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The road trip. Day one: Nashville

The road trip. Day one: Nashville

Long story short, I needed to move my black Volkswagen GTI, Ralph, from Raleigh, North Carolina to the town of Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle. I could've shipped it, but instead decided to enlist my girlfriend, Lia, to help me tick an item off my bucket list and drive the roughly 4,000 miles, almost-coast to almost-coast. We planned our route based on projected sanity levels at various stages of the trip, and decided the predicted eight hour drive from Raleigh to Nashville was a sensible way to begin our first day. 

Downtown Nashville, as seen from the John Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge crossing the Cumberland River.

Downtown Nashville, as seen from the John Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge crossing the Cumberland River.

Ten hours, one Klan kountry gas stop, and a few burst blood vessels in my eye from concentrating on the road so hard later, we arrived in Nashville.

My entire sense of humour has basically devolved into quoting Master of None at any moment.

My entire sense of humour has basically devolved into quoting Master of None at any moment.

Despite being a broken man at this point, Lia insisted we make the most of our time, and so while I tried to find my human form in the bottom of the shower, she unleashed her Yelp mastery to find us some grub. We plumped on ramen - because when in Nashville, eat asian food. 

One thing I'm already looking forward to about winter: hot broth bowls brimming with porky, eggy, savoury goodness. Ramen creds: Two Ten Jack. May not have a sign in the door, but they have corn in their ramen. And that's what's important.

One thing I'm already looking forward to about winter: hot broth bowls brimming with porky, eggy, savoury goodness. Ramen creds: Two Ten Jack. May not have a sign in the door, but they have corn in their ramen. And that's what's important.

Following our server's recommendation, we decided to truly try and finish ourselves off on the first of the 10 days of driving ahead of us by seeking out some band playing something, somewhere in Nashville. It would've been rude not to.

Nashville's Snapchat geofilter, in real life. 

Nashville's Snapchat geofilter, in real life. 

East Nashville had a similarly grungy vibe to South Austin, which we'd visited earlier in the year. It was just a more manageable size. Hip, expensive shops lined the main drag towards downtown, and you couldn't get far without running into a local brewery, coffeeshop, or store selling those Carry On Cocktail kits (the red flag of a trendy boutique country-wide, we've determined).

We split a drink at The Family Wash and quietly debated whether the lead singer of the band was way younger than his bandmates or had just aged super well comparatively. 

We split a drink at The Family Wash and quietly debated whether the lead singer of the band was way younger than his bandmates or had just aged super well comparatively. 

Confident we'd indeed listened to some live music and not entirely wasted our evening in Honky Tonk Town, we head back to our temporary accommodation. Our Lyft driver told us she was dying to visit Boston, as she has "some serious Irish heritage." Giving her the benefit of the doubt while I violently rolled my eyes, Lia asked if she wanted to check out the Freedom Trail, or some of Boston's other magnificent history? Nope. "I want to check out the bars!"

The next morning we breakfasted at Sky Blue Cafe where I tried and loved my first milky oolong tea, before making the extremely hot walk to Broadway: Nashville's Times Square, with more cowboy boots. 

Jesus take the wheel

Jesus take the wheel

Broadway was hot, tacky, and far too early in the day for the amount of live country music flowing out of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. 

We did check out the stunning lobby of the Union Station Hotel on our morning jaunt.

We did check out the stunning lobby of the Union Station Hotel on our morning jaunt.

And a book store with objectively too many books in it.

And a book store with objectively too many books in it.

The Grand Ole Opry (or, the Church of Country Music) was expensive so we didn't do it, and the Parthenon was miles away. So we turned around to find some lunch in our preferred part of town, East Nashville. 

In our search for parking, we stumbled upon maybe the most aggressively trendy coffee shop in the world. The baristas looked like they'd just come out the back from fixing vintage motorbikes. I got a 1,000 layer orange peel donut and Lia got an inconceivably hip orange/coffee drink that was made with high school chemistry classroom equipment.

In our search for parking, we stumbled upon maybe the most aggressively trendy coffee shop in the world. The baristas looked like they'd just come out the back from fixing vintage motorbikes. I got a 1,000 layer orange peel donut and Lia got an inconceivably hip orange/coffee drink that was made with high school chemistry classroom equipment.

And lunch we did, at one of the best taco spots in the city, simply named Mas Tacos Por Favor. Trust my graphic designer girlfriend to find the best menu typography in the city. 

And lunch we did, at one of the best taco spots in the city, simply named Mas Tacos Por Favor. Trust my graphic designer girlfriend to find the best menu typography in the city. 

Conscious of making good time, we departed mid-afternoon to St. Louis. I only accidentally ran one stop sign on our way out of town. All things considered, a good start. 

The road trip. Day two: St. Louis

The road trip. Day two: St. Louis

A belated Mother's Day in Charleston, SC

A belated Mother's Day in Charleston, SC