MttS Day 3: Charlotte, NC to Nashville, TN

Friday, July 6th

Jump to now. To our hotel room. We had been hauling ass down I-40 at VERY ILLEGAL SPEEDS in order to make it to the city in time. Apparently we were going so fast (we were going much faster than 88) that we went back in time, as we just were told by the other MttS drivers staying at this hotel that we had passed into a different time zone. It was [is] actually 6:15, NOT 7:15. Why is this so important? Because I wanted to make it to Nashville in time to visit Third Man Records which closed at 6pm. We thought that we might be able to make it into the city by 6:30 and that they might stay open for us. Turns out we did make it into the city by 6:30, or, what we thought to be 6:30, but TMR -who I called on the highway on the way to the city-  said that they couldn’t stay open for us.

The funny thing is, is that we were actually ON TIME (we arrived when the MttS route maps said we should). We actually got to downtown Nashville by 5:30 and would have had time to spare at TMR. It is such a kick in the pants.

Jump way back to the beginning of the day where we rose with the sun in order to get the opportunity to drive on Charlotte Motor Speedway. We did drive on the NASCAR track, and the 24 degree banked turns were way steeper than they seem on TV. After the lap we said goodbye to Jon and Andrew (the former Bostonians who now reside in New Jersey who we met yesterday) who were leaving the pack to head back to Jersey.

Jump to pulling out of the infield (of the racetrack) and onto the highway with the group of drivers that we had run with yesterday that were so much fun.  We got a short way down the road before someone needed to stop for gas. We all pulled off and then, when we got back on the highway joined up with another convoy larger of about 15 Minis. We then drove a long way up and down hills and valleys through North Carolina -through the Blue Ridge Mountains (“…Shenandoah River”)- being accompanied by an excellent playlist of 50s and 60s rock n’ roll.* I got trucker a to blow his horn for our Mini convoy; I hadn’t done something like that since sitting on a school bus during a field trip in elementary school.

Jump to the road that led to The Dragon’s Tail; the main feature of our drive today. The road to The Dragon consisted of steep up and down hills with twists and turns with one lane in either direction and trees on both sides. This was called Hellbender and was scary, but wasn’t even the fearsome Dragon, about which there are legends of deadly crashes!

We took our second break of the day (a kinda long one) at the Hellbender Pitstop gift shop. I met up with and talked to a couple bikers who we had passed on the main highway that led to the Hellbender (which led to the Dragon). Eventually we regrouped and drove down the road a piece to another rest area. We hadn’t gotten that far (only drove about 5 minutes) but we stopped for a long time again. I just wanted to start the Dragon already. Finally we regrouped again (after this third stop of the day!) and made our way onto the dragon.

The Dragon, is one of America’s most dangerous roads. It has more turns (318 vs ~160) over a shorter distance (11 miles vs 14.2) than the world famous Nurburgring Nordschleife race circuit (aka the Green Hell) in Nurburg, Germany.

Pete led three other cars through The Dragon. The posted 30 mph speed limit was rarely observed. Along the way we came across a wreck -two downed bikers the scraped each other going opposite directions- and had to stop for a short while. Legend became reality. A few miles down the road we saw another couple bikers on one of the few shoulders the road has. One of the female passengers had a badly scrapped leg. Eventually we made it out of the woods, literally.

-Mini meet up at the end of The Dragon; people in our crew busted by speed trap.

Jump to the next main highway. Sylvia and her parents -who had gone ahead- had waited for us on the side of the road. We were all hungry so we soon pulled off and the five of us ate at a pub and Sylvia’s parents we generous enough to pay. After the food break it was back to the highway for the last 190 mile stretch. Pete -who had been driving all day- kept his spot at the helm.

A little while later -at 4:40pm- Alice (aka car RamRod aka call sign “Boston Boys” ) needed gas. We had to split from our little three car convoy. After the gas break we were back on the road. A two lane highway with a 70 mile per hour speed limit (which was never observed) and a bunch of 18 wheelers. Due to the flow of traffic we found ourselves bobbing and weaving between cars and semis. Eventually we caught up with two other Minis. We all kept leap frogging and, when the freeway opened up, laid the hammer down, sometimes reaching speeds in the triple digits.

Jump back to begining of this post. This is about where that top part fits.

This is where the rest of our ass hauling story continues with a bit more detail. After a long tim of that we eventually made our way to a four lane highway where we miraculously caught up with the rest of the lead Minis as they made their way into Nashville. We hadn’t been at the back of the pack and in fact, were probably one of the first to arrive in Nashville even with all our stops which made the ride feel like it was taking a million years.

Jump to this evening, to downtown Nashville and the Wildhorse Saloon. I immediately got appetizers to eat. I was in a little bit of a ‘tude mood because of not being able to make it to Third Man Records, because we had foolishly (due to a communication breakdown) driven to the host hotel for no reason only to have to turn around and drive another 20 minutes back out of the city, and because we didn’t get to Grimey’s Record store before it closed. Additionally, Pete was being annoying.

