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Travel

Nashville Day Trip Ideas

In an effort to keep myself occupied while at home, I’ve compiled a list of a few day trips that are a bit more accessible while using Nashville as a jumping off point.

Kayak to the Islands of Percy Priest Lake

Luau Island, Percy Priest Lake.

Photo by Brandon Williams

I’ve been out to Percy Priest a number of times, but I’ve never been out on the water. Within sight from shore are a number of islands that in my mind would make for a great overnight trip. I’m curious what actual condition they are in given their accessibility and proximity to a major metropolitan area.

According to this website there are 38 islands located within Percy Priest. Doing a bit of research I learned that Percy Priest is a man made lake. The dam was completed in 1967 and the town of Old Jefferson got swallowed up when the reservoir began to fill. In some places the water is as deep as 100′ feet.

Kayaks are available to rent from Nashville Kayak Rental for $40 per day. Maybe there is an island out there similar to Isla de la Muñecas in Xochimilco. Thoughts of cliff jumping and pontoon boats also cloud my mind.

Bioluminescent Caves of Northern Alabama

Rumble Room in Rumbling Falls Cave.

Photo by Stephen Alvarez

It was brought to my attention that in New Zealand there are caves where a certain bioluminescent glow worm lives. Arguably not the easiest commute from Middle Tennessee, but upon talking with some friends I was informed that a distant cousin live in a cave located in Northern Alabama.

Dismal Canyon is where these buggers call home. Apparently the best time to view them is May – September. Moving beyond this, I’ve realized that there are a TON of caves to explore within a days drive of Nashville. I’ve never even considered exploring caves until recently. Something about the whole becoming trapped under the ground thing has been a turnoff. In typical fashion, I am actively deciding to look past spelunkings shortcomings and give it an ill-advised chance.

Rumble Room in Rumbling Falls Cave, Topless Dome in Tumbling Rock Cave, and Fantastic Pit in Ellison’s Cave are a few that peak my interest. Of course, I am grossly unqualified to attempt any of these, so perhaps I will endeavor to check out Mammoth Cave first.

Attend a Motorsporting Event

Bristol Motor Speedway

Photo by dpkimmel2001

On a recent flight, I watched the movie “The Last American Hero” starring Jeff Bridges. Junior Johnson got me thinking about the racetracks of the Southeast. I always remember watching NASCAR races with my Dad on Sunday, yet I have never actually been to a race, aside from a local dirt track close to where I grew up in North Carolina.

There would appear to be no shortage of racetracks one can access close to Nashville. There is the  Fairgrounds Speedway located in South Nashville, Music City Raceway in Goodlettsville, or Highland Rim in Greenbrier, TN. Not too far away are the big boys; Bristol Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Outdoor Art Environments

Mindfield

Photo by John Guider

In keeping with my pursuit of experiencing large scale structures built by lone ranger characters, there are two sites that I’d really like to visit sooner rather than later. They are the Fortress of Faith in Greenback, TN and the Mindfield Cemetery outside of Memphis, TN. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, I suggest a visit to Spaces Archive. Within town, I’d also like to see what the Frist Center for Visual Art has on exhibit.

Have a solid day trip? I want to hear about it!

 

South Florida and The Keys

south-florida-and-the-keysMy first experience with South Florida came in 2012 while I was on my way to Peru. I had always wanted to see what Miami was like, so I booked a long layover and stayed in a hostel on South Beach. I will never forget it, because unknown to me at the time, my credit card information was stolen upon check in. Naturally, I wouldn’t find out until much later while I was in a very rural part of Peru, when I had no cash left, and the bank had locked down my card for fraud. Thanks, Miami!

My second experience would come via a music cruise leaving out of the Port of Miami. You know, one of those ones where they herd you in like cattle, and feed you the most delectable seafaring sodium logged blocks of food. Moooo-ve! There is something resembling a cheesecake to be had!

I thought it was high time to give this area a redemption visit. I hate writing off entire geographic regions based off of one or two shoddy experiences. I was in Orlando for work, so I decided to get a rental car and make the trek southward. I made a rough sketch of possible destinations (thank you, friends!) and off I went.

What is this place?

I didn’t know what to expect, prior to arriving in Miami. It’s one thing to spend time online researching a destination, it’s another thing entirely to be on the ground experiencing things first hand. As with many locations, my only frame of reference has been what I’ve seen on television and in movies. In my mind I was arriving to one giant yacht party, Tony Montana, and a plethora of guayabera shirts.

I ended up staying in the Little Haiti neighborhood, and it proved to be a great jumping off point for exploring the rest of town. Since I had a rental vehicle on this trip, I decided to drive around for the sake of driving around, in an effort to orient myself and get a feel for the neighborhoods. Little Haiti, Wynwood, Little Havana, Downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne. Each one had such a unique feel, and I barely scratched the surface. The confluence of cultures is quite remarkable here, and each imparts its own particular flavor to the area. Miami felt both accessible and exclusive all at the same time.

