The Loop- Tennessee and Kentucky

We officially found fall! Even though we saw the trees in Guntersville change before our eyes the drive to Chattanooga, Tennessee and the rain that came with it confirmed that it was indeed October.

We also entered a new time zone: Eastern Standard Time! Now three hours ahead of home. Our first destination in Chattanooga was Ruby Falls, an underground water fall. Although it was by far one of the most dramatic, cheesy, and touristy things we’ve done so far it was thoroughly entertaining. Our tour guide was hilarious which made the trip through the caves fly by.

After Ruby Falls we had dinner in town at Trinity Brewing which we really enjoyed. However, the storm that had been looming all day made its grand debut sending us in from the deck and putting an end to our plans to camp. Motel 6 here we come!

Wednesday morning we headed up Lookout Mountain again to Rock City. The drive there took us through a neighborhood where all the streets are named after fairytale characters. It certainly set the mood although I don’t know how I would feel living on Little Red Riding Hood Lane. What a mouthful.

Without a doubt, Rock City wins the cheesiest, most touristy place I’ve ever been to award. That being said it was pretty cool (I liked Ruby Falls better though). The meandering paths take you on a fun walk through crazy rock formations (not as crazy as in a cave though), cringe-worthy gnome villages, and wonderful viewpoints. The selling points were definitely the Swing-A-Long Bridge (it didn’t swing enough for us so we made it swing a little extra!) and the view from Lover’s Leap where you can see 7 states at once. It is already such a novelty for us West Coasters to be in more than one state in a day, seeing seven at once, oh my!

We had lunch in town and detoured from some sipping chocolate, delicious and totally worth it! It was feeling very fall-y after all. We continued north on towards the Cumberland Gap and the weather followed suit.

We arrived some time after dark at our campground in Cumberland Gap. Despite having gotten lost more than once, being unsure what state we were in, and the fact that it was pouring rain we were in great spirits! Rachel took the car to pay for our sigh while I speed pitched the tent in my NW finest: Patagonia sweater, raincoat, leggings and gore-tex hiking boots.

Once the tent was pitched we made it more than cozy! Foam, blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, extra clothes all got tossed in to make a pretty nice nest. We snuggled in and watched Erin Brockovich with a bottle of wine and confessed our love for Julia Roberts. By morning a few corners were wet but we remained wonderfully dry and so was the sky! (Thank you again Lisa for the tent!!! REI did right by us) (Also, we had in fact spent the night in Virginia! Who knew).

The next morning we loaded everything in the car and stopped by the Visitor Center. Unfortunately, all the really cool sounding hikes were longer than we had time for and despite the rain stopping the weather was still less than ideal. Instead we drove up to Pinnacle View Point. To say the colors were stunning would be an understatement. It was breathtaking at every turn, each tree and every single leaf a different color but nonetheless vibrant. Once at the viewpoint we could look down on the actual Cumberland Gap which provided a route for many a traveler such as ourselves back in the day. We certainly have it a bit easier nowadays!

Still in awe of the landscape we chose to take some backroads as we journeyed to Bardstown, KY, the capital of all things bourbon. We set up our tent once more and wandered through town. After letting our appetites catch up with us we had an early dinner of Kentucky hot browns and whiskey cocktails! The hotbrown was definitely a treat, the perfect comfort food. After dinner we resorted to McDonald’s for internet, go figure! The best way to sum up our evening: Bardstown 1 Intrepid Travelers 0. While I enjoyed learning more about Bourbon, my heart still lies with Scotch!

We got a slow start the next morning but managed to say our farewells to Bardstown before making the short hop to Louisville where Rachel’s aunt and uncle live. Even though our visit with her family was short they were incredibly welcoming and showed us such a good time! Friday night we experienced the home theater and watched Galaxy Quest, way funnier than I remembered! Saturday we had fun at the house, jumping on the trampoline and grooming the horses. One of my road trip dreams came true!! I so badly wanted to ride a horse at some point and I got to! I road Honey barebacked, she was so sweet! We wrapped up our visit with a tasty stop at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe. Thanks Tom and Anne!

Saturday evening we had one mission: Make it out in Nashville! Mission accomplished! We arrived at the Music City Hostel around 7:30-8:00, we got our room assignment and scoped it out. I truly credit the layout of our room(s) to how much fun we had. The dorm was obviously designed to be a two bedroom apartment. When you walked in there was a hanging divider just to the left, on the other side, the Boy’s Dorm. A little kitchen opened up towards the back and the hallway continued left with a bathroom and two rooms, one of which was our (The Girls) dorm. We dropped our bags, changed our clothes, and made a beeline for the kitchen to eat some leftovers. There (mostly because it was basically in the boys room) we met Brian from Vancouver, Oscar originally from Barcelona and more recently from San Francisco, and once he arrived, Danny from the Bay (so many West Coasters on the road!). We headed to downtown Nashville and made the rounds, visited quite a few of the bars all of which had live music! It was great fun. The night of course ended later than we planned but the bunch of us stuck together and it was great!

More to come on Nashville 🙂

With love from the road,

Cara

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