For over a week, we had the pure joy of lingering in the lush and varietal state of Tennessee. (A word of warning: We instantly fell in love with Nashville, hence it has been bumped to the top of our “move-to locations” list; head for the hills now, Nashvillians!)
So what did the Volunteer State do to catch my eye? In chronological order (beginning with our first day and ending with our last), I give you The Tennessee Top Ten:
Day 1- The North Atlanta-Chattanooga-Nashville Drive: Crossing over the threshold from Georgia to Tennessee and the subsequent scenery that it involved was breathtaking. At one point, as we drove through the soft hills and valleys of Chattanooga, all six of us were camped at the bus’s various windows gasping at the impromptu waterfalls cascading down the rocky walls of the highway and the houses peppered high upon the ridge overlooking the modest city. “I wanna live up there!” Cade kept shouting, and I simply nodded and smiled in agreement. From such a young age, we instinctually know that there are few things better in this world than a room with a view.
Day 2- Silva Porkchops and Hand-churned Ice Cream: After spending several weeks living on a bus, it was a welcome relief to pull into the charming home of my brother, Ryan, and his wife, Kim. They and their 3 children greeted us with tight hugs, comfy couches and clean bathrooms, all luxuries we never take for granted on this trip. And our second night there they treated us to a memory-searing meal of barbecued porkchops and hand-cranked, homemade vanilla ice cream. Believe me, you’ve never eaten porkchops like these before. And hand-cranked ice cream, come on! Who does that anymore? Apparently Ryan and Kim do, and they’re damn good at it, too.
Day 3- The Adventure Science Center: Eager for a test of our sanity, Kim and I ventured out into Nashville to take our brood of 6 children (Sammy conjured up a case of constipation and got to stay home with Daddy) to the Science Museum on the outskirts of the city. It’s a hodgepodgery of educational fun (especially the poop slide in the Bodyworks exhibit: it farts when you fly out at the bottom!) with a McDonalds-esque playplace in the center of the action; mind you, this playplace is on a serious dosage of steroids, spanning 4+ stories with a lookout at the top that features the city skyline. My legs kept cramping up as I attempted to climb to the top. In the end I couldn’t do it. My nerves got the best of me so I had to take Lucy’s word for it that it was “so awesome” at the top. I’m such a chicken.
Day 4- Seven Little Words: During our stay in Nashville, I became semi-obsessed with this app called “Seven Little Words”. So on the 4th day as we recovered from the science adventure and my sister-in-law ran errands, I lounged on the couch, breaking up the occasional cousin dispute and eating veggie chips while playing this addictive little game. It’s kind of like a crossword puzzle, but not exactly. Check it out for yourself…if you dare. I excuse my obsession by telling myself that it’s expanding my vocabulary and keeping my mind sharp so I won't end up with an overdone meatloaf for a brain; I suggest you come up with an excuse beforehand so you can ease your guilty conscience when you realize you’ve spent an alarming number of hours staring at a tiny screen mumbling to yourself and ignoring your children.
Day 5- Centennial Park in Nashville: Imagine a much smaller and cleaner “Central Park” with a replica of the Greek Parthenon smack dab in the middle and you’ve got the idea of Centennial Park in Nashville. It’s a gorgeous little space of greenery in the city that is a complete delight to visit. Blooming red tulips dotted the gardens that surrounded the pond that spanned one side of the park. Meanwhile, the Parthenon perched majestically as the centerpiece with children (mine included) running down it’s columned walkways, screaming if only to hear their voices echo. At the far corner of the park, lunch trailers set up shop to feed the hungry hoards from the office buildings bordering the park. It was at one of these trailers that I wrapped my lips around one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted, courtesy of Hoss' Loaded Burgers: an organic beef patty stuffed with gooey cheddar cheese and topped with BBQ sauce, fried onions and cilantro. Mind-altering.
So once again, I’ve gotten a bit long-winded with my top ten so I shall have to continue tomorrow when your mind and eyes are fresh. Till then, my friends…