Our drive through rural NC and eastern Tennessee was interesting for sure. Saw lots of billboards that we don't get at home.
A real "we're not metaphorically in Kansas anymore but we are close to real Kansas" moment.
That said, it was an easy trip, plus with the time change we gained an hour en route. So since it was too early to check in and we were passing by anyway, we decided to stop at the Hermitage, home of "the people's president, Andrew Jackson.
Now, I find Jackson pretty odious, what with being a slaverholder and conductor of genocide against American Indians. Still, I was curious how those topics would be covered (short version: they basically wouldn't be). It also had turned into a gorgeous day, the place was good for walking around, and it would feel good to stretch our legs.
The only way to see "the mansion" (which did not feel very mansion-like after the Biltmore) was a tour, so we did that.
Nothing says "we fetishize the confederacy" like old white people in southern costumes!
After the house we walked around the grounds some, which were pretty, but didn't teach us that much about what life was actually like there in Jackson's time.
Back view of the mansion.
Most shocking to me was how very little they knew about that lives of slaves; there had been hundreds of them who had worked on the property, and it is entirely unknown where they are buried.
This is the home of "Uncle Archie" is the only former slave whose burial plot is known; its about 20 feet from jackson's. He lived as both a slave & free man on the property, and donated some artifacts in exchange for being buried next to Jackson.
So that was an interesting brief interlude, but then it was time to carry on to where we were staying.
If you have been hedging your bets about trying Airb&b, maybe this post will convince you to give it a shot. Jax walked in and said, "that's it, I'm moving in."
Pretty much his expression the whole time.
So clearly our home base for this leg of the trip was top notch. We stayed a little outside the city in Madison, but we were a 15 minute drive to everything. At the house itself there was a beautiful pool, a hot tub, a sauna (not that we needed that in these hot and humid days), a pool table, a foosball table, and tons of space. Basically jax was in heaven.
Oh, don't mind us. Just going for a little dip in our practically private pool.
The kids got in a quick swim before we head out to meet aunt, uncle, cousins & new baby for dinner at the Loveless Cafe. It was so great to see everyone, and we ate so much delicious food (you'll notice this is a theme).
Not my mom, for folks who don't know about mom's identical twin.
The next day the kids swam in the morning and then we met up again to see the Parthanon and have a picnic lunch in Bicentennial Park.
He was pretty annoyed he couldn't open them. Oh, the chutzpah of a 9 year old boy.
Now that's an Athena. Take note, BMC-ers.
Everyone was feeling just a little cooked from all the traveling, so we chilled out in the afternoon before going out for more delicious BBQ at Edleys.
Life is so rough.
After demolishing yet more BBQ.
Now, I love biscuits. Love. They might be my favorite food. So when our hosts told us that there was a great little breakfast place not too far from where we were staying called The Nashville Biscuit House I knew we were going to have to go there. So Thursday morning started with really good biscuits (everything else was delicious too).
Then we went to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. The last time I was there was during a Chilhuly exhibit and it was absolutely amazing. Without all the glass art it was slightly less impressive, but still a nice visit.
We walked the main grounds.
We saw the Dressing Downton exhibit with costumes from the show. Pete & I were huge Downton fans, so that was really neat.
Aw, Lady Grantham.
Cue the theme song...
We head back to the car via the wooded sculpture path, which had some cool artwork in and among the trees.
There also was a deer just hanging out not 30 feet from us at one point. We totally lucked out being in the right place at the right time. So much of the art on that walk was nature themed that it was really cool to see the juxtaposition with real nature.
"Oh, did you want to take a picture of me?"
It wasn't super hot, but it was 350% humidity. We decided to head back and spend the afternoon swimming and relaxing and packing up.
Just riding a sea dragon. As one does.
All in all, there was a lot of needed downtime, especially because we're packing a lot in this next stretch. But we saw some Nashville and some family and ate extremely well, so I'd say this three day stop was an utter success. Now we're in St. Louis and have a lot to do here, so I'm off to go do that!