As you may have read from this post, my wife and I went on a road trip vacation in April. Here are some of my observations:
1.) Mad Libs aren’t just for kids. After 35+ hours in a car together, my wife and I came up with some, um…pretty “Adult” Mad-Lib stories. Definitely great for some laughs! 1b.) My grammar knowledge isn’t what it used to be (as you’ve probably noticed from reading this blog).
2.) The American Autobahn exists, and its from Columbia, SC to Charleston, SC. The speed limit was 70mph and at one point, I was going about 85 trying to keep up with traffic and I was getting passed by some people like I was going in reverse. I like speed, although my co-worker/boss would laugh at that statement, and I thought it was a bit ridiculous. My poor 4 cylinder Hyundai Sonata was screaming to keep up. Also, here’s my PSA for today…people need to slow down in work zones. I don’t care how fast you want to go on the Interstate, but when there are workers with wives, husbands, kids and pets at home working 10 feet from where your 2,000lb car is flying by…you can slow down. You won’t be any later than you already are.
3.) Unfortunately, Kentucky and Indiana confirmed some stereotypes for me. I’m not going to say which ones, you probably already know. Go Hoosiers!
4.) The best on-stage county music talent in Minnesota is probably the worst talent in Nashville. This probably isn’t surprising, but ‘WOW’ there were some good artists singing. The unfortunate part is I don’t remember a single name of any of them. Not because I was drinking, but because they kind of all run together from bar to bar.
5.) Mother Nature can be a bitch and not care whether or not you’ve been planning a vacation for months. My wife and I never really had dreams of sipping cocktails on the beach, we’re not that type. We were hoping for shorts and t-shirts, however. Nashville was 35 degrees all day, every day on our trip. In Charleston, it was windy and rainy for 85% of the time we were there. I will say the night we arrived in Charleston, it was beautiful. The nicest days were when we were driving….obviously.
6.) Technology helps being away from kiddos. Video calling your kids before they go to bed is such a great way to remember what they look like when you’re 2,000 miles away. I’m kidding; there are probably other reasons, too.
7.) You need to try the local food when you go on vacation. This might be another no-brainer, but there was just such good food in every city that we stopped at! Specifically the BBQ & “Hot Chicken” in Nashville and seafood in Charleston was so good! We waited in line in 34 degree weather in Nashville for an hour and a half to get into ‘Hattie B’s‘ to try some authentic Hot Chicken and it was worth every second! It’s so much more fun to enjoy the foods that the region or city is famous for and venture out from the same restaurants you can enjoy anywhere. Also, macaroni and cheese is better in the south…like, way better.
8.) Most importantly, my wife and I can be in the same car, the same hotel rooms, and the same restaurants for 6 straight days (should have been 8) and still enjoy each other’s company! Despite starting the trip off with her being sick at 3am before we had to leave (NO, SHE’S NOT PREGNANT–DON’T EVEN START WITH ME), to having to make a decision to cancel some plans and come home early; I can say that we genuinely had fun the entire time! (awww)
Ahh Nashville, the destination of choice for our vacation! After leaving St. Louis about 11am, we took a quick refueling break completely by chance in Metropolis, IL (home of Superman).
We arrived in Music City around 3:30 to check into The Capitol Hotel in the downtown area, across from the Capitol building…thus the name. The staff at this hotel was very nice; the hotel itself was OK. It was the cheapest downtown hotel. This may shock you-so please sit down or stop driving; the pictures were better than the actual hotel. It’s basically a 3 story motel with the room doors facing the outside. Not a big deal to me; as we were planning on going out downtown and having a good time until the wee hours of the morning anyways! However, if you’re looking for a cheaper hotel close to Broadway, I’d recommend it. I’d probably even stay there again-just don’t expect the Four Seasons.
About a week before we left for our trip, I had reached out to Minnesota Vikings long-snapper Kevin McDermott (who is originally from Nashville) via Twitter in hopes that he would give me some advice on local things to try. Well, he actually responded!!
Big “Thank You” To Kevin for taking the time to actually give a thoughtful response to me, I was impressed. So anyways, after checking into the hotel, we decided to take him up on his recommendation of great BBQ and headed to Peg Leg Porker to try some authentic Nashville BBQ. It was pretty good! I’m not going to say it was the best I’ve ever had, but it was very, very good. I really liked the flavor, but honestly–the ribs were a bit dry. The mac and cheese was phenomenal–something about shells and cheese that drives me wild.
That night we went out to Broadway and checked out some of the bars and I was immediately blown away by the amount of talent on every single stage. So we enjoyed some music and some long-neck bottles. It was really a good time! Also, I think Nashville must be the Bachelorette Party Capitol of the world. I think there was at least one at every single bar-unless it was the same one and they were following us…Either way, we both had a blast and enjoyed some really good music.
