Road trip to Nashville, TN
Hoover, AL; 06/21/2021; 8:45 am
After a quick stop at the pet boarding to drop off Cutey for pet boarding, we took a pit stop at Oil Express to change oil and check tires of our Nissan Rogue to ensure a smooth drive on our holiday. Once the mechanic at the center gave us an all clear, we set off with a cheerful, “Ganapati Bappa! Morya!” as is our personal ritual.
Jack Daniel distillery, Lynchburg, TN, 06/21/2021; 2:00 pm
Our bellies full thanks to a lunch break at a quaint and beautiful Mexican eatery, we stopped at the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg. The signs all along the road led us to a parking lot across the street from the distillery. The shuttle ferried us to the very door of the beautiful place, and the chatty shuttle driver made sure we heard everything there was to hear about Lynchburg, and would you believe it, all great things!!
Once inside, the hubby and I decided to divide and conquer, since the tasting tour required all on board to be twenty one and above. Our now-not-too-little one is still in his pre-teens. Being the sacrificial, nice wife, I encouraged the hubby to go on the tasting tour, while sonny boy and I paid for the dry country tour. Our tour guide was a local hill-billy (her words, not mine) who is the third generation to work in the Jack Daniels distillery. She regaled us with her dry wit and her take on some of the stories that surround the charming but mysterious Jack, whose real name is Jason. The walking tour took us near the old warehouses and sylos, a total of ninety two in all, that house several thousand barrels of the ‘Nectar of Gods’ as the JD whiskey was publicly referred to by Frank Sinatra on stage!
She told us all about the process, from filtering the mash, drop by precious drop, through ten feet of charcoal, to the ratio needed of the grains, to the quality control process of the grain. “The process is pure chemistry”, exclaimed a certain pre-teen boy, who was excited to be able to relate what he was seeing with something he had learnt at school. His words gave me a moment of pride, easing away my worry about taking a young lad with me to a whiskey distillery. This was followed by another exclamation, came another realisation, from another corner in the group, “oh yes, we can chalk today as a science day!” Yay! My heart leapt for joy upon noticing that there was another young boy in our group. Less than a heartbeat later, the two boys were walking together, discussing the possible outcomes of changing the proportions of the grains and water and other components. Much as I love the kid, I did heave a sigh of relief, and from the corner of my eye, noticed the other boy’s mother mirror my expressions. With the boys having found company in each other, us mothers were now free to enjoy our tour! Yippee!
The tour spent extra time at the freshwater cave, because the cool cave gave us all respite from the heat and humidity. The water gushing over the man-made dam sounded almost magical, and I would like to think it is so, because the tour guide informed us that they haven’t been able to ascertain the source! Not to mention, that water contains absolutely no iron, and is therefore perfect for the whiskey making process! Indeed a divine ingredient for the Nectar of the Gods!
A short, but steep flight of stairs led us to the vent, which is a giant wooden bowl in which the mash is allowed to ferment into alcohol. The heat was intense, but all complaints stopped as soon as the guide shuffled the lid of one of the vents, sending fumes (read aroma) of the fermenting whiskey wafting into our nostrils. Heady and intoxicating, are inadequate adjectives to define the experience.
The tour led us right through a warehouse and the tasting center, and some members noticed that some barrels had leaks. The guide informed us that the leaked whiskey is collected and offered in the tasting tour! Onwards we went to the assembly line in the bottling plant, which made for an interesting sight, even though we weren’t allowed inside due to pandemic restrictions.
The tour ended on a wet note (literally, not figuratively) for it started raining the moment we stepped back into the visitor center. Feeling adventurous, we purchased a couple of bottles of whiskey, one of them being sixty five percent alcohol! It does not get any purer or richer than that, trust me; I should know after the whiffing experience at the top of the vent! We even purchased a glass and had it personalized with the names of all three of us, to remember the beautiful day we’d had.
The rain stopped after some time, and we drove to the town square, where the Jack Daniels hardware market gave us three shot glasses, one per ticket! I love the marketing strategy! The hubby loves grilling, and therefore purchased a bag of Jack Daniels coal. Yes! You guessed it right! The very coal that is used to purify the whiskey at the very end of the process, we are now proud owners of a bag of that coal! Can you imagine the aroma it’ll lend to the meat he grills on it? My mouth waters just thinking about it!
A few mandatory pictures later, off we set towards Nashville.
Nashville, TN; 06/21/2021 7:00 pm
The hotel we’d booked into was right across the street from a paid public parking in the heart of downtown Nashville. So we parked, paid, and then checked into our hotel (kudos to my penchant for light packing). Less than ten minutes after we’d checked in, hunger pangs had us shooting out of the hotel to Amerigo, an Italian restaurant a block away. I pampered myself by ordering a dish that was price on request (something I realised after I’d placed the order). The salmon and veggies grilled on a plank of cedar looked great when it arrived. One bite, and I was in food heaven! Coupled with a Long Island cocktail, I was in all kinds of heaven!
Hayes Street Hotel, Nashville, TN; 06/22/2021; 9:00 am
The hotel breakfast was decent, packed boiled eggs, packed bagels, packed muffins, and coffee. What made it lovely was the fresh air lobby with its peppy orange chairs, and bright white swings. I took all the time to relax and sip my coffee, a luxury even in my world!
