“West bound and Up” Part I: The Dirty South

Thursday, June 16th, 2011: Lakeland, FL to Nashville, TN

Bon Voyage! (Rene thought it was be funny if we all grew our mustaches out for the trip, only he shaved his the day before)

It was sad saying goodbye; always is. This time though, it felt weirder…I guess because my heart wasn’t completely convinced I was doing the right thing, whatever that is. Mom was her usual emotional self and I was mine, feel it on the inside, try not to show it on the outside. Aunt Valerie stopped by to wish us well and off we went. Big John in the passenger seat, Lil Rene in the truck cab with all the luggage and yours truly behind the wheel.

Most people are pretty high energy when then start off on a journey and we were no different, at least Rene and John were. I was off in my own head and concentrating on the road. I’ve become a pretty cautious driver, which is odd, because it’s been a long time since I drove regularly.

Coffee break in Georgia

I took us into Georgia where we stopped to stretch our legs and grab a coffee. First observation about America…’Starbucks’ is EVERYWHERE! Right up there with ‘McDowell’s.’ We stopped at one to get a little pep in our step. Even though you are just sitting, driving can really tucker you out. I really don’t know how these truck drivers do it?

So, we get into Nashville a bit late, but early enough to grab a bite to eat. Sitting in the restaurant looking outside through the big glass window, I learned a fun fact about Nashville…it is an alcoholic’s paradise! I think we were all a little surprised out how much partying was going on on a Thursday nite.

Plantation House

The next day we got up relatively early, got some exercise in and then headed out for the day. We stopped by a honky tonk for a late breakfast and asked the waitress what there was to do in Nashville. She responded with a question, “Ya’ll drink?” Yes ma’am, but usually not at 11am.

We wound up going to an old plantation, which turned out to be pretty nice. While taking the tour of the house, our homosexual guide, “Clay (not his real name)” could not take his eyes off of Big John’s belt. After a bit of time, he mustered up enough courage to strike up some conversation with the big guy, opening with, “how tall are you, anyway?” Watching John squirm was, and I think I’m speaking for Rene here too, well worth the price of admission.

Southern refreshments

After the tour we checked out a small winery on the premises. Though it was only lunch time, the three of us agreed to buy a bottle and drink it outside (actually, John and I agreed and Rene bought it!). Two glasses later and I was toasted, which was more or less a teaser for the hi jinx to follow that nite. The wine put us all in the mood…to nap, so after we grabbed a late lunch, we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit.


The hot southern nite was awaiting us, so we tooledt up the best we could, slapped some cologne on and hit the town. First stop…”Coyote Ugly!?” Well, it was a start. The girl behind the bar was an absolute bore, but after watching her gyrate over a customer who was laying atop the bar, just inches away from my face, all was forgiven.

Turns out “Coyote Ugly” is popular stop for bachelorette parties, so we stuck around a little longer than we expected. Being that we were in Tennessee, I thought I’d stick with the whiskey for the entire nite (although it wasn’t Jack…shhhh!!). It was a laugh in ‘Coyote,’ but it was time to move along, so we hit a country western bar called “Tootsies,” which apparently is a famous stop in Nashville. Rene’s “invisible hand” lead him to a group of girls upstairs, one of whom was a Floridian. The Floridian and her friends were going to some club next door and invited us along. I wanted to go, but the guys were still in wandering mode, so we hit the streets instead.

yee haw!

While we were looking for the next place, Rene overheard a couple of guys speaking Spanish, so he turned around and spoke to them (Rene is bilingual). The next thing we know, the five of us are squished inside one of the guy’s car, yelling and laughing hysterically over the sound of the stereo, which was pumping out a shitty kind of music known as “reggae ton.” I don’t know what we were all laughing about, but I assure you it was funny!

Ten minutes after our little adventure in the car, we arrive at the club, which, from the outside, looks like more like an abandoned warehouse than a disco. Once we got in though, the place was hoping. I really couldn’t believe we were at an underground salsa party in Nashville, TN, but the randomness of it all was part of the appeal and I think we all had a ‘grand ole time!’


The next day we had to wake up early for the next leg of the trip and as I was hunched over the toilet heaving, I started to wonder if my whiskey plan was such a great idea after all? After we got cleaned up, we started our journey to Missouri. It was my turn to drive, but about an hour in, Big John mercifully relieved me of that duty. I really have not felt that rotten for a long time, but by the time we got to our next stop, I was back in form.

To be continued….


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