The things I did(n’t) do in Nashville, Tennessee

by Kim on May 15, 2014 · 34 comments

This post is part of the momondo experience series, where momondo asked me to explore Nashville, Tennessee. Fortunately they did not think to ask what my definition of “explore” is these days…

As I was coming back from my (solo) trail run in the Cherokee National Forest in Ocoee, Tennessee our camp neighbor (large RV, no tent in sight) asked if I’d seen any bears.

“Nope,” I answered. “I haven’t seen any wildlife at all.”

He nodded. “A man over there saw a mama and two cubs out on the road,” he spoke with a heavy southern draw while nodding his head towards a campsite past the bathrooms.

“Oh,” I said. “How lucky.”

He huffed a little, disagreeing with me. “Well I don’t know about that. Last year, right around here, a 12-year old boy got pulled from his tent in the middle of the night and eaten by a bear.”

“Eaten?” I asked in horror.

He shook his head. “Eaten. It was all over the news and everything. They shot the bear but still (southern draw on the L), a damn tragedy.”

“Where did that happen?” I asked. “Here?”

He nodded and fanned his arm out over the campground. “Right around here.” He shook his head gravely and patted the solid walls of his RV. “Ya’ll be safe now.”

And that was when I decided it was time for a hotel room.

Big Agnes Big House 4 tent

Our campsite in Ocoee, Tenessee which may have also been the location of a murder-by-bear.

Actually, the bear mauling was the least of it. We’d been in a tent for so many days I’d lost count. My clothes had that pungent, earthy smell of sweat and woodsmoke and funk. I wanted to eat dinner without being dive-bombed by mosquitos and shave my legs and maybe even turn on the cable.

Plus, our next stop was Nashville and I didn’t want to wander the streets of a bonafide city looking like I’d just stumbled off of the Appalachian Trail.

Sometimes when the reality of living outside gets to be too much, I plan elaborate itineraries of all the civilized things that Brian and I will do when we leave the forest. It’s an escape mechanism that I regularly employ when I am feeling like I have erased the past 100 years of hygienic advancement.

For example, when I walked the Camino de Santiago in one set of dirty clothing, I spent hours daydreaming about buying dresses – something I have fantasized about neither before nor since. In India, I became obsessed with lotions, deodorants and perfumes. Now that I live in a tent, I often think of washing machines, climate control and fancy soap.

Around the picnic table at our campsite in Ocoee I planned a whirlwind itinerary for our time in Nashville. We would eat breakfast at The Pancake Pantry, go beer tasting at Yazoo Brewing, and listen to live music at Robert’s Western World and The 5 Spot. And that was just during the first 24-hours.

Planning from the campsite

Planning everything we wouldn’t actually do in Nashville.

So it was with the best of intentions that we pulled into Nashville and unloaded our bags into a hotel (central air!) with a pool shaped like a gigantic guitar.

I took a warm, bug-free shower. I shaved my legs. I put on clean clothes and crawled under crisp, white sheets. And then I looked at Brian, who’d done the man-version of the same thing, and told him I didn’t want to leave the hotel room. And he said that neither did he.

Just like that our good intentions for Nashville floated away on the breeze like a rift of honky tonk music.

Here is what we did do in Nashville.

We went to Centennial Park for daily runs.

Centennial Park Nashville

Centennial Park has a life-sized replica of the Parthenon. I don’t get it either.

We drank beer at Blackstone Brewery (no IPA on tap- what?) and 12 South Taproom (great place, wonderful beer selection), ate over-priced yet delicious ice cream at Jeni’s Splended Ice Creams, and took a walk around the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University.

We showered twice a day, did laundry, and walked around the city in clean clothes.

We did not go to a single honky tonk bar. In theory, I wanted to. But, see, bars are loud and smoky and my hotel room was quiet and climate controlled and I was halfway through The Goldfinch and remember the pool! shaped! like! a! guitar!

We might not have done Nashville the right way but it was good enough for me. See, when you live in a tent an overpriced hotel by the highway feels like The Ritz. It’s all about perspective my friends.

Beer in Nashville

That time I left my hotel room in Nashville to have a beer.



{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Patti May 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Well, you did more than we did in Nashville. We had good intentions too, but instead we fell in love with Franklin, TN and lingered there an extra day, spent a good part of a day exploring the home/plantation of Andrew Jackson (just outside of Nashville) so by the time we got to Nashville, we were out of time. We took an hour to explore the Johnny Cash Museum and then we were back on the highway. Sometimes ya just gotta go with it.
Patti recently posted..When Mother’s Day Rolls Around ~


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Yep, you’ve totally just got to roll with it. No regrets!


Ben Miller May 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Sounds like a perfect way to recharge! I hope that you two will have the chance to do some backpacking this summer. Camping is cool, but the crowds can grow a little wearisome….


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Oh, we should be able to get a few backpacking trips in. We’ve got a couple of weeks off here and there and are really looking forward to planning some backpacking trips 🙂


Lindsey May 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Bahaha I love this, and my reaction would have been exactly the same. Grand intentions but when it comes down to it, creature comforts can be the best thing ever!
Lindsey recently posted..Beautiful Things Everyday


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Ain’t that the truth! Hotel rooms are like gold these days.


Jade May 15, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Hehe I love this. Good for you for just doing what the hell you wanted! To hell with the sights and bring on the beer!


