By Maggie -- Jun 19, 2014
Tennessee is an enchanting state. We didn't know what to expect from it, and having no expectations let us roll with whatever came our way. Here's the down and dirty about our time in Nashville.
Weather: Sunny skies with oppressive, unforgiving heat. 95 degrees with equal percent humidity. The kind that when you walk outside after your nice cool shower, you want to turn right back around and shower again. Did I mention we have no A/C in our little old trailer?
Campground: We stayed at what's known as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Camp, or "Corps Camps" which we had never heard of before. Apparently there are people who only choose to camp at Corps Camps because the facilities are usually nice and they are always on some sort of waterfront. Dry camping was $14/night and the campsites were roomy and clean. In Tennessee, the fireflies seem to outnumber the mosquitoes and they put on a dinnertime lights show between 5-8pm, lighting up the whole campsite underneath a canopy of 40-ft tall trees.
Activities: We decided it would be fun to go fishing from blow-up inner tubes. This was probably the dumbest idea we've had yet on this trip. Imagine the two of us out on the lake in donut inner tubes with fishing poles. There we were, floating with the wind down the lake, barely able to hang on to each other let alone manage a fishing pole and the cooler full of beer that Ryan decided to drag along. And of course, I caught a bluegill! It was all kinds of ridiculous but we had fun.
We also spent time riding bikes around Nashville to take in some sights. I had heard that there's a life-sized replica of the Parthenon (Ancient Greece) in a really nice park, so we went to check it out. Vanderbilt is right across the street, and we walked through the college buildings (Air conditioning! Woohoo!) and pretended I was doing a college tour again. Damn did that make me miss college! Those grandiose buildings and winding bike paths and ivy-covered brick walls made me wish I could go back again. Sigh....
Nightlife: We were hoping to meet up with a few people that we knew lived in Nashville, but plans never panned out and we spent our night out on the town with our bikes, a box of wine and a picnic dinner. We found out that one of our favorite artists, Xavier Rudd, was playing a free show on the lakefront at what they call "Nashville Dancin'", a series of outdoor concerts in the summer. It was pretty spectacular sitting out on the grass, listening to live music, watching the river boats float by and drinking boxed wine.
Of all of these things we saw and did, one aspect of our time in Nashville will stand out forever for us. We met an older couple while laying by the lake at our campsite. George and Nadine Hess are from Florida (but before that, Little Rock, Arkansas) and are in their mid 80's. You would never know it - they are energetic, upbeat DIYers that love to camp for weeks at a time in their 30ft travel trailer. When George approached us by the lake, he mentioned that if we wanted to join them for BBQ, we could bring something to throw on their grill. We didn't turn the offer down, and showed up with some brats at around 6pm. We had the best time hanging out with them by the campfire, two nights in a row. The second evening they made us hamburgers and we stayed up talking until 12:30am about everything under the sun. Each morning they came by to say hello and check in. It felt good to be "adopted" for the weekend and have someone to swap stories with. They inspired both of us and affirmed our belief that camping trips really are the best trips for so many reasons. Unfortunately we didn't catch them before they left this morning but we plan on keeping in touch with them to see how their doing.
Nashville was grand and wonderful, but now it's time to head into the mountains - The Great Smokies! Looking forward to some higher elevation in the eastern Tennessee mountains. Until then...