Pictures Aug 11-16
After five days in Omaha, in the middle of the hottest week they had all summer (Of course!) we left for St Louis and our journey to White Caste. It was all Joe could think about since I had told him about it three days prior. We were determined to find one in St Louis and really see what the hype is all about.. It was not to long before we hit the Missouri border and quite honestly, if it were not for the river we crossed, it would look the same….It was ALL CORN and some soy…Throughout the middle of the country, the ONLY crop I saw was corn. It really spoke to our dependency on corn in this country….Anyway!
About 60 miles or so from the border, we were able to find (of al things) a Nostalgic store…literally, it was called Nostalgia Store! It was full of great touristy Route 66 things, of course Elvis and I Love Lucy….It was cute!
On the way, we also discover Missouri Wine country. Fun Fact: Unlike the grapes grown in California, these grapes were bred at the University of Missouri specifically to endure the long cold winters of Missouri. You’ll find that the grapes grown in the mid-west are not Chardonnays, Pinot Niors, etc….but they are “similar too” and of often compared to these wines to compete with California wines. Also to explain to us from California what the heck they will taste like!
We went on a small detour to a small winery town called Hermann, MO (which as a side note became a HUGE part of our trip – detours that is. There was not a day we did not take a back road or detour…whichi made it all the more fun!). It was similar to Julian, Ca (p.s for those who don’t know, we got married here and LOVE the small town feel of it. See wedding pix for details ;))
The winery we saw off the highway was Stone Hill. As we have found in other states that California, the tasting were free and you pay for just the wine bottles you want.
Afterward, it was truly a beautiful drive through Missouri. Miles and miles of nothing but wineries and antiques. Once we came into St Louis, and we were STARVING!! We checked into the sketchy motel with the broken lock, wobbly door and smoke smell although it was non-smoking. It was rather unpleasant, and we didn’t think it could get any worse…but it did. Throughout the night, we were woken up by what Joe thought was someone walking across the bed (I checked, it was not the cat…), Mua barking at nothing (not even someone outside walking around) and the hairs on the back of neck standing straight up…Lets just say we are glad it was only one night.
Following our setting up the animals with all their jazz, it was time for White Castle! We were so excited – there was one right up the street from our motel. We ordered the easiest thing on the menu – 10 burgers, 2 fries and drinks….remember these are teeny tiny slider burgers. Of course, they all came with nothing but onion and a pickle – off came my pickles…..
Sadly, these little burgers that inspired a movie left much to be desired. They were slightly soggy and had very little flavor, and I like flavor. Call me crazy! It did satisfy our hunger, but we will not be going again unless there is something impairing our taste buds…
Once we had our dinner, it was just enough time to get to the Arch for one last ride up. It was a small little white pod, with just enough room for five average sized people that took us up the 630 feet in the air. It was a little bumpy, and lacked the proper ventilation I felt it really needed that high, but we indeed made it to the top. Staying for only about 10 minutes, then back down in a packed full pod….wonderful…Time for bed….or as it became lack of sleep that night in the haunted motel.
We walked the St Louis Walk of Fame that morning and really did not see much to the way of people we knew, but the dogs needed a good walk and this place was available and open to the public.
Heading for Nashville, we crossed three state lines in one day! Missouri to Illinois to Kentucky to Tennessee….It was a BIG day full of corn fields, Superman and ghost walks. Before we got to Nashville, we just had to stop at the corniest place we went on this entire trip – Metropolis, Il – Home of Superman!!
As w e pulled up to the larger than life statue of our super hero – which was conveniently located directly in front of jail house – there were three men in cuffs being escorted to a nearby truck! Did Superman REALLY live here?!?!
Following the side tour, it was back on the road into Kentucky – Birthplace of Lincoln. There is really not much to say about Kentucky, except I would probably not want to live there….
We were unaware whereabouts we crossed the Tennesse border …. and I was watching so closely! We didn’t know until we hit Nashville! Really! We we so surprised…but I guess that is the way it goes. Eventually, we made it through the rush hour traffic and accidents on the Nashville highways, to our motel….significantly nicer than St Louis.
