Livin America

We drive. We eat. We sleep. We repeat.
Join us as we travel across the country for the summer in our trusty Tacoma.

The Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument

Shots From the Smithsonian Museums of American and Natural History Washington, DC

Including the first car to drive across America, the chess set of John Quincy Adams, crystals from the Cave of Swordslubber grasshoppers, a turtle skull, and a freshwater prawn.

Day 46: Nashville, TN to Washington, DC

image

Our epic road trip’s final stop is Washington, DC, the nation’s capitol. We were in for another long day on the road, so we left Nashville early; knowing we’d be crossing into the eastern time zone and that our trip would take almost 12 hours according to the clock.

We broke up the drive by stopping to visit our cousin’s sawmill and poultry farm in Lancing, TN. It was great to see the beautiful house they have been working on for the past year, their awesome property, and livestock. The sights, sounds, and smells of poultry in the pasture brought back memories of the flock we kept years ago.

It was a good feeling to walk a piece of land and have the flora and fauna feel familiar again; finally back in the temperate forest of the eastern US. Our drive through Appalachia was beautiful and uneventful even with Matt staring out the window looking for ‘seng

Pulling into DC at night seeing the Washington Monument lit up on the horizon, and the Lincoln Memorial in the foreground was really exciting for us. Our hotel room is right in the middle of the action on Pennsylvania Avenue and has a great view of the monument. We can’t wait to spend tomorrow exploring the Smithsonian Museums!

 image

Nashville’s Honky Tonk Music Row
Seen from the roof deck of Tootsie’s

Nashville’s Honky Tonk Music Row

Seen from the roof deck of Tootsie’s

Matt recording a song at the Ryman

Matt recording a song at the Ryman

The song Matt recorded at the Ryman Auditorium’s studio in July 2014

Taryn and I singing Dr. Hook’s Cooky and Layla in our Nashville hotel room, complete with ridiculous falsetto ending.

Nashville, TN

  • The historic Ryman Auditorium
  • Thomas Ryman sculpture
  • Matt leaning on the Ryman’s stage
  • Matt in Layla’s Bluegrass Inn
  • The backdoor; the polite way to leave any Nashville honky tonk.

Garden Of The Gods Shawnee National Forest

The remnants of an ancient sea!

Day 44: Memphis, TN to Nashville, TN via Illinois

image

We originally planned on going to Graceland but after looking into it found out it would take us about 3 hours and cost close to $100 and decided to pass. Instead we went to visit an old friend from Vermont who now lives on a beautiful homestead in Shawnee National Forest. 

On her recommendation we first drove out to the Garden of the Gods which is a very cool geological site where an ancient ocean floor has risen up above the trees creating a beautiful formation of smooth rocks that beg to be climbed. Those who do climb them are rewarded with great views of the Shawnee.

image

After seeing the Garden we drove out to see our friend Earthdancer and meet her partner Michael. It was wonderful to see her and the house she built with her own two hands over the course of 6 years. We shared wine, fresh vegetables and stories. It was great to hear about their exciting plans for a permaculture retreat center on an amazing 160 acre parcel nearby, and we can’t wait to see it come to fruition!

On our way to Nashville we crossed the Ohio River on a vehicle ferry (which Matt is obsessed with) into Kentucky’s Amish country. We didn’t see any buggies on the road but the farms at sunset were beautiful.

image

 We arrived in Nashville late but with plenty of time to visit a few of Broadway’s Honky Tonk bars, see some live music, and eat a late night fried bologna sandwich (which Taryn is obsessed with). 

image

Woody Guthrie Sites in Okemah, Oklahoma

I hate a song that makes you think you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody.No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim. Too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I’m out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.

- Woody Guthrie

Day 43: Amarillo, TX to Memphis, TN

With ten hours of driving to do we knew we weren’t going to be able to get to Memphis early no matter what, so we weren’t too upset when we woke up at 10AM. We wanted to stop in Okemah, OK to see Woody Guthrie’s birthplace, but didn’t have any other planned stops. Our PB&J stash would come in handy today.

We passed small oil wells, distant fires, and big crosses along the way.

We arrived in Okemah around four o’clock and found most of the establishments on the main drag closed or out of business. We spent some time in the park which contains the Woody Guthrie statue and murals then drove down the street to see the place where his childhood home previously stood (photos in another post).

We pulled into Memphis LATE but were fortunate to find a local dive bar within walking distance that was still serving food called Bardog. The food and some beers hit the spot and we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. 

Day 42: Grand Canyon to Amarillo, TX

image

The pendulum of timezone blessings would swing back the other way today as we drove towards Amarillo. For while the state of Arizona does not observe daylight savings time, the Navajo Nation, just outside of the Grand Canyon, does, and so does New Mexico. With Amarillo in the central timezone this meant our 10 hours on the road would look more like 12. Sweet.

Resigned to this fact, and looking to make up for the time we lost during the previous evening’s storm we decided to take our time in the morning and hiked out to our private vista to enjoy breakfast.

image

Even the views from the car while driving away from the Grand Canyon were amazing, and the rest of the day was spent looking out the window at the many geological formations debating the difference between Buttes, Mesa and Plateaus (can you say nerds). We also saw several beautiful rainbows from the area’s roving storms.

image

We hit the road in search of delicious Mexican food. We found it in Gallup, NM (declared the Most Patriotic Small Town in America) at El Metate Tamale Factory. We each got the combination plate and inhaled it before we could take any pictures. If you’re in New Mexico do yourself a favor and go here! It’s located in a small residential neighborhood and as we pulled up we were surprised to see another set of Massachusetts plates; fellow road trippers! 

It’s a good thing we found El Metate too, because all that was waiting for us when we pulled into Amarillo at 11:30PM CDT was a microwaved digiorno pizza from the hotel lobby, some cherry garcia ice cream, and an amazing bottle of pinot noir from our Sonoma wine cache. Probably not the pairing the vineyard would have suggested. 

Driving into Amarillo we passed the Wilderado Wind Ranch, a massive wind farm 20 or so miles outside of the city, which at night appears as a wall of synchronized red blinking lights. We also passed by a large beef feedlot. If you’re looking for a reason to choose grass fed over corn fed/feedlot beef just drive by one of these things. If you have no idea what we’re talking about check out King Corn on your next documentary movie night. It’s the most entertaining food movie we’ve seen. 

We did some laundry at the hotel and prepared for another long day on the road. Next stop Memphis, TN.