Ellenton, FL to Nashville, TN / 2016-12-29

We left our home around 8 AM EST bright eyed, but hungry and headed directly north, planning on making the drive to Nashville, TN (740 miles / 10.5 hours) in one day.  We staved off our hunger as long as possible to make it to Gainesville and the Maple Street Biscuit Company.  Brooke had been eyeing an opportunity to visit this place since our last attempt on Black Friday in Chattanooga, TN had failed.  I was surprised at how this place operated (like a Panera Bread in logistics), expecting more of a sit down restaurant.  I ordered the Five, which stacked fried chicken, bacon and eggs on a biscuit, covered in gravy.  Instead of assigning your name to the order, the staff instead asks you a “personal” question and your answer is used to call out when you order is ready to be picked up.  The question posed to us was “What would you name an elf?” – we picked what the kids had named their Elf on the Shelf; Snowflake.  Once our food was ready, I quickly dug in and then remembered that I should have taken a picture of the delicious presentation.

Sorry for the half-eaten meal, I couldn’t wait for pictures

We were soon back on the road, determined to make great time without the kids needing our attention every minute and having to stop every hour.  We made it pretty far into Georgia before we needed to fill the tank and pulled off just in time to get swept up in a pretty magnificent storm.  Even under the cover of the gas pump awnings, everyone and everything in the area was soaked as the rain drove in sideways.  The wind created tumbleweeds out of large, heavy trashcans and I decided to take cover in the van until the worst passed by.   Not long after, the rain cleared and the sun came back out and we were again on our way, with Atlanta (and probably a stop at a Chick-Fil-A) in our future.  Already expecting traffic coming into Atlanta, we were not disappointed when the red brake lights in front of us appeared.  However, we were not stuck too long and waited until we made it to the northwest side of Atlanta before stopping at Chick-Fil-A, vowing that it would be our last food stop on the way.

We stuck to that vow and eventually pulled into our hotel, the Hyatt Place Franklin/Cool Springs.  We had stayed here on our previous visit and liked the hotel, location and breakfast.  However, we were disappointed to learn upon check in that the hotel was under heavy construction, the entire lobby shut down and many rooms on each floor completely being remodeled.  I had booked two different reservations for this hotel, in two night increments, so that we could shift our stay closer to downtown (or elsewhere) if we found something else during our stay without incurring cancellation fees.   But, the price was unbeatable for this time of year and the location, so we decided to endure the 1st world problems.

We made quick work of checking in, bringing our luggage to the room and freshening up before deciding that we wanted to utilize the time we had this night to enjoy some of Nashville.  Brooke had discovered an “In the Round” style performance being held downtown at the Blue Bar’s Midtown Hoedown.  Unsure of the venue and the performers, we ventured north into Nashville and found our way inside.  We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of musicians and the lack of a crowd.  This level of talent in Florida would have brought out the crowds in droves, but we were soon able to find a floor table, order some drinks and enjoyed the half dozen or so next aspiring musicians, each with their own tale of current struggle to make their dreams come true.

There were a few standouts, including Trent Glisson and one songwriter whose song had been put on hold by Luke Bryan.

We gracefully left during the last set as hunger called out to us.  On our first ever visit to Nashville, Yelp led us to Desano Pizza yelp_icon and our current proximity and craving for pizza helped decide where we should enjoy dinner.  We made it to the pizzeria 20 minutes before they closed and we were the only patrons, but the staff couldn’t have been nicer, nor more efficient (though likely they just wanted to clean up and get out).  The pizza was once again amazing; the pie was large enough to share and bring some back to the room for later enjoyment.

It didn’t take long after we made it back to the hotel to fall asleep, knowing that the majority of our itinerary still lay ahead in the next three days.

This was Day 1 of our New Year’s in Nashville CLEW-less trip.  Check out the rest of the trip here!

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