CEDARS OF LEBANON STATE PARK (TN)

Cedars of Lebanon State Park is our base camp for exploring Music City, U.S.A., Nashville, TN. It's 33 miles from our campsite driveway to the downtown Music Center parking garage, not too close, but not too far away either. The campground has three loops and I would suggest avoiding Camping Area #1 (#1-45), it's more like an RV park with tightly spaced pull thru sites.

Camping Area #2 (#46-87) are all back in sites with 30 AMP electric and water. Camping Area #3 (#88-117) is all 50 AMP service with water and there are even three full hookup sites with sewer. There are plenty of summertime activities inside the park like a swimming pool, disc golf and riding stables.

We're visiting the beginning of spring and this place was full on the weekend but nearly half the sites were vacant during the week. There is a sign just outside the campground stating that all sites are by reservation only so I doubt you could just drive up and spend more than one night.



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #19

Today we finished up our travels along The Natchez Trace and intentionally bypassed the metropolitan area of Nashville, TN. At the very northern end of the Trace is a restaurant we wanted to visit called The Loveless Cafe. It is a Tennessee landmark and has been run by the Loveless family since 1951. There was no where we could park ROVER and THE POD, so we'll have to return sometime during the week after we drop off THE POD if we want to see it.

Once we arrived at the campground we quickly set up and headed back out to take care of a few errands. In addition we grabbed all of our dirty laundry (from nearly the last month), made up a grocery list and Googled our options for lunch, now that we missed eating at The Loveless Cafe, I guess Chick-fil-A will just have to do.

Once again while Tricia was waiting on the laundry to finish I went in search of a place were we could get the truck and trailer washed. Also once again I was unsuccessful, the truck is no problem, but finding a place with in and out access for the trailer is!



FRIDAY

SIGHTSEEING DAY
104 MILES ROUND TRIP

Before the weekend crowds arrive we wanted to drive into Nashville and at least visit one of the major attractions, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. With three floors of memorabilia, displays, short films and legendary interviews to watch, we knew we'd spend several hours here. We were right, four and a half hours later we felt like we'd seen enough, you can't possibly see it all in one day, and were ready for lunch.

Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame

Being in downtown Nashville meant we were already halfway back to The Loveless Cafe, so we decided to make the rest of the trip to go have a late lunch. We are so glad we did! There is always a wait for a table here and 35 minutes later we were seated. In the meantime there is plenty here to explore, of course there is a gift shop and their outdoor BBQ pit on display, several other specialty shops for jewelry items, a banquet hall and huge barn for larger parties and weddings.

Loveless Cafe
The Loveless Cafe

Just after receiving our beverages and ordering our meals we were presented with a complementary half dozen biscuits and three different flavored samplings of their preserves. All of the items, including the biscuit mix, can be purchased in the gift shop along with their bacon and ham offerings.

Everything we ordered, and I mean everything, was delicious and the portions were huge. I rarely take any of my meal home but I had enough BBQ pork left over to easily make a lunch portion for the next day. We got an extra side order of the Southern Creamed Corn to take home, it was just that different and that delicious. If you factor in that the portion easily makes two meals, the prices are very reasonable with most meals at or below $15.



SATURDAY

WORK DAY FROM THE POD
0 MILES DRIVEN TODAY

Today and tomorrow are going to be long workdays for Tricia so we can take a few days during the week to do some sightseeing in the area. I've got a big project I've been putting off and today is the day I'm finally going to take care of it.

When we first got ROVER I had a CargoSlide tray and a Leer topper installed in the bed of the truck. My ongoing project has been to create a shelf over the slide to create a second level of storage that is accessible from the side and back windows of the topper.

I decided to use 2" PVC pipe for the framing and 1/4" plywood for the shelving in order to save some weight and maintain the strength needed to carry about 200 pounds of cargo. Just to lend a little extra support over the 4 foot span from side to side I also inserted a 2x2 piece of wood inside of the 2" PVC. Over the last couple of months I've been testing the strength of this setup before I screw and glue everything together. I'm so glad I waited to finalize it because one other thing I needed to do was shorten the entire width by an inch, to give the side window latches a little extra clearance for opening and closing.

