This is what we listened to as we made our way into Tennessee. It was a much needed retreat.
A few months ago I saw that Ben Folds would be performing his concerto with the Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Ballet. After a few weeks we pulled the trigger and my friend Jared and I bought the tickets.
Saturday morning we packed up the car and made our way south. 7 hours.
Some times a thing a brain and a body needs to do is get away. Just forget about the rest of life for a couple of days. Some call them “vacations.” We call them “braincations.”
Things I recommend packing if you ever take a trip to Santa Claus, Indiana:
cryogenically frozen head of Walt Disney
king of spades
Let It Be
whale watching book
x-rated whale watching book
(that’s just good advice. you’re welcome in advance)
On our way we passed Dinosaur World. If you know anything about me, you know this means I started screaming “DINOSAUR ZOO! PEE PANTS NOW!” We agreed we should stop on our way home.
We also came across signs for the Falls of the Ohio and had to stop. We had so much time. (it’s important to know that there are a lot of secret pictures coming, and Jared hates secret pictures. I won’t apologize, because he won’t know. Will he?)
This was a whole tree, a whole dern tree. Just sloshing back and forth in the waves. River waves. Can we talk for a moment about how some times rivers have waves? If they’re big enough and full enough. Splash. Splash. Trees essentially reduced to mulch. Giant, sloppy, sloshy mulch. We made our way south and arrived in Smyrna. I-24 Campground. Very adequate. We set up camp and went for an exploration. Scenic Smyrna. Where there are no restaurants on Saturday night when you want them, but food stops galore on Sunday when you don’t. Important fun fact about Smyrna: Pretty sure everything in this town is named after my cat. Or maybe the Fates were trying to remind me that I abandoned her for a weekend. Gilley Lane. Gil’s Hardware. Gil’s Family Center. Pretty sure my cat was mayor of Smyrna at some point. Cat Mayor of Smyrna. I’m sure you saw it in the Times.
Dressed like we weren’t sleeping on the ground we drove to downtown Nashville. Some times a symphony is enough to open your soul again. To let it breathe. Some times a ballet pushes your soul over the edge. Some times the combination of symphony, ballet, Ben Folds, a good friend, and a night away are enough to clear your head completely.
After the show it was so nice out, and we were so close that we couldn’t not stop by James K Polk’s grave. Before getting trapped in a parking garage for a year.
After we were graciously allowed freedom from the parking structure by a car of treasures we went back to the old homestead. I-24 Campground, again, classy as it sounds. Right there on Old Johnny’s Rest.
A cold, cold night led to a hot day. We got up early and sought out coffee, much needed coffee. It’s amazing how 7 hours in a car can really wear on a body. In Smyrna there are signs all over about a man named Sam Davis. (Based on the actual photograph of Sam Davis on a marker near “his home”,” he looked nothing like his statue. Seriously, nothing like.) We had to know who he was, so we went to his home. A couple of things, Smyrna. It wasn’t ole Sam’s home. It was his parents’. Also it was closed, because Sunday. Sam died in the Civil War, as so many 21-year-olds did. Basically he died because he was captured and had papers on him. He also said this thing, “If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all rather than betray a friend or the confidence of my informer” Again, the marker by “his home” left off that bit about informers. Glossing over history, Smyrna. He also, apparently, gets compared to both Nathan Hale and Jesus a lot. Like a lot a lot. I, um, okay, Smyrna.
We drove around for a while, and finally we saw it. The word “Marina.” We followed the signs. We ended up at the place I had tried to get us into for camping. One. Huge. Lake. A reservoir really. This reservoir. A fishing hobo called us “Tarzan and Jane,” as we pointed out to him where we saw a bunch of fish and carried our shoes. It was beautiful. It was life-giving. It was so peaceful.
A little more than reluctantly we packed up our campsite and headed into East Nashville to meet a couple of my friends from Huntington for lunch at the Lipstick Lounge. Before we hit that open road again.
We had three objectives on the road back. DINOSAUR ZOO!!! Cave. Most Awesome Flea Market in the World. We made it to Dinosaur World. We reasoned ourselves out of a cave and missed the flea market because the conversation got too good, and we were distracted.
At exit 9 on I-469 in Fort Wayne there are 9 of these way up by a house. I have wondered for years what they were. People, the answer is here. Thank you, DINOSAUR ZOO!
Mostly our time at DINOSAUR ZOO consisted of Land Before Time and Jurassic Park references. Spikes. Long Necks. Three Horns. Flyers. We aren’t very good adults. Just don’t tell the government or they’ll take away our…adult privileges? I don’t know what adults get.
This is a Sharp Tooth (technical name) Three Horn More three horns. J and that Mammoth had a real thing going on. As is my custom, I ruined the moment. This Sharp Tooth tried to end meThe selfies are for my friend Katie. Follow her hashtag. #selfiesforkatie
This may be my favorite picture. Ever. Long Necks. Three Horns are my favorite dinosaur. They’re racist, but I love them. This guy looks like a total idiot. The Sharp Tooth tried to eat J, then ya know, changed his mind. Classic dino. Long Necks. Probably looking for tree stars. Yep yep yep This guy just looked a real bully. a classic bully. the kind that got picked on himself so to make up for it he was extra mean. These reminded me of Muppets. I think mostly because bright blue, but I also have a pretty clear memory of marionettes that weren’t too far off from this. A beautiful landscape. I’m sure it was always this peaceful then.
Also, an important and weird truth about DINOSAUR ZOO. There were hundreds, and I do mean HUNDREDS of caterpillars all over the ground. Racing along at our feet. I spent most of our time walking on my toes. I think the objective is to keep you aware of your surroundings, super aware, so that when the dinos come to life (you know they do) you’re already so on edge that you can run. I still would have been eaten alive.
It was all worth it.
It’s true that some weekends you just need to be aware. Like a brain restart. In a few weeks, we do it again with our friends Dan and Rachel. This time we head north. My brain is already freaking out, so that the braincation will be worth it. (I’m a planner)