SO, anyone who knows me also knows that I get borderline obsessed with taking recommendations from people I know. Well, that obsession goes to a whole ‘nother level with a celebrity. So, I was ready to go right down the line of suggestions from Kev (yes, I can call him Kev); but Kate thought maybe we should do what we had already planned to do instead. #marriage (KIDDING, KATE …if you’re reading this …if you’re not, then #marriage…)
Well, I was in luck because one of the things we had planned to do anyways was go to the Ryman Auditorium. This got us out of the 35 degree weather that plagued the city all weekend anyways. I was indifferent about seeing the Ryman, I’m not a giant country-music fan and I generally don’t like old buildings (right now, my mother is reading this and nodding in agreement–and now she’s laughing at that statement). Kate and I splurged and bought the “behind the stage” tour, and I will say that it was really cool. We were in the same dressing rooms that once had Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams, and most importantly, Carrie Underwood getting ready for a show at the Ryman (The Grand Ol’ Opry was also held there from 1943-1974). That was a pretty cool experience, as well as actually standing on the same stage as some of the greatest musicians ever. Our tour-guide was terrific and really made sure we understood the history behind the building. Basically, the building started as a church to offset the number of saloons that the city had. #History101
After the Ryman we needed to get something to eat, and although the on-site cafe looked REALLY good; we opted to try out Nashville’s famous “Hot Chicken”. Apparently the place to eat Hot Chicken is at Hattie B’s . We arrived at the closest one to our current location (I believe there are 3 around Nashville) and the line was out onto the street and parking was tough, so we found one about 5 minutes away and figured that would be a little quicker. It wasn’t. We arrived and again saw the line into the parking lot just to get in! Well, that obviously means there is something inside worth waiting for. So we did…for an hour and a half…in 35 degree temperatures. Once inside, you can order chicken with six different flavor levels: Southern, Mild, Medium, Hot, Damn Hot, and Shut the Cluck Up. Kate had Southern and I had Medium (could have handled hot); and we both agreed they were the best chicken tenders we had ever eaten. They were giant, juicy, and just enough breading to make them crispy without overpowering anything. Absolutely delicious! Again, I had Mac and Cheese because…just because.
Worth the wait!!
After we ate, we checked out the Parthenon. It’s big….its fine. I dunno what to say about it… It was cold and rainy/snowy..so we were already kind of hating being outside walking around. Worth seeing…I guess? Judge for yourself.
After the Parthenon, we went back to the hotel to regroup for a bit and then headed back out in the cold. We decided to walk to the Wild Horse Saloon because of how famous it is and Kate wanted Deep Fried Pickles. After walking for quite awhile, we finally got to the front door and saw a sign that read “Closed for a Private Event”.
So, we decided to check out the pedestrian walking bridge that went over the river. This was really cool both literally and figuratively. The view of downtown Nashville is awesome from the bridge!
See (can’t you feel the cold?):
After walking for quite awhile around downtown, we were hungry (almost hangry) again. This time we went to Puckett’s right down from our hotel. Again, I had BBQ and mac $ cheese. Are you sick of hearing what I had to eat yet?…Me too..sorry…but here’s a picture anyways.
That night, we went out to some more bars–this was probably the first time that Kate had actually started feeling better since we left Minnesota. Unfortunately, we had a long road trip to Charleston the next day. (Read about Charleston)
We are definitely heading back to Nashville for a long weekend when we both feel 100% healthy and it’s not the same temperature as the place that we escaped from.
I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I’m sure there has been a void in your life that just couldn’t be filled or overcome. I’m sorry.
The reason for the lack of updates was because my wife and I took a road trip! About 6 months ago, we made the decision to plan for a vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! Kate and I never really went on a honeymoon and never really took a “big trip” before we had kids. We did most things on the cheap and put money into our first house. The first 6 years of our marriage, we spent an absurd amount of our own hard-earned money fixing up a house to flip it. So, while our friends and family were taking big elaborate trips, honeymoons, and vacations, we were pulling up old smelly carpet, replacing appliances, landscaping, installing cabinets, and refinishing hardwood floors.
Almost the same. . . Ok, anyways–back on topic… Kate suggested that we go to Nashville, TN for vacation. Kate and her brother went about 5 years ago and she thought that I would really enjoy it (don’t you dare throw that previous paragraph at me….I stayed home-and, since this blog is all about me, that doesn’t count). So, in the fall of 2017, we made the decision to officially put it on the calendar and book a trip to Nashville in April! After looking at a map, we figured out that Charleston is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Nashville–we could go there for a couple days too…and we could break up both long drives with stops in St. Louis, Gatlinburg, and Chicago. BOOM! It was settled.
We went through a travel agent, which—I’m not sure was necessary; I didn’t have to pay anything extra and she found some pretty cool hotels, but…eh; I probably could have done it as well. Since it didn’t cost me anything extra–I guess it was alright. The trip was set, we were going to leave early morning on Thursday, drive to St. Louis and spend the night and arrive in Nashville on Friday. Friday through Sunday morning would be in Nashville, Sunday through Wednesday morning would be in Charleston, Wednesday – Thursday would be Gatlinburg, and finally Thursday – Friday would be Chicago.
