Sunday morning I woke up earlier than I had to. I dilly-dallied in bed as long as I could, playing on my phone and reading on my Kindle, but I finally got up and dressed and made up, packing my makeup away as I went.
I am a clumsy type of person, so obviously I dropped a thing or two in the bathroom and woke Ian up. Sorry, fam.
We had brunch planned at eleven with some friends from out-of-town, then loading up the car and leaving for Little Rock.
Brunch was lovely, a good hour and a bit of catching up and laughing about how nearly every time we make plans one of us takes a trip to the hospital instead: like when I got my stent, or he got an infection and needed a PICC line for antibiotics. Ah, good times.
We came home and loaded the car up and said goodbye to all the kitties, swearing that we would return safely and not to worry too much, and then we were off.
We are the type of people who like to stop at roadside porn extravaganzas. Just FYI. We did this a few times. And one place had a video poker type of thing where instead of cash you win store credit.
He drove all the way to our hotel, next door to a Hooters. There was no art on the walls in this room, which I found odd. There was, however, a fairly decent recliner. And a king size bed, which I feel I did not appreciate nearly enough (Foreshadowing!).
We ordered Jimmy John’s for dinner before the concert, because they were on the other side of Hooters. Then got an Uber to the Verizon Arena. Our driver was a lovely old man who cursed like a sailor, swerved madly, and carried a gun in his armrest. We liked him immensely, and hoped that he would still be in the neighborhood when the concert let out.
We picked up a t-shirt for my father-in-law, got some drinks, and found our seats. The seats were very high, and the arena seemed much steeper than our own. A woman in the row ahead of us sat turned away, her husband shielding her from the view of the floor, for a long time before she grew acclimated.She seemed fine after that.
Joe Walsh opened, and we enjoyed it. But while I like Joe Walsh, I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan. I was there for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Kind of like the Aerosmith concert I went to for Stone Temple Pilots. I always forget I’ve seen Aerosmith, and I had floor tickets for that one.
Tom Petty was awesome. They played for nearly three hours. I don’t know if anyone else there had a better time than the two frat boys in front of and just to the left of us, though. They wanted to stand up and scream for every song, and by the middle of the concert, had almost a dozen people screaming at them. As in it was this close to a brawl in our section, all because of these two kids. Crazy. Finally, one of them got too tired or drunk to keep standing up, and the other agreed to go stand on the stairs for the songs he just couldn’t keep his seat for. It all worked out.
When it was over, the Uber surge pricing went crazy. We paid nearly three times as much for the ride home, and in a smaller car. When we got back to our room, I went and picked up McDonald’s from around the corner, we ate, and went to bed.
I woke up super early after a night of not-the-best sleep, but was able to get back to sleep here and there until it was nearly a reasonable hour. Our neighbors’ early departure in a loud company truck did not help the situation.
We checked out and went to a nearby Big Lots, since we’d forgotten pillows, and nobody can sleep on hotel pillows for a week. I got a pair of sunglasses and he got two pillows.
We hit the road, and he drove to Memphis. We had planned to have lunch at Gus’s Fried Chicken, and we stopped there and put our name on the list to be seated and told the girl that we’d be outside since the doorway was packed. We went back inside and found out we’d been skipped twice because a different girl had the list now. Even after we pointed out that we were already on her list, and the first girl told her that we were next, she skipped us again and argued that the people who just walked in were there before us even though they were further down the list. How would our name get higher on a list if we weren’t here already? She then got pissy and argued, so we said screw it and left.
We got back on the interstate, and he was happy to see a sign for Back Yard Burgers after just a few minutes. We used to have one here, but they closed years ago, and now there are only four left in the country, two in Tennessee. So we stopped there, I had a pimiento cheese bacon burger, he had a burger and cobbler, and things were much better.
When we left, I drove for a bit, until I got too sleepy and somebody didn’t feel safe with me behind the wheel. He took us the rest of the way in, through Nashville and to a smaller town on the north side where our hotel was.
He’d requested a first floor room, but we got upstairs, which was fine. All they had was queen beds, which was also tolerable. But jeez, we had no carpet, no tissues, and no toiletries. Savages.
