Blowhard, Esq. writes:
This is the second installment of my series about driving cross-country during the coronavirus crisis. Click here for first post.
On day two we left behind the North and drove deeper into the South.
Richmond set the pattern for the rest of our trip. Abandoned streets, few businesses open, us wandering around the downtown area taking pictures of the emptiness. Here’s what Richmond looked like from my hotel room window. Notice the lack of traffic, all the green lights, few cars, no people, nothing happening.
We naively hoped that a breakfast place would be open, so we Googled a local spot in the Fan District, just west of Virginia Commonwealth University, and drove over there. Nope, everything was closed. Don’t think we saw a single person walking the streets either. Click on the photos to enlarge.
We drove by the statue of J.E.B. Stuart (twice, we got lost, despite having GPS) but I didn’t get a picture of it. You’d think that Richmond, the former capitol of the Confederacy and home of these statues, would feel like the South, but it didn’t to me. It wasn’t until we got to Burke County, North Carolina that I felt like I was in Dixie. Why? Because it was in Burke County where we saw our first massive Confederate flag, roughly the size of Delaware, flying beside the freeway. Wikipedia says THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS and THE HUNGER GAMES were both filmed in Burke County.
After skirting past Durham, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem, we ascended through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Asheville. Asheville was a little out of our way, but I heard it was great, so I wanted to take a look. Hey, guess what, it was dead. As we were taking these pictures, we were pretty much the only people on the streets. A woman drove by, her window rolled down, and she shouted to us, “Freaky, isn’t it?!” Yes, it was like being in a TWILIGHT ZONE episode.
There was one business open, a clothing store selling Asheville-branded souvenirs. I tried to buy a t-shirt but they only had women’s styles. After walking around for an hour or so, we said goodbye to Asheville and headed for Tennessee.
While driving through Knoxville, we could see the Wigsphere, a major cultural landmark, from the freeway.
The last 90 minutes into Nashville it rained pretty hard. Just when it looked like it was clearing up, it started pouring again. We got into Nashville about 8pm after approximately 9 hours of driving. I was pretty tired, it was still raining, so I thought I’d just stay in the hotel room. My brother called me a pussy and said he was going to walk around Nashville rain or not. I joined him.
Some cool Nashville neon.
It wasn’t much of an exaggeration to say we were the only people on Broadway. We found the only business that appeared to be open, the Moxy Hotel, and got in out of the rain. When we arrived there were three people at the bar, two employees, us, and a drunk guitar player performing drunkenly. Pretty soon the other patrons cleared out and it was just the employees, us, and our (very) inebriated troubadour. I ordered a cocktail, my brother got a beer, and I had food delivered from Edley’s Bar-B-Que: a pulled pork sandwich, a hot chicken sandwich, fries, and fried pickles. We ate and drank while playing pool and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. We were more or less the mayors of Nashville that night.
Across the street from the Moxy was this major cultural institution.
In the next installment we drive from Nashville to Little Rock with a quick side trip through the Mississippi Delta to sell our souls at the Crossroads.
- S.C. Gwynne’s biography of Stonewall Jackson isn’t bad.
- If you’re ever in Asheville, stop by the DSSOLVR Brewery. Tell them Blowhard, Esq. sent you. (They will have no idea what that means and will probably throw you out, fyi.) But srsly, ask them what the deal is with that Illuminati tentacle logo.
- I briefly wrote about the Schermerhorn and its architect, David M. Schwarz.
- Legendary blogger Howard Miller lives in Nashville but, sadly, I wasn’t able to meet him due to the damned virus. Damn you, COVID-19! Check out his excellent food history blog.