Nashville, Tennessee

It’s a nice drive from Ohio to Tennessee, which is basically driving all the way through Kentucky.  Kentucky is horse country and we saw a few paddocks with horses, but you need to get off the interstate to see anything of interest in the US.  There are distilleries all through the state which I expected we would visit… and its’ the first time we’ve see tobacco growing, a beautiful green/yellow broad-leafed plant.

We had meant to stay a while in Kentucky but our planning went awry and we omitted it causing our ‘Tiffin team’ driver to drive 4.5 hours!  I’m sure that wasn’t my fault… However in true form he drove exceptionally well including a congested drive through Nashville during a horrendous thunder storm, visibility zero in rush hour!

We are staying in a lovely campsite on a lake 15 miles from Nashville.  This is a quiet campsite with views of a lake all around.

We try doing moderately priced campgrounds for a while-usually around US$40 a night, that gives us a full hookup, 50 amps of power, water and a sewer hook up.  There’s nothing wrong with campsites at that level, but when you pay more the campsite becomes a ‘resort’ and has facilities like a very nice, well maintained swimming pool, a club house that might have a restaurant, tar sealed roads-not gravel so there’s no dust, the sites will be level and there will probably be nice plants, flowers or trees all around.  Because it costs more there are fewer children and the travelers staying in them are older like us.

 

 

Safe Harbor Resort here in Nashville is a very nice resort with an adjoined marina.

I must say that America does the RV park/campsite very well.  Most people in the US own a camper of some description rather than a boat as a Kiwi might have.  In Canada we found the campsites less appealing and usually only 30 amps of power and no facility to empty our black water except a dump station on the way out. French is such a beautiful language, dump station in French is ‘Station de vidange’-such panache!

We are staying at this resort for 4 nights as we have been on the move every other day since Upper State NY.  We have slowly ventured into the steamy southern states as it was getting chilly further north and we saw signs of autumn in the trees up there-we don’t want that!  However this far south it’s very hot and wet, maybe we came too far south…  100 deg days with 90% humidity.  You need to dress in the morning with the expectation of getting wet at some point in the day, from sweat or rain or both.  As I write it’s raining outside with the gusto of rain that only comes when you are in this part of the US.

We know we are in for rainy afternoons for the next week or so, but yesterday was one of those 100deg days without the rain so we chose that day to explore Nashville.  It was a short drive in and parking was easy but expensive $25 for 2 hours.  In a city with no tourists like Cincinnati the parking is free!

 

We cycled all around the city, up the hill to the Tennessee State Capitol building

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…down the steep grassy hills on our bicycles, which was great fun and through the parks etc.

 

We often found ourselves on the edge of town which got a bit edgy at times, especially near the penitentiary.

A strong odour of urine emanated from many a walled building in this area (well, there is a lack of public toilets in most US cities!)

Nashville and the wider state of Tennessee has an ugly past with regards to racial tension.  The ku klux klan started up here in Nashville in 1868 and were still burning crosses outside African American sites up til 1979-that’s only 40 years ago-1 generation ago.  There were many a public lynching here in the city’s parks with 10,000 strong crowds at times back in the late 19thcentury.

With all that tension here I guess that’s why music has played an important role.  The southern country twangs that originated from these parts were a mix of African and Irish rhythm’s.  Elvis is a classic example of bridging the gap between black and whites, he broke lots of taboo’s in his early days.  Segregation was still rife here in Nashville in 1960 with separate hotels, department store changing rooms, all public facilities.

In 1970 the city had a great period of boom and growth and efforts were made by redesigning the city, facilities etc to break down the social and racial barriers.

This is still a city with its problems regardless of colour-in a city with a population of 700,000 there are up to 20,000 homeless people here.  We saw evidence of homeless people in the city, many of the great unwashed here seemed happy enough but some had eyes that didn’t seem to understand what they were seeing.  There’s a big opioid issue here too.

Soon we found ourselves on Broadway and 2ndAve which is the music centre of Nashville.

It’s a small area, just 1 block but live music thumps out of every bar, and there are many bars.  Each bar that has live music playing is known as a Honky Tonk.  We stopped outside and listened to the music often and it all sounded like great quality performances, although none of it is what I would call country-more easy rock.

It was around lunch time when we were exploring and it wasn’t appealing to us to spend time in any of the bars so we just rode our cycles around and listened and took it all in. Then we rode out further exploring the business district and outer streets until we felt we had pretty much seen the city, it’s not very big in size.

 

We could tell it would be a fun place to visit in the evening as many of the side streets had lights that would look pretty at night, and the music probably takes on a different feel with a couple of beers inside but we decided not to go back in.  If a band or singer like Gillian Welsh was playing-good true Nashville country music I would have gone in to hear the likes of her, but to go in and listen to all the loud music blasting out of one honky tonk after another wasn’t enough to entice us back into the city.

Meanwhile back at the RV resort we have had trouble with one of our tyres letting out air.  It’s been a comedy of errors getting the right guy out here to fix it. Today, the third person to come out finally got the issue fixed.  You just can’t take chances with the tyres/wheels of these big and heavy RV’s and we pull out of here tomorrow for the smoky mountains, Dolly Parton country, so very happy to have the problem fixed.