But we were exhausted, so we went to bed early af.
I had an alarm set for eight for our watercolor class at nine, but we were both up well before then. This bed seriously sucked. I drove to Warner Park Nature Center and we learned and painted and I’m sorry to say, he did not have nearly the fun I did. I produced possibly my best painting ever, but he’s not an artist.
I had a great time, and if I lived there, I would definitely join the Tennessee Watercolor Society. And visit Warner Parks often.
It was pretty cool watching them make posters and look at their giant collection of letters and images, even if they were all shelved. I assure you, it was masses of stuff.
We didn’t get ticket to the Country Music Hall of Fame, but I’m sure we heard just about everything a tour guide there would have told us between all the other places we toured.
We went and picked up our car and drove around for something to do next. We found Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which is freaking delicious. I had a scoop each of Supermoon and Osmanthus & Blackberry Crackle, and he had a scoop each of Milkiest Chocolate and Moonshine with Corn Syrup Custard. If you’re ever near a Jeni’s, go.
Then we waited an hour for Prince’s Hot Chicken. I ordered hot, and the girl at the counter asked me if I’ve ever had the hot, because their medium is hot. I changed my order to medium. I’m glad. He got light mild.
On Wednesday we started with breakfast at Shoney’s–another place that ours closed years ago. Then we went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. They had three exhibitions then: Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea, Claire Morgan: Stop Me Feeling, and Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty. The Buddhist exhibit has a sand mandala that they’ll be destroying this weekend.
Upstairs was also a hands-on art area. We made our own prints with styrofoam and a printing press, sixteen-frame stop motion films, and mandalas. And there were no field trips while we were there, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves, which made it even better.
After the Frist, we went to The Gulch, which is where Antique Archaeology has their Nashville store. We saw the wolf boy, which we also happened to see on American Pickers that night, back in our hotel room. The candy store next door was closed, which had a cool name that I don’t remember right now. We looked around the Jack Daniels store and then took a seat to discuss what we were going to do next.
We ended up going to Peg Leg Porker for dinner, which was some really good barbecue. I love nachos, so I had to try theirs. So hecking good. Definitely a winner. And we got there early enough that the dinner crowd was just showing up when we left.
And now I’m craving barbecue nachos.
We went to Ben & Jerry’s and learned that it’s better in a pint from the grocery store. And on our way back to the hotel we stopped at the Kmart a block away because ours closed last year. I got a pack of socks on clearance.
Since we wanted to see so many things at the Opry Mills Mall, we dedicated a whole day to just the mall, without scheduling anything else. That was probably for the best; we spent over seven hours there.
We walked and we shopped, and we had lunch. The woman at the counter didn’t understand Ian when he said “y’all.” They say “you all” there. We bought souvenirs for a few people.
And we went to Madame Tussaud’s. Neither of us had ever been to a wax museum before, and I loved it while he was a little creeped out. We bought all the souvenir photos of us with silly hats and a guitar, on a record cover and a VIP pass. And I sat with Bruce Springsteen.
And then we went to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner, on my assistant manager’s recommendation, where we accidentally skipped the line and were immediately seated. Which was fine with us, although we got some dirty looks. The food was good, and our server was absolutely amazing.
For dessert we were going to go back to Jeni’s for some more ice cream, but we went to Five Daughters Bakery instead, which was an excellent decision. I ordered a vanilla doughnut, and Ian got a hopscotch. The doughnuts have 144 layers and take three days to make. Also worth it.
We’d already decided before we left home that on Friday we were going to Kentucky and Indiana, because it was supposed to be storming like crazy. It didn’t, but we went.
We hit the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, had lunch at Aladdin’s in Indiana, and then did the tram tour of the Louisville Mega Cavern. All around awesome time. I posted a few pictures the other day here, so that’ll save a little space.
We wanted to stop and check out Dinosaur World and Funtown, which we’d seen on the way in, but Dinosaur World was closed for the day and Funtown was closed forever.
