Saturday, 16th of September
At around 7:30 AM Edinburgh time, after our early rising and hasty last-minute preparations for the trip, Haitham gave me a sudden warning: “The bus’ll be here in 5 minutes,” he stressed (being a tense traveler at the best of times). Grabbing my stuff I bolted out the door to the street where he joined me a few moments after.
It was only when we were on the bus maybe one stop away from our flat that Haitham’s eyes widened and he blurted, “I left my carry-on.”
“Are you serious??” was my eloquent response, whilst thinking, I am gonna hold this one over his head forever!
Next thing I know he’s off the bus and running for his bag back in the flat. I have a nice, peaceful ride to the airport and find him waiting for me when I arrive, having decided on the taxi to get him there fastest (and indeed it is). With all our things present and accounted for (heh) we passed through security unimpeded and prepared to wait for the next few hours.
We had a smaller, older model of aircraft that didn’t come with any in-flight entertainment on the back of the seats. However, it did offer screens along the aisles that I could just crane my head enough to see. “It won’t be that bad,” I said, “I mean, they’ll play any new-ish movie and that’ll be great!”
Wrong. Somehow our flight had been bought out by PBS–which decided that the only movie worth showing for the entire 7-hour-flight was Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not even the original movie, mind you, but Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Which Rotten Tomatoes give a generous 20% rating to. For the curious:
Honestly. I didn’t even plug my headphones in and somehow it was still just the worst. Of all the movies, American Airlines!!! OF ALL THE MOVIES!!!
Somehow though we both survived the flight relatively intact, shooting off back in time as you do when you cross from Greenwich Mean Time to Eastern to land. We had a brief layover in JFK airport which proved to be just the worst experience possible, with absurd levels of employee-not-givin’-a-fucks. But that’s another story for another day I guess (and one I would rather forget). The good news is we made up for the experience by watching the new Power Rangers film on the second flight… an improvement on Wimpy Kid with it’s 44% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Hours later and post Power Rangers madness, we began to peep the distant Nashville skyline. Seeing the iconic Batman building filled me with anticipation. Almost there!!
Upon landing in Nashville the ever-present waves of heat rolled in. Even in September it was ridiculously warm–unseasonably so as Dad would tell us later (at least I presume he did, I may be making that bit up). Our next undertaking was locating the Alamo car rental area, which in no time at all had us suited out with a Toyota Camry that felt more like driving a small boat than a car–only gained as some other dudes stole a spiffy, smaller Kia Soul from underneath our noses. (Perhaps if we’d gotten that one the fate of the doomed Camry would have been different–who could say!)
After my getting behind the wheel and a slight impasse (where I patiently faced off another car who happened to be in the correct lane while I stubbornly sat in the wrong one waiting for him to hurry up and move in the parking garage), we were off. Luckily for me even though a bit of dizziness lingers on from my VN, I didn’t have too much trouble figuring out which side of the street I should be on or my directions, although I did chant constantly, “Right is right, right is right, right is right!”
A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do eh?
And then just like that, as I was struggling to park the boat in Andrea’s front yard, my old friend came hurtling out of her house shout-singing in welcome as she does! It was really happening!!! I was home again. Although Nashville did feel like a foreign beast of sorts, the heat, Andrea’s presence, and driving all felt like coming home. We celebrated by catching up, playing with Andrea’s cat who appears to have doubled not only in sassiness but also adorable chubbiness since last I saw her, and eventually ventured out for pizza before retiring for the night.
Here’s a photo of Andrea communing with her spirit guide, Frank.
Sunday, 17th of September
Because jet-lag is a bitch, Haitham and I slept deeply but still woke up around 5 AM. When I could toss and turn no longer, I invited him to join me on the front step of Andrea’s place, where we listened to the birds in the foggy, humid morning air. Haitham was immediately surprised by the presence of a cicada emerging from its grubby shell on the porch step–a phenomenon he’d never experienced before in the U.K.! I demonstrated how you could hook its shell-claws onto clothing and explained the best thing to do with ’em was to hook ’em on unsuspecting victims. (We ended up taking the shell home with us. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Sitting on that front porch in the quietness of morning, we experienced more wildlife than we had in an entire Scottish summer. Cardinals flitted from bush to tree; a wren scolded the neighborhood from its perch atop the neighbor’s house; a woodpecker drummed a solo into the bark of a catawba tree. Haitham tensed up when we spotted a couple of grey squirrels running around, pointing urgently. (The guy loves squirrels.)
