Hey, y’all! I’m just back from Nashville and I’m pleased as punch with my trip!
Note: I’m allowed to talk like that since I lived in North Carolina for 17 years. It’s like having permission or something.
Nashville is definitely a Southern town but with urban charm and I had a blast discovering it all. My first visit was years ago for the BlissDom conference hosted at the Opryland Hotel. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll understand why I call it the Biodome. For three days, I did not exit the building so my first trip to Nashville included a look at the airport and a look at the hotel.
Chevrolet invited me to attend their “Cruze Drive in Nashville” and I couldn’t wait to say yes. There were a couple of things about this trip that made it especially appealing.
First of all, it was in Nashville! A lot of ride and drives are hosted in California because the scenery is so gorgeous but I was more than happy to stay a little closer to home. Secondly, it was an easy flight! It’s only about 90 minutes or so on a nonstop flight on Southwest from BWI to BNA. That’s short enough to make me go back all on my own!
And finally, I knew that Chevy would give me a chance to not only experience the newly redesigned 2016 Chevy Cruze, but also to do it with a backdrop that made for an experience that was about more than just a car.
Arrival on Wednesday afternoon allowed me time to settle in at The Rosewall, survey the new models on display (did you see my Facebook Live video?), grab some lunch, and hit the open road!
Okay, technically the road wasn’t really open. It was the city and I was only heading a few miles away but it was well worth the drive.
First stop was The Bang Candy Company. Why, yes, guns and candy do mix. As a guest of Chevy, they provided me with a box of free samples of their homemade marshmallows. I saved them for my son and husband because I always feel guilty if I don’t bring them home something. But don’t worry about me. I bought two of my own and scarfed them down!
And I was super excited when I found that right next door, conveniently, was the ONE place in Nashville I wanted to visit! It’s the latest location of the Antique Archaeology store, better known as the business of the American Pickers!
Unfortunately, I found the store to be filled with a few extremely expensive but cool items and a lot of merchandise promoting the show. But at least I was able to check that off the list!
The area itself was pretty cool and pretty appropriate for the trip. The building that housed all of these amazing shops was actually the Southern Motor Works building where Marathon cars were made once upon a time.
After spending way too long window shopping (I’m proud that I didn’t actually spend any money – except for the marshmallows), I headed back to The Rosewall and made my way to The Hutton Hotel where I’d be spending the night.
We took a break from talking about cars and were shuttled over to a cool little restaurant called Little Octopus, owned by a former diver for Jacques Cousteau. The eclectic menu was served family style and included delicacies like avocado salad, farro, smoked eggplant, scallops, and white asparagus. And just in case we weren’t full after all that, they brought us one of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever had. Even though I was full, I had a wedge just so I could have an opinion on it. And my opinion is high!
But the evening was about more than food. It was about storytelling. Instead of chit-chatting and making small talk with our tablemates (which we did anyway), we listened to four prominent songwriters in Nashville sing their own songs while telling stories about where the inspiration came from. It was a unique and delicious evening and set my expectations high for the next day.
Speaking of the next day, it was full of adventure with the 2016 Chevy Cruze as my chariot. The first half of the adventure had me behind the wheel with my driving partner, Matthew de Paula, and GM Interior Design Manager, Jennifer Kraska. Chevy likes us to navigate the old fashioned way instead of relying on the high tech options so Matthew served as my co-pilot and my navigator.
And we got lost.
After a brief detour through the wrong part of the city, we ended up on the highway out of town and drove about an hour until we stopped at a quaint little Amish place called the Country View Market. A pit stop included browsing all the delicious jellies, jams, flours, spices, and all the inspirational posters you could want. I settled for a Red Cream Soda, Sweet Onion kettle chips, and a fried blackberry pie. Correction: The best damn fried blackberry pie I’ve ever eaten.
Diet starts next week.
We switched driving roles and I took the passenger’s seat and left the navigation to Martin Hayes, Global Vehicle Chief Engineer Next Generation Chevrolet Cruze, and Stuart Cooper, Design Strategy Manager for Global Chevrolet Design. We didn’t get lost but I did have to keep reminding them to tell us where exactly to go. Turns out men can be just as chatty as women, especially when it comes to cars.
While the surrounding Nashville area won’t take your breath away like the California mountains or coast, we had a different experience driving through Tennessee. We had our share of wildlife (turkey vultures, wild turkeys, and even an armadillo – RIP) and we had a beautiful drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway with a quick stop to shoot some photos of the Cruze in its natural environment.
Our road trip came to an end in the cutest little town called Leiper’s Fork where we had lunch at the Country Boy Diner with our choice of fried green tomatoes, fried catfish, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, milkshakes… Yes, that diet starts soon.
And then we made our way back to the city for one more creative excursion. My choice of experiences that afternoon involved a little trip to a place called Third Man Records. I’d like to say I was cool enough to know what it was but I had to read up. Jack White, formerly of The White Stripes, started his own little business to allow artists to “cut” directly to vinyl. His studio has a space for small, live performances that deliver top notch sound.
Again, I wish I was cool enough (like my audiophile brother) to appreciate the vintage equipment in use or talented enough to cut my own record (yes, you can do that). Instead, I got to experience a private tour of behind the scenes and the only thing that would have made it cooler was if Jack White himself walked through the studio (he didn’t but he actually did with the group the day before me).
Being immersed in the music scene was definitely the topper for the trip for me. And since it couldn’t be topped, I headed to the airport straight out of music city with a promise to myself to be back soon. Maybe in a Chevy Cruze?