A little while back, 27 days in fact, I promised to write a ‘real blog’ about my travels around the U.S.A
After an impressive amount of procrastination, moving house, couch surfing and general laying about, the time has finally come.
I left off on the road to Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville offers all you would expect and want of an upper middle class American town in the Fall. Large deciduous trees welcome you to a town nestled amongst a number of lesser known national parks. The town is pinned as a city for creatives and, amongst other things, has been named one of the top 25 small cities for Art in the U.S and an alternative travel destination. We arrived late at night to our AirBnB accommodation to find a key under the mat and free reign of our hosts apartment. After eleven hours of driving and a number of bad food decisions we were all groggy with sleep and quickly retreated to our various bedrooms and couches. The next morning we took full advantage of the good weather and explored the Blue Ridge Parkway, a road known for fantastic views and accessible walking paths. We found ourselves on a moderate walk that took us up through the hills and provided much eye candy in the form of autumn colours. Justine and I lagged behind the group and eventually gave up on walking altogether. We chatted with a few locals, one who was particularly chatty and recommended several local restaurants we could try. He also gave us a brief overview of his medical history and his interest in travel. Afterward we marvelled at the many conversations we had ‘participated’ in that had required little more than an acknowledgement of the speakers comments for them to divulge personal information and talk at length about anything.
Eventually the rest of our group reappeared with leaves tied in their hair, exhilarated by exercise and time out of the car, and we returned to town. Asheville does have some notably quirky attractions, such as a hell of a lot of yarn-bombed objects downtown, cute shops, a number of fudge retailers and the largest privately owned mansion in the United States. I found it all felt a bit manufactured and somewhat ironic that a local trendy cafe turned out to be the most uptight place we visited in regard to the serving of alcohol to foreigners (they refused to serve us alcohol when we produced foreign driving licences in lieu of our passports). This aside, Asheville was a very pretty town and a good spot to rewind after the drive from NYC.
After Asheville we hit the road for Nashville. We stopped briefly in a small town called Cherokee that was decorated with a number of life size painted bears to stretch our legs and get advice on the most scenic route to Nashville. The information centre assistant quelled our appetites with heavily buttered popcorn and gave some vague advice on the best route to take. After joking around for a while he told us he had previously worked as an Elvis impersonator and a male stripper. We all received this information in silence, unsure whether to laugh or accept his words as truth, he looked nothing like Elvis and did not posses the stereotypical physique of a strip artist.
Our journey took us through the Great Smokey Mountains into Tennessee. We arrived in Nashville late but determinedly struck out and hit the town on our first night. American television shows have severely affected my ability to take landmarks such as Nashville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and even some parts of New York seriously. Nashville is everything you have probably ever imagined it to be. There are faux cowboys and real cowboys everywhere. Music streams out of every single bar on the main strip with lyrics usually involving a lady, broken hearts, long roads, etc.. we saw some genuinely talented musicians in Nashville who are lost amongst the swell of mediocre performers (girl googling lyrics whilst singing on stage, I’m looking at you).
After a few nights in Nashville we continued our journey west and committed to a brief stop in Memphis, TN. We spent all of two – three hours in Memphis, firstly stopping by Rendezvous for some serious ribs and jerk chicken and then the National Civil Rights Museum, established in 1991 and built around the motel in which Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in April of 1968.