Our journey west took us through two Tennessee cities renowned for their live music scenes - Nashville and Memphis. Sadly, with the onset of COVID-19, both of these towns are temporarily "on mute" - their live music venues shuttered. Still we had memorable visits that encouraged us to return in better times.
We set out from Richmond before dawn and drove along 2-lane tree-lined roads with light traffic and views of rolling hills and farms. The Great Smoky Mountains came into view as we made our way into North Carolina, where we stopped for lunch in Asheville. This town is a cultural oasis filled with artists, musicians, and great restaurants. Who can resist Carolina BBQ on a warm blue-sky day? We found a great place in the "River Arts District" called 12 Bones Smokehouse where we sat in the sun and enjoyed the day's special - Sliced Brisket with Carolina classic mustard-infused sauce. But it was sides that really shined! Corn pudding, smoked potato salad, and a healthy chunk of savory corn bread, washed down with refreshing iced tea.
Our visit to Nashville was brief - without a live music scene, is it really Nashville? The highlight was having dinner with long-time friend, Joy. We celebrated her recent achievement - an Ed. D from Northeastern University - with a glass or 2 of bubbly. Then it was off to bed for another pre-dawn departure for Memphis - home of Beale Street, Elvis, and B. B. King. This stretch of Interstate 40 was FILLED with tractor-trailers that outnumbered the cars 10 to 1.
Memphis was a pleasant surprise that really exceeded our expectations. While our stroll along Beale Street was eerily quiet, you could tell that this was a "happening" place in better times. We also were captivated by an enormous glass pyramid in the distance that we had to check out. Originally built as an NBA arena and concert venue, the Memphis Pyramid is now home to Bass Pro Shops. We rode up on America's largest free-standing elevator to the "Lookout" and enjoyed a panorama of the city and the Mississippi river. We found a classic Memphis BBQ joint using the "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives Locator" App - the very unassuming "Cozy Corner Restaurant". Nancy spotted a brand new Tesla outside the run-down place - clearly it's the food and not the atmosphere that's the draw here. This time it was a half-rack of ribs with coleslaw and potato salad.
Bellies full, we set off over the Mississippi into Arkansas, headed for the Hot Springs National Park. More about that in our next post.
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Nancy McCabe &