Monday, October 22, 2012

The Road Trip Diaries: Lynchburg, TN

19 October 2012

We're staying in Tullahoma, just 12 miles from Lynchburg. But the whole point of this section of the road trip was to visit Lynchburg, so I'm sticking with that name for this post.
The leaves crunch under my shoes as I stomp around the house to take photos - they're dry and crisp. There are no fences here, no one to keep out - just maybe a few to keep the horses in, and the cows of course.

Our room is called the Prince Room - but should be the Alice Room, because the bed is huge, and looks like it could have come straight out of Alice in Wonderland. I love it. I have little steps that lead up to my bed. Steps! Amazing. I feel like a kid again. I try and insist that Husband call me Alice for the weekend. He doesn't quite seem to agree.
More often than not, it is the people, the characters, the interesting, the strange, the sweet and the looney, that we have met along the way that have made this journey. Americans love to chat, to ask questions, to find out how you work - something that as an introvert and quite a private person (yes, ironic that hey - coming from the girl with the blog!), I tend to struggle with. But we wouldn't be having nearly as good, or nearly as full an experience without it.

Disney World was one such experience - I felt a little like I was in the prequel to Wall-E, the animated movie about the future, when earth has been abandoned and all the remaining humans live on a spaceship. They're tubby little things - all bound to their hovercraft electric chairs, completely unable to walk, and completely reliant on machines to do everything for them. At Disney World, I felt like this future was being begun - I have never seen so many electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters (that's what they're called - I googled it) in my life. And the majority of people using them didn't even need them!

Then there were the typical New Yorkers, up in arms about supersize sodas being banned, and there was the cray cray Miamian shouting at invisible people on the corner of the street. Speaking of the people of Florida, there was also the painfully-skinny overly-tanned man, socks pulled to just below his knees, tie-dye tee proudly on, pushing a miniature trolley with strange electronic equipment on, a sign reading, 'The Friendly Alien' taped to the front, walking round and round in circles. Sometimes crazy runs deep.

And then there are the people you meet - like our waitress tonight, who was just the sweetest thing. She was absolutely perfect, and even brought our dessert with a candle in, for our honeymoon. I've also never heard someone say "y'all" as many times as she did, or find it quite so endearing.

Welcome to the south.

We ate at Emil's, and were blown away. We'd been expecting fried chicken from here until Texas, so the almost-fine-dining experience was a wonderful surprise.

The roads are beyond dark as we drive back from dinner. We see deer in the road. I say to Husband that if we were to stop right then and there, and turn off the car lights, we would not the able to see a thing. A single darn thing. The thought sends tingles down my spine. Husband says no, a horseman with a pumpkin head may just appear and chase us down, we must drive on.

I giggle, and drive on.

20 October 2012

We wake up early - breakfast is at 8.30am, and it is something of a tradition at this B&B that the guests dine together, something we're not going to miss out on, especially when I see how wonderfully the table has been laid. It feels like Christmas. Our wonderful host Pat serves us up a delicious breakfast - fresh fruit served in amaretto, vanilla and milk, followed by Amish homemade granola, baked bacon and eggs, and a cheese and sausage muffin.

It is perfectly scrumptious.
Soon after we head out to Lynchburg. It is the most sublime day - the air is crisp, the sky is an impossible blue, and the trees are so wonderfully sprinkled with Autumn colours that it's hard not to feel intoxicated.
We visit the Jack Daniels Distillery, and take the free tour. Not being a Jack Daniels drinker at all, I was actually quite amazed by the tour. The distillery is beautifully old, and remarkably maintained. You can see there's a lot of pride and love for this brand. The thing I found the most surprising about the distillery was the smell - it was extraordinary - warm, like baked bread, but also sweet and inviting, like honey and porridge and sunshine.

