Well, we hit the road! And we have made it all the way to Memphis, TN. This blog is coming to you right from the banks of the Mississippi River. There is literally a riverboat going by as I type and I'm pretty sure I just heard Mark Twain knock on my neighbor's door. Not really, but we are deep in the country of it and we are currently at a lovely little RV park named after Twain's literary troublemaker, Mr. Tom Sawyer. But I'm getting ahead of myself--let's back up:
Thursday: We left Michigan mid-afternoon after checking and rechecking to make sure our little Airstream (currently nicknamed Priscilla, subject to change on a whim) was ready to hit the road. Off we rolled through Northern Indiana and all the way past Indianapolis. We didn't have a spot staked out for our first night on the road, so we pulled into a Love's Truck Stop off of Highway 65, parked the 'Stream, and headed into Denny's for an evening dinner. The first night in Priscilla was absolutely, drop dead, freezing. Like...no joke. Cold as a witch's tit. As we were not plugged into any electricity, we couldn't use the furnace without quickly draining the battery, so it was full thermal sleeping bags, hats, mittens and every other piece of Patagonia warmth we could scrounge up. I'm being dramatic-I was freezing. Ian claims he was fine. Men are apparently stronger than women when it comes to cold, despite the fact that I have like....2 times the body fat. Oh well. When we woke up on Friday morning, my/our noses were frozen, but we had survived and off we went further South in search of warmer temperatures.
Friday: Friday morning we made it all the way through Indiana, stopped briefly outside of Louisville for a wonderful exploration of an arboretum and a good 45 minutes of exercise (we made a plan to get at least 45 minutes of exercise a day and so far we're pretty good about sticking to it), and then pushed on towards Nashville where our friend Claire had promised us a vacant lot next door to her house that we could park on for the night. Navigating into the city was a bit difficult and making sharp right turns with Priscilla is not an ideal situation, but we made it and Claire was there to welcome us with open arms. Claire and I met when we both worked for a couple years at Gazelle Sports in Holland and we've stayed in touch since. She is one of the absolutely KINDEST and most CREATIVE people I know--plus she is super into horses and that makes her doubly cool in my eyes.
Claire was ready for us and she took us out on the town for a quick tour of her adopted city. First stop was a beer joint that had so many beers on tap we sort of lost our minds with excitement. After that, Claire walked us around for an hour to get our appetites up and then took us to a double wide trailer. Where they were serving some of the BEST Thai food we've had since returning from Thailand years ago. To say it was good is a huge understatement. It should be noted too that part of the reason why Claire knows where to get great Thai food in Nashville is because she spend quite a bit of time in Thailand and Cambodia each year.
Claire works with a non-profit organization that supports women and young girls who are victims of the Cambodia sex trade. Each year she goes to Cambodia to assist with ensuring women a safe passage away from this lifestyle. What started as a short study trip for Claire has become a huge part of her life's passion and work--she is beyond inspiring. It was a fabulous night of sharing stories and memories of our own trip to Southeast Asia and we may have made an impulsive plan to go to Thailand in February with her. We'll see if our pocketbooks allow that, but it was certainly fun to spend some time remebering when the best place to get iced coffee was at a ferry dock and to drink it out of a plastic bag.
Saturday morning we went running, and then walked ALL around Nashville. It should be noted that a large amount of our time in Nashville (when we weren't eating) was spent trying to locate various filming spots for the television show Nashville. Yes, we are those people. And no, we are not ashamed. Or at least I'm not--Ian might be, but he's currently "exploring" the RV park, so he doesn't get a say in this blog post. At any rate, yes, we went looking for spots from the show and we found them! Not only did we find the spot where Deacon beat up Teddy when Deacon was in his blind, "I haven't had a drink in 12 years, but I just had 33 in a row" fit after he found out Maddie was his daughter rage, but we also FOUND DEACON'S HOUSE. Ian was very nervous about me taking a photo of it (he is quite against imposing on anyone else's private property, but we still saw it and it was great.
We also visited the Nashville Farmer's Market which is open 7 days a week (obviously) and got some great produce for the road in addition to a bunch of lovely Indian snacks from the local international food store. After about 5 miles of walking, we deemed it time to hit the road and packed up Tasha and Priscilla and headed out of Nashville towards Lynnville, TN.
