Day 3: Nashville, TN, to Memphis, TN

Trip Start May 29, 2010
Trip End Jun 14, 2010

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Where I stayed
Comfort Suites

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Looking for Pancakes in Nashville!

Today started off on an interesting note.  I was up at 5:00 a.m., as usual, and got ready for a busy day.  The hotel had continental breakfast available from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., therefore, I was showered, ready and packed by 5:50 a.m.  I walked over to the lobby and spoke with the front desk clerk until about 6:10 a.m. and asked him when the coffee would be ready.  He stated it would be ready at 6:00 a.m.  I glanced at my watch, saw that it was 6:10 and asked if the there was a delay.  He promptly replied that it was only 5:10 a.m.  Well, this falls into the category of "Did you forget there are times zones in the U.S.?"  My biological clock is still on EST/DST!  Although I hung around until 6:00 a.m., and Mike eventually joined me while Kevin got ready, we realized the coffee wasn't that good, so we decided we would eat in downtown Nashville at the Pancake Pantry on 21st Avenue, North.  For informational purposes, the Pancake Pantry is a well-known restaurant located adjacent to the Vanderbilt University Campus.  This restaurant is also highly rated on  Kevin, Mike and I proceeded to pack up our bags, check out of the Best Western and head for downtown Nashville and seek out some highly-rated pancakes.

Before heading out onto I-65 for downtown though, we all stopped to get gas.  We were low on fuel, and didn't want to run out. A mutual friend of ours, Tom "Gunny" McKernan always provides sage advice to his friends and recommends getting gas every time you stop that motorcycle, regardless of how full, or empty, the tank is. He has previously stated he came close to running out of gas in the desert and he learned a valuable lesson, hence, his favorite phrase on the importance of keeping a full tank on a motorcycle is noted below!

"The only time you have enough gas is when you are on fire."
----Tom "Gunny" McKernan

Getting back to the Pancake Pantry, we had been told that the lines of customers are usually out the door at this favorite eatery, however, pedestrian traffic in the area was at a minimum due to college graduation and the fact that this was a Holiday (Memorial Day).  Quite frankly, I was surprised that the restaurant was even open on a Holiday, nevertheless, they were, and the staff welcomed and seated us without delay.  We were fortunate enough to have a cheery and vibrant waitress, Paula, who gave us a big welcome and treated us as if we were regular customers, or family members that she hadn't seen in years, and she wasted no time pouring the coffee!  What we soon learned though was that she was just as witty, as she was cheerful, even at this time of the morning (the downtown Nashville streets were virtually void of all traffic and pedestrians at 8:00 a.m.).  

With regard to Paula's wit, just as we were ordering breakfast, Kevin, who is quite well known for his wit, with a straight face asked, "Can I get a Crown and Seven?"  Without losing a beat, Paula's retort was "Only if you are going to share it with me big boy!" Kevin did not know what to say, he was speechless, which is rare event for Kevin!

Paula was helpful with regard to breakfast selections.  She proceeded to identify the 'house favorites,' one of which was eggs and sweet potato pancakes.  She highly recommended the sweet potato pancakes, therefore, we all ordered eggs and the pancakes.  In just a few minutes, Paula was back at the table serving us the breakfast.  Kevin continued with his wit and Paula was able to respond, in kind, without losing a beat!  She was good!   It was entertaining! At about this time, Holiday notwithstanding, we noticed that the line at the front door had now grown to about 25 people waiting to get in.  Did you ever try and eat a meal while people are standing in line, staring at you, wondering why you are taking so long?  Thankfully, we had a table far from the door!

After breakfast, Paula wished us the very best for a fun and safe trip.  She also asked for this blog address, and is now following us on our journey.

From the Pancake Pantry, we rode a few blocks to the Ryman Auditorium.  The doors opened at 9:00 a.m. for public self-guided tours, as well as for "back stage" tours which was only a few dollars more...and it was certainly worth the money!  Mike, Kevin and I had an opportunity to stand on the main stage, a stage that has had a number of famous entertainers standing there over time, including Elvis.  What we learned during the tour was that Elvis had auditioned at the Ryman Auditorium, and was told at the time that he should keep his day job as his talent was somewhat unremarkable. Who knew!  And, history has shown that within a year of that first rejection, Elvis had become a hit for his rock and roll talent! So much for the talent judges at that time.

