Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day 25: Stabbing westward

Immediately following my last post, I was ready to hit the town and see a show. I figured I had some time to grab some food and maybe a beer before hand, so to Wikitravel I went to research my options. I found what seemed to be an interesting place (boasting something like 40 beers on tap and 200 bottled), and on a whim I checked on the time and location of the show.

"Oh look at that, rather than starting at a reasonable time (for a concert) like say 8 or 9, apparently this particular show started at 6...over an hour ago."

Well, damn. Shows a no go. I'm not terribly bummed though, since this band will be in Portland in about two months, so I'll catch them then. I head out to grab food and a beer from a place called Capital Ale House. Like in Providence, the pub turned out to be a little more upscale than I was looking for, but they had a beer menu that was pages long, broken down by type and with blurbs about each one. I settled on a very tasty IPA from Williamsburg (brewing company I guess? Williamsburg being a town not far from Richmond), and the burger with Gouda. Let me tell you, I never would have thought to put Gouda on a burger. But oh yes, this particular taste combination is amazing. I even learned quite a bit about beers from reading the menu (such as many IPAs actually use mineral water instead of normal water as the base to add a drier taste to the final product).

I want something like this to adorn my grave
The next day, the first priority was to get my car in for a service. A quick Google search revealed a number of Honda dealerships in the area. I gave one a call and was able to set up an appointment for later in the afternoon. Good news for my car, but it also meant I would have to spend the entire day waiting around in Richmond. This turned out to be less of a problem than I first thought, as I had a list of attractions I could visit in the interim.

My first stop was the Confederate White House. It turns out that this piece of history is located downtown, immediately next to an extremely busy hospital and medical university. And the streets are under construction. I found a spot to park eventually and walked the half dozen blocks back to the White House. I was a little surprised to see the museum was located right in the middle of downtown, with little green space surrounding the house itself (unlike the current White House). Also, as far as historical monuments go, the Confederate White House was a little underwhelming; it is a white house with slight Victorian styling, but mostly uninteresting and unimpressive in size and design. I suppose it only served for five years or so as the capitol of the Confederates, which didn't give it much time to mature.

True man of mettle (er, metal)
I left the downtown area and began heading towards the Honda dealership to ensure that I wouldn't be late, even though I still had another couple of hours. On the way, I noticed on my GPS a large cemetery called the Hollywood Cemetery. I recalled reading that this was where Confederate president Jefferson Davis was buried. In I went. The graveyard is quite historic, and is the final resting place for many thousands of people over the last few hundred years. Two other American presidents are also buried there.

I first visited Jefferson Davis' grave site, which is marked by a slightly larger than life statue of Davis, as well as a flagpole (although no flag was flying). Sprinkled around the site (and indeed around the entire graveyard) were confederate flags of various designs. I noticed something interesting about all of the inscriptions and plaques talking about not only Davis, but the confederacy in general. None mentioned the issue of slavery as the reason for the difference between them and the Union. From grade school, I have been taught that this was THE reason for the Civil War; it was intriguing to see a different perspective on history. Obviously the winners write the history books, and each side has its own biases and view of what happened, but it makes me curious to delve deeper into this subject.

The other major point of interest in the graveyard is the confederate soldier section; kind of a scaled down confederate version of Arlington. It is always sobering to see the tangible effect war has on human life.

Leaving the cemetery, it was finally time for my appointment. I spent the next hour sitting in the waiting room, trying to ignore Dr. Phil on the TV and get some work done (I was mostly successful on both fronts).

I had about 5-6 hours of driving to do for the day, so I hit the road. I took mostly back highways between Richmond and Greensboro, NC which enabled me to see some very nice country side of Virginia. By the time I got to Greensboro it was getting dark anyway, so the interstate sufficed until I got to my motel in Asheville.

