Civil Rights Museum, which is located inside the Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King was shot. Again, the history was intense and real. Very enlightening. It’s hard to believe that places like these can remain almost unchanged for decades. Plus, the history that led to that tragic event is hard to imagine. Later that evening, we walked around Beale street, filled with neon lights and country music, tourists and all kinds of characters.
Since we were in the south, we ate lots of BBQ and Cracker Barrel. Jyn travels primarily through her stomach, so to speak. I am more of a functional eater (see human trash compactor), but I enjoy seeking out the delicious places with her. We ate at Payne’s BBQ and Central BBQ. Giant portions of flavorful meat. Payne’s, which was a real dive, gave us piles of delectable pulled pork and the most delicious cole slaw made with mustard!
We visited the home of Elvis at Graceland, but we didn’t want to spend 3-6 hours and $140 to have the tour so we opted for the abridged version…aka “walk past his airplanes and peak over the wall at the mansion.” A telephoto lens helps get a little closer. Great success. The only thing we wanted to see but couldn’t were his original jumpsuits.
Lastly, we visited the Peabody Hotel to see the famous ducks march from the roof to the fountain in the lobby. We grabbed a good spot by the red carpet and waited forty-five minutes…and then the elevator doors opened and those ducks ran to the fountain. Totally worth the wait.
From Graceland, we drove about three hours east to Nashville. Since Texas, Jyn’s new favorite word has been Honkey Tonk. Every few minutes, she casually brought up Honkey Tonk. We haven’t gotten to one of those yet, but we did manage to see a Terri Clark concert at the Grand Ole Opry. We followed the concert with Crema Coffee (local recommendation- excellent), Poke Bowl, and a milkshake at Elliston Soda Shop (holy sugar crash). We were supposed to eat a burger at Rotier’s, but we arrived after 5 to discover that their hours are 11-3. Why, Rotier’s, why? We did manage to try another Nashville special, Hot Chicken from Party Fowl. So amazingly good! The story behind hot chicken is also quite funny (Google it). The two most popular hot chicken places, Hattie B’s and Prince’s, were closed because it was Sunday. Boo, Bible Belt. However, I am thrilled that it led us to Party Fowl. Afterward, we managed to have an evening stroll around a full-sized replica of the Parthenon. Very random. And I am sure you are wondering if we visited any yarn shops. Yup. We visited Joy of Knitting and Bliss Yarns.
It was Friday and we went salsa dancing! We scoured the inter-webs and found a few promising venues. Club Ibiza was not for serious dancers. Plaza Mariachi looked great but had a special event that night which meant no dancing for us. But third time’s the charm, and we finally found great dancing at the unlikeliest spot, Topgolf Nashville. Topgolf had an event room with a stage, a live salsa band, and a large polished cement floor. Real dancers were there, and we had a great time. We also received a recommendation for Saturday, 404 Bar & Grill, and as usual, the recommendation was great. We jumped into the rueda class and social danced afterwards. Another sweaty good time.
Tennessee is also home for many of my Everest trekking friends that I met through Hobnail Trekking Co. I haven’t seen them since we parted ways in Nepal March 2018. Some of them were out of town trekking the Via Ferrata and others had to work, but it was great to catch up with the ones who were available. They are a bunch of good eggs.
Then our time in Nashville was up. We had to get back in Ron (my burgundy-colored car) and get to Indiana. That day, the weather abruptly turned from summer to fall; the temperature dropped below hot for the first time, and heavy rain poured down–the first rain we’d seen since we started this road trip a month ago. Jyn is now contemplating cracking open the “deep pack” for cold weather knits and warm clothing. See you soon, Indiana!