Posts Tagged ‘nashville’

Day Eight: Family, Gatlinburg

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

We started our day out with a little stress over our car. Because we have driven so many miles we decided to get an oil change but when we took it in and only after the oil had been changed did the low oil light pop up. Baffled and confused we spent a good half hour or more trying to fix this odd problem, we eventually reset the light after call Subaru but the threat of something wrong with the care has been looming over our heads ever since. Quite the unnecessary stressor on our shoulders. To remedy the stress we got Starbucks… lots of coffee and visited the Nashville Parthenon.

The Nashville Parthenon houses a huge statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom born from Zeus’ brain. The gigantic temple modeled after the Greek Parthenon houses the statue surrounded by imposing grandiose columns.

Her shield alone was 15 meters in diameter, so you can tell just how huge this statue was in person.

Also the doors are the largest set of bronze doors in the entire world.

Our next roadside stop was at Andrew Jackson’s, the former president of the United States, home. The home, titled the Hermitage, is a huge mansion tucked away in many acres of green lush fields. We didn’t have time to actually tour the place but we looked at all the pictures and admired the scenery from afar.

We drove all the way through Knoxville and into Gatlinburg where we were meeting my grandparents from North Carolina for a short but pleasant while. We expected to be staying in a quaint small little town at the foot of the Great Smokey Mountains but instead we encountered a series of three cities that where extremely odd and quirky tourist traps. These strips of odd sights including many Ripley’s Believe it or Not places, a gigantic fake Titanic, and even an upside down building next to a Hollywood wax museum.

We are going into the park tomorrow morning and its allure is great, just beyond the nearly sickening amount of tourist attractions which have gathered such ridiculous numbers of people who have swamped the streets and shops. Right outside our hotel room is a beautiful river that runs from the mountains down the beautiful sloping hills. It is a taunting foreshadow of tomorrow. We have found that this trip has been hard because we have been mostly deprived of nature. Unlike our past road trips which are mainly National Parks where we hike and adventure among wildlife and majestic landscapes, but this trip we have mostly been in cities or only brief stops in nature. So tomorrow is a well anticipated return to nature, pristine, unpopulated, and uncrowded nature. Hopefully we will encounter some wildlife there as well.

We met our relatives and after a great catching up and sharing session with them we headed out to dinner at the Cherokee Grill which was excellent. It was just so great being able to sit down with them and just catch up for a short time. We talked for hours over dinner and I really was so glad to see them again and I love that this road trip has let us see so many of our relatives we do not normally see.

I decided to try Catfish while still in the south and had Southern Fried Catfish with Baked Mac and Cheese with spinach which was excellent. The catfish was tender, moist, and the batter flavorful and crispy. The mac and cheese was excellent as well, warm and comforting, just as southern comfort food should be. Everything was very good but the waiter was an extremely fast talker and turns out very rushed in everything he did, not just his speech. Otherwise it was great and I would definitely eat there again if we weren’t simply passing through.

We walked around the crowded town and discovered a free Moonshine tasting in an eccentric little place full of the powerful alcohol that was so popular during the prohibition period. It was a cool old southern place filled with old cars, mason jars, shelf after shelf of moonshine, and a whole sea of rocking chairs.

It was just a short visit but we cherished every moment and look forward to the next. Tomorrow we head through the Great Smokey Mountains and up to Cincinnati Ohio for the night.


Day Seven: Nashville

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I today was the day we hit “the wall” for road trippers: the point of no more. Today marks the point where we are tired and sight seeing weary. No this does not mean we are done it just means that today was a day off from sightseeing. We didn’t really do anything today and abandoned the initial plan for the day for a shortened and less packed with things to do. In other words, today was a breather day and hopefully tomorrow will be the always necessary bounce back day in the road trip.

Also today marks a different sort of landmark. Today, day seven marks the longest time I have ever been on the road. Six days was my previous record and now we are on day seven, soon to be eight that will keep going up as we continue. So, this is a long trip.

It was hard leaving New Orleans, just as it was hard to leave New Mexico and San Antonio before that. We have had some great stops and I am looking forward to more, but I seriously enjoyed New Orleans. We started our morning with Cafe Du Monde again since it is open 24 hours we went pretty early and got to see the sunrise from our hotel room in the morning.

After leaving our trial of powder sugar behind us and watching everyone else who left Cafe Du Monde brush the remnants of their beignet from their clothing somewhat unsuccessfully, we headed out for a day of driving. We went across three states, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.

We only had two stops along our way to Nashville. The first was lunch at the original Whistle Stop Cafe or the Irondale Cafe where the book by Fannie Flag, Fried Green Tomatoes, was based out of. I love that book and the movie and knew once I was in the area that we had to stop for some fried green tomatoes. So we went on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama and found the little trainside cafe with red checkered tableclothes and movie posters all over the walls with a cafeteria style food line up of good old southern soul food. I learned a little something about southern food today called the meat and three; this is a way of describing the amount of food you get (gigantic amounts) being one meat entree along with three sides of choice from a long selection of food options.  So I got their famous fried chicken, the fried green tomatoes of course and mashed potatoes.. and it came with a bun, and sweet tea. It was so much food it seemed really ridiculous, but what was more is that anyone can order as many as they want and it really piles up quickly. The fried chicken was very good, moist, and crispy. The bun and sweet tea were also phenomenal, both where unbelievably good and I wish I could have had more if I wasn’t already so stuffed from the other plates. However, I was pretty disappointed by the fried green tomatatoes. They were greasy, cold, and too acidic even for green tomatoes. It was saddening but for me definitly an atmosphere thing and being able to say I had been to the Whistle Stop Cafe. I definitly don’t regret going because everything else was very good and if not for fear of becoming obese in a matter of days would surely go back for more.

The second stop we made was to the Ave Maria Grotto which is a benedictine monks old pass time making minatures of major monuments world wide. This odd stop in Cullman, Alabama was a large garden where the hills where covered in this sculptures.

Little Jerusalem including Bethlehem

Hanging gardens of Babylon

Even the Campanile.

It was all very interesting but by the time we reached Nashville neither of us really wanted to do anything and just did a brief tour of the city known for its music.

Uneventful day but it is getting us there slowly. Tomorrow is another sort of off day, we are taking another family day and meeting some of my lovely relatives from North Carolina in Gatlinberg for a day. More than halfway there.