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Hey, my thoughts exactly 😉


Sarah Somewhere May 16, 2014 at 7:12 am

Ha! Love it! The best intentions are nothing compared to doing what you really want! This post made me happy 🙂
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..The story of a coffee berry


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Yes- no shame that I just want to read a book and lay in bed. HEAVEN.


Tyrhone May 16, 2014 at 7:37 am

Sarah is starting to get the camping bug I think, my view of camping is more aligned with some of the finer points you mentioned (bugs and showers). But there is nothing like roughing it to make you appreciate the simple things in life.
Tyrhone recently posted..The Volcanic Lake of Guatemala (amazingly awesome video)


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Ohhh… I LOVE IT!! Camping is wonderful because you are always home- I suppose you guys have the same thing going with your car. I really wish I would have carried a tent throughout South America.


Suzi May 16, 2014 at 7:50 am

In my best Nashville accent…Thanks for stopping by and y’all come back now ya hear!


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Haha, love it 🙂


Aurora May 16, 2014 at 8:40 am

Wait…. what?! No IPAs?!
Aurora recently posted..Spring in Brooklyn


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I knew you would understand 😉


Victoria May 16, 2014 at 8:21 pm

I can definitely relate to this. And kudos to you for spending so long in a tent. I get antsy after a few days!
Victoria recently posted..A taste of vegetarian Malta


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Well, the camper is definitely helping things a lot. The tent is great but the hotel room is sometimes even greater.


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Perhaps I can be a little help on the Parthenon front: it was constructed in 1897 to celebrate the 100-year of Tennessee’s official entry into the United States (also why the park is called Centennial Park). Why the Parthenon? One of Nashville’s nicknames is “Athens of the South”. If you go inside, there’s even a full-scale replica of the goddess Athena and everything… The more you know!

I can’t fault you for sticking to your hotel room, since Tony & I did the exact same thing a few weeks ago when we were in Luang Prabang and got to stay at a swanky hotel for a few days. The beds were SO NICE (they were from Sweden, apparently the land of incredible beds, and even had those little remote things that will contort the bed around so that you don’t have to use your own muscles to sit up or elevate your legs!) that I immediately said that for the next three days, my goal would be to get out of ours as little as possible, sightseeing be damned! We saw so little of LP during our time at that hotel (and I suppose it’s a good motivation for us to stay in crappier places if we actually want to explore the places we’re visiting), but I never regretted a single second of our stay!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..The Surprising Splash of Songkran


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

If you guys were still in Nashville we would have gone out with you for sure 🙂 As it was, we still enjoyed the city. I’m sure we’ll get back there again someday.


Corinne May 17, 2014 at 12:51 am

Kim, I know exactly what you mean. I have to plan my showers when I’m “roughing” it. For example, we’re using a ferry to get to Iceland this summer. Three days on a boat with my own shower, that means that I can camp the three to four days prior and afterwards with no shower, because even though I’m boarding in the morning, I can take a shower then and later, too, if I want! These things are important! I love, love, love to rough it. But, I love, love, love my – as you so aptly put it – bug-free showers! Have fun!
Corinne recently posted..Sheepherders in Southern Turkey


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:20 pm

YES. I can handle many days of unclean, shower-free days if I know when my next shower will be. I love to rough it too but I also love my creature comforts.


Martha May 17, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Sometimes you can’t bear to be without a bed….


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Isn’t that the truth?


Oliver May 19, 2014 at 2:29 am

That campsite dialogue was hilarious! My imagination just knocked up a wee “play” and I could almost “see” your facial expressions fading away while listening to that almost (pun intended) “unbearable” story… 😉
I really like the notion of “perspective” Kim and it’s perfectly true! When modesty is a virtue, seemingly ordinary things can spark extraordinary joy…
Oliver recently posted..Spirit ~ Wilferd Peterson


Kim May 20, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Yes, so often it is the simple things that make us happiest.


Rhonda May 21, 2014 at 8:36 am

Omg Kim! Jim and I are sitting here at camp in Moab rolling with laughter because we have done the same thing ourselves. Whether camping or just traveling long term sometimes just a bed and a shower are truly all you need.
Rhonda recently posted..The Art of Overlanding


Kim May 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

Yes, sometimes a bed and shower are worth more than ANYTHING. No regrets. I’m sure we’ll go through Nashville again someday.


Montecristo Travels (Sonja) May 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Camping … I just … just can’t. Hikign? YES! A cabin? sure thing. Sailboat? no problem. Bare minimum motel? sure.

Camp?… no … not going to happen.


Kim May 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Hahaha, well, we’ve got the best camping equipment so it makes it easy. And now with our trailer it’s a breeze 🙂


Jennifer Blair July 4, 2014 at 7:29 pm

I can’t believe you were in Nashville and I wasn’t there! You could have stayed at my house for free! Sounds like you had exactly the experience you needed in Music City.


Kim July 9, 2014 at 6:38 am

DAMMIT. That would have been way better than our hotel with a guitar shaped pool!


Doug July 19, 2014 at 5:20 am

Did you guys make it to Chattanooga? Personally I’ve never really gotten why Nashville is loved so much more than Chattanooga.


Kim July 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Hi Doug. Yep, we made it to Chattanooga and I liked it better! Everyone I met in Nashville told me how great Chattanooga is, so I think your feeling is shared by many.


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