After the tour at Ryman, we rode our bikes down heartbreak lane, a portion of the main street in Nashville that has a number of bars, with stages, where people can "try their luck" and hope to become recognized as a potential star.  As an example, the Everly Brothers got their start in Nashville in this manner, right outside the Ryman Auditorium, in front of a bar-b-que restaurant!

Once we left Nashville, we drove out to Route 100 to the Natchez Trace Parkway, a very scenic parkway that has become a favorite of bicyclists, motorcyclists, and cars.  This parkway is remarkable in its beauty and has quite a historic past.  For example, when I sent out a message on Twitter that I was cruising the Parkway, a friend (Ed), sent me a tweet (message) as follows:  "Did you know, Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was governor of upper Louisiana Territory when he mysteriously died on the Natchez Trace in 1809, at Grinders Stand, in Tennessee.  A monument was erected in his honor in 1848 and can be seen along the Natchez Trace Parkway today."  Quite a history lesson, and quite Interesting.

Just prior to the northern entrance to the Natchez Trace Parkway, on historic Highway 100, is the famous 'Loveless Cafe.'  The website for the cafe best explains its history, as follows:
Located on Highway 100 in Nashville Tennessee at the Northern Terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Loveless Cafe remains unchanged in the quaint country charm and good cooking that has made it a landmark in the South since its doors opened over half a century ago.Nationally acclaimed and frequented by celebrities, world travelers and local appetites alike, the Loveless Cafe serves up award-winning country ham and red eye gravy, real Southern-fried chicken, and Nashville's favorite scratch biscuits with homemade preserves cooked right in the kitchen. The Loveless story has been told the world over, from Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetit to U.S. News and World Report, CBS Television, and People Magazine. Come discover Loveless for yourself, and experience Southern dining and hospitality at their best.

We did enjoy the southern dining experience at the Loveless Cafe shopping area, which dates back to the early 50's.  The cafe is best known for its southern recipes, notably, its biscuits, country ham and red-eye gravy.  This cafe is a definite "we gotta stop here" for those preparing to enter the picturesque Natchez Trace Parkway.  Unfortunately, we couldn't eat a second breakfast today, therefore, we bypassed the cafe and settled on buying snacks at the at the cafe shopping area, as well as cold drinks to keep us hydrated, on a day that was getting warmer and hotter as we approached high noon.

Following our visit to the Loveless Cafe, we entered the Natchez Trace Parkway and headed south toward Mississippi.  After riding for about an hour and getting wet from periodic thunderstorms while on the Parkway, we cut short our plans to venture into Alabama and Mississippi in order to end up at Elvis' boyhood home of Tupelo, Mississippi.  The rain, coupled with time constraints, resulted in our making a detour, whereby we headed into Mississippi for a ride, then headed north, and west, toward Memphis, on picturesque back-country roads.  While enroute to Memphis, we passed several small towns, such as "Bucksnort" and Dickinson, Tennessee.  What was interesting was that while enroute we spotted a number of roadside signs that boasted the fact that Bart's Bar-B-Que was voted 'the best' bar-b-que in the Town of Dickinson.  Who could pass this up?  We couldn't.  We made a stop at Bart's Bar-B-Que, and when we saw the local police leaving the property with "take out" food, we knew we had hit pay dirt.  The food was as good as advertised, and the staff was most courteous and helpful in terms of menu selections.  

Following lunch, we proceeded north on country roads and once we reached I-40, we headed west toward Memphis.  We were making good time in spite of the periodic downpours and thunder, however, in Stanton, TN, all westbound traffic was diverted off the highway at exit 42 as the highway was closed down due to a major accident.  While on the side roads, we observed two additional accidents, one which included a Purolator money courier truck that had struck a utility pole, snapped it in two, and proceeded over a small creek onto the bank located on the opposite side of the creek.  No one appeared to be hurt thankfully, however, we still couldn't figure out the truck made it to the other side of the river!

Once we got back to I-40 (after an 18 mile detour), we once again battled periodic thunderstorms, similar to day one and day two, and we simply resigned ourselves to the fact that late day storms are the norm, and there is nothing we can do about it other than to drive safe and arrive safe.  We arrived at the Comfort Inn and Suites, just east of Memphis at approximately 7:50 p.m.  Another long day!

Today's Mileage: 268
Total Trip Mileage: 1341.7
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