Wow guys…Tennessee is one of the most amazing states I’ve ever been to. Mark my words, I WILL live there at some point in my life!
***Disclaimer: A lot of these pictures were taken with my iPhone. I know, I’m not a very good personal photographer, it’s just so easy to whip out your phone and take a pic!
To start our AMAZING vacation, we hit the road and headed to Nashville. Music City! I’ve been wanting to go to Nashville for years! Not only because of the great music, beautiful scenery and clean streets, but Richard and I have been addicted to the TV show Nashville since it aired. My family reunion was the perfect excuse for us, and we were super pumped to finally get to go!
We made a few stops along the way…
Our first stop was in Texarkana. I had read about a neat old courthouse/post office that sits right on the state border. I thought: That might be cool to see. The post office is in Arkansas, but the courthouse is in Texas…but they’re in the same building! Crazy right? I thought so too.
Back to the road…I must have fallen asleep throughout all of Arkansas because I don’t have any pictures and I don’t remember it. All well…I hear I didn’t miss much. You won’t see any pictures of me sleeping either because I made Richard swear before we got in the car that we weren’t going to take any pictures of each other sleeping. He is notorious for doing this to me and what makes it worse is that it’s always the most unflattering pics! Mouth open, double chin, the works…not this time buddy! ha.
When we came to Memphis, it was about dinner time so we decided to stop downtown, eat and walk around a bit to stretch our legs. It was a nice place to take a break and the food was yummy! We ate at the “World Famous” Huey’s which has some pretty awesome burgers, not gonna lie. They also have a tradition of shooting the sandwich toothpicks up into the ceiling, that was a lot of fun to do!
After walking off our dinner, we headed to Nashville…only a couple more hours! We finally got to our hotel Tuesday night and were pretty much too tired to do anything. Ha! We opted for going to bed at a decent hour and getting an early start the next day. We tried to hit the main tourist attractions that we were interested in, which included…
It’s a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Our hotel was actually right across the street from it, so we were able to check it out early morning and the night before. I couldn’t believe how BIG it was. Crazy to think that humans could have built such a structure in 438 BC! I mean, how did they do it??
Next stop was downtown Nashville to see The Ryman Auditorium.
This place was so cool. It had so much history and the story of how it came to life is really neat! I encourage all of you to go read about it. Unfortunately, no live shows were scheduled during our time there, but you can bet your butt that we will make sure to go back and see someone perform live there. The acoustics are supposed to be amazing!
The CMT building was right next door to The Ryman. We tried to go in but weren’t allowed past security…darnit! I was hoping to see SOMEONE from the country music world. Next time, Nashville.
After walking around downtown for a bit, we headed off to Brentwood, a suburb just south of Nashville. You may be wondering why we would be doing that…well, it’s because that’s where Financial Peace Plaza is!! Early this year my mom got me hooked on Dave Ramsey. If you haven’t heard of him, you need to look him up…now. His principles will change your life, and make you wealthy. Cool huh? I think so. Which is why I was SO SO excited to see his show, LIVE!
You’ll notice that we even got to meet him! He was kind enough to come out in between commercials and meet the visitors in the lobby. Oh and Martha’s cookies…OH EM GEE. They were soooo good! We even got to hear a debt free scream in the lobby while were there. It was so inspiring. I’m so thankful we got to experience that together!
Next stop…food! We were pretty hungry by this point and decided to try some Tennessee BBQ. We were told by a friend that it’s not near as good as Texas BBQ but I just had to judge for myself. After a beautiful drive through Belle Meade (a super fancy neighborhood of Nashville), we headed to Judges BBQ.
The verdict: BEST BBQ EVER!!
Then we found out the owners are from Austin, Texas…haha! Jokes on us. We should have gotten a clue from the menu, but we totally missed it. All well, it was delicious!
That night we decided to go downtown and see what all the bars and honky-tonks were about. Music was everywhere! Every bar, every street corner, every restaurant. And they were all good! I couldn’t believe how much talent was there. After posting up at a bar that we enjoyed with a balcony and live music, we ended up making friends with a couple from New Jersey. It was hilarious because they were like the Richard and Christina from the Northeast! So naturally they were a blast to hang out with! Towards the end of the night, my memory got a little fuzzy, but I do remember having a great time! Thanks Erin and J.D.! We’ll be visiting you in NY/NJ sometime :)
The next morning/early afternoon when we finally woke up, we were off to Pigeon Forge to meet up with the rest of my family. Now when I say family, I mean extended family of 30+ people all in one house! Good news is that the house we were staying at was a 4 story, 10 bedroom log cabin nestled on the side of a mountain. Saying it was GORGEOUS is an understatement.
Here’s a link for more pictures: http://smokinviewlodge.com/
Day 1 of Family Reunion:
Unpack, claim room, hellos and hugs to everyone, oooo and awww over porch view, Spitzer playing, hide-and-seek with kiddos.
Day 2 of Family Reunion:
Girls go to Gatlinburg to sight see, meet up with boys to have yummy pizza for lunch, free moonshine samples, wineries, air tram, pit stop at walmart that is overrun with tourists, Spitzer, American Girl dolls, hide-and-seek.
Day 3 of Family Reunion:
Early breakfast, rally up the troops, zip lining, white water rafting, mom falls into river and is caught on camera, attempt a group photo of 30+ people thanks to the wonderful help of Richard, Spitzer, Foosball tournament (Travis and I are victorious), boys stay up until 2am singing Bohemian Rhapsody and Red Red Wine in harmony.
Now, the next series of pictures will have you laughing your butt off. When we were going through our first rapid, they tell you to look at the photographer taking pictures on the side of the river, so you can order prints later. Well it just so happened that right when my mom’s raft was going through the rapid, she “fell” off. You can see in the series of pictures that in reality my step-dad pushed her off!! We were all rolling on the floor laughing, including the staff, when we came in to look at our pictures. It is just too hilarious! My poor mother, haha.
I still can’t look at these pictures without literally laughing out loud!!
Day 4 of Family Reunion:
Take kids on a hike to Grotto Falls, get caught in the rain (perfect end to a hike), enjoy being a kid and hunting for bugs and fairies, hot tubbing on the porch watching rainbows, roast s’mores, braid 3 little girls hair while enjoying movie night.
I can’t even describe how much fun I had hanging out with all my family and especially my little cousins. They are at such a fun age right now and make me feel like a kid again!
The last day of our vacation was spent driving…through Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, then finally Texas. It was a 15 hour trek where we traded off taking naps and listening to talk radio. Other than spending so much time cramped into a car, it was the perfect ending to an amazing vacation.