We headed downtown around 8 or so to find parking for our ghost tour that we had planned…and being that we are early to everything, we thought we’d kill time and get some ice cream. It was hot, around 85 or so and still humid. In the true tradition of anywhere but California, I think, everything but the bars and clubs was closed…No ice cream and 45 minutes later we met up with our tour guide, with gas station iced coffee in hand.
The ghost tour was more informative and a good tour of downtown Nashville than it was scary…But we did discover the following fun facts.
The builders of the state capital hated each other, although were buried right next to each other in the walls of the building. It is believed by some that they are still heard arguing about the building.
One of the same builders also built the church around the corner with another man who became the first bishop…When he died, he was buried on site and is believed to still be there…
A club downtown that was operated in the 1980’s is boarded up and closed down because people who would go in to get supplies etc after the prior owner died and claim they were spooked by him. We stood in the door and I could feel the hairs on neck stand up…it was a little creepy….
It was a great way to end our night, with ghost on the mind…
This was a Friday…of course, and all the radio stations were in an uproar about it! I could not believe it. Nothing bad happened that day, but it was just funny.
On our way out of Nashville, we had one stop to make – the Country Music Hall of Fame. It housed vintage Elvis and Johnny Cash posters, as well as all the albums produced by Sun Recording.
The only other stoop we wanted to make on our way to Gatlinburg, Tn was to Arrington Vineyards – owned by the one and only Kix Brooks. Here, I was sadly disappointed that they shipped in grapes from California for most of their wines…Such a sham…but I guess if you dont have it available, it’s nice to enjoy. Which would explain why these wines we significantly more expensive that those of the other wineries we had been to. They only produced two wines fully from the grapes on the property…But the tastings we still complimentary!
After tasting a few, and adding yet one more bottle to our wine list, we were invited to pick some Juniper grapes from the vineyard net to the car. They were DELICIOUS! Just enough sweet, but a good full flavor.
Arriving in Gatlinburg, of course on the back road through the mountains and not the highway, we were pleasantly surprised by our accommodations. The Garden of Eden cabins were owned and managed by this seeming sweet old lady, with a little snarky attitude on her! Her personal residence was on the grounds, tucked about a 1/2 mile from the highway. Our cabin was just around the corner, surrounded by trees! You could not see another human being in either direction the entire time we were there! It was so perfect, and appropriately named the Honeymoon Woods Cabin.
This was the first time we had a kitchen in two weeks – Joe was so excited to cook! It was adorable. And of course we ate very well, following the 25 minute drive north to Walmart for groceries! Nonetheless, it was a beautiful drive, even the detour we were forced to take due to a road closure. This was actually also the only time we had signs that anyone else was staying in the cabins around us, as we followed a van from Florida to the cabin next to us. And never saw them again…
That night we slept soooooo well, upstairs and blocked the animals downstairs. It was so woodsy there, that in the morning when typically the sun shine bright through even the thickest curtains, here there was no sign of the time. We slept until 10 am….which is 3 hours after we usually get up!
Aug 14 – Dollywood!!!!
Being that we slept late, and needed to make a full on Saturday morning breakfast, we got an even later start on the day, but it proved to be okay. Everything was on a slower pace, and it was nice to just have what finally felt like a vacation. Pictures will give you an idea of the Dollywood adventure. I almost did not have these pictures, as we went on a motion theater ride….and lost my camera for about 3 hours…..It really proves that people can be trusted and Southern people are great, because someone picked it up and gave it to the attendant to hold….I was so relieved.
This time, we were up at the normal 7 am time, and wanted to get as much of Gatlingburg in as we could.
We purchased a package of Ripleys attractions and enjoyed a variety of places for the day. We walked through the Guinness World Records Museum, we saw the African Fertility Statues in Ripleys Believe it or not, experienced yet another moving theater ride, walked blinding through a slightly spooky but more creepy haunted house and tied the game in mini golf (a favorite of Joe’s).
We met up with a good friend whom I have not seen in two years, to find that she LOVES Tennesse living.
All in all, a great last stop to the road trip. And we could not have asked for better weather