Day 7 - Nashville to Memphis - August 25, 2020
Updated: May 30
With only so many days left to get to the California DMV and register and smog Sofia, we had planned our milage and our stops carefully. So, we got up early and headed out of Knoxville. Our goal was to reach Nashville by evening. If we made good time, we would stop at Belle Meade.
Belle Meade is a an historic plantation and now winery, the Parthenon, a complete full-scale replica built after the Civil War, and the Guitar Museum in Nashville to see some of the rarest guitars in the world. We had a busy day planned.
Belle Meade was our first stop in the Nashville area. We turned off the highway and drove up the the road and into the parking lot and under a shady tree.
Belle Meade used to be a 5400 acre southern livestock plantation. Not cotton.. a livestock plantation. They tell us there were animals everywhere! The tour guide had us imagine the ever-present scent of thousands of livestock right around your house; a musing that has not left mind imagination since.
It is not at all that now.
It is now Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery, in Belle Meade, Tennessee.
Thirty acres still remain of the plantation, so It's still a big place. There is a lot to see. We booked a tour of the plantation house and spent the morning looking around the 30 gorgeous sweet-smelling acres of grounds, until the tour was ready. We took the Standard Tour at $20 a piece, but you can take Lunch Tour, Cheese and Wine Paring Tour, a Bourbon Tour, a Culinary Tour; there are lots of tours you can sign up for.
The Carriage House is impressive and one of my favorite buildings there. I have decided: I want this as my home garage. All at once it seemed obvious to me that I needed just this sort of garage to keep Sofia in. It looks warm and comfortable and I'm going to need another piece of land just for that.
Around the carriage house, there are sturdy and elegant wooden rocking chairs everywhere.
Each chair is simple, beautiful well-worn and sturdy enough to handle the tourists crowd exhausted from walking the 'back thirty'. There is something irresistible about rocking chairs on a veranda in the deep south on a warm and humid day. Megan and I checked them out diligently.
Just around the corner, there is an entire Game Court, where you can play all kinds of family-friendly old-fashion games ...while eating ice cream or homemade fudge at the Coop and Scoop, which is conveniently located right next to the Game Court.
The Slave Cabin is a very small house worth spending some time in. Belle Meade put together a moving exhibit, "Using research from primary sources",
they have put together an exhibit of pictures, video, printed text, and physical antiques that put together names and faces, of the men and women who worked the plantation as slaves. They tell the stories that would otherwise have faded into the fog of a generalized history. Their mission: "Our goal for this tour is that adults speak freely and honestly about the violent reality of slavery. Our hope is that such honest conversation will lead to lasting improvements for race relations in our country."
We hear so much about slavery, but this exhibit makes it so much more personal; it's a whole different experience. Megan could have spent the entire day there just looking at the faces and reading their stories.
We walked on through the plantation. There are so many things to visit or interesting things that just catch your eye at Belle Meade. There's a greenhouse that inspired Megan and me.
We had a good time at Belle Meade. It was great to walk around inside and hear the very knowledgeable docent share her knowledge about the house itself, the horses that were bred there, and the famous visitors who had stayed there thought the years. I'd go back again, even just to take a break from the road and have a picnic. They had a really fun gift shop as well.
It was getting late so, we left Belle Meade in search of the Parthenon. Yes, the Parthenon!.
The Parthenon is easy to find, it's right off the I40 (left on Charlotte Avenue and you're there. It was built as part of the Centennial Exposition in 1897 and now it's used at an art museum in Nashville with over 60 19th and 20th Century American artists displayed there, as well as a 42-foot replica of Athena cast from the original Parthenon in Greece. So, it's really worth it the was not fully open when we were there, but it was great fun to see it! there was a lovely park surrounding it that we walked around instead of going in.
It was getting very hot and late so it was time to make it to our last stop, The Gallery of Iconic Guitars on the beautiful campus of Belmont University. We were both so excited to see this amazing collection of guitars from the 1890s to the 1950s. It is considered one of the best museums in Nashville.
Sadly it was closed due to Covid-19. As a matter of fact, nearly everything that we wanted to see in Nashville was closed. We made a pact to come on back as soon as this whole pandemic is behind us. well, off to Memphis. Megan's whole family recommended Central BBQ in downtown Memphis for dinner, so that was our plan,
Six days left to make it across the country.
We said it before, and I'm sure we'll say it again, in a convertible with the top down, you are part of the journey in a way that you just don't get to be in a hard top...even with the windows down and the sunroof open.
You are driving through the fields. There wasn't much use for the radio or CD player. The open-air cabin is loud, and the dominant music is the roar of the engine. So we just pointed a lot to the scenery and Megan took a lot of pictures.
The sights you see in a convertible make it so that you never want to drive in a hardtop again. You look straight up and there is SKY. Megan looked up at the cottony clouds where a roof would be and saw a plane above our heads. Where a dome light would normally be there is the sun. And when that sun sets, it's not just in front of you, it's all around you.
We took a short break at a rest stop to take in the sunset. We couldn't stay long; miles to go before we sleep.
The light was fading fast. We fired Sophia up and turned on her head lights, and we were off headed east on the 40 again. Within just a few minutes....
...it as dark, and the moon was out. You can see the ring around it. The ring is apparently caused but tiny ice crystals in cirrus clouds, high up in the atmosphere. Folklore says that means changing weather; rain is coming.
We just enjoyed the beauty and sped towards Memphis.
Check out our Nashville to Memphis playlist on Spotify: