On the road again! On Thursday, August 3, 2017, Wayne and I set out for Tennessee. The early morning views as we crossed Afton Mountain were beautiful….
It was a wonderfully clear day, but by the time we reached the Lexington area in the Shenandoah Valley things were a bit different….
A heavy, dense fog came out of nowhere, and it continued for miles along I-81 South! Once it dissipated, somewhere north of Roanoke, an accident on the interstate bought traffic to a standstill. When we finally crept to an exit (30-45 minutes later), we opted to take secondary roads, and detoured through Salem, Virginia.
Fortunately, we had blue skies and no significant delays (other than construction and lots of traffic) on the rest of the drive into Tennessee.
After 9-1/2 hours and 521 miles, we arrived at our hotel. Whew….
On Friday, we ventured into Nashville and parked in the Music City Center parking garage across from the Bridgestone Arena (home of the Predators). The parking fee was $15, and we considered this to be pretty reasonable, given that we were only about a block and a half away from Nashville’s “entertainment district.” Our goal was to spend a couple of hours on lower Broadway, and then leave early enough to avoid Nashville’s rush hour traffic.
The first place we stopped was Rippy’s Bar and Grill on the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue South. The beer was cold, and the band was hot, so win/win. 🙂
There’s a fascinating blend of old and new in Nashville. The city was founded in the late 1700s, and named for Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War hero. Most of the buildings along Broadway were built in the 1800s, but looming just behind them are very sleek and modern hi-rises. Whoops, I cut off the “ears” of the “Batman” building (AT&T) in the picture on the right.
When we left Rippy’s, we walked northeast along Broadway, surprised by the number of “party barges” and other unusual tour vehicles on the street. In addition to wagons pulled by tractors and double-decker buses, we saw several “pedal taverns,” including two that were apparently bridal shower events. These folks–drinking and pedaling their way up the street–were making very slow progress due to a problem that became obvious as they came closer….
There were lots of tourists, lots of neon signs, and lots and lots of music pouring out from every bar and open door on Broadway!
After several more stops in bars and boot shops, we went to Jack’s Bar-B-Que for lunch. The 2nd floor dining room gave us a good view of all the activity on the busy street below.
After lunch, we stopped by Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for a second time. There’s a lot of country music history associated with this place, and it’s advertised as “the world’s best honky tonk.” 🙂
We browsed through Legends Gifts (where we bought t-shirts), and then–sucked in by the music–we went into Legends Corner.
The band, fronted by a left-handed guitarist, was impressive, and after a few minutes, Wayne and I joined the other patrons out on the dance floor. While I can’t say that dancing in a Nashville honky tonk has been something on my “bucket list,” I can say it was fun–and I’d do it again. 😉
There was so very much to see, but we’d only covered a couple of blocks by the time we needed to leave. We put several places on the “next time” list (Ryman Auditorium, the river front, etc.) and started walking toward the parking garage.
It started to lightly sprinkle as we waited to cross Broadway, and a few seconds later when we were barely halfway down 5th Avenue South, the skies opened up and it POURED!! We ducked into the stairwell entrance to a fancy restaurant just as the thunder and lightning started. (Google Map’s pic on the left, my pic–and view–on the right.)
The storm cracked and boomed around us, and the torrential rain created rivers on the street. (Had we known that it would rain this hard and storm so severely–and for so long–we would have stayed at Legends Corner instead of hanging out in a stairwell!) When the rain finally slacked off to sprinkles again, we continued on to the parking garage.
Uncertain as to how quickly the storm was moving east–and since we were going in that direction, too–we decided take secondary roads back to the hotel instead of getting on I-40. Perhaps it took a bit longer, but it kept us out of traffic and it let us see some of the smaller communities (Donelson, Hermitage, and Mt. Juliet) in the Nashville area.
You can click here for an interactive map of our route.
By that night, the almost-full moon was hanging in a crystal clear sky, and the storm had washed away all of the heat and humidity. Saturday promised to be gorgeous.
After spending a day (well, a few hours) in the city, we were ready for some back-to-nature time at Percy Priest Lake. This 42-mile long lake/reservoir was completed in the late 1960s, and while we didn’t anticipate having time to drive all the way around it, there were certain places we wanted to see.
We drove south on Rt. 171, and our first stop was the boat ramp at Long Hunter State Park. We visited this park two years ago just before a storm came up, and this was the only part of it we’d seen during that trip!