Outside of the Perez Art Museum.Outside of the Perez Museum of Art.

Downtown Miami.I’ve never been attracted to the guise of opulence, but there is something so appealing about the way Miami does it.

miami-7-perez-museum-of-artExhibit inside the Perez.

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Olympic National Park and Rialto Beach

I wasn’t sure if I should take this trip or not. I often feel that way before embarking on solo jaunts, but in hindsight I am always glad when I make the jump. I knew going into it that I was very likely going to be impeded by winter weather.  I didn’t exactly have the right gear with me, thus all of the hesitation. I decided to hell with it, booked my return ticket 3 days after the end of tour, and told myself to get in the rental car and figure it out.

Leaving out of Seattle I drove up to Port Angeles and had a weird little Valentines in a port city I had never been in. I hadn’t even thought of the influx of dinner reservations for Valentines Day. They tried their best to be accommodating, but the hodgepodge table-for-one set up on the foot path railing didn’t strike me as the right move.

I abandoned my quest for seafood and meandered over to a quaint Italian restaurant. Equally bogged down by lovers and their reservations, I found a seat at the bar and listened in to any conversation within earshot, in hopes of stumbling across any lead or gem for my wandering itinerary. I ended up having a nice chat with a couple from Alaska who were exploring the area themselves. They were coming from the opposite direction that I was attempting to head, so they were rich with suggestions.

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Twenty Trip Ideas for 2016

With the new year upon us, I thought I’d take a moment to put together a list of trip ideas. Sometimes it’s fun to not think too hard, and simply brainstorm a big ol’ batch. That’s how anything starts, right? Below you’ll find a list of 20 or so you can use as idea kindling.

  1. Visit a Caribbean Island. Inspired by recent photos that friends have shared, along with the fact that I will be between living arrangements come March, maybe this is the perfect time to make a jaunt. Added bonus: warmth.
  2. Go skiing. My sister and brother-in-law were the first to introduce me to this most excellent activity. Many moons have passed since I last found myself on a pair of sticks. If you have a Swiss friend who happens to know the ins and outs of comped Zermatt visits, now is the time to make that introduction.
  3. Drive the 101. Having been able to experience segments over the last few years, it never disappoints. 1540 miles of open road beckoning your name. Washington, Oregon, California. Yes, please.
  4. Visit Maine. I feel like this is a hidden in plain view kind of destination. Maybe those who reside in Maine like it this way? Coastal road trip up to Nova Scotia? Count me in. General itinerary consists of lobster roll stand to lobster roll stand while on mooseback.
  5. Drive to Key West. Perhaps the stars will align, and cheap airfares will allow a visit to Miami for a bit of sunshine and art exploring. While there, why not rent a car and dip down to enjoy a photo-op and slice of key lime pie? Plus watching the hues of the ocean change color while driving sounds quite enticing! Hemingway wants you to visit.
  6. National Parks. You don’t have to twist my arm all that hard to get me to one of these. It’s quite easy to find inspiration these days while online or hunched over your phone scrolling through Instagram, but I assure you the feeling you get while there, without any cell signal, is infinitely better.
  7. West Texas. This area of Texas has been calling my name over the course of the past year. I’ve had quite an affinity to see Terlingua and Big Bend National Park with my own eyes. Sprinkle in a bit of Marfa, and I think we’re on to something.
  8. Time spent with dark skies. It was recently brought to my attention that astro-tourism is very much a thing. Having gazed at a number of astrophotography websites over the past year, I want to start creating my own photos. The Atacama Desert in Chile is currently peaking my interest.
  9. Drive from the lower 48 up to Alaska. In my mind I envision a motorcycle or a Vanagon meandering up through British Columbia. Of course, upon arriving in Anchorage, it would only make sense to go and visit Denali.
  10. Motorcycle Ruta 40 in Argentina. One of the most remote roads in the world. This adventure would take a fair amount of research and planning, but I feel like it would be well worth it. Takes the idea of self reliance to a new level.
  11. Hike to Havasu Falls. Is this place even real? I’m not sure if it is. I should probably go to where it is purported to be, and investigate.
  12. Trail systems of America. Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, American Discovery Trail, Trans-America Trail. Obviously these would be longer term trips, but who says you can’t enjoy a section?
  13. Travel locally. You are somewhere, aren’t you? Discover the redeeming aspects of where you are right now.
  14. Find the best damn gas station in America. Where is it? I want to know about it. What makes it special? Why do I need to see it?
  15. See the Northern Lights. I will never forget driving across Saskatchewan on a tour, and looking out the driver side window to see the Northern Lights, suspended in iridescent warble. I wish to experience them again.
  16. The Bronx. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Have a friend who grew up in the Bronx? Send me their way.
  17. Patagonia. I’ve had a map of South America on my wall for the past two years. Every day I am home, I look at it with wonderment. For the longest time I’ve wanted to travel to Patagonia, and soon I will. The spires of Torres del Paine whisper to me in my dreams.
  18. Madagascar. Africa is massive. MASSIVE! I know very little about it, but would like to know more. Perhaps I could connect through Johannesburg on the way. The Avenue of the Baobabs looks absolutely otherworldly.
  19. Japan. My understanding of this country clocks in at around zero. Having recently read a Murakami novel, paired with a viewing of Enter The Void, I dare say I have a skewed perception of what Japan is or is not. I would like to demystify through experience.
  20. Let me plan your trip. This is something I’ve been knocking around in my brain for a while. An outgrowth of tour managing has been a fascination in creating trips for others. I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching routes, flights, rentals, logistics, you name it. I’d like to take what I’ve learned and apply it to bringing your trip to life. Email me.

