Saturday, July 03, 2010

Touring the South Part 1! (Days 1-5)

Mom and I have been planning this trip since last Fall, and by "planning" I mean buying plane tickets, draw an imaginary circle, and mentally taking notes of places we'd like to visit. I've never been to the South, and Mom has been to one or two of these states, so this seemed like a great opportunity. Both of us love history and this of course is a great place to study. We only had a few certain things on our itinerary. Instead, we are winging most of this trip!

Day 1 - Tuesday, June 29th - Our town to San Diego
Mom doesn't want to consider this part of our trip, but since it involved getting up early and traveling, I will consider it. We stopped at David's Bridal in San Diego so I could order a bridesmaid's dress for a September wedding, and made a couple of stops at some stores (where I found shoes for the wedding for $15!), and picked up Nick and Linda at the airport and went out to dinner.

Day 2 - Wednesday, June 30th - San Diego to Nashville, TN
Nick and Linda got up early to take us to the airport. After dropping us off they headed back to Mexico to be the wonderful people they are and help hold down the fort while Mom is away with me :) Our flight was from San Diego to Denver, then Denver to Nashville. It was nice because each flight was only about 2 1/2 hours, and our layover was only an hour. I'm so used to flying Alaska, that it was a little weird to fly a different airline (Frontier), but of course it was fine.

We arrived in Nashville and got our rental car and were on the road by about 6:30. Our hotel was south of town, but flipping through a tour guide for the month of June showed that they were showing "The Wizard of Oz" at a park in Nashville for free, so we headed over there, thinking it started at 7pm. Well, it didn't start at 7, but waiting around for the movie gave us enough time to get some popcorn, strawberry lemonade, and cupcakes bought from a bus. We didn't end up staying for the movie, but we got in plenty of people watching. For me, it was so nice to sit outside on a warm summer evening and not be cold! Mexico can be warm during the day, but at night it gets so chilly - I never sit outside at night without a big sweatshirt and jeans!

We made our way to the hotel, and settled in.

Day 3 - Thursday, July 1st - Nashville, TN
We had scoped out our day to include plantations and music. We stopped first at the Belle Meade Plantation, a plantation built around their thoroughbred horses, one of which is the ancestor of many champion racing horses in America. A beautiful place, we were the first ones there and got our own tour guide through the mansion.

After that we headed into downtown to visit Jack's BBQ on Broadway. We seemed to hit the restaurant just as the Presbyterian convention liberated its people for lunch, so we had to wait a while. When you are waiting for something like this, you always wonder if it's worth the wait. It was. I had a pork shoulder plate with green beans and mac and cheese. Delicious. One thing I enjoyed was the ability to choose your own side of bbq sauce. The highlight of the meal was when Mom got up the courage to pass her cards to a group of Presbyterian pastors. Networking!

Jack's was a recommendation from a friend, as was Hatch Show Print, the famous printing house known for its distinct style. Still in business, Hatch Show Print creates many show posters and announcements that you continue to see around town. They had fun posters to see, and fun souvenirs.

We headed over to the Ryman Auditorium, home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 - 1974. We took the tour, which was a nice precursor to the show we were going to see later on in the evening. I knew the Ryman was an important building, but gaining all of the information about the start of country music and the community it influenced was great. They had a small, special exhibit about Johnny and June at the Ryman. It was amazing to know that this was the very stage where so many influential country stars got their start.

After the tour, we meandered around downtown, looking at boots, checking out the river, getting some ice cream.

We were scheduled to see a concert at the Ryman, so we walked back over and were surprised to find that there was a pre-concert concert on the plaza in front of the auditorium. It was a great distraction while we waiting for the doors to open. At 7:30 we got to see Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder, a wonderful show included in their Bluegrass Grass Nights at the Ryman series. Seriously, wonderful musicians. It was such a fun show, a great environment, and very inspiring. Ricky's band were so talented, it was just amazing to watch, it (mostly) distracted me from those hard wooden pews!

Day 4 - Friday, July 2nd - Franklin, TN - Decatur, AL
We slept in and started down to Franklin, south of Nashville. They have a really cute downtown, and we walked around the shops for a while. After that we went to tour the Carnton Plantation, a private home that was turned into a field hospital during the Civil War's Battle of Franklin. After the war, they donated part of their land for a Confederate cemetery, where all of the soldiers' graves remain to this day. Even more haunting were the blood stains in the upstairs bedrooms where the surgeons did their work for six months.

Mom had bought a Groupon for a restaurant in Franklin called the Daily Dish. In this restaurant I ate the best Greek Salad of my life. End of story.

We decided to continue South to Alabama, where we sought out a hotel room for the night, and ate at Five Guys, a burger joint that I've heard all sorts of things about. It lived up to its reputation.

Day 5 - Saturday, July 3rd - Decatur, AL - Selma, AL
We planned to head down the Interstate to Selma, to take in some of the Civil Rights points of interest. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we ran into some serious traffic, and got off the interstate and got to figure out some back county roads. Before this we had managed to avoid the interstate anyway, so we had already been enjoying great scenery, especially of rolling hills and wonderful houses.

On our way to Selma we stopped for lunch at the Brierfield Cafe. Of course this place has no website, because ... you know.. it's the kind of place your teenager next door works after school. The place was empty, but I enjoyed my sandwich AND the fried green tomatoes we tried out. We're going for broke with trying Southern food. This probably should be "eating our way to through the South" instead. I'd never had fried green tomatoes before, and I really liked them. Yum.

We finally found Selma, and the tourist welcome center, where two nice ladies gave us all sorts of pamphlets and pointed us in the right direction. It was much warmer this afternoon, and after we started walking away from the tourist center, the lady followed us outside to make sure we weren't walking to the starting point of the tour. We reassured her that we were just stepping away to figure things out. They also told us where we could get some good dinner :)

We decided to do a driving tour of Selma, which focused on architectural influences of important landmarks and houses. Right up my alley. The most interesting fact to us was that many old houses were moved from nearby Cahawba, AL. Looking online, we see that Cahawba was the state's first capital, from 1820-1826, but was abandoned after the Civil War. We're thinking about visiting there later on. At the end of the tour we came to Brown A.M.E Church, site of many speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965.

So on the recommendation of the ladies at the welcome center, we headed to Lannie's BBQ (again, no website, of course). While we felt a little out of place, the food was worth it. Oh. My. Word. I got fried chicken, mac and cheese, and collared greens. Now, I've never had collared greens before, so I didn't quite enjoy them, but the mac and cheese and fried chicken were WONDERFUL. I'm on my way to gaining ten pounds.

So here we are, in Selma, and going to visit Montgomery tomorrow!


At 7:40 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

wow meghan, thanks for taking the time to share so many details-it's like watching a "globe trekker" show in the south. perfect! i look forward to hearing more about your adventures. :)


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