In order to do this I had to remove everything from the back of the cargo bed, cut all the pipes and 2x2's, then reassemble everything and finally reload everything back into the truck. It took me all day to do this!

As a reward for both of us working hard today I went down to the campground office and purchased two bundles of firewood for $12 so we could enjoy a campfire tonight. I had perfect weather all day (65 degrees and sunny) for my big outdoor chore today and we should have perfect temperatures (in the upper 40s) for an early evening campfire.



SUNDAY

GEOCACHING DAY
16 MILES ROUND TRIP

After my heavy work load from yesterday I decided to take it easy today. In order to give Tricia some distraction free time to get her work done I decide to leave the campground and take time to locate a Tennessee geocache. Geocaching is a hobby I discover about ten years ago that I enjoyed for a while and then kind of let it slip away because I just couldn't find time to do it.

For those of you that don't know what geocaching is there is a very informative website called Geocaching.com where you can learn all about it. Simply put you are given GPS coordinates of a hiding place to go search for a cache. Finding the cache and sometimes signing a log book to prove your success is just the beginning of why I enjoy the hobby. The best caches are hidden in a location that you normally wouldn't have otherwise visited, like a beautiful overlook or a small neighborhood park. Sure there are some that are hidden in a Walmart parking lot or outside of a hardware store, I usually don't go for those. So far I've been able to find time and ability to locate one geocache in every state we have visited. If you've notice it's on my bucket list for each state.

When I left the park I saw a huge farmers/flea market going on just across the street from the entrance gate. Since this was a fairly easy and close by geocache to locate I was able to walk around the market looking for nothing in particular. Tricia was happy I didn't come home with anything new!



MONDAY

SIGHTSEEING DAY
130 MILES ROUND TRIP

Today we had planned on getting outside and exploring a hiking trail here in the park, but with the cloudy skies and the forecast of some heavy rain in the next few hours, we felt a better activity for today would be to go hiking underground. When I say underground I mean go and explore another one of Tennessee's show caves. Cumberland Caverns is the nearest one to the campground, but it's 65 miles away in the small town of McMinnville.

That town name sounded familiar to me and sure enough a friend and previous fellow employee from my last job in Florida had purchased a retirement home in that very town. I reached out with a phone call and was pleased to find out she and her partner Mel were in town and both were able to take time to enjoy the cave tour with us and have a quick lunch afterwards.

Cumberland Cavern
The underground concert room deep inside Cumberland Caverns

One of the cool features of Cumberland Caverns is that they hold underground concerts in one of the large rooms of the cave. Maryann and Mel had previously visited the cave for one of their concerts a few months earlier, but never did the walking tour with one of the knowledgeable guides they have. They also rent out the room for private parties and weddings.

Maryann and I worked together for nearly 10 years before she retired (five months before I did). We hadn't seen each other in over a year and it brings to mind one other benefit to this full time RV lifestyle we have chosen to live. While this time it was just an unplanned meeting, it doesn't mean that in the future we couldn't meet up with anyone, anywhere or anytime. That's the freedom this lifestyle affords us. It was good seeing them and catching up with what had happened in their lives since the last time we saw each other. I was glad to see everything is going well with them!



TUESDAY

SIGHTSEEING DAY
66 MILES ROUND TRIP

Today it's all about Nashville! We have Old Town Trolley tickets for their all day, hop on hop off, 15 stop tour. We got downtown a little bit late due to the rush hour traffic and parked in a garage two blocks away from Stop #1. Now you can board the tour at any one of their stops, but we like to first do a complete loop and then chose which stops to go back and revisit. This way we don't usually miss anything we wanted to see.

