US Road Trip Travelog: 16th February 2005

Yet more excitement at the Goodyear Service Center, where I sit down and read my book and drink coffee from 8:30 to 1:30. The delay is because one of the new brake parts turns out to be broken and has to be replaced. Unfortunately the temperature today is down 30°, somewhere in the late 40's and too cold to sit outside. As I'm leaving the guys there ask me where I'm going to next and, when I tell them, they say that I'll like it a lot more than Memphis. As I greatly enjoyed Memphis this seems unlikely. More than that, though, it makes me wonder why they stay in Memphis when a better place is only 200 miles away up the I40.

There are two ways I could arrive in Nashville:

  1. Cruising up in style in my re-invigorated classic car.

  2. In a cloud of steam in a chronically-overheated old wreck.

I would have preferred option 1, but the Riviera (I must give this car a name) decides that it'll be option 2. As I pull off the Interstate to look for my hotel I see there's smoke billowing out everywhere from under the hood. Then a warning light with 'Hot' flashes on the dash, as if I hadn't already noticed. I turn into the first place with parking I can see and switch off. Opening the hood - I'm going to adopt the American terms for car parts from now on as it gets too confusing - I can see that, thankfully, it appears to be coolant and not oil that's coming out. That will hopefully mean just a split hose or, at worse, a new radiator.

For places to break down, it could be a lot worse:

After checking into my dump of a motel (Comfort Inns, be ashamed) there's only one thing to do. The Riviera may need coolant but I need beer, so I walk downtown. Nashville is a surprisingly big city, complete with multiple skyscrapers and all the rest. To me it seems bigger than Memphis. Better than that, the area with the music bars is a wide one and seems to be authentic rather than something that's been restored or preserved. This seems to be a real living and breathing city that happens to have a thriving live music scene.

The walk down Broadway in downtown Nashville is just fantastic, multiple bars with live music and a really good feel to it. After a few pints (yes, they do pints here as well) I decide on Rippy's Smokin' Bar & Grill to get something to eat. There wasn't a band on when I walked in but it turns out they were just on a break and the first song they start with is a request from their previous set, Bob Seger's ' Turn The Page'. There are only two of them on stage playing guitars - one of whom alternates with banjo - but they both play, sing and harmonise well and, I must admit, the lyrics send a little shiver up my spine. I love this song and the traveling theme seems particularly appropriate today.

Once the waitress has told me that beers are two for the price of one for the next hour and the band have played 'Duelling Banjos' from the film Deliverance and the theme song from the Dukes of Hazzard (in between their own songs, which are also very good) I'm like a pig in, shoot, I don't know what. When I've had a few more beers and the band have played Hank Williams Jr's ode to the fairer sex ' Women I've Never Had' and John Denver's 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' I realise that I don't care how long the car repair takes as I may never leave Nashville anyway.

US Road Trip Travelog: 17th February 2005 >