The South; a sweet mix of gunpowder and styrofoam

Trip Start May 27, 2011
1
Trip End Jun 06, 2011


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Where I stayed
Hotel Indigo Nashville
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Sunday, June 5, 2011

I landed on American soil thirteen years ago and have seen everything from the snowcapped mountains in Colorado and Utah to the beaches of California and enjoyed some good 'ol American apple pie in the Midwest, but the south of the US is something new and exciting to me. When Josh suggested that we would head down from St Louis, where he had a gig, to Nashville Tennessee where he grew up I said, "yes, of course!"

In the car on our way down Josh's mom Joyce and his step dad Jeff told me a few things about southern rural living. Everyone has a four-wheeler, they hunt and they love AC (air condition) and no bonds are stronger than the bond between the southern folks and their guns. The only way to take a firearm from one of these law abiding, Christian folk is to, and I quote “pry it from my cold, dead hands.” As a matter of fact, some people even name their children after their beloved machinery.  No joke.

When I explain that it is illegal to own a gun in Sweden they look at me and ask, “but how do people defend themselves?” “Um… well, they don’t have to defend themselves” I respond thinking of all the times I have walked home alone at night trough Stockholm (not to mention traveling alone all over the world) and how children play outside with no parental supervision and how mothers at times leave their strollers outside grocery stores with their children waiting while shopping.  Yeah, it is just not a problem. I feel safe at home in Stockholm, in California and in all the other places that I have visited in the world. No guns needed.

After a few stories about gunshots, gun wounds, suicides and some people in jail for using guns (what happened to the southern hospitality I have heard so much about?) we arrive at the Wydner residence in the middle of a hot and humid Tennessee night. The AC gets turned on max. A beautiful home, located on 7 acres of land with a pretty pond and lots of fruit trees. It is late, about 2 am and we quickly go to bed, listening to the sound of cicadas, crickets, and frogs as they joined together in a beautiful night serenade.

The following morning Josh takes me on a ride on the four-wheeler and, I must admit, it is a blast! We swoosh trough acres of green rolling hills, a few houses scattered throughout the hilly landscape, deer and wild turkeys alongside the narrow road. I wipe some sweat off my forehead. It is before 9am and it is already over 27C (90+F).  We pass porches with rocking chairs, horses and some lamas. Every time we pass a car or if someone is outside their house, they wave a friendly hello. I wave back, relieved that they are not having me at gunpoint. Ok, so this is that famous southern hospitality after all. –“Fred lives here, and this is Deb and Rick’s old house” he goes on and on. Folks take their time here, driving slower than the speed limit or going out of their way to stop and talk with you. It’s nice J  and all of a sudden I spot it. Yep, there it is… the Confederate flag. It is a bit unreal to see it. I mean, I have seen it on pictures and in movies like “The North and the South”, but this is real. This is June 2011. A chill goes down my spine as I try to grasp the fact that racism is still alive, real, and ADVERTISED around here. It blows me away that one of the worlds so called Super Powers still has this kind of mentality spread out trough big parts of the country.

Later on we take the car to a little town called something along the lines of “Hole-in-the-wall”. Here the local grocery store was just put out of business by a Super Walmart and there are plenty of fast food joints alongside countless churches. Reminding me that we are in the belt buckle of the so-called “Bible belt”, running  the length and breadth of the southern United States. We have lunch at a little BBQ joint where I have my first encounter with the charming southern drawl, “howdy mam, whatch ya’ll like to eat?” We enjoy some BBQ pork and pulled chicken along with fried okra and the famous southern sweet tea. I cry a little on the inside as I take a sip from my Styrofoam cup as I am about to throw away my paper plate. Excuse me sir,  where is the recycling? I ask –“no mam, none of that here I’m afraid, just chuck it in the trash… ya’ll  have a good day now”. To spite all the left leaning, liberal, tree hugging enviro’s, we deposit all the plastic, disposable plates, Styrofoam cups and plastic silverware into one receptacle.