As usual things didn't go quite as planned. At Stop #11 is one of Nashville's iconic restaurants, Hattie B's. Here they're famous for serving Hot Chicken, a unique to Nashville way of preparing fried chicken. They have six different HEAT LEVELS when spicing the chicken. By the way, it's not a rumor that if you order your chicken with the Shut The Cluck Up!!! heat level you first have to sign a release of liability notice before you'll be served.

While waiting in line outside, yes I said outside, and down the street, from the front door of the restaurant, Tricia struck up a conversation with the two women in front of us. Cheryl is a Nashvillian, a person who lives or works in Nashville, and along with her lifelong friend visiting from Chicago, they were very informative about what to expect once we got up to the order counter inside the restaurant.

While chatting with Cheryl she asked where we were from. It's always a hard question to answer because how do you explain you live in a travel trailer and don't really have a hometown anymore. We usually just say Fort Lauderdale and most people are satisfied with that answer. This time however for some unknown reason we mentioned that we actually live and travel fulltime in our Airstream, you should have seen the look on both of their faces. It seems that we are living the exact life that Cheryl and her husband have been researching and preparing to live in the very near future. She had all kinds of questions about how we planned for retirement and what our experiences have been since starting our new lifestyle.

Just before entering the front door I offered them both our business card with the blog address and email contacts. They both assured us we would soon be receiving two new followers of the blog posts.

We were happy to share our story and experiences, then before you knew it, we were at the counter ordering our meals and searching for an empty table in the very crowded restaurant. They of course got their meals first and found a table, but then they saw us looking for a table and got up and crossed the busy room just to offer sharing their table with us. The conversation and questions continued throughout the meal.

After we finished eating we all exited at the same time and Tricia and I began our walk back to the Trolley Stop location. I'm not sure they were wearing the Trolley stickers they give you to identify you as customers but I wasn't surprised to see them also headed towards the Trolley. Anyway we said our goodbyes before boarding and got back on the Trolley. We took seats near the center of the Trolley and Cheryl and her friend sat somewhere near the back. We were at Stop #11 and rode all the way back to Stop #1 where we changed trolleys. This time we took seats near the back of the trolley and our new friends sat in the very front row behind the driver. We rode once again half way around the loop to Stop #8, to visit the Antique Archeology Store from the television series American Pickers.

To my surprise Cheryl and her friend got off at the very same stop and I was terrified that if they saw us do this they would think we were stalking them. Fortunately they never looked back to see us as they crossed the road to the parking lot and we entered the store to look around. If you're reading this we're glad to have met you two and hope you stay in contact either through this blog's comment section or through our email if you ever have any more questions.

Believe it or not, the delicious meal and sharing it with new friends was the highlight of our day.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention how the the food tasted! I ordered the three chicken tenders meal, one tender in each of the three lowest heat levels. Level 1 is just a good flavored tender like you might get from Publix. Level 2 is spicy like the Spicy Chicken sandwich you get from Wendy's. Level 3 had my eyes watering before the second bite. I'm so glad I didn't try Levels 4-6. The baked beans and coleslaw were good, but nothing special and the lemonade was fresh squeezed and very delicious.



WEDNESDAY

WORK DAY FROM THE POD
0 MILES DRIVEN TODAY



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4 comments:

  1. Hi, great read. I love caverns! It is fun meeting new friends. Rock on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Paisley

      If you like caverns you might want to pay close attention to the next few months of blog posts, we have a half dozen or so we plan on visiting.

      I just wish the photos would come out better so we could share them!

      Delete
  2. Trish and Phil, it was SO great to meet you both! Thanks so much for letting me pick your brains -- you guys are a fountain of information! When I got home, I told Robert about you, and needless to say, he was jealous. 😂 I'll be following along with your travels, and hopefully someday soon we'll meet again on the road! ❤️

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Cheryl

      It was great having lunch with you and your out of town friend. We would love to share a campfire with you on the road someday soon!

      Right now we are camped next to a younger couple who just started living fulltime (last Monday) in their Airstream.

      Keep the dream alive!

      Delete

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