We stopped in Bowling Green for dinner and ate at Montana Grille, no relation to Ted’s Montana Grill, where we’d had lunch on Tuesday. He had a steak and I had a pork chop, and they were both very good. We briefly considered returning for our anniversary dinner the next day.
Our tenth anniversary!
We started the day with kolaches at Yeast Nashville; we loved the food and the place. It was in a small shopping center called Eastside Station, so after we ate we visited Nashville Sweets and bought two cupcakes for later. Then we browsed Harlan Ruby Gift Shop, which was lovely, and the proprietor even said “y’all.”
After leaving Eastside Station, we returned to Jeni’s for a second and final time. This time he had two scoops of salted caramel, while I had a scoop of Cocoa Curry Coco and a scoop of Savannah Buttermint, which, when eaten together, tasted like eating a piece of gum off the bottom of your shoe after a long day of walking on asphalt, but in a good way.
We went back to Five Daughters and got a dozen doughnuts to bring home, one of each flavor and two of hopscotch, just for Ian.
Then we wandered around Five Points, eating a hot dog at I Dream of Weenie, stopping in several stores, and then going to The IDEA Hatchery to have a look around. I got a bar of soap and he got an unfinished magic wand, so now he has a Louisville Slugger and a magic wand to finish.
We went to 21st Street to check out Hey Rooster, but they were out of the honey Ian wanted, so we left empty handed. To make up for it, we snagged a 4/20 poster that was pasted to a trash can. We drove past the rich people’s mall, but didn’t go in.
After a few phone calls and false starts, we ended up going back to Ted’s Montana Grill for our anniversary dinner–that’s the one in Nashville, not Bowling Green, if you’re not keeping track. We had their homemade potato chips and dip as an appetizer, and we’ve already made a copycat dip recipe since we’ve been home. It’s great on cucumbers. I’ll be sure to ask Ian where he found it so I can tell you, if you’re interested.
We went back to our room for the last night and sorted souvenirs and scrapbook items and ate our Nashville Sweet cupcakes. They were not the best cupcakes we’ve ever had.
Sunday morning we got up sad, because we had to come home. On the plus side, Ian had already talked to a Walmart on the way that said they had Princess Zelda amiibos in stock. He’s been scammed on Amazon a couple times trying to order one.
When we got to said Walmart, eleven miles out of the way, Kevin denied talking to Ian, and all ten of the amiibos were still in stock in the computer, but missing from the store. The manager was offended when Ian offered the idea that an employee stole them. We left, but stopped at the GameStop across the street on the off chance that they had one, or a Guardian amiibo. The manager there said not today, but he should be getting some in the next day because someone had called to see how much he could get. Ian gave a description of Kevin and the GameStop manager was nearly as upset as we were when he heard the story, and promised to call Walmart if it turned out to be Kevin.
So hopefully Kevin’s shady ass got in trouble this week.
At least we only had to drive through maybe thirty minutes of the bad weather between Nashville and home.
And here we are now, back to the grind tonight because my manager was nice enough to give me Monday off too, since that would have been my only day on the last schedule, and Tuesday and Wednesday are my regular days off.
P.S. I hope all the links are right. It’s a lot of links up there.
This is the sketchbook going on vacation with us. I plan to finish it–just not all on this trip.
This year, we’re going northeast for our anniversary, starting with seeing Tom Petty in Little Rock, then lunch in Memphis on our way to Nashville for a week. We’re also going to spend a day in Louisville.
Any suggestions on can’t-miss attractions any of those places?
So far, we have a watercolor class in a Nashville park, the zoo, and some museums in Louisville.
I went looking for a photo prompt at Morguefile and found this, which reminded me of something I did once.
I drove from New Orleans to Edmonton and back when I was twenty-one. It was a totes awesome trip.
I took three days to get there, including an afternoon stop in Baraboo, Wisconsin to meet a couple of internet friends. I was tickled pink when I stopped at a gas station in Baraboo and I finally got to hear a Wisconsin accent. I’m sure the clerk was just as tickled by my Cajun accent.
I drove across the US/Canadian border on a small highway from North Dakota. I didn’t have to wait in line or get out of my car or even have a passport.
