Photo Locale of the Month – June 2017

Nashville has been in the news a lot lately.  The Nashville Predators, an NHL expansion team that debuted in 1998, are fighting for the Stanley Cup. They won their last two games, and the the city’s nightlife-rich streets have been filled with even greater than the usual number of revelers. Additionally, the 2017 Country Music Awards air this Sunday on CBS, and the CMA Awards are the city’s perennial Big Event. If that isn’t enough, it was just last month that Governor Bill Haslam announced, from Nashville, that legislation recently passed naming Tennessee the first state to promise free community college tuition.

Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the south, and last year it surpassed Memphis, three hours to the east, in population. Downtown Nashville, its Cumberland Riverfront in particular, has much to offer.

Continue reading “Photo Locale of the Month – June 2017”

The Second-Oldest Town in Tennessee

It was perhaps 16 months ago when I visited, and blogged about, the oldest town in Tennessee. That would be Jonesborough, once part of North Carolina and today just a stone’s throw from the redrawn state line. I remember walking around the antique shop-lined Main Street on a hot, sunny day, walking past centuries-old churches, some of which still feature separate seating for slaves.

The weather was decidedly different – autumnal, cold, and sporadically rainy – when, two weeks ago, I visited Dandridge, the second-oldest town in Tennessee.

dandridge-2

Continue reading “The Second-Oldest Town in Tennessee”

City Showdown: Memphis vs. Nashville

Memphis has traditionally held the title of “Tennessee’s Largest City,” ever since westward expansion post-Civil War brought settlers across the Mississippi River.  But that honor changed hands not long ago.  Nashville, the state capital, is now 25,000 people greater than Memphis in population.  In fact, Memphis actually has fewer residents than it did in 2000!

Mud Island 42

What is going on here?  How can a city decline in population?  And which city is the better one, really?  Over the next several paragraphs, I’ll give my $0.02 on which city reigns supreme in categories of location, food, museums, parks and gardens, sports, nightlife, and – most important of all – overall livability.

Continue reading “City Showdown: Memphis vs. Nashville”

Tennessee Main Street Towns

Jonesborough 8

The picture above is of Main Street in Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee.  Jonesborough, founded in 1779, during the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, pre-dates Tennessee as a state, and was established as the capital of Washington County, North Carolina.

Tennessee itself finally gained statehood in 1796, with Knoxville, located in the eastern third of the state, serving at the state’s first capital.  As Tennessee – and the U.S. – expanded westward, the capital eventually moved to Nashville.  But the earliest seeds in what later became known as “The Volunteer State” were sown in and around Knoxville.  Nearly all of the state’s pre-Civil War towns still exist.  The luckiest thrive as tourism towns for history buffs, day trippers, and antiques collectors.  Jonesborough, which I wrote about in more detail last August, is just one of several.  Here are four more.

Continue reading “Tennessee Main Street Towns”

Southern Food

maters

These are fried green tomatoes.  Intrigued?  They are exactly what their name implies, and are a perfectly healthy-yet-not-healthy appetizer.  The dip you see in the picture above is a tangy mayonnaise that isn’t spicy persay, but has just that right amount of zip to really make the meal.

Continue reading “Southern Food”

The Oldest Town in Tennessee

Two paragraphs of my last blog entry, A Potpourri of Updates, referenced a recent day trip to Jonesborough, Tennessee. I finished labeling and uploading my photos from the day, and, after viewing them again, thought I’d write a bit more about the day.

My parents and I had heard good things about Jonesborough, and my parents said that the town was featured on a recent episode of the PBS series Tennessee Crossroads. We visited Jonesborough on a sunny, moderately-humid Tuesday. I happened to have the day off, and woke up to sunny skies, which simply beckoned.

Jonesborough 21

Continue reading “The Oldest Town in Tennessee”

A Potpourri of Updates

Mesa Rim Trail 13

It has been almost three weeks since my last blog post. So much has happened that I’ve barely had a chance to come up for air. But for the next 13 days or so, I’ll have a respite from the usual craziness, and even a chance at my first solo vacation since My (Not Quite) Coast-to-Coast Trip Report of 2014.

Meanwhile, I thought you might appreciate a CliffsNotes-style update on my life, and on things that are of interest to me.  I am still alive and well, Loyal Reader. I promise not to be offline for so long before my next post.

Continue reading “A Potpourri of Updates”

40 at 40 – A GringoPotpourri Q&A

North Rim Grand Canyon 20

I turned 40 two weeks ago. The feeling is a bit surreal. On the one hand, most people tell me that I look young for my age. On the other hand, I can’t believe that I’ve completed four decades of living, and I’m disappointed that I’m not “where I should be” in my life considering that I’m a college graduate who has traveled around the world. At least that dreadful phrase “Over the Hill” has become passé.

Continue reading “40 at 40 – A GringoPotpourri Q&A”

A Day Trip to Knoxville

Last Monday I joined my parents on a day trip to Knoxville, Tennessee’s three-time former capital and the biggest city in the eastern half of the state. My parents travel to Knoxville (about an hour away) every eight weeks or so for Target and Publix runs, and this time their destination was a high-end international grocery store called Fresh Market.

Fresh Market is a stone’s throw from downtown, so when they asked me to tag along, I suggested adding on a visit to the East Tennessee History Center, with the caveat that we could grab lunch somewhere near Market Square, a center of pedestrian activity and a gathering place that is flanked by sidewalk cafés. (Market Square also plays host to countless Knoxville festivals, including the annual “HoLa Fest” that celebrates Latin food and culture. I attended HoLa Fest last year and blogged about it here.)

East Tennessee History Center 51

Continue reading “A Day Trip to Knoxville”

Tennessee-Born?

Tennessee continues to fascinate me. On the surface, the state appears to be very well run. Its Republican Governor, Bill Haslam, was instrumental in quick disaster response and aid to families affected by The Great Tennessee Snowpocalypse of 2015. Additionally, its roads are in impeccable shape, despite their high traffic content. Take I-40, for example. This east-west interstate highway is the third-longest in the country and passes through eight states. The 455-mile Tennessee stretch of highway receives more vehicle traffic per mile than any of the other seven states, including California. Yet Tennessee’s I-40 is in outstanding shape, its rest stops spotlessly clean.

Look deeper, though, and you find cracks in the veneer. Meth addiction spiraled following the financial crisis of 2008, and it’s not uncommon to encounter one or more toothless, recovering addicts on a daily basis. And while the state’s Appalachian Mountain culture is fabled as a place of folk music and simple living, the reality is closer to the movie Winter’s Bone than one might want to believe. Additionally, the state’s job growth rate is one of the lowest in the nation. Tennessee is a place of $10/hour factory and warehouse jobs; “white collar” jobs are especially hard to find once you leave the “Big Three” of Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville.

Still, a diverse number of companies have chosen Tennessee for their corporate or manufacturing headquarters. Let’s take a look at some of them!

Continue reading “Tennessee-Born?”