Especially considering that I am known to say that Jack Daniels tastes like banana vomit. Which it does.
After the tour our guide gave us directions into the town. 'Take a left out the gate', he said, 'and then left again at the first traffic light. If you reach the second traffic light, you're lost, because Lynchburg only has one traffic light.' We couldn't help but be thoroughly entertained by his dry humour, all spoken in the most perfect Southern drawl.
And he couldn't have been more accurate - Lynchburg really does only have one traffic light, and a small square of restaurants and shops, and that's about it. There's the official Jack Daniels merchandise store (which is huge, and packed with every possible Jack Daniels-branded object you can imagine), and then there's all the other little stores - which all sell their own homemade versions of the originals, and a few restaurants.

And that's it. That's the town of Lynchburg. Even the Jack Daniels website reckons you can do the whole town and distillery in five hours. Which was pretty much exactly how long it took us.

After walking around the square and the stores, we went to Miss Mary Bobo's for lunch. You'll need to book for this one - lunch is only by reservation, and it's very popular. Our 3pm booking meant that I was RAVENOUS by the time we got there. We were led by our hostess into the Jasper dining room - so named for Jack Daniel's real name, and are sat around a big round table with a whole bunch of other guests. The hostess entertains us with stories and conversation throughout the meal, and talks us through the food.

Thank gosh she's doing all the talking, because I'm too hungry to even think straight.

The food is served on a big lazy Susan - fried chicken, meatloaf, beans, mac and cheese, corn bread, and my favourite - fried apples in a Jack Daniels sauce. After all my talk of banana vomit-flavoured Jack Daniels, these apples are incredible. Our chocolate pie for dessert is also flavoured with Jack Daniels. Gosh. Considering this is a prohibition county, and hasn't been able to sell or serve alcohol since 1909, they sure do know how to cook with it.
Afterwards I'm so stuffed I have to use the sign to hold myself up. That beautiful house behind me is Miss Mary's (and I kinda wanted to show off my new amazing Aztec-print backpack as well, which I wish I'd found a good few months ago!).
On the drive home, I get Husband to stop, so I can take a few pics of this beautiful old barn close to our B&B. There's a lot of old barns around here, but this one is particularly astonishing as it has been completely abandoned, and still remains to stand, although it is at such an angle it looks like it might fall over any day now.
We spend the evening back at the B&B - it's wonderfully communal, with a big living area, and we end up sitting by the fire and chatting to the other guests as they come and go. Once again it is the people who truly make the experience.

I'm joined by Mary-Lynn and Bill, returning from the Beechcraft event - which sees old planes flying in from all across America. Mary-Lynn's parents started this incredible company and were both pioneers in early aviation. There's a remarkable book about their story which Husband pours over. What a wondrous couple.

20 October 2012

After breakfast Husband and I go for a walk around the farm, and then head off to the usually-sleepy town of Bell Buckle. It is however hosting an Arts and Crafts fair this weekend and is anything but sleepy. Quite the opposite really. We order lemonade and chicken on a stick and wander the aisles of stalls, selling everything from sunglasses to jewellery to leather belts to yard sale junk. We don't manage to buy a single thing. But the people watching is superb.

We sit down for lunch at the Bell Buckle Cafe, and while the decor seems quite plastic-y, our waitress is too charming for words, and soon our food arrives - on plastic plates. We're dubious.

And are completely proven wrong. The food is phenomenal. Husband's chicken pie pastry is light and fluffy, and the filling is creamy and perfect. My sirloin swiss style is hand pulled and cooked in a tomato sauce. It is soft and delicious. The broccoli salad was also beyond exceptional, and the slaw - well, is slaw ever not good?!

After another walk around the market - which seems to stretch through the entire town, every turn you make leads you down another street which is overflowing with even more stalls - and an ice-cream for me, we head back to our B&B. It's nap time, packing time, and time to sit by the fire.

What a perfect day.

22 October 2012

One last yummy breakfast at our B&B, a big goodbye said to our incredible hosts, and we're off!


Dill said...

Great post, little one.

Reaching Robyn said...

Thanks Dill, appreciate it. Thanks for commenting.