I used the tiny inside dial on my speedometer that measures kilometers, and bought my gas by the liter.
I remember watching the glow in the sky grow larger and larger until finally I crested the last hill and I could see Edmonton, bigger and brighter than anywhere I’d ever been by myself. It was so much more than this photo.
And I have to think how much time I would actually spend going through the photos I took of my trip if I’d had a smart phone. It would be nice to have actual photographs of the people I met instead of sketches and faded memories. Photos of the places I saw and the adventures I had.
Then again, it’s pretty cool this way, too.
And I don’t really look at the pictures on my phone that often anyway.
Crystal slid the stack of Monopoly money to the side and watched it flutter to the floor before lifting the small decorative box into her lap. She used the first finger of each hand to gently raise the lid, and was crestfallen to see that her stash was critically low. She dug around in the crumpled throw blanket next to her on the couch for her phone and frantically texted Sheep, her dealer.
Are you holding?
Sixteen minutes later, she realized that she was still staring at her phone, waiting for a reply that was possibly not forthcoming. The phone bounced back into the labyrinthine folds of the blanket when it slipped from her hand.
Outside, a backfire sounded from a car muffler long past its prime. Crystal leaped from the couch and yanked the curtains out of her way to peer outside. Yes. Darryl was home from visiting his mother. She dropped the curtain and ran out, letting the screen door bang closed behind her.
He turned at the noise, but readily opened his arms when he saw the smile on Crystal’s face. Darryl wrapped her in a bear hug and spun around twice while her feet kicked out behind her.
“I missed you, girl,” he mumbled into her curls.
“I missed you, too,” she replied. “How’s your mom doing?”
Darryl put her back on the ground and ran his hands down her arms. “She didn’t remember me the whole time I was there. Which is just as well, I guess, since I never did amount to much in her book.” He shrugged. “Good to see my sisters though.”
Crystal rolled a pebble around in a circle on the driveway underneath her shoe, unsure of how to respond. She looked up to meet his gaze. “I did miss you, you know.”
“I know. Hey, I brought you something back. Hold on,” he trailed off as he ducked back into the car to rummage around in the floorboard covered with empty 20 ounce bottles and Grizzly tins. “Here it is!” Darryl emerged triumphant, a small leather pouch in hand.
“What is it?” Crystal asked. “I mean, you didn’t have to get me anything.”
Darryl laughed. “Just open it.”
Crystal pulled the mouth of the bag open and poured the contents into her palm. “Seeds?” She looked up, confused. “What kind of seeds? They look like apple seeds.”
“They are apple seeds! I remembered that time you told me how you always wanted an orchard. Well, now you can start one. A small one, anyway.” Darryl reached out and carefully helped Crystal return the seeds to their pouch without losing a single one.
“I’m not so sure I’m cut out for that, Darryl,” she started.
“I think you are. Here, put them in your pocket and help me unpack. I haven’t seen you in a week, and we need to catch up. What have I missed around here?” Darryl took her hand and filled it with the first bag from the trunk.
Katie packed a quick tote and threw it in the back seat of her car, mumbling to herself the whole time.
“Shit day at work, shit day at home. Bullshit left and right. So sick of you, so sick of you, so sick of you. I’ve got to get out of here.”
She slammed her car door to go back inside the house for one final check for any obviously-needed items. She found none.
Katie picked up her sunglasses from the table beside the front door and put them on her face, snagging her ear in the process and letting a small cry of pain escape her lips. She grimaced and set her face into a sour don’t talk to me mask and slammed the door behind her.
The next door neighbor looked up at the ruckus, but hurriedly looked back down at his weeding after a glimpse at Katie’s face. If she’d noticed, she might have snickered at how well her mask worked.
But she didn’t notice.
She started her car and sat a moment, squeezing the steering wheel. “Shit day,” she muttered, one last time, as she out the car in gear and left the driveway.
A few deep breaths later, she reached out and flipped the radio on.
A few slightly off key songs later, she began to lose the tension in her shoulders.
And by the time she was out of town and driving through the dancing shafts of sunlight cutting between the trees growing to her right, she was smiling.
The mountains were calling.