Last week, writer friend Sheree Nielsen and I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for peeks into the past, foot-tapping music, delicious food, and a whole lot of fun. We crammed many things into only a few days, and here’s a whirlwind summary.

Our first evening took us to Parnassus Books. I’d often heard of this shop owned by acclaimed author, Ann Patchett, and had high hopes of finding out whether a future book signing could be arranged. Instead, we were barely able to squeeze through the front door. The cozy little shop was packed with admirers who’d arrived to get an autographed cookbook from the author of the Smitten Kitchen blog, thus ending our hopes of speaking to any of the workers who scurried around trying to keep up with the crowd.  Sigh. Maybe next time, Parnassus.

A trip to Fatherland Street had us searching out one of the (many) places Jesse and Zee James are believed to have lived while in Nashville (during their time the area was known as Edgefield) while hiding in plain sight from bounty hunters, detectives, and the local sheriff. Assuming the names of Dave and Josie Howard, not a soul suspected the truth about the pleasant young couple.

Quite possibly one of the many homes of Dave and Josie Howard, aka Jesse and Zee James.

A visit to Belle Meade plantation filled the next day, while tickets to the must-see Bluebird Cafe ended it. At the Bluebird, we were able to rub shoulders (literally) with some amazing songwriters who hang out with plain ordinary people like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. But I couldn’t stop looking at a woman sitting near the performers who looked incredibly familiar. Is she, or isn’t she? As it turns out, my suspicion was correct. Alicia Witt! If you watch Hallmark movies or last season’s the Walking Dead, you’ll recognize this talented actress/songwriter/singer who is also gracious when complete strangers appear and begin gushing over her. I suppose it’s true. You never know who you’ll run into at the Bluebird Cafe.

It’s after 11:00 p.m. and far past my bedtime. Alicia Witt, however, looks fresh as a dewy morning.

Our final full day in Nashville brought a drive to Franklin, Tennessee past huge mansions unlike any I’d ever seen. We found a charming (and fascinating) whiskey distillery called Leiper’s Fork where a bearded man in bib overalls named Pops, taught us how to properly sniff and chew the brew. This brought a new and dizzying experience for me. Thank goodness I wasn’t driving.

From the distillery we headed to historic downtown Franklin which boasts a Main Street lined with quaint and charming shops that reminded me of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. And don’t even get me started on the delectable food we had in East Nashville and Franklin. Delicious!

Remembering the Battle of Franklin.

From Main Street we traveled to a somber memorial commemorating the thousands of soldiers who fell at the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864. The names of soldiers were read aloud in the twilight glow of thousands of luminaries, set up to represent the men who died. A home near the battleground is riddled with bullet holes, plainly displaying the scars of a fierce battle.

Luminaries for fallen soldiers.

Only five minutes away from the battleground stands Carnton Plantation, used as a hospital during the Civil War. Carrie McGavock, wife of the plantation owner, was the inspiration for the best-selling novel, Widow of the South. A well-tended confederate cemetery is nestled near the beautifully preserved home.

Walkway to the beautiful Carnton Plantation.

There were many more things we wanted to experience in Nashville, but we ran out of time. This was my fourth visit, but at an easy five hour drive from home, you can bet I’ll be going back soon.

Do you like delicious food, music, and/or history? Then Tennessee has something special waiting just for you.

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