It was late, but I hadn't eaten since before my service appointment. It was time. It was time for me to experience another eastern United States institution: Waffle House. I've seen these everywhere, the sign consisting of black block letters on a yellow background. The best way I can describe the atmosphere is to imagine a local grimy diner; smoky air, dirty tables, cheesy framed slogans on the wall, but most of all really crappy, greasy food. Then, someone decided it would be an amazing idea to franchise this diner. Thus was born Waffle House. I ordered a standard breakfast (eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, and gravy covered biscuit). On the wall was a framed certificate claiming a score of 95 during a recent health inspection. I have a hard time believing this was on a scale of 100; maybe 1000. Or maybe it was a 9.5 out of 100. That's probably how I'd rate the food. Although the biscuit with sausage gravy was pretty delicious.

I awoke to some August torrential rain, which meant my plan of walking around Asheville was about to be canceled. Before I left town I ate at a local pizza joint which was quite impressive called Marcos Pizzeria. The drive from Asheville to Nashville was very rainy, but still quite beautiful as the interstate went through the Great Smoky Mountains. What I've seen so far of Tennessee has actually run quite contrary to the image I had in my head, the east half being quite forested and lush.

I got into Nashville in the early evening, checked into my motel, and started writing this blog. Once rush hour had died down I decided to head out to grab some food and hopefully check out the bar scene. I looked up a couple of places, grabbed their addresses, and headed out.

The first place I tried was closed (which is fine, it seemed to be in a shady area of town anyway); I ended up at Rotier's, an awesome hole in the wall kind of diner/restaurant near Vanderbilt University. I ordered their "grilled cheeseburger", which is basically a cheeseburger with bread instead of a bun and grilled like grilled cheese. Now I know what you're thinking, something along the lines of "holy crap that sounds so freaking amazing how can it possibly get any better?". Well, not only was it a novel idea, the ingredients themselves were quality. The burger was handmade, not just a frozen patty; you know the kind that just fall apart when you bite into them. And it was cheap. Double bonus.

I had a list of bars to try that promised some kind of live music. The first one was Springwater, the dive-y-est bar you will ever see; and it was karaoke night. As I walked in there was an elderly gentleman on the mic performing some kind of impromptu strip show between verses of his song. It only got better from there. After about half an hour, I figured I needed some actual music before going to bed, so I moved on to the Station Inn. And boy was I glad I did.

Performing at the Station Inn was a band called Mashville Brigade, a six piece acoustic bluegrass group (banjo, mandolin, guitar, fiddle, Dobro slide guitar, and stand up bass). Now, I've seen many metal bands live, I've watched some amazing soloists tear up the stage. But let me tell you, these guys can shred...as much as you can "shred" on an acoustic instrument. The show was awesome and a lot of fun, and the venue quite packed for a Tuesday night. Definitely worth the $8 cover charge.

Tomorrow I'll explore more of Music City, then probably head on over to Memphis.

Motivation yo: Can't get enough of that southern accent...
Miles yo: >7000
Muzak yo:
Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Thrice - Vheissu
Dustin Kensrue - Please Come Home


John and Dianne said...

We love your blog! Please tell us more about Nashville, we plan to visit it in October. Stay safe!

John showed me the scene of the accident at Dickey Lake. What a booby trap! We will think of you whenever we go swimming. :)

We hope you come back one day and bring your friends.

matt said...

mmm, that grilled burger sounds good.

thats fun your soaking up some music from music city. the bluegrass that is, not the old man striptease

keep on blogging!!

matt said...

oh and P.S. I heard some place that one of the major factors in the Confederacy trying to break away was due to taxes they didn't like. ironic seeing as that's a major reason the United States got started in the first place.

g said...

Dude what was Asheville like? I am way interested.

And have fun in Nashville and Tennessee... TN is better than every other southern state I've been to, I can tell you that.

Keep having a good time man.

roryo said...

You were righto bro, slavery was the main cause of war. The confederate states were all happy with their slavery, and when they were told they had to stop they seceded from the USA.

The other states didn't like that so much and the rest is history.

You can see how the south might avoid the topic though.