The Music City
A city is never itself on New Years Eve. While my hopes were high for Nashville, Tennessee, we caught it in a rare, chaotic form.
Broadway street was transformed into an outdoor music festival packed with people. Two huge stages book-ended the street with a night’s line-up of country artists, most of them I had never heard of, with the exception of headliner Kings of Leon. Broadway was exactly the type of tack one would expect to see at the heart of downtown, neon lights and country music bars galore. I had never been in a bar where everyone together yells, “Yee-haw!” Taylor and I aren’t the biggest fans of crowds or country music, but we stuck it out for the experience.
Eventually, we left the chaotic hive to have a few drinks at a quieter taproom. Afterwards, I was exhausted—too exhausted to return to the bash and wait for the “music note drop” at midnight. I’d recently had myself some long travel days – it was time for bed.
The Nashville Sheriff’s Department was providing a free ride home service, so we took them up on that. Taylor showed me a meme that encompasses my feelings about New Years:
New Years in your twenties is sort of weird. No longer in college but not yet old enough for it to be acceptable to go to bed at 9 PM. Even though I was in the lamest form of a party animal, at least I can say that I spent the final moments of 2015 and the first four minutes of the New Year in the back of a police car.
Yeah, pretty Badass.
The Gateway to the West
Who knew that I loved St. Louis? Not I!
I was a bit hesitant to go at first because of all the flooding in the mid-west and southern states. The morning before we left I caught images of St. Louis on the news that showed flowing water through the streets. Uh oh, I thought. Taylor’s friend in St. Louis said we would be fine – most of the flooding is in the south.
When we arrived, Taylor’s friend, Emma, took us to the edge of the Mississippi river at what I believe to be the Eads Bridge, to show how high and wide the water level was. It stretched at least 100 feet past its normal point, creeping up onto the concrete shore of the city.
St. Louis has a famous arch symbolic of the city known as the Gateway to the West. The name dates back to 1806 when Louis and Clark left from St. Louis to explore the western frontier. When they returned, the city became a gateway for new settlers to enter the west. The Mississippi river made it a center hub for trade, especially coffee, and by 1850 St. Louis was the second largest port in the country. The arch wasn’t open on New Years Day, but normally visitors can ride to the top and look out.
St. Louis has a whole park of museums free of entry that includes an art, history, and science museum, as well as a zoo. We visited the City Museum, which is essentially a multi-floored playground/jungle-gym for all ages. The founder, artist Bob Cassilly, bought out an old International Shoe Company warehouse factory and turned it into a huge attraction filled with enchanted caves, a ten story slide, a world aquarium, and more. If I was a child, I would have my birthday party there.
All in all, St Louis’ mix of green and gritty, jazz history and good beer, the river and the cobblestone roads, makes it a place I definitely want to return.
The Barbecue Capital
Originally, we didn’t plan on stopping in Kansas City, but we wanted to split up the drive from St. Louis to Denver.
The one thing I wanted to do in Kansas City was eat Barbecue. Since 1900, the city gained over one hundred barbecue joints to be proud of, making them the barbecue capital of the world. We ate at Gates BBQ, started by a man named Gates during the second wave of founders in 1946. Now, it has multiple locations in Kansas City and seems to be the most affordable BBQ with fast service.
Happy New Years to All!