The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Two Tennessee Towns

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on April 26, 2010

As we cruised from Charlotte to Nashville, we remembered that a rockslide had closed I-40 between Asheville and Knoxville.  The resulting detour would take us up I-26 to I-81 South, where we would re-engage I-40 West to continue our journey.  We were certain there was probably a shorter detour available, but we weren’t in any kind of a hurry, and the detour would surely be well-marked, so we decided to take the prescribed detour.

Well, we didn’t have any problems following the detour, but we would not say that it was particularly well-marked.  Several times we wondered if we were still going the right way, or if we had missed a turn.  Fortunately, we had not.

On our way up I-26, we came across a beautiful view of the mountains, and a scenic overlook.  We stopped for a few pictures. 

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As we continued on, it wasn’t long before we received positive feedback that we were moving along in our cross country cruise.

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On Bec’s suggestion, we stopped in Knoxville to see the Sunsphere.  Built as the centerpiece for the 1982 World’s Fair, the Sunsphere is a huge monolith in an otherwise unremarkable town.  Don’t get me wrong, the city, which still has a population shy of 200,000 people (according to Wikipedia), has a quaint edge to it.  It actually reminded me of a very large Lynchburg, VA, if you have ever had the opportunity to see the very, very, very subtle quaintness of Lynchburg.

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During a The Simpsons episode in the late 1990s, Bart and some friends acquire a car, and make their way to Knoxville to enjoy the Sunsphere.  When they arrive, however, they find the Sunsphere has been turned into a wig store, and has been renamed the Wigsphere.  Not so, however, when we arrived!  The Sunsphere, in all its ridiculous glory still stood, a tribute to the Sun and global energy (the theme of the World’s Fair in 1982).  266 feet tall, with the ball being 75 feet in diameter.  The glass is coated with gold dust to give it the gold luster. 

We took the FREE elevator ride to the observation deck (we expected to have to pay).  For free, it was a “must-do.’”  I would have been willing to pay as much as $4-5 for the trip, in hindsight.  It was a nice view, but it’s really not all that high, and the gold dust really distorts the color of the view. 

IMG_8327We came back down and took a couple more pictures, and departed the quaint downtown of Knoxville, on our way to Nashville.

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IMG_8338 As we departed Knoxville, we were getting hungry.  We had passed a Krystal on our way into town, and I realized I hadn’t had a Krystal in almost 8 years.  The Wife had NEVER had a Krystal, so we decided to indulge in some fast food, something we generally try to avoid, and find ourselves a Krystal.  We also agreed that if we passed any more remarkably-unique fast food locations, that we would give them a shot, despite our reservations.

IMG_2621 Our cashier, Juanita, was as old as the hills and as sweet as a bowl of cherries.  We ordered up a handful of Krystals and went on our way. 

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We were rolling toward Nashville.  Actually, we were headed “just outside Nashville,” as the Wife proclaimed, to our hotel.  When we arrived, we found that our hotel was roughly 20 miles from downtown, in the neighboring suburb of Franklin.  Our Aloft hotel was interesting, and will be the subject of a follow-on post.  It was just too interesting (not to build it up to much; it’s just a hotel) to not get its own post. 

We checked in, got unpacked, and decided to head out to Opryland.  It seemed like the thing to do in Nashville, when one only has a couple hours to spare.  As we walked across the parking lot for our car, we looked West, and saw looming storm clouds.  These clouds were the remnants of the weather cells that caused all the damage in Mississippi, and they looked mean.

IMG_8339 We got in the car and headed up to Opryland.  The weather did indeed find us, on the highway, and the torrential rains kept our speed low.  It was severe to say the least. 

We finally arrived at Opryland about 30 minutes later to find the Grand Ole Opry House (the new one, as we understand it, the original is in downtown Nashville). 

IMG_8342 Opryland has its own little complex/campus of buildings.  It’s well-themed and very quaint (there’s that word again) to walk around.IMG_8343 We even found that guns are prohibited on the campus, regardless of permit.  We tried to figure out what it meant that the permit part had to be explicitly stated.

IMG_8344 I took a couple pictures while the Wife checked out the gift shop. 

IMG_8350 A little wind would have made this one a great picture.

IMG_8352 We managed to escape any rain, also, while we walked around and took pictures, which was probably a good thing for the health of the camera.  By this time, we were getting hungry (it was almost 9 pm CDT, and our bodies were still on EDT), so we headed over for some dinner at the Caney Fork Fish Camp. 

The next morning we would be heading to Memphis and on to Little Rock.  Check back to see how Day 2 fared.

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