The morning after the night before, wasn’t too bad. We had all drank a lot of water so hangovers were slight. Today’s plan was simple – Max was working, so me and Dan headed north in the car for about 30 miles with one task in mind. We were going to Kentucky, to do what you can only do in Kentucky. We went to visit KFC and see if indeed, KFC, in Kentucky, is still called KFC. Or is it just called FC!?
We reached Hopkinsville, the nearest Kentucky town with a KFC and weren’t surprised to see that KFC is still called KFC in Kentucky. Well, that was our morning and after the adventure we returned to Max’s place for an afternoons rest. A quick stop at Chicken-fill-a for a spot of lunch and then we drove down to Nashville, where we are now sat in a lovely room in the Sheraton Hotel, courtesy of Max and we are getting ready for a night out in town!
It was a good night out. Max’s girlfriend Tiffany, was on her way to meet up with us for dinner, so before we ate we had a walk around the Broadway area of Nashville, where all the Country music in the world come from (More about country music songs later). It’s quite a good night actually with bars of all kinds as well as the live country music blasting out of the open doors. We ended up in Hooters, so we could watch the live college football as we had a couple of quiet beers and waited for Tiffany to arrive. An hour later, we went just down the road to a place called ‘Dicks’, which is a themed restaurant where the staff are actually allowed and encouraged to abuse you - call you names, be rude and also make big hats for you to wear with derogatory statements on. All good fun and we had a good laugh in there, although we weren’t as abused as some of the other customers. I think our waitress was being nice to us because of our English accents.
After that we ended up in Coyote Ugly, where Dan somehow ended up with a cut chin after a can ended up in his face. He bled a little, was cleaned up by one of the staff and even had to sign a waiver so that he wouldn’t sue the establishment! He even added a little extra at the bottom of the waiver: - ‘Because I’m in the British army and I’m as hard as nails!!’ Classy Dan.
The next day we left Nashville heading south towards Atlanta. A stop on the way brought us to a really cool place called ‘Rock City’. This is actually the peak of the hills that overlook the city of Chattanooga (No 'choo choo') and where you can actually see 7 of the US states.It also has lots of crevasses and caves to walk through as well as an overhang and a lovely man made waterfall cascading down the side of Lovers Leap. We spent a good hour here wandering the caves and ended up in ‘Fairyland Caverns’, which consists of 50 year old luminous scenes from well known fairy tales, which are all lit up on the sides of a dark cave corridor. It’s a very weird but enchanting place, made a bit weirder with the gnomes that are placed everywhere and seem to stare at you! Dan made a point of joining in the strange Gnome dance music by doing a little jig and I joined in by doing my best ‘evil dictator’, laugh in the darkness and making some of the little children scream. It made us laugh though!! Ha-ha – bloody kids! We had already laughed at the kids once anyway as one of the parents had shouted his name – ‘Braxton’, a strange enough name anyway, but I thought he had said ‘Rats son’, at first and then misheard it as ‘Branston’, the second time the father shouted it out. Me and Dan were pissing ourselves laughing at the thought of this kid being called Branston!!
|FC in Kentucky|
|Nights in Nashville|
|Max- in Dicks|
|Max and Tiffany|
Back in the car we headed southwards again and heard the greatest Country music song ever. We have heard many many of them over the last week or two, but this is the best!! – ‘Egg sucking Dog’, by Jonny Cash. You have to listen to the words and wonder what the hell he was drinking when he wrote this song!
Our last stop with Max and Tiffany was at ‘Cracker Barrel’, Max's favourite food stop. It’s a traditional American home cooked food restaurant and is awesome. With rocking chairs on the outdoor patio and food like Chicken and Dumplins – you can’t go wrong. We all enjoyed our last meal together and it was so filling that even Dan and Max struggled to finish theirs. It was then time to take on final photo and bid farewell to Max and Tiffany as they headed back to Max’s parents place. It’s been brilliant to see Max again after a couple of years and even better that we have been able to meet his girlfriend Tiffany. She is cool and they go together really well. We wish them all the best and hope to see them both again sometime soon – Maybe in UK sometime in the next year or two. That would be great.
|THIS DIDNT SCARE THE KIDS....|
|Or this...so we scared them instead.|
For now we are in a hotel just by Atlanta airport, which Dan flies out of early tomorrow morning, leaving me all alone for the last 10 days or so of this trip.
Blimey – what a long day. We were up just after 4am and after taking Dan to the airport and saying goodbye, I count be arsed going back to bed, so I packed up my stuff and left Atlanta just before 6am. The first couple of hours were easy and I made good time, before getting tired by 9.30am. I decided to get a few minutes sleep and woke up an hour later, in the back of the car, not knowing where the hell I was and wondering how it got so hot! The sun had come out and the inside of the car was now like an oven, so I cooled it down with the aircon and continued on my way. I arrived in Jacksonville in the early afternoon only to find my hotel looking like a building site. I thought it was closed, but when I went inside I found a really nice, clean and modern hotel, with the work beginning next Monday, the day I leave! Bonus.
|The Brunssum 3 - last photo together for a while!|
|Seeya Dan!! (and woman behind dan)|
|Half derelict hotel (its lovely inside!)|
|The nice bit of Jacksonville...|
The car was due to be dropped at Jacksonville airport tomorrow, but with nothing else to do, I went there straight away and got rid of it. Its one less thing to worry about. I also had a good wander around the city centre, where there was a Filipino festival going on at the Waterfront. A really good fun hour or so was spent watching a Filipino comedian and band before continuing my walk around.
Jacksonville is much like a lot of US city centre's that I have visited. A lovely skyline with buildings hugging a river, where there is a small social area of bars, cafes and shops – but around the corner and away from the tourist centre's – a derelict, open wasteland with homeless people everywhere and the scent of danger in the air. It’s what we need to avoid happening in the town centres of the UK as all the big stores and shopping areas move out of town. It’s weird as if you look up you see the glass fronted skyscrapers looming above you, oozing money and opulence. During the day the workers travel to the city from their out of town houses and park their flash cars in the huge car parks. But as soon as work ends the places change. The Starbucks close, the streets empty and the real city dwellers emerge from under the shade of trees in the park and start to wander around looking menacingly at anyone who doesn’t fit into their world.
In places like New York or San Francisco these areas are harder to find, but places like Jacksonville, that are off the beaten tourist track –just head for the city centre after dark to find it. Or more sensibly – Don’t.
There are nice areas too though, normally by the river, and this is where I found myself as I headed back across the bridge to the south bank and took a few photos of the colourful Jacksonville Skyline before heading home for a spot of rest in my derelict hotel.
Like, I said – It’s been a long day!!