Travelogue Pt. 1

The Travelogue series recounts a seventeen-day-long cross-country road trip I took at age 21 with two college friends. We started in Charlotte, NC, and ended up two weeks and 8,000 miles later in Los Angeles, CA. The following is taken verbatim from a handwritten journal I laboriously kept on the trip. Names have been changed, but the rest is absolute, 100%, unedited truth.

*****

June 3

Currently in St. Louis. I love this place. Love.

But I’ve gotta back up.

Didn’t bring this journal in from the car last night so I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday. We left yesterday (wow seems like forever ago) around eight in the morning. I picked up Jessica from Greensboro on the 1st. Dad made breakfast (waffles, sausage, eggs, coffee) for us, which was fantastic. We got out right on time, which was nice. Saying bye to Dad was pretty tender. He got teary but was so trying to fight it, but it made me teary too. I definitely cried for like five minutes on the road. Not so much out of sadness to be leaving, it was just so sad that he was that sad. Bye to Mom was fairly easy the night before.

Driving was fine until we got into the mountains and saw a sign for the Smoky Mtn. National Park. Decided to get adventurous, took the exit, and drove towards it for a while. Stopped in Maggie Valley at an observation tower that only cost $.50. Kept going and started to realize just how out of the way it was. Not sure exactly, but it was adding something like 3hrs to the trip.

Tried to figure out if turning around was worth it, but of course by that point we were too far in to get any service.

Made PB and Js in a random church parking lot. Were both hangry and frustrated. Turned around when we finally got enough service to figure it out. It was a beautiful but long detour.

Went through Cherokee which is so strangely commercialized. In the car, we decided to try to memorize James. Started on that.

Got to Nashville eventually. I want to say around 3:30, of course with an hour time change. The first place we went was Centennial Park. They have a life size replica of the Parthenon built for a World’s Fair in the early 20th century. Had to pay to get in, so we opted out and just took pics outside. The whole place was under construction but I was pretty under impressed overall.

The girl we were staying with, Ashley, suggested Sevier Park, so that is where we went next. There is a really cool popsicle place there we were going to try because we were starving, but there was a pretty epic farmers market going on so we did that instead. Free yoga and kids crafts and live music. We got tacos from a food truck and walked the park a bit which was nice.

tacos

Ashley was supposed to meet us for dinner at 8, so we had some time to kill. Had passed Vanderbilt on the way in so headed there to snap a pic for Grandma, but could not find just a normal Vanderbilt Univ. sign. Drove literally all over campus. I’m convinced it doesn’t exist.

Finally gave up and headed to East Nashville, where Ashley lives. We were early and she was late so we hung around at this little strip of restaurants. The whole place is so hipster. We were both pretty underwhelmed with the city but I think that’s unfair because our first impression was suburbs not city.

Finally met Ashley for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, Rosepepper Cantina. Ashley was Sarah’s bff growing up, but Jess hadn’t seen her in a while. She’s super short, redheaded, gorgeous. She has a fairly severe stutter but is just a really cool girl and is super smart. She’s engaged and just recently moved to her and her fiance’s new house but he’s not living there yet. Had fun listening to her at dinner.

She suggested an ice cream place, Jeni’s, a few buildings over. So cool! Had crazy flavors. I got an espresso flavor and pistachio and honey. It was phenomenal. Talked to her until we had to leave to pick up Samantha from the airport at 10:30.

Went straight to Broadway, which Michael had recommended. Wow. Just wow. You crest a hill and it’s so crazy, just neon signs and bar after bar after bar. There was live music literally everywhere. Found a miracle parking spot close and free. Walked around for a bit just trying to let it sink in. I mean, it was 11:30 on a Tuesday and this place was poppin. The bars are so narrow and practically every musician is singing Elvis.

Finally went in one that wasn’t too crowded but none of us wanted to drink. Stayed for like 10 minutes but loved it. It was some mid-40s guys singing Elvis. [later edit: Just remember Sam got a street vendor hotdog lolz. For $2 tho!]

Went to Ashley’s. Her house is so cute. She literally just moved in so the whole upstairs is empty. She had air mattresses set up for us. It was incredibly late and we were all super tired. Went straight to bed.

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