Exchange Wk41 (Holiday Edition) – Tennessee

On the 22nd of May, James and I head to Nashville from New Jersey to catch up with our friend Carson and his family. Matt, Collin and Jehuda also joined – they drove down from Philly! I stayed with Carson’s family until the 29th of May (the others left a bit earlier). I had a blast exploring the South, and it was even more special being able to spend so much time with my friends.

For the next few blog posts, there will be a map of the places I’ve been so far. The gold pentagon is Philadelphia (start location), and all other locations visited will be red pentagons where the number represents the order I visited these places.

🌿 Day 1 – Nature 🌱

Our first full day in Nashville was the 23rd of May. We started our day off with a drive to Springfield where we had lunch with Carson’s grandma and aunty. The food in the South is delicious! For lunch, I had the meatloaf lunch plate, with sides of mac and cheese, fried okra, and a pineapple cheese casserole (at least I think that’s what it was). It was really nice getting to meet Carson’s extended family.

After lunch, we explored some property owned by Carson’s extended family. The area was scenic with massive wheat fields and old tobacco curing sheds. We then ventured down near the creek. We had to be careful to stay clear of poison ivy (it is the photo below where three leaves are spurting from the same central point), and make sure that our legs weren’t exposed so as to not get bitten by a lone star tick. The lone star ticks were vital to look out for, because a bite from them leads to the chance of developing alpha-gal syndrome, which if affected, leads to you becoming allergic to red meat!

Other than when I fell on the muddy floor dirtying my black jeans, it was a really fun day in nature. We went for a swim in the creek and later did a Bible study and prayer near the creek bed.

Later that night, we went to a pizza place for dinner. One of the pizzas was topped with waffle pieces!

🥏 Day 2 – Disk Golf 🥏

On the 24th of May I played my first ever game of disk golf. For those that have no idea what disk golf is, it’s practically the same as regular golf, except instead of having holes, you have these massive stands which catch the frisbees:

It was fun, but very tiring in the hot sun. Other things we got up to included going to Carson’s high school where Taylor Swift also went to school, and walking through the First Baptist Hendersonville Megachurch.

🌱 Day 3 – Nature (Part II) + Food 🛶

On the 25th of May, we had another day exploring the scenic Tennessee wilderness, as well as eating lots of food. Carson saw it important that we try the different foods that the South has to offer, and so we first stopped at the notorious Waffle House to fuel up for our days adventure. Waffle House is a restaurant chain that sells breakfast style foods (obviously including waffles). After I ordered and ate my bacon, egg and cheese hashbrown bowl, the next stop was to Burgess Falls state park where we saw the river and waterfall.

Next we went to Stroud’s BBQ where I had a pork plate with sides of mac and cheese, and potato salad. For desert we shared this huge banana cream pie. I’m not very good at describing the taste of foods (I’d write terrible food reviews), but the pie was delicious!

After we had finished stuffing our faces, we went to Standing Stone State Park where we kayaked on the lake. It was so peaceful on the lake and it felt so fresh being out in nature away from the built environment.

Our last stop was dinner at Dairy Burger, a small diner which sells fried foods and burgers. Once again, Carson had found another place which did not dissapoint!

🕹 Day 4 – Nashville 🎸

I had a slow start to the 26th of May as I was feeling a bit ill, and sadly missed out on taking James to the airport who had to leave that day. Once I was feeling better, I rejoined the boys where we head to Nashville’s parthenon. Nashville is known as the “Athens of the South” for a few reasons, notwithstanding the giant parthenon built in Nashville’s Centennial Park with a statue of Athena. Later we went to Pins Mechanical Company, a bar where they have heaps of free arcade games that you can play, and for dinner we went to Woodlands, a vegetarian Indian restaurant.

After dinner, we went to the Wildhorse Saloon. I have never before seen something quite like that before. Essentially, there is a stage where a country band is playing which a dance floor in front, with multiple floors of seating and bars. It was really fun, and they even had some instructors that taught everyone on the dance floor how to do some line dancing. If I do say so myself, we smashed it!

After, we walked through the packed streets of Nashville, and I even found a collectible penny machine in one of the souvenir shops!

🥴 Day 5&6 – Sick… 🛏

On the 27th of May, I woke up nice and early to say goodbye to the rest of the guys who were leaving nice and early to get back to Philly. After eating a delicious breakfast that Carson had whipped up in the morning, I went back to bed. Sadly I was pretty unwell and stayed resting from the 27th thru 28th. I’m not sure why I was unwell; my body was probably tired from all the moving around the last few weeks. Regardless, it was still a nice few days, and Carson’s family were so kind to look after me, and I’m sure Carson’s Mum’s cooking helped me recover!

🍗 Day 7 – Last Day 🖼

Feeling much better, the 29th of May was my last day in Tennessee, and we sure did make the most of it! I started the morning with an orange soda float, then we went to some markets, and then looked at the Tennessee capitol. Where we were looking out at the capitol, there was this massive map of Tennessee etched into stone. I loved visually seeing where we had been over our many days of adventure. Also, it was so interesting hearing about the history of why the Tennessee border is how it is from Carson.

After we went to the Frist Art Museum where they had a Beatrix Potter (the creator of Peter Rabbit) exhibit. I loved Potter’s use of watercolour, and as a science geek, I loved seeing her scientific illustrations of mushrooms.

After we went to Hattie B’s for some Southern-fried chicken. Out of all the fried chicken places in the US, Hattie B’s was my favourite! It may have also be the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. I had the banana cream pie for desert which was delicious, although I was so full I couldn’t finish everything off!

Sadly, after Hattie B’s it was starting to become time for me to say goodbye. We went to a lookout where we could see Nashville, had one last ice cream stop, and then it was time to leave for Las Vegas.

I had such a good time with Carson and my friends in Tennessee. Looking back as I’m writing, this was a very special week of my life. Seeing Tennessee was great, but what is so precious to me is the time I could spend with my friends. I’ll never forget that week.

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