Awww… heart-shaped leaf in the parking lot:
Still within the park, we went to Couch Lake. Barn Swallows had taken up residence in the covered fishing pier, and while I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of Mama Barn Swallow delivering food, her four babies were still in the nest.
After leaving Long Hunter, we continued driving on Rt. 171 South, crossing another part of Percy Priest Lake.
We took a long, convoluted route to get to our next stop, on Anderson Road. Even now, looking at Google Maps, I’m still not exactly sure how we got there. I DO know we were on Anderson Road for what seemed like forever!
Since there’s a possibility that we’d someday take our travel trailer with us on a trek to Tennessee, I wanted to check out Anderson Road Campground. Unfortunately, when we finally got there a sign said that the campground was full, AND another sign said “No Weekend Drive-Thru’s.” Well, darn. I didn’t push, and the woman at the gate didn’t make an exception.
The long trip down Anderson Road wasn’t wasted, however, because we continued on to Anderson Beach.
The beach offered a broad view of the lake, and there were all sorts of boats on the water; sailboats, speed boats, jet skis, and pontoon boats. Looking way to the left of the beach and using the zoom on my camera, I could see travel trailers perched on a cliff, high above the lake. Interesting.
We came back down Anderson Road to Smith Springs Road, and then turned north on Bell Road to drive along the western side of the lake. When we got to the place where we’d seen the RVs on the cliff, we drove in. We didn’t see anyone around, and given the closed gate, we didn’t pursue it further.
We next headed towards the dam at the far northwest end of the lake, but as we approached it, a police car was partially blocking the road. The officer didn’t stop us, so we continued on for another couple of blocks. There we encountered two police cars, and the officers were blocking the road and making everyone turn around.
If you’re a local and you have to detour, it’s usually an inconvenience, but not a problem. For out-of-towners like us, it proved to be a bit more of a challenge. Even with maps and a GPS, we probably detoured much farther than we needed to, but ultimately we made it back to a small park near the dam.
Again using the zoom on my camera, I could see what appeared to be a water park across the lake. I later learned this was Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort.
We drove across the dam on Bell Road…
…then stopped for a delicious lunch at “Papa Turney’s BBQ.”
Again using the zoom on my camera to look across the lake, I was able to see the park where we’d stopped near the dam.
Our last planned stop was Seven Points Campground. Oh, no–at the gate there were signs saying no weekend drive-thru’s and that the campground was full. 🙁
This time I asked if it would be possible to quickly tour the campground since we were from out of state, and I was given a temporary pass, good for 15 minutes. I’m sorry we didn’t take any pictures of the campground (you can view ones on Google by clicking here), but what an awesome place! Most of the campsites are directly on the lake, and all are large, most are wooded, and the fees are extremely reasonable ($26 per night). This campground is definitely somewhere we’d love to stay if we ever do bring our trailer to Tennessee….
We were running late (the detour was partially to blame) and we needed to get back to the hotel. Using maps, I tried to plot a course that would take us back to Rt. 171 a few miles south of the hotel, but we were absolutely flabbergasted when we started seeing rural intersections with no road names or route numbers! (In retrospect, I could have just plugged in the address of the hotel in the GPS–but I didn’t think of it at the time!)
But how rural were we? Rural enough to have a family of wild turkeys run across the road in front of the car. 😉
We were kind of surprised when we finally saw I-40, but at the next intersection when I thought we should turn right, Wayne said he thought we should continue straight–which we did.
I didn’t take this picture (it’s from Google maps), but my jaw literally dropped when we crested a hill on this country road and could see the sign for our hotel–RIGHT THERE! We’d actually turned left onto Adams Lane each time we’d left the hotel (to get to a stoplight on Rt. 171), but I’d had no idea where the road went if you turned right. At least we know now! 😉
This is the route we took around the lake (best that we can remember!)
You can click here for an interactive map of our route.
On Sunday, August 6th, we got up early, packed our stuff, and started the long trek back to Virginia.
We got home 9-1/2 hours later (traffic was just generally slow on I-81 north of Lexington) and after 518 miles of driving…. Whew, again.
Now you might be thinking that this was an awfully long way to go just to spend a few hours on Broadway in Nashville, and a few more hours driving around a big lake–and you’d be right!
While those were enjoyable “extra” things we did while we were there, the main reason for the trip–and the very, very best part of it–was getting to visit with my oldest son, daughter-in-law, and three-month old grandson who live in the area!
Seeing this beautiful little boy (along with his mommy and daddy) made the long drives completely worth it! I can’t wait to go back! 🙂