One of the highlights of the trip was the drive through Great Smoky Mountains NP (NC & TN). For one thing, we got to see mountains. Mountains! We live in the land of no topography, and it was a thrill to see changes in elevation again. We also got to see some changing leaves. Way too early, I know. But the entire southeast is in a drought, and some of the trees were showing signs of stress by browning their leaves. Again, this never happens where we live, and we couldn’t make it rain to alleviate the drought, so we just enjoyed the views. There were two disappointments with the Great Smokies, however: not enough time to really explore, and no bears to be seen. I guess the bears didn’t want to hang out on the main road. Maybe the NPS can do something about that for our next trip. Kidding! To all my NPS friends, please don’t ban me, it was just a joke!
We also got to visit Mammoth Cave NP in KY. Many thanks to Ranger Kath for her excellent subterranean tour. We froze our asses off, but enjoyed it just the same! Mammoth Cave is another lovely park that we didn’t have nearly enough time to explore. We did get to take a short hike along the Green River before our tour, and got to work up quite a sweat in the 100 degree heat above ground, just before heading into the 55 degree cave. There were many other nice looking trails and bike paths we would really like to explore the next time we’re in the area. The cave was, well, cave-ish. Interesting, but dark and cold. I’m glad we took the tour, and now I don’t need to go down there again. I’m definitely a surface-dweller.
The last big highlight was an evening in Nashville in the District. For those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, the District is the downtown area along 2nd Ave and Broadway where many cool music spots are clustered, interspersed with kitschy souvenir shops and the occasional western wear outlet. We went looking for some live music, perhaps something other than country. So we wandered up and down the area, and found Robert’s Western World (www.robertswesternworld.com) on Broadway. Robert’s is a true, old style Honky Tonk. From the outside it wasn’t much, but we could see through the plate glass window that a live performance was going on inside. We could hear the music of The Starlight Drifters being piped out onto the street, and we were intrigued. But when we saw front man Chris Casello (www.chriscasello.com) playing his guitar behind his head, we knew this was the place to be! Good old-fashioned rock and roll, reminiscent of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, kind of rockabilly, with a modern flair. We went in, stayed for the last two sets, and bought the CD. What a wonderful time! If you love music, any kind of music, and haven’t been to Nashville, well…go!!
So all in all, it was a great trip. A little too much time spent in the car, but otherwise loads of fun. Next time we’re in the area we plan to pick one spot and scope it out more thoroughly. And most importantly, I spent 6 days away from home, eating out, and didn’t get sick once! That was an adventure, in and of itself. For details, stay tuned…