A quick summary: Sam, Laura, and I went to Nashville on a road trip to see the solar eclipse. It’s about 800 miles and a 12 hour drive. This was my first visit so it was all new to me and I’ll touch on a few of the finer points.
10. Rent a Car – No exaggeration, this was the best $400 dollars we spent on this trip. When I compare driving 1,500 miles in my ’13 Acura TL or doing it with a ’17 Nissan Altima, it’s night and day. My car has 75,000 miles on it and even though I get it checked up routinely, there is still a doubt in my mind it’s ready for this kind of road trip. The new car got incredible gas mileage (39 miles per gallon) which led to fewer breaks, it also ran smoother, and was an all-around nicer ride. Paying the $6 a day for Sirius is also a must unless you plan on bringing CD’s or using all your data.
9. Passing the Time – When you have to spend 25 hours in a car together you have to all get along and find some ways to pass the time. We played the name game for a while (ever hear of Rutherford Buttfucking Hayes?), ridiculed the new Wits and Wager questions, and listened to PopRocks way too much. Sam’s enjoyment of John Mayer’s Your Body Is a Wonderland is unquestioned.
8. Air BnB vs Hotel – My intuition when going on a trip is getting a plane ticket and booking a hotel room. For the eclipse, 98% of the hotel rooms were booked when we were looking and the other 2% was too expensive. The plane tickets were over $700 each for that decision of driving. Renting the Air BnB proved to be the best option for our journey ahead. We ended up spending a tad under $1,000 for the 3 nights which broken up 3 ways was affordable. The first night we got a house with 2 bedrooms that was a mere drive away from downtown and had a huge backyard. The 2nd night was a room broken off from a complete house where space was not abundant but the owners took it seriously and it was clean and the amenities worked. For booking it so late, we made out like bandits and there were no complications at any point.
7. Broadway is 99% White – I”m not writing this because I’m racist, I’m writing this because it’s true. The main downtown street, Broadway (more on this later), is the party street with all of the bars and where everyone goes. If you’ve ever noticed that all country stars are white, this is not a coincidence. The Music City is absolutely known for it’s music and that music is country. I only went to this one area so i’m 100% certain there is diversity elsewhere, just not here.
6. Live Music is Off the Hook – Knowing what I know about Philadelphia, if a person said Nashville is 100% more fun, I’d have no argument. Broadway is a street with 50 bars and 95% of them have live music. Many with multiple bands in the same building. It’s what Nashville is known for. The kicker is that all of the acts are professional and appealing. People are loving the vibe. Everyone is having a great time. It’s sheer fun and I’d be surprised if there are many other cities that can duplicate this. I was recently in Austin and this place blew its doors in.
1) Breakfast Beer
2) Ate a Chicken Quesadilla on at the farmer’s market
3) Drank a house tequila drink and 2 bud lights while watching Cannon Cox perform at Cervezas Jack’s
4) Drank a Helping Hands IPA while Sam woofed down a double cheeseburger
5) Drank a Yuengling at a roof top bar
With this setup, it was about 3:30 and Laura and Sam wanted to go for a bike ride. Sure thing. As we were riding my wheel slipped off the sidewalk and as I tried to get back on the tire didn’t get completely over the hump and I wiped out. Not a major injury but this was on looked right in front a police officer who I assured I was ok and sped away. Drinking and biking are not that easy.
4. The Sheep Shuttle – Figuring we were here for an eclipse, why not check out the science center? We were met with a parking lot constructed by scientists (sarcasm), a sheep shuttle which took 20 people a half mile that was walkable every 20 minutes, a sold out event with the lamest nerd festival created, a bizarre incident with a kid getting lost in a park, and parking attendants imitating Michael Jackson. This was one of those places that has good intentions and is probably fine on regular days, but volume was not its friend on this day. Plus my sno-cone sucked.
3. Hipsters Don’t Know Business – I’m sure this is every city but hipsters should stick to craft beer and making breakfast…oh wait…they couldn’t even do that. After the Science Center fiasco we decided to go to the Jackalope brewery which has the best intentions but it’s outgrown its setup. On a hot Sunday afternoon, we were greeted with a tight quartered area with a live, hippie-esque, duo that there was no space for. The ordering of the beer system was destined for lines which is pretty much the #1 concept you should try to have figured out. We ended up playing some Halftime unsuccessfully while we enjoyed our beers. Not saying this was a bad experience, it just could have been better. Which brings me to breakfast on a Monday morning at a hipster breakfast place downtown. Where to begin. The tables were shaped like guitars with actual holes in the table below the neck. It was 9am and they had run out of most breakfast items. The coffee, which they were known for, was dispensed from one of those Holiday Inn push down containers. I wasn’t even there when 3 people messed up Laura and Sam’s order, but it happened. Sheesh.
