Greetings from the North! I am allowed to say that after spending a weekend in the South, right? More specifically, I spent the weekend in Nashville, Tennessee with Eric and a bunch of his friends from Florida. Two years ago, the men of the group headed to Nashville to see the Florida/Vandy game for a bachelor party…they had so much fun they decided to do it for a second time, but let the ladies come along as well. It ended up being six guys and two girls, so I’m pretty sure the two of us got bonus points for putting up with the guys’ shenanigans.
We stayed in a rented townhouse about half a mile from Vandy’s stadium, which was beautiful and way too nice for a guys’ weekend – the first matter of business was moving anything breakable to a safe location. Otherwise, the weekend can be divided into a few different sections – food, feats of strength, some touristy things, running (for me), and football. Away we go.
Our diet for the weekend basically consisted of BBQ with one meal of fried chicken thrown in for good measure. The townhouse was conveniently within walking distance (or a short drive, if you’re used to driving…the New Yorker in me would definitely walk) of Hog Heaven, a hole in the wall BBQ place. I ate pulled pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, and a cornbread pancake every single day we were there. I do not regret a single bite. If you go, get the pulled pork with the white sauce…I’m still not sure what it is, but it is delicious. I also can’t believe that I don’t have any pictures of the food…but then again, I’m not a food blogger. Oops?
As a side note, do not, I repeat DO NOT, go to the South and ask for “regular tea” meaning that you do not want sweet tea. The guy behind the counter kindly reminded me that “this is the South, we ain’t got no regular tea here.” Noted.
The one meal we skipped having BBQ was when we mixed it up for some fried chicken. One of Eric’s friends had eaten at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken on a prior trip to Nashville and deemed it worthy of skipping BBQ. They basically serve all types of fried chicken (vegetarians, beware) with all the typical Southern fixings.
I got chicken tenders with medium heat…provided enough bite for enjoyment, but not so much that I struggled to eat it. Otherwise, the pimento mac and cheese was ridiculous (Abbe, this must be replicated) and no one questioned me about my tea order. Win and win. Seriously, go here. I suggest taking a statin with you. (Nurse humor, I can’t help it.)
feats of strength
Boys being boys, they of course had to engage in competition. “Feats of Strength” continued from the bachelor party that started this whole trip, where they did silly things after consuming some adult beverages. Pretty sure I was in bed when they recreated those moments, and the feats of strength I was around for seemed a bit more tame than the stories I’d been told. I do know that Sports Jeopardy and Head Up (yes, the Ellen game) were involved. The feats of strength that I got to join in on included Jenga and beer pong…please note that more time was spent arguing over the rules of beer pong than actually playing it, ha. Jenga was actually played at a local bar that had a few different games you could play. We warmed up with some old school boxing…
Then we moved onto Jenga, single elimination…and my official invitation into feats of strength. These guys didn’t know what they were getting into, as I moved onto total domination. They said I was cheating with my “steady nurse hands”…they come in handy for IV starts and Jenga. (Putting that on my resume…) I ended up winning the whole thing, and Eric got this video of a Jenga-fall in progress:
So dramatic in slow motion.
My team also won at beer pong, and Eric’s friends became scared to go against me. I suggested running games, but that got shot down. Maybe next time…
the touristy stuff
Being a guys’ trip, not much was planned, but we got around to see a few things. A store for American Pickers (an antique store with a show on TV that I was not aware of) was on the list, although the store itself didn’t really have much in it. A few boutique stores were in the warehouse that had the store, so we wandered for a little bit. We got some fancy marshmallow (peach basil? yes, please) and found a random tie store called “Otis James.” Only one guy was in the store, so I asked him if Otis James is a real person…you never know, right? He said he is a real person…to which I proceeded to ask if he is Otis James. Yep. I guess that would have made sense to ask from the start. We headed out, but the ties were nice and made in the shop next door if you’re looking for handmade ties/bowties.