I walked around aimlessly, eating my quesadillas and looking for someone I knew (someone I’d met already) to talk to. I was in no mood to  meet new people. Eventually I went up to the third level of the saloon (Level one, which was HUGE had a big dance floor with line dancing as well as a lof of tables to eat at and a couple bars, level two was the Mini event with a big bar, games (air hockey, etc.) and seating along the balcony that overlooked the first floor, and level three which was essentially the same as level two except instead of their being a bar in the middle, it was on the far side, and instead of an appetizer table, there were several nice pool tables) where I found Sylvia and her parents. I went up to her dad and bought him the drink I had offered to buy him as a “thank you” for paying the bill at the restaurant earlier.

Shortly after, Pete joined me and I bounced to buy us shots of Jack Daniels; which we needed to have since JD is Tenesee whiskey and we were in Tennessee. The shots were huge, like regular glasses, were filled to about the equivalent of 3 shots, and cost $15 ($7.50 each)! I brought them over to Pete and we both took a shot sized swig. After the terrible burn and smell, I left the glass with the remaining $5 worth of liquid on the bar never to be finished.

Jump to me walking around again, shortly followed by meeting back up with Pete. After his anoying attempts to give me macking advice. I made my way to the dance floor. Instantly I found a girl to line dance with. Both of us were from out of town (She was from Michigan; told me her name several times and I still forget what it was. It began with an “L.” She was there with her sister and they’d gone to Nashville for the 4th of July) so we both equally sucked. We danced and chatted for a bit and even though it didn’t go anywhere, it was a lot of fun and turned my whole night around.

A few songs later I met back up with Pete and we decided to leave. Upon stepping out the front door, it was instantly apparent, Nashville knows how to party. The streets were filled with stetson sporting, cowboy boot wearing locals and a bunch of tourists too. We went into a boot store. We passed a street performer who was playing the drums and rapping. I danced to his beats and a cool black dude (Tony) came over to me and started complimenting me very enthusiastically. He told us about Buck Wild, a bar he tends at and was essentially begging us to come. Eventually we escaped his clutches and made our way to a record store (Ernest Tubb Record Shop Est. 1947) where I bought a Wanda Jackson 7 inch that had the song “You Know I’m No Good” on one side and “Shakin’ All Over” on the other. The record had been pressed by Third Man Records so I at least got some connection to the label today.

After a little more walking around we made our way back to the car and -after a bit of a detour- back to our hotel where I stayed up till 1:30am to finish writing this.

Trip distance: ~450 miles

*The playlist in question: Wild Nights by Van Morrison, Baby Please Don’t Go by Them, Evil Hearted You by The Yardbirds, The Train Kept Rollin’ by The Yardbirds, Smokestack Lighting by The Yardbirds, For Your Love by The Yardbirds, Hot Dog by Led Zeppelin, South Bound Saurez  by Led Zeppelin, Little Green Bag by George Baker, Since I First Met You by The Robins, Rumble by Link Wray, Surf Rider by Lively Ones, You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry, Let Her Dance by Bobby Fuller Four, Come Dancing by The Kinks, Judy In Disguise by John Fred, Rock n’ Roll Is Here To Stay by Sha Na Na, Born To Hand Jive by Sha Na Na, Those Magic Changes by Sha Na Na, Tears On My Pillow by Sha Na Na, Blue Moon by Sha Na Na, Hound Dog by Sha Na Na, All Shook Up by Elvis, The Wanderer by Dion, Jail House Rock by Elvis, Heart Break Hotel by Elvis, Devil In Disguise by Elvis, Every Little Star by Linda Scott, What You’re Doing by The Beatles, Powerman by The Kinks, Roadrunner by The Modern Lovers, Whole Wide World by Wrekless Eric, Something by The Willowz, Hold Tight by Dave Dee Dozy Beeky Mick and Tich, The Kids Are Alright by The Who, Substitute by The Who, Summertime Blues (Cover) by The Who, Fun Fun Fun by The Beach Boys, Surfing USA by The Beach Boys, Barbara Ann by The Beach Boys, Wipe Out by The Ventures, Louie Louie by The Kingsmen, I Do by The Marvelows, All I Have To Do Is Dream by The Everly Brothers, I Second That Emotion by Smokey Robinson, Tracks Of My Tears by Smokey Robinson, Ooo Baby Baby by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Earth Angel by The Temptations, What A Wonderful World It Would Be by Sam Cooke, With A Girl Like You by The Troggs, Yesterday man by Chris Andrews, I’m Alive by The Hollies, Rescue Me by Aretha Franklin, At Last by Etta James

Other Notes:

-We passed a motorcycle bar called the Smokey Mountain Steel Horses. [Note to self: perhaps insert this (or all these “other notes” into post at the spot in the timeline where they actually took place]

-We passed a sign for a town that -at a glance- looked like it was pronounced Frisbeebro.

-We did stop by Buck Wild just to check it out from the outside. There were two girls by the door smoking cigarettes who looked like hookers. The place seemed sketchy, so we didn’t go in.

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