That Time We Made a Plan: Part I

Sometimes adventures are born out of passing comments. A four-day road trip can emerge from a late night chat over blackberry sangria and the difficult news of a cross-country move, and a casual “I would drive out with you if you need a travel buddy when you move”. This weekend’s grand adventure and bittersweet farewell grew out of just such a conversation.IMG_4763

This is my dear friend Jess, and I’m still pretending that she’s only visiting Arizona and will fly back any day. This past Saturday, after a bleary-eyed Starbucks run, we left Maryland under cover of darkness, and by the time the sun had risen, yucky congested metropolis had given way to rural Virginia loveliness. IMG_4738

Crossing into Tennessee became the first of many never-before-visited state line crossings. IMG_4742

The hills of Tennessee were completely charming and accompanied by the contextually appropriate country music. Billboards included moonshine, Dollywood, and a heavily advertized musical theatre extravaganza called Lumberjack Feud. As you might imagine these billboards featured lumberjacks waving hatchets at one another. I tend to associate singing lumberjacks with suspenders and a bra, so I’m not sure what these fellows’ deal is.

We stayed in Nashville at the Opryland Gaylord, a beautiful resort of gargantuan proportions next to the famous Grand Ole Opry.

IMG_4756

IMG_4753

IMG_4749

IMG_4751

Yes. That is a river on the inside of the hotel. There was also an accompanying river boat, two gardens walkways, and numerous shops and restaurants, including….

IMG_4761

Jack Daniel’s is the name of the restaurant. Note the location of the apostrophe. No debauchery here, you guys. Also we discovered Jack and honey flavored ice cream.

The next state line we crossed the following day was [Sweet Home] Alabama. IMG_4773

I’ve never had strong feelings one way or the other about being in Alabama, but Alabama had several surprises. We passed near Huntsville where my dad’s family used to live and saw this:

IMG_4771

My late grandfather had worked on the Apollo mission with Werner Von Braun at the nearby Marshall Space Station. Seeing a monument to something he worked on, and next to a Korean War memorial no less, made me miss him more. I can add this to a list of many experiences I wish I could tell him about.

Alabama also turned out to be a beautiful state. The colors of the grass, the hills, and even the red soil were all so vibrant.

IMG_4775 IMG_4776

And, of course, the soil isn’t the only red in the state of Alabama.

IMG_4778

Up next…

IMG_4780

Mississippi has its own charm, but we didn’t see much of the state before crossing into Louisiana, and on to the final destination.  I’ll give you a hint: it involves beads, a street called Bourbon and beignets. And it deserves its own post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s