Thursday, November 21, 2013

Road Trip 2013 -- Boston to Austin, (Leg 2, Nashville)

Part II of my Road Trip from Massachusetts to Texas! Read Part 1 here, or check out my review of 400 Degrees Chicken here!

The second "day trip" day I decided on was Nashville, TN.

I didn't know much about Nashville other than "Music and Stuff." It didn't occur to me that it was specifically COUNTRY music and stuff, and since Country isn't my very favorite genre--not that there's anything wrong with it, just not something I listen to often, as in I got a 1 on a 20 point Trivia round on country music one time--I felt a little lost in trying to find things to do.

Then I assumed we could just do "Elvis Stuff" not realizing that was MEMPHIS... okay. Anyway. What to do in Nashville? This was the question I asked myself as we set out from the far corner of Tennessee, where we'd stayed over night, and headed to the Country Music Capitol of the World.

The Grand Ole Opry.
Now that you've seen this picture, you really don't need to go.

I decided our first stop should be the Grand Ole Opry, simply because it sounded famous. It was also next to a mall, which was helpful because we needed to pick up some more road trip supplies (I needed leggings because I failed to realize it was still kinda cold everywhere that wasn't our destination, and Cory needed a bike lock). The mall was the most thrilling part of this stop.

Note to self: The Grand Ole Opry is probably much more interesting when you have tickets to go to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. We took some pictures and then were on our way.

The next stop was the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. It looked like an interesting stop, and since neither of us had much interest in the Country Hall of Fame, it seemed like a solid choice. We ended up spending the Late Night Admission price though, since we got there with only 30 minutes left of the free admission. Oh well. The upside to late night admission is that there is a little snack bar and drink station, so I imagine sipping a wine while walking around the grounds would be a very fun date night.

The history of Cheekwood is actually pretty interesting--and I admittedly had no idea about it until locating the link to the website--but the Cheek family was an early entrepreneurial family and their son was the creator of Maxwell Coffee. The mansion was bought with the Maxwell House fortune, and eventually the grounds were converted from a private home to a public art museum. Pretty neat!

Art inside the one section you could take pictures

The grounds were gorgeous and full of installation art, which was illuminated at night. Inside the mansion were more installations and cool things to explore. It got dark before we explored much of the grounds, but it was definitely a nice stop. I suggest checking it out if you have the day in Nashville.

The grounds, before it got too dark

Then it was off to the city proper, to sample my favorite meal of the trip (which I am STILL CRAVING): Nashville Hot Chicken. Read about it on my blog post if you want the details ;)

And, because I HAVE to collect a shot glass from every place I visit, after our chicken we ran down to the main street to find a souvenir shop. Downtown was alive with music, despite being the middle of the week. I really wish we'd decided to spend the night, because I would have loved to sit in one of the fun looking bars and sip a beer and listen to some of the original music. Though I don't listen to much country on my own, I can say this: Country singers can SING. I appreciate it much better live than I do recorded. Oh well.

We ducked into the first souvenir shop we saw, took some pictures, and rushed back to the car. Then it was off again, with Texas in our sights.

I guess Elvis visited Nashville sometimes

We ended up spending one more night on the road, around Little Rock Arkansas. Nothing really happened here of note, though. We got ihop, and made a pit stop at the most sketch-tastic truck station ever. I saw a display of souvenirs and looked for an Arkansas shot glass (I HAVE to!) but they had EVERY STATE EXCEPT ARKANSAS. So weird. Sadly, I did not get a shot glass. Oh well.

Finally, we hit Texas. And I had one thing on my mind: In-n-Out! The famous Cali burger chain has branched out to Texas, and the Dallas area is the closest one we'll find, so we had to make it a stop on the very last bit of our trip. You may remember (but probably don't, it was when this blog was a baby) the time I had In-n-Out in LA and fell madly in love with their Animal Style burger. I've been dreaming of my grand return ever since. It was just as good as I remember, and you best bet I'm making that drive again sometime.

Cory was not so impressed. "Meh," he said, "it's a burger."

I, however, was super thrilled. Totally worth the digestive hell I went through later.

Finally, three hours or so later, we made it to Austin! What a trip!

Finally at our final destination, looking tired!

And, if you want to know why Cory was hoping we'd be back before our anniversary... 

Just a touch too small...

head on over to my other blog to hear the tale of our... ENGAGEMENT!! :D

Yes. I am marrying this man.

Travel Tips (aka DON'T MAKE MY MISTAKES)
-Skip the Grand Ole Opry unless you actually have tickets to a show. It's too out of the way and there really is nothing near it and NOTHING to do on site.

-Get to Cheekwood before dusk, preferably way before dusk, so that the museum is free! Otherwise you DO get a cool light show and access to a bar, but it's $20.

-See some live music in Downtown Nashville -- this was my big regret, we heard so many awesome bands coming from the bars, but had zero time to check them out. Plus they were all in bars and drinking when we still had a few hours of driving to do was not so cool.

-Memphis probably would have been more fun

-Eat more Nashville Hot Chicken.

Traffic. Ugh.
(pay no attention to the gas pump behind me)