Nashville seemed much closer before I made the trek via bus. Or multiple busses with long connections in less than desirable places. It was eleven bus hours on either end of a sweet week exploring Nashville with my cousin, Katy.
She picked me up from the coffeeshop I was seeking refuge in and we ventured the rest of the way to our AirBnb. Knowing very well I couldn’t get an attorney to stay in a hostel, we compromised for a room in a stranger’s home. Let’s name the stranger Jerry, for anonymity reasons. Katy likes to describe the experience as staying in a friend’s home while not knowing if the friend really hates you or not. So she was skeptical, but someone probably should be. Especially when there’s a monster mural on the fence. Either way, I’m still a big fan of AirBnb and this stay didn’t convince me otherwise.
Nothing is ever open in Nashville. We arrived midday Sunday and hungry so we had to run down our list of ‘must eats’ to option three: Local Taco (Local BBQ Taco and Cuban Corn for me, Local BBQ taco, Portabella Taco, Mac and Mexi Tater Tots for Katy). This stuff was good, y’all. From there we found more closed shops, really expensive parking lots to “The Hotel” (this is a joke Katy wanted to be sure was included), some of the better thrift stores and for dinner, Edley’s BBQ (Pulled Pork, Cornbread and Pimento Grits, all of which was really impressive). We also found a dagger. (Editor’s note: now that I’m reading this again, I can see how a paragraph break or transition would be helpful to better separate the indulging food talk from the dagger talk, but I like the terrible juxtaposition. It makes it sound more threatening than it was; it also allows for our incessant inside joking of daggers for the remainder of the trip more acceptable.) Katy might have compromised some forensic evidence in the process of running it over with her car, but spoiler: no flat tire in the end. Just a joke we’ve taken too far so I feel obligated to mention.
The next day we let Jay Cutler’s brother serve us at The Pharmacy (that might be a white lie) for the best meal of the trip (a Farm Burger and Cream Soda for me, a Cheese Burger and Root Beer for Katy). Y’ALLLLLL. I don’t know how some of you are living without this having graced your bellies. Poor things. Go immediately.
Knowing very well that we shouldn’t (notice I didn’t say couldn’t) live off The Pharmacy the next couple days, we managed to make it to a few other places on our spreadsheet (really though, a spreadsheet to keep all these business hours handy is absolutely necessary). After touring the city on foot, we had Coffee Soda at Crema (yes!) and a beer from Robert’s on Broadway. We shared Hot Chicken at Hattie B’s (yes yes yes, absolutely yes). Tenders in the rest of the world are forever ruined by these. We also sampled their Pimento Mac and Red Potato Salad too, for good measure. And if it doesn’t sound like we have just been on a food crawl all day, let me add that we went to The Southern for a slice of Banana Fosters Bread Pudding. Y’ALL. Again. It was killer. It rivals every dessert we’ve ever had and for Gerber’s, that’s saying something. Jerry, our stranger, recommended The Village Pub for local drinks so happy hour mules finished off the evening for us (An English Gin Ass for me, a Kentucky Whiskey Thoroughbred for Katy). At this point we weren’t aware that we were just passing through town; it felt so comfortable and familiar that we might have forgotten we weren’t actually Nashville natives. And as Katy put it, “What do you mean? We are locals. We live with Jerry.”
Having awaken from our food coma, we made the drive to Burgess Falls State Park, just 90 minutes east of Nash. We hiked the “strenuous” hike and explored a chain of waterfalls all morning. We stayed for as long as Katy didn’t see a copperhead snake. I shouldn’t have pointed out the second one because by the time I finished taking photos for Gary’s viewing pleasure (at Katy’s request), she was already halfway up the “strenuous” cliffside she told me she wouldn’t partake in.
We caught drinks in the evening at the most wonderful happy hour. Holland House in East serves up some mean cocktails and bites (Za’atar Fries and Vegetable Chip Nachos for us). We made our way back to the Village Pub for a Pretzel Reuben and time with Rachel, a lovely friend from summer’s spent in South Carolina as a kid. Reunions with her are always sweet and all too short.
Katy and I walked the greenway in the morning, tried to shop a little and hit our last spot on the list: Mas Tacos. On the third try, we were finally successful on reaching this place during “business hours.” Maybe the hype was too much, but we wouldn’t be upset if it was left off the list next time. (Pulled pork taco, avocado taco, horchata, pineapple-cilantro agua fresca). Though the fresca was the real winner.
The last order of business pertained to the Peabody Ducks. We made it to Memphis to suck down coffee and watch the ducks be escorted up an elevator to their own personal hotel. This was strangely the highlight of my day, I’d have to think. From there, it was all goodbyes and commutes home. My ride home was less comfortable. Traveling alone is rather testing and I wish I would have had someone beside me at those late nights in bus stations. But it was a learning thing. It took twenty hours to get home and I followed that with a seven hour shift at work immediately after. I was dragging.
Thanks for the full bellies Nash, we’ll surely be back, if not only for that Farm burger. Nashville hasn’t satisfied any of my adventure needs though, it’s only increased them. I had that reoccurring fluttery, super anxious feeling during this trip. It’s exhilarating and makes me think I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing. That or it’s my blood pressure spiking from all the food, who knows.
Prior to this whole trip, my brother came into town for some celebrating. I tried to show him Austin, but this weather really killed the vibe. We ended up just having beers, watching the Bulls and catching up mostly. It was a really sweet weekend for us, though he may say otherwise. After so many cancelled/full/delayed/missed flights, he finally got home two days after he originally planned.
Now it’s time to get to work for the next couple months.