This week I think we’ve finally settled into a steady travel rhythm. Nate has loading and unloading our car down to a science. I download new music whenever we have wifi and head up planning when we go where. Nate drives and I navigate, mostly because I suck at driving stick shift (this works really well until I try to do my navigating job at the same time as my itinerary planning job and get distracted). We’re exercising more regularly and learning to take our individual alone time. The newness has worn off and we’ve settled into a slower and more relaxed summer pace. I’m loving it!
Forewarning: We did a lot of jumping, or driving, around this week so this post may be a little long.
On Monday (the 22nd), we got a late start out of Little Rock, heading to Memphis. It’s a quick drive, but we weren’t in a hurry to drive into another huge city. I was desperately craving a Taco Bell burrito so we stopped there on our way to the Memphis Pyramid, the new Bass Pro headquarters. Oh. My. Gosh. I’ve been in a lot of Bass Pros (thank you, Nate), but this was SO cool. When you walk into the Pyramid, which is literally like straight out of Egypt, it looks like a swampy amusement park. It’s like a cross between the Pirates of the Carribean exhibit at Disney Land, and Dollywood. There are fifty foot trees with moss hanging down throughout the whole place with a real size river filled with fish circling a giant 25 floor freestanding elevator. We walked around, giving special attention to the guns section, and then rode the tallest freestanding elevator in the world to the top. Even though it cost money to ride, the sunset view at the top was worth it.
That night we stayed with my mom’s cousin, Chris, and his wife, Lauren, who were perfect hosts! It was fun to catch up with them, as well as my cousin, Hayden the next morning.
On Tuesday, we drove to Nashville where a good friend’s mom, Marjo Benten, was waiting with a packed picnic for us to take to the Grand Ole Opry. The picnic was so thoughtful, complete with dessert, iced tea, plates and silverwear, and some seriously delicious salads. The picnic was so amazing that it, as well as its maker, deserved an honorary blog mention.
My Aunt Becky’s wedding gift was front row tickets to The Grand Ole Opry, the “theater that made country music famous.” Since we’re such big country music fans, it was such a thoughtful and fun gift! Before the show, we walked around the Opry hotel which is filled with (another) fish filled indoor river and beautiful plants. After waiting in line in some serious Nashville heat, we saw Jeanne Sweeny, the Swon Brothers, Del Mccury, Corey Smith, Hunter Hayes and Rascal Flatts. It was such a surreal experience to see performers on such a historic stage. After the concert, we went on a short walk around downtown Nashville to admire all of the pretty lights and country music. We took lots and lots of pictures at Becky’s request!
Wednesday, Marjo made us breakfast before we headed off to meet our friend’s Hannah and Eva for coffee. The Frothy Monkey is this cute little café and coffee shop in downtown Franklin, TN. The Holbrook girls were so sweet to make time in their schedule to come meet up! Our time with them was so refreshing. Not only did the familiar faces brighten our day, the authenticity and joy that these girls exude is contagious. If you haven’t heard these girls’ music, please look up SHEL on Spotify or Itunes.
Also, for a quick throwback moment, you can view this silly video my cousins and I made in 2011 to one of their songs.
Wednesday night and Thursday night were absolutely unreal because we got to spend them with one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever met. My friend, Jake, and I met at Kivu two summers ago and went on lots of awesome 24 hour adventures together (the grand canyon, the sand dunes, and telluride). I was so excited to finally get to meet his fiancé, Maggie. On Wednesday, we met up for dinner at The Terminal in downtown Chattanooga. That night Maggie offered to host us at her home in Ootlewah, even though we had just met. The next day, after camping Wednesday night, we took her up on her offer, and got to meet her awesome family and two dogs. They let us use their jetskis to drive to a restraunt on the lake for dinner, and made us an amazing breakfast the next morning. We had so much fun hearing all about their engagement, wedding plans, and current adventures.
Back to the whole camping experience: On Wednesday, we camped in Prentice Cooper State Forrest. Although it took us a little bit to fall asleep in the hot humidity, it was nice to use all of the camping gear we lugged all the way across the country. The campground was also near a shooting range, which doubled as a great early morning alarm and a fun Thursday morning activity.
On Friday, we drove to Brassleton, a suburb of Atlanta, GA, where we stayed with one of my really good family friends and her family for the weekend. Hannah, Amy and Sam were the greatest hosts and cooked us delicious meals, let us sleep in, and gave us a quick tour of Atlanta. We went out for beers, toured the High Museum of Art, ate crepes in MidTown, visited the new Ponce City Market, and lounged by the pool for an entire afternoon. I read “How To Be Perisian Wherever You Are” and Nate got sunburnt as a potato chip (his words, not mine). It was so good to catch up with Hannah and her family and I can’t wait until they finally make the trip to Colorado to visit.
While in Atlanta, we also saw our good friend Seabass who we met at Kivu this past summer. It’s been way too long since we got to see him last. He’s always an absolute pleasure to be around and I’m already counting down the days until the next time we meet up.
This Monday (the 29th), we drove north into North Carolina and for the next ten days we will be in one of my favorite places in the world, Ashville. We’re so excited to hang out with extended family and go on a whirlwind tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains that only the Kuerbers can give! Not to mention, we’re staying in the cutest little apartment in the trees!
Our entire trip, we’ve had the most gracious hosts, but this week we have been blown away! Monday we stayed with cousins that we hadn’t seen in four years. Tuesday we stayed with a friend’s mom who we’ve only met once. Thursday, we stayed with a friend’s fiancé, who we had never met before, and her family. And during the weekend we stayed with my long distance pen-pal and her family. The generosity and kindness has been UNREAL and we can’t express how thankful we are to have people like you guys in our lives!
Side note: Everywhere we go people ask us to recite where we’ve been and where we’re going. We’ve gotten pretty proficient at it, though I still think I need to write a poem and rap it for people. It’s funny to see everyone’s faces when we list locations in the middle of Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia. Since we’re from Colorado and like outdoor adventures, I think people expect us to be travelling only to the most glorious locations. What they don’t realize is that we truly are on this trip to visit our family and friends. This trip is awesome and we’ve gotten to see a lot of cool parts of the country, but wherever our people are, that’s where we’ll go. If that means swallowing our mountain-loving spirits and driving into the city during rush hour then that’s what we’ll do.