So, in no particular order. This is where my brain is at currently. I thrive on talking about this stuff, because it eventually leads to action. Obviously there are considerations such as time and money, but I feel like if you really want something to happen, you figure out how to make it happen. Some great advice I received a while back was to look at how you currently spend your time. Those are your priorities. What are your priorities? May everyone have an excellent start to your New Year!

The Balance of Endeavors

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I always return home with a certain glint in my eye. Finally! A moment to decompress and pursue the thing I’ve been wanting to pursue for however long. There it is, all the time in the world (kind of). Now what do I do with it?

Perhaps it’s a complex I have. A good complex in that I have to get my work done before I can play. If people are counting on me, I feel bad working on my own projects. That’s the way it should be, right? There is incentive at the end of the tunnel. Get this stack of things done, and then you can go and play.

Any time I try to sit down and dig into these personal projects I am weighted with the knowledge that there is something else I should be working on. I’ve battled with this for a while. Being on 24/7 is the nature of my role while I’m on tour. I’ve been conditioned. I am a workaholic. Coming off the road I find that I have to set boundaries for myself, or things start to feel icky. Actively deciding not to work, is just as important as deciding to work.

An outgrowth of prioritizing my work load lends fatigue to my brain when it does comes time to work on personal projects. My brain cells are slouching, haphazardly sitting on the curb looking up at me like, “Seriously, dude? You want us to do what right now? We’ve been working all day!

I am so used to having my days filled with structure. At home I try to organize myself with activities and environments that are conducive to productivity. With this being said, I don’t want to be busy for the sake of being busy. I want to occupy my time with things that I enjoy and make me better in some capacity. Free time often feels insurmountable, but I’ve reached a point where I am better able to control that feeling.

I’ve been enjoying working on my blog as of late. I came into this undertaking with the misguided notion that this would somehow be my golden ticket to supplementing my income while I’m off the road. I’ve since tossed that notion and am focusing on the act of writing and taking photos for my personal enjoyment. If that does not exist first, I am doomed from the onset. Things are still relatively new and fresh around here, so I am glad I’ve caught myself before getting too far along on that misguided path.

I have two areas of focus that I’d like to better explore here in the coming weeks and months:

  • Planning, documenting, and sharing my journey to Colombia.
  • Putting together a free online curriculum for those interested about different aspects of the touring industry.

To think of looking back a year from now, at a site filled with information and resources is something that encourages me, and makes me want to keep at it. Thanks for reading along.

Let the good juju flow.

Colombia, I’ve purchased my ticket.

I’m not exactly sure where my love affair with Latin America began. In high school and college, I was a deplorable Spanish student, begrudgingly dragging myself to class, doing the absolute minimum to receive credit for the foreign language class I was forced to take. Oh, you idiot!

My mind instantly cuts to the real-life scene of being on a remote roadside, knowing exactly what I want to ask, and having no idea how to ask it. The benevolent floating head of my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Taliercio, somewhere on the horizon, sullenly shaking his head at me. Despite my lack of Spanish skills, my desire to return outweighs the anxiety of roadside abandonment.

billy-reed-peru-lake-titicaca-2

Lake Titicaca, Peru.

I visited South America for the first time in 2012. I spent three weeks in the Southeastern corner of Peru, stomping along the well traveled Gringo Trail. It was an experience that stuck with me, and only increased my curiosity for what the rest of the continent has to offer. I knew upon leaving, that I would one day return.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a wall map of the United States. I would look at that map before I had ever traveled, and day dream about what visiting these different places might be like. 8 years of touring later, I can look at that same wall map and recall memories from these once unknown places. (49 states so far!)

The same mentality inspired me to purchased a wall map of South America. I can’t tell you the countless nights I’ve stayed up, simply looking at the map, running my finger over routes and mispronouncing town names. It’s an itch that has steadily grown with the inability to scratch. Finally, I scratch.

Earlier this week, I purchased my ticket to Bogotá, Colombia. It’s a first step towards refining some ideas that have been boiling their way to the top. I will be in the country August 15th – September 6th. Only a month away, it will be here before I know it.

Do you have friends or family in Colombia? Experience there? Resources worth reaching out to? I’m happy to follow up on any and all. I’m very much in the planning stages right now, and any lead is a good lead. I’m excited to share in this process. You can contact me at needforreed@gmail.com.