Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Epic Expedition: Week One

When a great adventure is offered, you don't refuse it. -Amelia Earhart

Day 1:

Virginia Beach waved farewell and the mid-Atlantic disappeared in the rearview mirror by late afternoon. A solid 8 hours later we rolled into Asheville, North Carolina. The one mission for the first day of this trip was to eat at “Salsa” in downtown Asheville. When we realized that our arrival was going to be past the restaurant’s closing time, we needed to act fast to make certain that this mission was a success. Leah called ahead and begged them to have our order ready, then we promised to be “just a few minutes past 10:00pm” to pick it up. The Mexican-Caribbean cuisine was well worth the effort. Grilled tortilla pockets filled with adobe steak, brie, grilled onions, roasted veggies, and annatto-coconut sauce created a flavor experience that hit the spot at the end of a long but successful opening day. 

Day 2:
Back on the road. The morning sun sparkled like a gold coin in the cloudless sky… until smoke billowed up from a ravine on the left side of the road. A few miles later it wafted across the highway and a bit further it enveloped the whole of the landscape. Without any flames there was no need for alarm. Coming out of the fog it was clear, there’s a reason why they’re called The Smoky Mountains.

Have you ever daydreamed about petting pink elephants and wished that a genie would come through on this one request? I thought so. I am here to tell you that wishes do come true so never give up on dreaming the impossible. 

The mission for day two was to sneak into Nashville, Tennessee. With the help of my brother in law, Sean, my sister, Kari was surprised and excited when she came home from the gym to see us sitting in her living room. I heart surprises. Spanning the diversity that is NashVegas, the early evening saw us at a luau in a horse pasture complete with a carriage ride on the historical property of The Hermitage. Then, the late night took us to the Coyote Ugly Saloon to make our own bit of history. I cannot confirm or deny that dancing on the bar occurred. 

Day 3:
If you find yourself in Nashville, let me recommend that you pump iron at the downtown YMCA. Three levels of state of the art workout equipment, including a cardio cinema, a rooftop pool as well as an indoor pool, and a spotless locker-room / lounge. If sweating is not your thing, you can still be a part of the action by gettin’ your groove on in the rocking chairs provided in the main workout area.

No visit to Nash would be complete without getting a dose of live music. Music City didn’t disappoint. We stopped by 3rd and Lindsley, a local dive bar, for an evening with Andy Hackbarth and Jessica Campbell. Live music is soothing to the soul. And with that, we wrapped up our stay in middle Tennessee. 

Day 4:
Crossing over the Mighty Mississippi River, Arkansas greeted us with cotton fields and sparse patches of changing leaves. Little Rock was the stop of the day. Leah’s aunt and uncle extended their hospitality to us in their beautiful home overlooking the Arkansas River. 

Day 5:
Downtown Little Rock may be known for the Clinton Presidential Library but Leah and I were there for something far more exciting. The Peabody Hotel duck parade. At precisely 11am, five Mallards came down the elevator to the lobby from their penthouse duck palace. The Duck Master directed them as they marched to John Phillips Sousa. They waddled down the red carpet to take their place in the fountain where they swim from 11a to 5p each day. 

Day 6:
Day of R & R in Arlington, Texas

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