Excited to share my friend Jill’s first Grab Your Group and GO guest post. Jill has been part of my go-to group for 15 years. She said yes in the early stages of our friendship to the question, “Anyone want to join us in Costa Rica?”, and we’ve been traveling together ever since. She is easy going, up for most any adventure, and an admirer of all things aesthetically pleasing. I loved following her road tripping travels on FB this past July so much that we invited her to share her experience here. Share away Jill! And thank you!
Road-tripping across the U.S. was always on my travel checklist, though not particularly in the top ten. The thought of spending days in a car triggered both exhilaration and exhaustion on my part. In all honesty, a three hour journey from NYC to Hershey Park or Montauk, NY was about all I ever seemed to have in me. When we went on ski trips to Northern VT, at the end of the journey I felt I’d just about accomplished the impossible. So when a close friend asked if my teen daughter and I would accompany her and her teen son on a journey to Aspen, Colorado (where they would stay for the summer and thus need her wheels) I knew I had to cross it off my list and shed any mystery.
There are few people with whom I would choose to do a trip like this, but this particular friend checked off important elements like flexibility, practicality, level-headedness, light-heartedness, and intelligence, not to mention she’s savvy, and fierce. Think middle-aged Thelma and Louise (ok, with teens and without the dramatic cliff scene). So without hesitation, I said YES. I had one condition: that I’d be the one to plan our route.
There was not much I wanted to see in Kansas and Iowa; the “Southern” route was always more intriguing to me. Though with temps of 100+ summer may not be the optimal time, I knew it was possibly now or never. Asheville, Nashville and Memphis topped the list of places to see. We had a limit of five days and nights to go the 2,358 miles, so we were restricted to a half day and one night in each. Not a lot of time to see the many things that top these tourist destinations. We had to severely narrow it down. That’s where flexibility and practicality really come in handy.
We included the teens in some, but not all the decision making. I’ve come to learn that kids don’t always know what they want. For example, had we given them the option to see the National Civil Rights museum in Memphis vs. Elvis’ colorful, multi-themed, multi roomed homestead, Graceland, they may have chosen the latter. (I say “may” because sadly, they have little idea whom Elvis even was). We didn’t offer up the choice and the result was a museum that left an indelible mark of awe on two young adults in a world that screams for it.
Together we decided to leave off sites that were time consuming and overly touristy, though certainly worthy of your time if you have it, in lieu of places that were memorable visually, educationally or simply just plain fun. In Asheville, we skipped the potentially all-day consuming, and super pricey “must see” 35 bedroom Biltmore Estate in lieu of heading off on foot from our hotel and taking in the charming downtown with it’s cute shops, delicious homemade ice-cream and the all-you-can-play Asheville Pinball museum. Upon departure, our stop at a nearby “natural water slide” was the icing on the cake.
In Nashville, after waiting in line for a dinner of the famous spicy chicken (the line being part of the fun), we dropped the kids back at the hotel and headed downtown to check out the famous Broadway music scene… what a treat! This strip hosted some of the best musical talent I’ve ever seen at just about every saloon, bar and club. As we hopped around the packed venues we felt bad the kids couldn’t be exposed to this kind of talent. But on this particular Friday night (and I’d assume on most) they’d also be witness to large amounts of alcohol consumption and bachelor/bachelorette parties up the wahzoo, which I prefer they not experience just yet.
Fortunately, we met a fun couple who informed us that the kids could indeed take part during the day when there was little to no scene, but all the great music. The talented artist line up starts at 11:00 am in many of the bars, all of which were empty and absurdly clean considering the action that happened the night before. There would be no time to see the Grand Ole Opry, but instead we headed back downtown with the kids the morning of our departure. They claimed this was the highlight of their trip!
Up next, the Nashville to Aspen leg….