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