A Different Nashville

I had never been to Nashville, so I stopped there for a week. I do enjoy having the flexibility to adjust my plans and opt for more time in places. I stayed at a great Army Corps of Engineers campground – Seven Points, which is on a beautiful lake. I had a fantastic site that backed up to the lake for a few days and then had to switch to a lake view site. It’s a popular park for sure, even at the end of October, just before it closed for the season.

I spent a bit of time in the city, though honestly, I’m not a country music fan. So, no I did not go to the CM Hall of Fame or Johnny Cash museum. I did not see Ryerson Auditorium – original home of the Grand Ole Opry and I wish I had. It’s a beautiful old building downtown and parking is a nightmare. I had to fight rainy weather too and a large pick-up truck does not fit in tight spaces. I did walk by the new home of the Opry on my way from the Opry Mills shopping mall in search of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center. I only parked at the mall because it’s free and it’s $30 to park at the Gaylord. The Opry complex sits in between and it looks like a 1970s brick barricade with odd angles and outdoor spaces. Not impressive, but perhaps the auditorium is better. I heard a number of people during my stay say that the backstage tour is amazing. I did come across this cute Airstream brew pub sitting outside the building.

The Gaylord is pretty ostentatious with its botanical gardens in one wing and boat ride around an island of retail in another. I walked through all three wings and left. I think I’ve been spoiled by Walt Disney World. I’ve been to the Magic Kingdom too many times to be impressed elsewhere. It was nice to see it and I got a lot of steps in by trekking a good couple of miles round trip from the shopping center to the Gaylord and back to my car.

I can be much more upbeat about the food I tried. Now, being a vegan can be tricky in a place like Nashville where BBQ rules. But I found two absolutely delightful places that I can recommend. The first is called Biscuit Love. I went to the one in the Gultch neighborhood downtown on a Sunday when everyone and their mama was out eating. I drove by about 11:30 and there was a winding line. So I went and did something else and when I came back just before 1:00, the line was short. Good timing is everything.

This is supposed to be a buttery southern biscuit heaven. You can have your biscuits with fried chicken, with sausage gravy, with eggs and hollandaise. I had mine with jam that was exquisite. The biscuits were softer than I like and not super flaky, but more cake-y. Buttery for sure and not too sweet. I enjoyed them thoroughly.

The reason I came to this location (out of three) was that this was where the original food truck started – and the food truck was an Airstream trailer. They pay homage to the silver bullet throughout the restaurant and it was fun to know that good things come from the Airstream.

The second place I went to is called Vege-licious. That’s their spelling. It’s a little hole in the wall, down home, vegan restaurant around the corner from Fisk University, one of four HBCUs in Nashville. They advertised vegan with a touch of soul food. I had to try it. The soul part was in the sides. I had collard greens. They were tasty but not as spicy as I like. The main course was a reuben with house-made tempeh on marble rye and sauerkraut and a special sauce. This was delicious. I thought I was in a deli at least by the smell. The sandwich was vegan perfection. It was a trip worth making.

I also saw some historic sites during my journey. I strolled around the Parthenon, the replica of the Athens original. It sits in beautiful Centennial Park, next to Vanderbilt University. I had recently read a historical fiction novel about Alva Vanderbilt and though the University was founded by one of the other brother’s and not her husband, it was still fun to see what the family fortune had bought.

The final historic site I saw was the first on my Civil Rights tour – the Looby House. I actually found this site on Atlas Obscura. Mr. Looby was an attorney who marshaled the students at the four black colleges to protest lunch counter segregation at the downtown department stores. Mr. Looby’s house was bombed. Fortunately, he and his family were not hurt, but the house was destroyed. A week later, the department stores relented and integrated their counters. The Looby house was torn down due to the damage and now a historic marker sits at the vacant lot where it stood. All that is left are the stairs that led from the sidewalk to the front walk of the house. This historic site sits across the street from Meharry Medical school, another HBCU.

I enjoyed my time in Nashville, but I don’t think I’ll make a return visit. I would go just for the campground, though! Next time, maybe I’ll try Memphis.

I’m off to Tuscaloosa in search of some warmer weather and less rain. Then two weeks in Montgomery where the Civil Rights tour really takes off.

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