So, the Wednesday night before the trip we are going to bed around 11pm and my wife sits up in bed and says “I think I’m getting sick”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a nightmare–I was very much awake because I could hear my 3 year old awake and crying in her room. After I get back from getting her back to sleep; the 11 month old is up. Kate hasn’t left the bathroom since I went into the 3 year old’s room a couple hours ago. Always a good sign.
Once I finally got back to bed, I asked an extremely sensitive and caring rhetorical question that I didn’t want the answer to: “Did you puke?”
“yeah-a bunch”. . . Instantly, this went through my mind: (Chris Farley Voice) “good, Great, Grand, WONDERFUL!” (Don’t get that joke? Click here.)
Ok, so what the hell do we do now? We’re scheduled to blast off in like 4 hours! Kate’s sick, I’m super tired and the girls are most likely out of whack now for the day. Probably not how grandma and grandpa envisioned the babysitting sentence starting off on day one. Anyways, around 10am, Kate finally comes downstairs and I buttoned up my salesman pants and talked her into still going on the trip. I knew that if we didn’t leave–we never would. And the car was packed and I had been overdosing on caffeine.
Ok–I’m coming to the realization that this is probably going to be a long post. So if you need to pee; I’d do it now.
We left for St. Louis about 5 hours later than we initially planned on leaving—not the worst thing in the world; but still. Kate was an absolute trooper; she didn’t feel awesome, but made it all the way to St. Louis in one shot (minus one stop in Cedar Rapids, IA to visit my cousin).
We got to St. Louis at about 8:30pm and fell directly face-first into bed. Now, as anybody knows, once a person in a house gets sick–the others are sure to follow. This was definitely on our minds the entire trip to St. Louis, “what if the kids get sick? What do we do?” After chatting with my parents who again, were taking the first shift of babysitting (each set of grandparents got 4 days), they said the kids were doing awesome and that we should enjoy the trip, with Kate feeling better (not 100% yet), we agreed that should be the plan.
St. Louis was cool, but honestly; we were there for such a short amount of time that we really didn’t take in much (any) of the city. We went to the arch because it was literally across the street from our hotel (Hampton Inn at the Arch); but in the short time I was there, I was really impressed with the downtown area of STL!
Ok while I’m typing this, I’m having a change of thought. Cory Cove on 100.3 KFAN, would call this an “on-air production meeting”. This is already getting long, so instead of having a long 50,000 word post, I’m going ‘glaze over’ the entire trip and put links to the different cities we went to, and you can get my thoughts on those directly at the bottom of this post (with pictures!!). Hopefully the rest of this post intrigues you enough to click on these. #clickbait
After a couple days in Nashville, we headed over to Charleston and while enjoying a really interesting harbor tour of Charleston; I received the following text from my mother: “I may not take Grace to ECFE.. I think I’m getting sick”.
Immediately my wife and I went from “vacation mode” to “parent mode”. We spent the rest of the night contemplating whether or not we cut the vacation short and go home or trust that the kids will be fine and continue with our trip. This conversation went well into the evening and we finally made the decision that if the kids did get sick, we would want to be there; and probably more importantly, they would want us there. So we made the decision to leave Charleston Tuesday morning, skip the Gatlinburg stop and drive as far as we could.
Turns out “as far as we could” is 14 hours, 1,243 miles, and one time change. Charleston to Chicago. #RoadWarriers
We spent the night in Chicago in a 2 person whirlpool suite so we could relax after sitting in a car seat literally all day. We had a bottle of wine and some fantastic Lou Malnati’s Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza. This was actually pretty nice and relaxing.
After a 2,879.3 mile round trip (Two Thousand, Eight Hundred Seventy Nine POINT Three) we got back home about 2pm on Wednesday (2 days earlier than we planned). I will say that the reaction we got from Grace when we walked in the door made me forget about the fact we had cut our trip short…Although, I definitely was a bit resentful that I had to cut our first “real vacation” in quite some time short, but it was good to be home.
However, I am curious and would love your opinion. Please leave me a comment on what you would have done. My wife and I had an extremely hard time making the decision to come home. The thing that we kept thinking about was if the 3 year old got sick. IF she were to get sick, she’s going to want mom & dad (mom) next to her –no question; the 11 month old probably couldn’t care less. That alone was a driving factor in us coming home early. So please–let me know what you would have done; would you have done the same thing or would you have stayed?
Sorry for getting long-winded…The experts would say that I’m 736 words over the ideal length at this point.
Oh, and the girls never got sick…
Please read my blog posts on the other cities. They’re not as long and probably a lot more humorous; unless you just don’t find me funny, and that’s OK!–many people don’t (my wife, kids, parents, friends, in-laws, colleagues, the cashier at Target, etc)…