When we started planning this big US road trip over a year ago, we had the entire route planned out to leave in March and go clockwise along the south and then up the west coast from there. When we decided to postpone until September, we were forced to flip the entire route counter-clockwise and head northwest through the Midwest instead. This change in timing and direction gave us opportunities to connect with friends along the way that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.
We were able to spend time with Kyle’s high school friends in the panhandle and then met up with our friends in Nashville for a 30th birthday celebrationf. Being able to have our friends be a part of the beginning of this journey was such a unexpected blessing!
Staying with Friends in Pensacola
Pensacola was always going to be a part of our trip but thanks to hurricane season, we ended up having our campground reservations canceled at Fort Pickens just days before the start of our trip. Luckily Kyle had some old friends located in Pensacola that were more than happy to accommodate us on short notice! They had a neighbor that let us park our camper in their driveway and we stayed in their spare room for two nights.
When we arrived, Chris and Danielle took us out to their favorite little diner and then to downtown Pensacola to see the area. It’s legal to take drinks to-go in Pensacola, so we grabbed a drink from their favorite spot and then meandered down to the main street area called Palafox Street. The local Irish pub was hosting a bingo that night so we played the entire time and had an absolute blast. We even won a couple $10 gift certificates!
The following day, Chris and Danielle both had to work in the morning so we meandered down to Pensacola beach and did a little (unsuccessful) beach fishing. It was a great sunny morning though and the Pensacola beaches are stunning so we enjoyed every minute of it.
Once we met back up with them, Chris took us onto base to see his hanger and the National Naval Aviation Museum. It was awesome to see all the planes up close, especially the older planes that aren’t in use anymore! The second building had a lot of the planes that are still currently in use and Chris was able to nerd out and tell us all about the jets he flies, his time spent on aircraft carriers and the missions he went on.
That evening, we opted to stay in, have some drinks and play games. We learned a lot about their plants and garden, all the renovations they’ve done to their home and then gave them a quick tour of Roo! We spent the rest of the evening drinking and catching up. Such a nice opportunity for Kyle to spend time with friends he hadn’t seen in a while.
NashBash for a Friend’s 30th
My friend Brianna had her 30th birthday bash in Nashville planned out pretty much all year. We had said we would tentatively join but didn’t know exactly where we would be in the country come September. If we were to be still on the road, most likely we wouldn’t have been able to join. When we decided to postpone, the timing aligned perfectly with us rolling up north through Nashville right in time for the Nash Bash!
After leaving Pensacola, we stayed one night in central Alabama to break up the drive and then arrived in Nashville on Friday September 3rd. We decided to put our camper Roo in storage and stay with the whole crew in a huge Airbnb outside of the city. Mostly everyone arrived that Friday so we stayed inside that night, ordered some wings and had some drinks. It was so fun catching up with everyone especially since we were at the start of such an exciting time in our lives!
We kicked off the weekend on Saturday with a hired van that drove us around to several spots. Definitely saved money on Ubers doing it that way! Our first stop was to a market with tons of breakfast food vendors. From there we got to choose from either touring the Grand Ole Opry or wandering the Gaylord Opryland Resort with the boat cruise. Even though I had done the Grand Ole Opry tour previously, I decided to do it again so that Kyle could experience it for the first time. Well worth it seeing his eyes light up with all the old country artists!
The second stop took longer than planned so we spent the rest of the afternoon at the third stop which was Ole Smokey Moonshine and Yeehaw Brewing and their beer garden. Most of us did a whiskey/moonshine tasting while the others saved a table and ordered a bunch of tacos. Such a blast.
That night we had a hired chef cook in our Airbnb for us to save on the drama of reservations for a big group and then head out on the town. Broadway is obviously a can’t miss for Nashville but we weren’t really feeling the long lines or covers so we ended up in this smaller bar with live music and secured a nice open corner of the bar where we could sing and dance at our leisure! Perfect way to spend the night.
Day 2 we had a leisurely start to the morning and then ventured to Party Fowl for some brunch. Though the experience was a bit long and subpar over all, the food was AMAZING. They specialized in Nashville hot chicken so Kyle and Jim bravely tried the HOT level while the rest of us either got mild or no sauce at all! The food made the wait well worth it. From there we split off again into groups.
Our group grabbed some rental scooters and ventured down to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Typically this would be a great stop but it was busier than usual and we found ourselves kind of breezing through much of the exhibits. We did however catch a couple minutes of a Fiddle competition which was pretty impressive to watch.
From there we met back up with the group, and ventured over to Honky Tonk Central. Since it was still mid-day, we scored some great tables by the windows and spent several hours people watching the drunk people wandering up and down Broadway. Highly recommend this activity when in Nashville! We opted to stay in that night to save a little money cooking and drinking and it also gave us an opportunity to spend good quality time with our friends who it might be a long while before we see again.
We said our goodbyes that night and took off early the next morning before everyone woke up. Though our stay was short, we loved every minute of it and were SO grateful that our journey aligned perfectly with the timing to make this work.
Our trip is going to be a lot of one on one time for Kyle and I so it was a great opportunity to be able to spend quality time with many of our friends before we really ventured out into the country. Memories that we will cherish for a lifetime!
Interested in planning a road trip or a 30th birthday getaway of your own? Check out InMotion Adventures and see what I can do for you! Until next time..