Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm Freezing And There's Trees With Leaves

The entire time we've been here it has been the coldest spell this region has seen so far this winter. It might be 15-20 degrees higher than a colder day at home but it FEELS like it is way below zero with the moisture in the air to this Rocky Mountain dry-air-lovin' girl. Brrrr. This is the kind of cold that gets you to the bone!

The tourist attraction #1 on my list was Belle Meade Plantation. This would mean we'd be outside for awhile. Thankfully, I brought warm clothes and bundled myself up as much as I could for the day. We met The Cousins for breakfast at the famous Loveless Cafe. It was the farthest we have driven so far and the first time we left the city area. We wandered through rolling hills to get there. It was very pretty. There is one thing we've noticed about Tennessee thus far...there is no sparing BIG houses and BIG churches...all over the place. I've never seen so many HUGE churches before. Church after church after church. I know we're in the Bible belt but I never new there was a BELT of churches woven across the land. Texas is a Bible belt state and I've been there a few times but they do not have the belt of churches that Tennessee has!

And the houses. Oh the houses! I love housing, housing architecture, landscaping, facades, interior and exterior design. That was a part of my degree in college. The houses here are beautiful and many are really big!

I was excited about our meal at the Loveless Cafe but it did not live up to our expectations. We thought we were going to have the BEST southern meal of our trip. The food was mediocre. The atmosphere was great. We did enjoy the food in the sense that it was food we don't get back home...authentic fried chicken, slow cooked BBQ pork, greens, creamed spinach, sorghum molasses, mac and cheese, fried okra and homemade banana pudding. We also tried some country ham that was really salty. The desserts were great and that made for a good finale.

Then we headed to Belle Meade. Wow. This was the highlight of my trip thus far. Belle Meade has a rich history and was the home of the leading race horse nursery in our country for decades. The plantation saw the Civil War, several presidents, and a roller coaster of boom and bust. As our seasoned, costumed tour guide told stories as we walked through the mansion I felt as though I could taste and feel the lives of those that called Belle Meade home.

There was an aspect of Belle Meade that is as true to the South and as foreign to me as it comes. Slavery. I am so saddened by this history. Although the families of Belle Meade were an exception of slave owners, giving them an education illegally, treating them as extended family, and eventually giving them stock in land, I was still burdened as I peered in on the cabins these families lived in and the hardships they faced. Here was a cabin representing the slave quarters.

The town of Franklin was well worth a drive farther out of the city. The houses were beautiful and the historic downtown was adorable. We enjoyed some frozen yogurt and then drove along a country route back to Nashville oohing and awing over the hoards of those big houses and churches. We ate at a great pizza joint in the Vanderbilt area and turned in early to regroup before our conference starts tonight.

I was planning to upload some pictures of our trip thus far but I forgot the USB cord needed in order to do so.

Oh, and those trees that still have leaves on them? Magnolia trees. The leaves do not turn and fall off like a deciduous tree. They are thick and waxy. Interesting.

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