The latest travel expedition that Josh and I embarked on was a 4000 mile, halfway across the country (and back) road trip. 4000 miles, two weeks, nine states, countless southern cities, one Toyota Rav-4, a leaf, multiple donuts, a lot of coffee and a very open road!
When we first started talking about where or what our next trip would consist of, it was challenging because our last big trip had been Costa Rica. How do you possibly follow up a trip like that? So, we looked at our options, discussed similar interests and decided that the most unique thing for us to do next would be to take a road trip somewhere. Josh had been out West before, however my horizons were limited to Tennessee. So, when we first began our planning process we decided that we would head West, in our newly purchased Toyota. Just the two of us, a map as our guide and some good music to keep us smiling. Well, it turned out that my sister was going to be in Texas around the time of our road trip (October). So, we decided this would be our finishing point. I had just finished watching the series Friday Night Lights (yes, I was a few years behind), so heading to Texas was thrilling to me! - I must add that we didn't ACTUALLY see one Friday Night Lights filming sight throughout our entire trip.
Not only did my sister end up being in Texas during this time, but Josh also happened to have a work training occurring in Birmingham at this time. So, we now had some destinations, a date for traveling and our enthusiasm to get us planning. To begin, being the pair that we are, I dreamed up all of the grand ideas and places we should see along the way and Josh made them a reality, finding the best routes, marking sites on the guide maps, checking safety hazards, reviews, finances, and all the other logical, realistic things that are needed in order to make a trip ACTUALLY happen. I continued throwing out ideas, he continued to make them a reality.
Finally, on October 8th, we sat in my Mammaws mountainside kitchen (we had driven up there the day before), drinking coffee, eating eggs, and giving her all of the facts of the next two weeks. We made sure the car was completely loaded and we hugged her tightly before saying our goodbyes. She of course had to get our picture before we began. Can you see the excitement seeping from our faces?
The first priority on our list was..... more coffee. This was mainly my doing. When you are about to embark on a 4000 mile journey, you keep your priorities small, savoring every single thing. Coffee was merely a minor set back that, in my opinion, was a necessity for continuing this expedition. So, back to the whole keeping the priorities small. That brings me to this......
We had not even driven ten minutes when we spotted this view. See what happens when you take in every single thing, not worrying about those big to-do's on that list. I knew from the moment I spotted this view that it was about to be a fantastic two weeks. This must have been God's special reminder that everything beautiful we were about to see within these next 4000 miles was all his doing.
So, after soaking this view in and of course getting my coffee we hopped on 213 out of Mars Hill and took it all the way to 70 through Tennessee. We of course had to take some photo opportunities along the way. We may have interrupted a group of hunters and their dogs in order to get this one.
Along our five hour journey to Tennessee we did a devotion for the day and started playing the License plate game. Rules: Keep track of how many license plates you see that are different from the state that you are in.
Ex: In Tennessee we marked every time we saw a license place that was a different state other than Tennessee.
It helped to pass the time and five hours, many license plates, and a Bojangles lunch stop later, we were FINALLY in Nashville, TN. The home of country music.
Our first stop in Nashville was the Grand ol' Opry! It was the most convenient way to enter. We were surprised by how quiet it was. We both expected herds of tourist (just like us). But, it was just a typical afternoon on the lawns of this well known music venue. We were, however, accompanied by the ever so loving fall guests......
After hanging out with the scarecrows for a little while and taking a few more pictures, we decided it was time to head downtown. Next stop, another well known music venue, possibly the grandest of music venues, THE RYMAN.
While we did not take a tour that day due to limited time, it is an option and I am sure it is well worth your money.
**Just a bit of Ryman history that we did learn during our short stay, Ryman Auditorium, known as the "Mother church of Country music," was named after Thomas Ryman, served as a tabernacle first, and has been home to well renown, influential individuals of its days, including, but not limited to Presidents. The Grand Ol' Opry was broadcast here until the 1970's when it was financed to have it's own location a few miles outside of downtown. This change certainly did not alter the influence and credibility of this Auditorium that is still visited by many music loving folks daily.
After soaking in the Ryman, we decided to walk around and explore the beauty of downtown Nashville.
*At this point, I find the photos speak much louder than any of my words.
One very cool stop along our tour of downtown was Hatch Show Print. Located in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hatch has been credited for many artists memorabilia. From music posters, concerts fliers, shirts, stickers, buttons, you name it, I'm sure they've done it. Their work alone is famous and what is even more impressive is that they have maintained their credibility since 1879.
** Yes! I did buy a T-Shirt
One of the really neat things about Nashville is that you don't HAVE to have a plan. We decided around this time that it was time for some dinner. While I had planned out a few options, what we really desired was some good, live music to go along with our dinner. So, we just decided to walk around until we found a neat little dive that had some local musicians strumming their guitars. The place also had a dinner menu :) - Yes! Nashville caters to those indecisive types. You CAN just walk around until you find something.
After dinner we had just one more stop before it was time to locate our hotel and regain our strength for the next day. We walked from our dinner/music location through the famous Printer's Alley, down the financial district until we reached the Sheraton on Union Street. No, this was not our hotel for the evening. We were just in need of an elevator ride. While I wasn't able to capture a quality picture of the retroness and lights of this incredible ride from the hotel lobby to the top floor and back down again, it is well worth looking up and seeing for yourself. It was a perfect ending to a great day of exploration.
At this point, we did go searching for OUR hotel. We stayed in Brentwood, just south of Nashville but really only a 10-15 minutes drive. It was well worth the drive for the lower prices and the quieter stay. Our hotel was right in an office building district and felt completely safe. There wasn't a whole lot around as far as eating and doing, but for sleeping and getting a good nights rest without breaking the bank it was PERFECT!
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We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Cambridge, MA but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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