from ATL > Nashville > Memphis > NOLA > Houston... Sooo many pickup trucks / by geoffrey nichols

first off, i apologize for my tardiness in updating for over a week, but i've simply been covering so much ground and capturing so many images (and consumingtoo many fried things) that it didn't occur to me i'd been neglecting the blog.

i finally rolled out of ATL last wednesday after learning i COULDN'T leave on tuesday as a destination i'd been dreaming about (OLD CAR CITY USA) was closed, but worked out fine as i also learned of #tinydoorsATL (which is part of Atlas Obscura) so Pixie & I set out in search of as many as we could find.

the aforementioned OCC USA was visited on wednesday morning and to say i was in my glory would be an understatement (pixie not so much) after walking the grounds for a couple hours and basking in the rusted splendor of 4200 decrepit vintage automobiles i realized Nashville wasn't getting any closer so we took leave of the Peach state and headed northwest.

now the curvy roads of the Smoky mountains were enjoyable as the afternoon sun danced through the trees, but the fact i was listening to Arsenal's Champions League victory against Swiss powerhouse, Basel made it even more so.

around dusk we arrived in the sleepy farm hamlet of Ashland City (about 30 miles west of Nashville) where dear friend and former writing partner, Robin, has lived for about 8 years.

Thursday had me searching "the hipsters guide to the south" (yes, i just admitted that) where i was directed to an absolutely stunning coffee house on the outskirts of east nashville called CREMA (picture Williamsburg with a twang) Then we explored Hillsboro village which vaguelly reminded me of Santa Monica. With the gentrified quotient satisfied, I decided we needed to experience Nashville proper (or as a friend mocked "Nash vegas") and while i appreciated the history of it, the overt alcoholic consumption aspect i found tedious.

My hosts took me to the local institution, Monell's for an epic family style meal in restored Victorian featuring communal tables, fried chicken and banana pudding and the sweetest "sweet tea" i'd ever had. (oh yeah, that was my first time ever HAVING sweet tea)

early friday morning we set out for Memphis, but not after i made a special jaunt 7 miles up the road from Robin's darling farm house to capture arguably the coolest Post Office i'd seen in some time.

around midday we rolled into Graceland where we got petrol from a FRIED CHICKEN joint across the street from the Elvis' palace and then we strolled the area making numerous friends including Harley riders from Ohio and a darling siren from Britain with the coolest name ever (Talizca) After as much Elvis as I could stand we headed back into Memphis proper with the National Civil Rights Museum our destination.
now when i say standing mere feet away from the spot where Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated is overwhelming would be an understatement. It is PROFOUNDLY visceral and within moments of taking it all in I was in tears. Fortunately, the surrounding area is what they call "South Main Street Arts District" and it's a quiet boulevard strewn with extremely vintage store fronts still housing whatever merchants have been there since the 1950s OR hip, new stores & bistros.

eventually motel acquisition was necessary and after unloading the car of valuables and feeding pixie I went down to Beale Street to the witness the neon lights, music and tourists, but as far as dining was concerned ONLY Memphis style dry rub ribs at the local institution "Central" would suffice. Post-dinner, i found myself back on South Main, but this time it was abuzz with live music and revelers as it was a block partyknown as "trolley friday"

at dawn the next day i had biscuits & gravy on a bridge overlooking the Mississippi before getting on the road for Oxford where i promised my mom i would visit the renowned Square Books. A it turned out, the Rebels of Ole Miss were hosting Memphis so the town was awash in a sea of red * blue... with an amazing coffee from High Point and a collection of William Faulkner in hand I made tracks for New Orleans. As the sun descended over the bayou and illuminated the trees to a brilliant emerald i marveled at the primordial beauty of a place i'd longed to visit for decades.

unfortunately I spaced arranging a hotel room BEFORE my arrival so i spent an hour sitting in the middle of Tulane University talking to operators and front desks before getting a room "quite close to the French Quarter" (if by that you mean 13 MILES close)
Pixie & I did eventually find Bourbon Street, a giant teddy bear of a hot dog vendor, an amazing singer song writer and of course SCORES of inebriated people.
Sunday found us exploring the FQ again in search of fresh beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde and then Arsenal match at the home of NOLA Gooners, Finn McCool.
A goal on the last kick of the match was THE perfect way to send us on our way to Houston where we've been treated to a lavish Korean feast, impromptu reunions and state of the art golf range.
there's so much more to see & do here that i'm bound to be in H-town for a week at least.

thanks for your time and i'll see you from Austin