After, we headed to downtown Nashville, which is tourist city. The other girl in the group was on a hunt for cowboy boots, so we searched around for those and hit a couple bars between stores. The bars were far from fancy, and we even got this gem at one of them:
THEY SERVE SHOTS IN MEDICINE CUPS. The nurse in me found this hilarious. Also, that is beer in the medicine cup because the only shots I’ll be taking are of the flu shot variety. (PSA: Get your flu shot!) I think the bar was called “Paradise Park,” so check it out if you’re in town.
Nashville is full of some quirky things, including this guy:
Annnnnnnd, of course, you go to Nashville to see the Parthenon, right? Athens of the South? Full size replica of the Parthenon? You think I’m kidding, but kidding I am not.
Apparently it was built over a century ago with plans to demolish it after the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, but it was going to be costly to destroy it and the people of Nashville happened to like it. Now, it serves as an art museum and a place for people to come visit or hang out. It also has various workouts you can do around it, which I thought was cool.
“Burning off that chicken?” haha.
So there you go…it’s like going to Greece without a passport! And a lot more pulled pork…
Naturally, I couldn’t spend my days off or time traveling in another city without running, so I did a little exploring on the run. I had high hopes that it would be warm in Tennessee, but it was not…luckily my shorts/tank top did just fine in the 50 degree weather, and I had some lovely runs.
My first run was a five mile out and back around Vandy’s campus. I stopped at a light to check my directions, and two men sipping coffee asked if I was texting while running. I told them I’m from out of town (I think that’s rule #1 of things you’re not supposed to tell strangers…) and was checking directions. They informed me they were visitors too and couldn’t help – probably Florida fans since a bunch were in town! Anyway, Vandy’s campus seemed nice, although small (student body of around 7,000?), and had some hills. I waved to the school of nursing and saw some students who were far more stylish than I was in college.
My second run was an eight mile run that took me down to the river that runs through Nashville. It was basically a straight shot down the 70S that you see in the picture above and went right down the main street leading into the city. I almost got tackled by a Crossfit class running sprints on the sidewalk (move over for the rest of us, thanks!), but otherwise it was smooth running. That is, of course, until I got a few blocks from the river and saw that the road was closed off – a race was going on! I kicked myself (not literally, no plyos while running!) for not checking the race schedule, then realized it was a marathon and half marathon (with an earlier 5K, I later found out). The runners seemed fairly spread out, and my later research found that the women’s winner of the marathon ran 3:19 with second and third running 3:24…put this on my life of “races I stand a chance of winning.” The half marathoners were a bit faster – women’s winner was about 1:24. Speedy! Anyway, running along the river gave some nice views on a paved path. Made me wish I’d planned a longer run, but oh well. The pace felt easy, which was welcome from the struggles I’ve been having lately.
Friday – 8.01 miles in 1:02:55, avg pace of 7:45
Ah, finally the reason we headed to Nashville! The Florida/Vandy game was at 6:30pm, so we had all day to hang out. Some feats of strength continued, we had pulled pork. This should not surprise you. About an hour before the game, we headed down to the stadium and claimed our seats in the Florida section. When I was back home in Chicago in October, I realized that this would not be my first Florida game – my high school marching band went to the Gator Bowl, so I saw Florida play there. Of course, this time I was surrounded by a few more Florida fans. I had my eyes on the Vandy marching band, as it brought me back to my college days…although the Maryland band was much, much bigger. They played their pregame show and did a Veterans Day theme for half time.
Otherwise, Florida brought a small pep band, so much of the time was spent with Eric teaching me Florida chants. One of them involves yelling, “Gator bait!” which terrified Gatsby. It tough being a small elephant.
The stadium seemed to have many more Florida fans than Vandy fans – I suppose Florida travels well and Vandy isn’t all the great. Lots of orange and blue, and lots of touchdowns for Florida! Florida won 34-10, with much of the stadium clearing out in the fourth quarter due to Florida being up so much. I’m 2-0 at Florida games, so I guess Eric better keep me around…
and that’s a wrap!
After lots of pulled pork in Nashville, I’m glad to be back to somewhat normal eating up…but I suppose I could use all of that protein to start preparing for feats of strength for next time!