2. Don’t Give Sam Whiskey & Remember Your Location – Friday night was Sam’s time to shine as I’ll rehash what happened when we arrived. After the 12 hours drive we were ecstatic to get out there. After Sam tried to convince me that Damon from Shark Tank had hair in the early seasons, we each drank about 4 bud lights. We then went to the neighborhood bars for some cheap PBR’s and a Jai Lai. We then Ubered to Brodway where we went to a bar that must have had 50 taps. Sam and I each had 2 beers and I remember thinking when I went to the bathroom one time that I was starting to get buzzed. We wandered around to a smaller bar with live music where Laura was ready for a drink and she oddly chose a shot of whiskey. At the time, I didn’t remember that Sam wasn’t a whiskey fan so I bought 3 and downed it without much thought. This shot, and another beer or so, turned Sam’s brain from bright to dark as his solar eclipse settled in. We went to another bar where we stormed the front of the crowd and had some fun. In my drunk state I told Laura that she should take Sam home as I wanted to stay out and party some more by myself. Whoops. I creepily went to a few more bars by myself (having Laura in the group made Sam and I less creepy as a whole I may add) and at 1:30 or so decided to walk home. Considering we started the day at 4:30 in the morning and I hadn’t slept a wink, I may have been a bit out there. Without having any destination in mind, I set off to get “home”. I ended up in some part of town that I guess I wasn’t supposed to be and was approached by a police officer who asked me where I was going. I didn’t know the address of the AirBnb and told him I didn’t know. He asked if I knew any landmarks? “The Bear Den” I said (it actual place was called the Crying Wolf). He then took my phone and he asked me who I was with and I said my sister is Laura. The cop called her, she heroically saved my night, and he put me into a cab to get home. All’s well that ends well.
1. The Bars – I touched on this earlier but Nashville is the real deal when it comes to partying. I understand that the locals probably hate Broadway, but if you are there for a short period of time, it’s all you can ask for. I’m a big live music fan and you’ll get your mix of bands playing the classic party songs, bands going hardcore country, and all else in between.Country music isn’t my cup of tea but it’s an awesome sight to see all these country folk jamming out to songs I’ve never heard before and all having a great time. The city doesn’t have this uptight feeling where you’re being judged by what you look like or doing. I’ll throw out a few of the bars that I particularly liked for various reasons. The FGL bar was setup with a sick stage with a band that knew what to play and the crowd was going nuts. Honky Tonk was sweet with a more country feel. Acme has an awesome view of the city from its rooftop bar. I wish I could comment on more of them but I only remember these few. An awesome factor is that none of these bars charge cover. This offsets the fact that these “fun” bars usually charge $6 for a 12 oz Bud Light. It doesn’t matter your age or intention, you will have a good time here.
Special thanks go to Laura and Sam for making this a memorable trip. It’s nice that we can travel like this and have no issues. We do a good job understanding that we’re all in a trip like this together and are aware of each others needs. Spending that much time in a car together isn’t easy. Lots of laughs and memories created from this fun experience.
The final section of this post will be dedicated to the eclipse as this was the whole reason we went. Was it worth it to drive 24 hours to spend 2 minutes in totality? Probably not. Sam was in charge of getting us in a place to see it and we found some train tracks that had a perfect view of the sun. At whatever time the moon was going to cross, you could start to see a sliver blocking sun. This lasted for about an hour before the main event occurred. We passed the time by throwing rocks at a can and complaining how hot it was. I didn’t even touch on this in my write up but this city is fucking hot. Once the moon blocked the sun in full, you could see it perfectly in line and you didn’t have to use the glasses. The entire area got dark and bugs were going nuts. It was certainly odd to see it go completely dark for 2 minutes but certainly not an apocalyptic feel. It was fun though and a perfect reason to go on a road trip. I know the video sucks but it was useless to photograph it.