Hey everyone - it's Seb here again. Right now we are three hungover men traversing lush Tennessee, having left Nashville in a slightly worse state than how we found it. Chrissie serenades us with Elvis as we glide inside her towards Graceland. We are truly up to our nipples in America.
To explain how we got to this point, I must take you back to the balmy days described in our last blog post - imagine, if you can, that is actually two days ago. You left us weaving our way through the Appalachian mountains, with a mainly unblemished record of keeping Chrissie on the right side of the winding road, full of blind corners and actual bears. We had decided that we wanted to get to Nashville within two days so that meant a lot of concentrated driving with a minimum level of faffing. The first day was full of faff, which is something I do very naturally. If you know me at all then you will know that as soon as we need to leave the house to go somewhere, I'll decide to do something completely unnecessary or messy, which will delay everyone. I've started to notice now that people I'm with do actually just leave without me.
After looking round Castleton and eating a burger at Five Guys (I went nuts and added a third beef patty - if you can get away without plopping hot lunch all over your trousers then you can at least come away from there feeling good about something) we popped into a shop called Target, which is a bit like a big Asda but without the food and more basketballs. We bought sleeping bags, towels and a petrol can. I'm not sure why we needed that, but I guess every character who used one to burn down a house in a film must have bought one on a whim at some point before they got all moody and serial killer-y. So at about 3pm we set off amid a debate on starting a sentence with the word "so". Iain just hates it. I don't mind it, and I told Iain that you should try not to hate anything in life. Eagle-eyed readers, will, however, spot that Iain used the attention-grabbing sentence opener in the previous blog, so really he's just a huge hypocrite. I hate him.
After several hours of traversing the snakey, gator and vulture-filled forest it was my turn to drive and the misty night brought thick black rain which slammed onto our windscreen and rendered the road a ravine*. We were glad to arrive at the motel room in Hickory which was identical to the one we'd left that morning, only 500 miles away and it didn't yet smell of farts. We lay down and watched Saturday Night Live and for the first time for us it was on an actual American television and not just YouTube.
Sunday morning was a few cups of acrid black coffee and an undercooked waffle, dripping in fake maple syrup, and once more we were sat in Chrissie, with the sat nav set to Tennessee. We made great progress and within a couple of hours we had stopped in some mountains at a cafe proudly described as "vet owned", which I reckon lets them off if the food's a bit crap or the service is bad. In our case it took half an hour for our burgers to be cooked, but it tasted great and it came with a brilliant homemade chilli sauce. Barney enquired about buying a jar of it to take home, a request they had clearly never had before, but they found a dusty container from the back of the cupboard, filled it to the brim and we gave them a fiver for it.
We drove on, passing river rapids, almost like the one at Thorpe Park, and saw signs for half-mile-long zip wires and arched round the side of a huge lake.
Barney and I had clocked off from our driving duties, so we sat and drank cans of tasty pale ale and tried to smoke cigars we'd bought from the pharmacy. The skyline of Nashville came into view against a pink sky and as the sun set, we pulled our car into our hotel.
Within an hour we were out on the noisy neon strip of bars and cowboy hat shops. Every bar had a live band, mostly playing country music to a mixture of locals and coach-loads of people from Yorkshire. We watched one band's drunk violinist drop her bow on the floor and bend over and pick it up during her solo. The singer came over to us with a bucket and Barney reached into his pocket and pulled out a bunch of nickels and quarters.
"You ser'sly givin' me coins right now? You ain't from round here are ya?" We had now heard this question over 17 times.
"No", we said, "we're from London."
"Oh I went to London once. And Swindon!"
Her name was Beth. She apologised for her violinist and we pretended we hadn't noticed, and as all four of us looked over to her there was a moment of perfect timing as she clumsily slammed her fiddle case shut as if it was a piano lid. We visited half a dozen bars over the evening, settling into the routine of showing our IDs at the door, walking to the bar, ordering strong craft beers and singing along to the band which seemed to be mainly playing covers by this point. Iain had an arm wrestle with a barmaid and the night spiralled into oblivion. In the cab back to the hotel I dropped a smuggled beer on the floor which seemed to make the driver sad and he took another $20, despite me offering to sponge it down. We fell asleep with the telly on.
*Seb does alliteration