But the morning passed on and we had shit to do. After a failed attempt at getting breakfast at the exceedingly busy Sky Blue Cafe, we bailed out and got some grub at Andrea’s local coffee haunt. Avocado and feta on toast, coupled with a little tub of honey that the server popped onto the side. (How did he know???)
When we pulled up to our next stop for the day in front of the Titan’s stadium and alongside the Cumberland River, I saw a figure emerge from the shadows and was elated all over again. Somehow I’d almost forgotten that my friend Elliot had agreed to join us on our next jaunt of the day. Seeing him was such a blast from the past–it completed our little quartet just perfectly!
Before long we were all saddled up in our respective kayaks, issued by Cumberland Kayak, and were peacefully paddling downriver. It was hot, but there were turtles to be seen, and before long we passed the enormous presence of the General Jackson with enormous paddles churning by–amazing to see, but obviously something that required some poses/waving to onboard passengers. You can see Andrea demonstrating the former below.
Here’s the whole gang, and my gigantic round face–complete with the Nashville skyline!
After the short but sweet kayak, it was time to hit the streets of Nashville, something we’d skirted around on Haitham’s prior visit. I could offload tons of photos of our wanders, but will focus on a highlight or two… like this incredibly cool Segway tour we saw zooming by.
(I honestly can’t say anything with regards to that one, because we had a segway tour of our own booked for Salt Lake City!! Still, you have to admit they look pretty hilarious.)
After some wandering down the hot streets, we wandered briefly down Printer’s Alley where we found this little delightful bar. At around 3 PM it was relatively abandoned except for the bartender, who Andrea quickly made friends with as the two discussed cocktail techniques and mixed drinks etc. In short order a round of bourbons were ordered (shoo-wee!) and drank, and we hit the streets once more.
We even saw some famous figures. None of us stopped to chat though.
We eventually made our way to our last stop of the night: Rosepepper Cantina, where I would be meeting with the rest of my nearby gang. As I waited for a table to be made ready for us and glanced at the clock, about 6:55 PM, I felt a brief moment of panic and thought, What if no one actually turns up? What if no one likes me and is too nice to say???
Luckily for me, I have some excellent damn friends. Within no time at all they began to trickle in–long-time friends from Selmer, my posse from Cracker Barrel, friendly faces from university–my most favorite people all made the time to pop by and see me. I’m so lucky with them! Even more so when Andrea busted out some homemade cupcakes.
Afterwards, after a brief detour to visit Anna’s new home and see her new pupper, we returned to Andrea’s house for hookah, beer, and the kind of chat you can only get with an excellent group of people. I only wish I’d had longer with ’em, but time (and travels) wait for no gal.
❤ ❤ ❤
Monday, 18th of September
My last morning in Nashville–and what better way to do that than with a determined return visit to Sky Blue Cafe?? After a short wait this time, I can now safely say I know what those folk were queuing for–the pancakes. Nutella and banana, anyone?
After our hearty breakfast and lengthy goodbyes, we hit the road in the ol’ boat. What we didn’t know was that along the way to Henderson to check in to our airbnb, the ol’ boat would meet an untimely demise thanks to a split-seconds hesitation and two goons both looking the wrong way at traffic. Though we were shaken up, a bit bruised, and even sported some airbag deployment burns, we (and the guy driving the other car) were thankfully all okay. Within an hour or two we’d dusted ourselves off, spoken to the fuzz, called Dad and Mom who like the troopers they are headed off to pick us up, and even gotten some questionably southern directions from the police. (Something like: You know Clear Lake? No??? How long you been away? Okay, you need to turn at red light #1…)
After picking up a second car (in a delightful shade of blue), and checking in at the fantastically nice Diana’s AirBNB in Henderson, we headed back home to Selmer. Here’s a face of one of our rescuers in front of my childhood home, now complete with Yoda stringlights: you can see the other rescuer ducking behind the windchimes!
After a nice, quiet dinner of one of the two Italian places in town now, we headed out once more to Savannah, where there happened to be an agricultural fair going on. Although we almost couldn’t find it at first, eventually after some navigational duress we saw the looming Ferris wheel on the horizon.
And what a fair it was!!!
We chose this particular night mainly because the other two days, the event were lackluster, or we would be busy. Luckily for us, this particular day showcased a tractor pull. Needless to say, Haitham got some real cultural enlightenment that night. Spooky fair rides; funnel cakes; accents Haitham had only ever heard in movies; and massive tractors roaring and pumping out exhaust.
What a great night. 5 stars Savannah, TN!