Friday, June 25, 2010

Little Rock to Crossville

Today, we broke our trip to into several short segments punctuated by periods of gorging on country cookin'.

Our first stop was Neelys Bar-B-Cue in Memphis. The Neely family apparently has a show on the Food Network. Everyone was excited to eat there. Mom ordered the dry pork ribs, Drew ordered the pulled pork, Dick ordered beef ribs, Sidney ordered the barbecue spaghetti, and Samuel and I both ordered the sliced beef brisket. With the exception of the pork ribs, all of the the meats were drowned in cloyingly sweet, smokey, tomatoey sauce. The flavor of my baked beans and Sidney's "spaghetti" were indistinguishable from the barbecued meats. Mom's pork ribs were the best in my opinion because they were not coated in thick sauce. You could really taste the porky, smokey meat which completely fell off the bone. Samuel said his brisket sandwich was the best barbecue he'd ever had.

After lunch we found our way to Graceland, home of Elvis. We didn't have time for a tour the house, but we pulled Monty up to the front gate, placed our hands on the stone wall surrounding the property, shouted, "praise Elvis, Lord" and drove off.

A few hours later we arrived in Nashville. We stopped by our old house on River Ridge Court. Mom hadn't seen it in 20+ years. The house still looked basically the same except for the trees which had grown to create a lot of shade where once there was none. Oh, and the the house is for sale. We didn't take down the number. I wonder how much it is listed for.

A short drive from the old house, just past Harper Valley Elementary School (where the infamous PTA meets), is one of Nashville's older institutions—The Loveless Motel and Cafe, locally famous for their house-cured hams, jams, biscuits, and fried chicken. It's the kind of place that has lots of autographed glossies of famous actors, songwriters, and performers hanging on the walls in the front lobby. Once located on the farthest outskirts of town, it is now crowded by McMansions and strip malls. Highway 100 is now a few lanes wider and the motel has been converted into a bike shop and a "sweet shop" and a jam- and jelly-making kitchen with a retail shop, but the restaurant is still just about the same as I remember and the food was really good! I had fried okra, greens, squash casserole, and cucumbers and onions.

After dinner we drove into the city on Highway 100. We went past my old high school, saw some flood damage to the walls around Belle Meade, went through the West End past Vanderbilt University and into downtown. Lower Broadway has really boomed since I was there last. The adult theaters have been replaced with bright neon signs attracting tourist into bars and restaurants, high rise glass buildings, a new convention center and hotel, bling, bling, bling. All of this made Sidney ecstatic, and she can't wait to go back.

From Nashville it was a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Crossville which is just a little more than halfway to Knoxville. This will make tomorrow's drive, the last leg our our trip, relatively short. We have to turn in Monty before 5:00.


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