The next day we head out to the Buffalo, a national scenic river, stopping at the Super Walmart for some last minute items (as I shiver from AC  and the thought of supporting this evil empire). Once in our kayaks, we have a great time paddling down the Buffalo river, enjoying the beautiful scenery. Turtles peer at us while sunbathing on the rocks, fish are jumping and we spot a couple of goats, feasting on some juicy leafs. The highlight of the trip is when Josh and his brother in law Shaun swing from a tree and jump down into the river, cheered on by us and a couple of locals in cowboy hats. The lady, sporting a hot pink Badin suit holding a small hairy dog, gives Josh 10 points for his backflip. It was a good afternoon allright.

 The following days we taste the sweet wines of Amber Vineyard, we eat Joyce’s amazing food and neighbor Fred takes us on a tour around the Amish villages, sampling their fabulous fruits and vegetables.

My favorite time here is the warm evenings. As the sun sets over the southern green hills, everyone leaves the comfort of the freezing AC inside the house and brings the fans into warm and humid, open garage. Josh’s niece and brother-in- law sweep the floor with the rest of us playing darts, while some sweet corn turns a golden tan color on the new grill. The Bud Light tastes extra good along with the homemade guacamole and chips.

A fabulous steak n potato meal, and several laughs later, we head out on yet another four-wheeler ride. The air feels so good on my skin, still warm from the Tennessee sun. I feel like a teenager holding on for dear life as Josh revs the engine. The sky shifts from purple to red.  Back at the house I can’t resist the white rocking chairs on the porch. We rock, rock, rock ourselves to sleep in the lovely June night. Yeah, this is country living at it’s best.

Our last two days we head up to the music metropolis of Nashville. Despite Josh’s sisters warning of shootings on the street, I find the city quite mellow and safe. About 600,000 people call this city their home and I was left wondering, “Where is everyone?” Maybe the heat chased them inside to their cool AC sanctuaries. I don’t know. Empty streets, except for some tourists and a few homeless looking, guitar-playing outcasts scattered throughout the city.

At night the downtown area comes to life and becomes a light and music extravaganza. Bars are promising the best entertainment in Nashville along with some lightly dressed ladies in cowboy boots. This is a very machismo town. I feel like I am watching a Mexican TV show hosted by pot-bellied middle aged men accompanied by several under aged and under dressed girls, putting on their best beauty-pageant-smile.  I am tempted to get some cowboy boots, but get lost in a sea of pointy toed bedazzled, high-and-low cut, pink and green, red and brown, leather and lace footwear explosion. I can’t do it. I mean, would I really use them at home?

We escape some half-ass covers of “sweet home Alabama” and “the joker” and head out to the famous Blue Bird café for some singer/songwriter action.  Here a captivated audience enjoys some locally brewed beer while watching a group of four men sitting in a circle, taking turns singing songs. We clap along and smile. It is good, but honestly, Josh could do it better. I know, I’m a bit partial, but he really is that talented. We call a cab, piloted by none other than a Kurdish refugee turned American citizen, that takes us back to downtown where we enjoy a great dinner followed by some much needed sleep at the fabulous Indigo Hotel. As I look out over the Nashville skyline from our hotel window. I am happy to be there, but even more stoked that I will be taking the best entertainer in town with me home all the way to California.

And so my friends, I managed to stay alive without a gun and with minimal amounts of AC in the Deep South of the good ‘ol US of A.

See ya’ll on the West coast,

yeeeeeeehaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwww

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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Comments

mistytravels
mistytravels on

Sounds and looks wonderful little vagabond!
Remember how I said I wanted to visit the south (move there and become crazy cat-lady with indoor furniture outside and both country aaaaand western!), so far I'll have to make do with putting on "Fried Green Tomatoes" and taking my paintbrush out...
P.S. I had my latest blog made into a book. You should do it unless you're already getting published properly xx

Natascha on

Fabulous! Love your writing!

judeezoom
judeezoom on

Micaela, thanks for your perspective on one of my old home places - I grew up 90 miles west of Nashville in Paris, TN and Murray, KY. Glad you could enjoy some of what the southern US offers, in spite of it's prejudices~!

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