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I’d be most definitely lying if I told you I’d always dreamed of travelling to Nashville Tennessee, and rural Clermont County in Kentucky. These are two places I’d never planned to visit at all, let alone be writing about with a soft heart. A mere year ago I found myself travelling by car from the southern tip of Florida, northbound through the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio (purely accidental), and Michigan… bound for my home; Canada. Coming from a small town in British Columbia, and having lived in the famous ski resort of Whistler for quite a few years, I never imagined I’d be moved to Southern Florida for 18 months and then on my way back to the Canadian city of Toronto. I’d never even visited Toronto before! Upon moving to Florida life was up in the air. I had no idea where I’d be living after my 18 month work permit was expired- and I most certainly didn’t think I’d be driving to my next ‘home’. So here I find myself- at the most beautiful time of year for a week-long road trip (mid-August) across the the United States and homeward bound.

My life has changed drastically, again and again in the past two years, in ways I’d never thought possible. So at this point in time all I’d planned to really do was drive blindly across the country. Many hours of accelerator-leg-cramping, gas pumping, and hotel-finding. All I wanted to do was set foot on my home turf and get on with another life-changing, stressful task of: “new job, new city, new home, new routine, new everything.“. During this time in my life I was getting accustomed to all the upheaval, change, stress, and learning to TRULY go with the flow. I’ve moved so much that I’ve had four different homes in three different cities, in different countries, within a 24 month span. Words cannot describe how unsettled a person can feel from this experience, yet liberated at the same time. There’s something to be said for letting go and being a free bird with little attachment to most things in life.  (Hence my first ever tattoo- tiny birds flying to… who knows where.)

Little did I know that my short journey across the United States would have such a lasting impact on me emotionally.

The first thing seen outside of Florida that shocked me (because nothing much in Florida shocks me anymore!) was a giant billboard advertisement for a Strip Club, along the side of the highway in southern Georgia reading: “As seen on Jerry Springer! Truck Driver Discount!!!”

*picks jaw up off floor and shakes head*

So out of the south of Georgia, up through the greater Atlanta area, and into Tennessee… and I’m in heaven. I can remember so clearly, driving with such pleasure on that 8 lane highway with the most incredible view of sunlit rolling green hills, and glimmering lakes. Something about this reminded me of home in British Columbia, but almost better. ( I said almost!). I thought to myself; “who knew?! How come nobody told me!?”. Tennessee remains one of my favourite places travelled to, and this is due to the fact that I was so positively affected by it having never planned to even see it in the first place. Such an unexpected delight. Now onto the city of Nashville for the afternoon, and I’m thinking: “Here we go, country music blaring everywhere and a bunch of hicks. Great.”  Surpriiiiiiise! What a fantastic city to spend the day in! I wish I’d had more time to spend there, because this place has the most incredible vibe. Positive and radiant. There’s just something about it. I grew up in a small town full of people listening to nothing but country music, but I’ve never really gotten to fall in love with it myself. But Nashville? This place can make anybody fall in love with country. With live music in every doorway, some of the friendliest people I’d seen the likes of since moving to the southern United States, and officially THE best Barbecue ribs I’ve had to date… this city is a win.

BBQ from world famous WILDHORSE SALOON, Nashville. Brilliant. Best I’ve had.

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The streets of Nashville.

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Leaving the city… skyline view.

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Yes their southern drawl may mean your Canadian accent renders you unable to properly communicate in places such as Chattanooga, but I was sad to be leaving this State. Pleasantly surprised however, by my next stop: Kentucky.

Once again, lush rolling green hills, and an incredible “stop the car!” photo opportunity at every turn. Beautiful. Luckily I have such an incredibly small bladder that I’m stopping all the time anyways! And boy am I glad I stopped to pee in this particular place! Ever been to Clermont County, Kentucky? Probably not. I stopped for a bathroom break just a short drive outside of Louisville, just down the street from the Jim Beam distillery. You know how it is when you’re trying to find a quick spot to stop- you end up driving 15 mins down some rural winding road to god knows where, and then say “to hell with it, I’m pulling over right here!”. And would you look at that: a quick jaunt up a small knoll just to check out the sunset view from this gorgeous place I now find myself… and the whole thing opens up to a glistening lake, more winding road, rusted old fences, and trees rustling in the evening summer breeze. What a sight. This view was such a satisfying moment of solitude that I still have this photo framed in my front entrance today:

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And the glistening lake… Silence, with not a person in sight but me.

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Unfortunately there was no stop-over in Louisville due to time restraints. It’s a real shame too, because the sunset driving through the city was incredible. Also a shame because according to this site Louisville’s main street has the second largest collection of cast-iron storefront facades in the USA, only New York City has more. I’d like to have seen that! Maybe another time.

So onward and upward to Ontario I went, but nothing else along the way provided such memories as these two places. An unexpected pleasure on a quick trip that I’d planned to hurry through. Never underestimate.

Annie Dillard said:  “Spend the afternoon.  You can’t take it with you.”

She’s right.

Happy ‘Unexpected-Travel-Joys’…

Posted by:Ashley

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