Lynville, TN is the small town where my grandmother was born and from where much of my mom's side of the family hails. We wanted to stop in Lynnville to visit my mom's good friend Eddie who lives there as well as to see some small town sites and do a bit of family history poking around. When we arrived at Eddie's at about 6pm, he insisted we spend the night in his house and he take us to dinner. Off we went to the bustling town of Columbia, TN and then, for the next 48 hours, to eat.
Eddie is really good at a few things--being extremely calm, showing his guests all the secrets sights we would otherwise never have seen and feeding us. Things that we ate while at Eddie's: biscuits (I probably 2 times the amount of biscuits I've eaten in the last year in 2 days), fried chicken, Tennessee moonshine produced from an unlabeled bottle and made in the woods, Tennessee moonshine from an unlabeled bottle and made down the road at the South Distillery, boiled custard (Ummm..have you had this? No, neither had I, until this morning. And then he poured some in a glass for me and I seriously almost wet myself. It was that good. I am not exaggerating. This is probably the 1 time in my life I am not exaggerating about how good something was. It was amazing. Think less sweet and more rich eggnog. Amazeballs.).
Eddie also took us to the Tennessean Truck Stop breakfast buffet yesterday morning to start the day right. It was an entire buffet of everything Southern--grits, greens, mac and cheese, cheese grits, sausage, country ham, pudding, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, hot peppers, biscuits (duh), gravy, more gravy and more grits. We had an amazing breakfast, made good friends with the waitress and then Eddie took us all over middle-Tennessee. We saw Merriweather Lewis' gravesite, the Milky Way Farm, a whole community of Mennonites and the James K. Polk home in addition to the founding home of the Ku Klux Klan (the actual building wasn't labeled, but we made some pretty educated guesses based on our driving around the town of Pulaski, TN). By 2pm, we were exhausted, totally full of food, and looking forward to a long walk.
When we got back to Eddie's house, he set us loose to explore the farm. I should note here that Eddie lives on the land that used to belong to my great Aunt Katherine and great uncle Kelsey. The entire reason my mom knows Eddie is beacause he bought 1/2 of the land that Katherine and Kelsey lived on and farmed. He owns about 150 acres and leases all of the land out for dairy grazing. Ian and I were able to walk for almost 2 hours without any sign of human life--just cows and cows and cows and hills. Tasha had a ball and attempted on several occassions to charge cattle, but we held her back and reprimanded this behavior (it's not everyday this dog acts like a dog, but when she does, you better believe she's going to be stopped). After our long walk, it was time to eat (again), and then sleep (going to be so early these days) as we had to be up at 6am to leave for Memphis.
We got to Memphis this afternoon and immediately checked in at the Tom Sawyer's Mississippi RV Park right on the Mississippi River, which is technically in Arkansas. After securing our spot, next to another Airstream, we headed into town and went directly to Graceland for the tour. I LOVE Graceland and I LOVE Elvis, so I was over the moon giggly when we got on the tour bus and headed into the King's home. Ian was skeptical, but by the end of the 60 minute tour, he was a fan. Ian actually said, "Yeah, he was a good guy, I thought he was just a drug user. Turns out not!" Good times.
From there we headed into town to visit the National Civil Rights Museum and see the Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in 1968. Then we ate some BBQ. Now we're here in the trailer, getting some work done and preparing to head out to Little Rock tomorrow morning. Also there is a huge cold spell coming this way and apparently the low tomorrow in LR will be 28 degrees. We can run the furnace, but, being slightly paranoid about gas poisoning, we will probably be running our new ceramic space heater instead. I did some research on space heaters and bought the one that has the MOST safety features, so never fear, we'll be careful.
So far life on the road is fabulous. We are loving the simplicity of pulling into a parking spot for the night and just settling in. Tasha is adjusting very well and is napping quietly next to me after a big walk and a full bowl of food. We hope to hit Texas on Wednesday and then will be in Tyler for a wedding, then to Austin for at least a week.
Oh, we should also say that we are actively accepting "boondock parking spots"--this basically just means if you can help us out the way Claire and Eddie did by providing us with a driveway or vacant lot to park in, that would be amazing--we don't need to bother you at all, just a place to pull into for the night--maybe you have a friend or family member who wants to have an Airstream at his/her house for a few hours? COOL, please send them our way!