Parthenon, Nashville, TN 06/22/2021: 11:00 am
Ancient civilisations have wonderful legends and stories. Greek mythology is one that I find as enchanting as Indian mythology. The hubby drove us to Parthenon, a full scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece, which serves as a monument to the pinnacle of classical architecture. The tall columns outside the building made me stop and take note. The inside is a beautiful museum, full of artefacts and information about the ancient civilization. When we reached the second level though, I forgot to breathe! The forty two feet tall statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and strategy is majestic, to say the least. The fine detailing by the hands that created this statue is nothing short of a miracle in itself, right from the design of her crown/helmet, to the carvings on the soles of her footwear, everything is just splendid. On the right hand of the statue, stands a six feet statue of Nike, the Goddess of victory. She is just as beautiful and majestic, her regal hands holding the beautifully carved golden wreath. The shield in the hands of Athena deserves an altogether separate chapter of its own, so intricate and fine is the detailing. I especially like the phythos (half human half animal protectors) for they reminded me of the vanarsena from Ramayan of the Indian mythology.
The Parthenon sits bang in the center of the Centennial Park, and we enjoyed a stroll there in the lazy summer afternoon. The light breeze made the heat bearable, and the afternoon ended with a few minutes of looking out at the lake in the park. The ducks in the lake provided ample entertainment with their antics. We were blessed to see a mother duck and father duck hovering near their egg. Yes! A real duck egg that was about ready to hatch! That was an experience none of us will forget in a hurry!
Lunch at Hattie B’s, a less than memorable experience
Lunch was less than okay at Hattie B’s, a burger joint. The place was crowded, there was an odor of drainage somewhere, and it made me uncomfortable. I was impressed to see the hubby and sonny boy enjoying their meal when it finally arrived, while I struggled to mouth even a spoonful of the canned beans (which were cold) and the bread (which wasn’t toasted). Once they were done eating, we left the place, but with my ruined appetite, I was hangry and irritable. The walk to the hotel was a short, heated one, and I shooed them both off to the room while I perched myself on the swing. A few minutes later, once my anger had subsided, I called them both back down, and we went to a nearby mall.
The mall was huge and indoors, perfect for a hot afternoon. I window shopped until I dropped, and was delighted to find some of the things I had been meaning to buy at the Ulta outlet there. Psst, a little secret, my heart had already lifted when I had seen the amazon delivery notification for the things I had ordered the previous day as part of the prime day deals! We had a cup of coffee each at the cafe in the mall, and I was dismayed to see that they were out of sandwiches. I ordered a bagel, which only served to annoy me further for it was just empty calories which I knew weren’t even going to fill me up.
From there, we went to broadway street, and enjoyed strolling along the river. The bridge above made for a perfect walk as well as served up several good spots to take pictures. The walk on the music street itself was enjoyable for us, but sonny boy found it too crowded and noisy for his comfort (I know he’ll enjoy the scene in a few years). The live bands at Honky Tonk, The Lucky Bastard Salon, and a couple other places were quite talented and interesting. We made our way up to a food court, where the meal was okayish, but the band was great! The music made up for my horrible (absent) meal all day.
On our way back, we stopped at Whole Foods for a packet of trail mix, which finally helped to fill me up. The day would have ended on a sour note with my hanger, had it not been for those nuts, and the hubby finding us a great trail to check out the next day!
Sun and Fork, Nashville, TN, 06/23/2021 10:00 am
Guilty about his partial role in the meal fiasco of the previous day, the hubby decided to treat us all to a good breakfast. Instead of eating at the hotel, we packed up and checked out. His original plan to go to Another Broken Egg had to be cancelled because I called them up and they informed me about the forty-five minute wait. So we used the GPS on our phones and found this beautiful breakfast place on our way instead. Sun and Fork had some interesting options on their menu, and I had a tough time choosing! Breakfast was hearty and healthy and delicious, and the hubby’s guilt and wallet were now clean.
Bellies full and hearts content, we set off for the trail the hubby had looked up the previous night.
Radnor Lake State Park, Nashville, TN, 06/23/2021 11:15 am
Nestled within the bustling city of Nashville is this gem of nature. Less than two minutes after we’d been on the trail, we encountered deer, yes, deer, grazing peacefully just a few feet from us. Every so often, they would look at us, then go back to grazing, as if they somehow knew we posed them no harm. They did not even run away when we took out our phones to click their pictures and videos! A few yards later, we were fortunate to see some fawn! About five or six little deer, with their tails swinging, grazing on the plants, looking at us, then jumping about as if to give us a few good pictures, then going back to grazing. A sight to behold! About a mile and a half into the trail, and we came across one of the most serene lakes. A crane sitting idly on a log in the water, one leg up in his typical style seemed to agree with us. There were so many people walking there, and yet, no one spoke, as if, by some unspoken consent, everyone wanted to maintain the peace and tranquility of the park! Several vines zigzagged across trees, and I began to wax eloquent (read drone on) about having a soft spot for such places because I grew up devouring Enid Blyton books. Any Enid Blyton reader will know what I mean. Moors, prairies, islands, lakes, caves were the landscape of several of her books. Therefore, even though I physically grew up in a city in India, mentally, I was always in such places.
Back in the car, I took the wheel, and off we set for home. We were hoping to drive nonstop, but the car, and the humans in it, needed our respective fuel, and we eventually pulled to a stop a few miles inside the state border. This reminds me to say, however necessary the mental and physical recharge, and however wonderful a trip, my heart always does a little merry dance when we cross the state line that says we are now entering ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, a place that was just a name on a map five years ago, but which has now become my home.
Now that I am home, my chores beckon, and I must tend to them. Until next time!