The Grand Ole Opry

It’s really something interesting to drive (and walk) around the country by yourself. Every step is new, each rock is completely yours to touch, every bird yours to notice, and the sound of the water is yours alone to hear. I can stop when I want, take pictures of what I want, eat when I want, and find myself hilarious whenever I want.

I’m really a fantastic traveling companion. Haha. 🙂

Panda might tell you otherwise. But don’t listen to her. I mean really, she’s a panda.

Went to the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. Couldn’t believe I was actually there. While I was outside in the park, listening to the outdoor band and sitting on a bench, I realized how strange it can be to be alone in moments like that. Literally everyone has people they are talking to and laughing with and discussing things with. Occasionally, conversations can happen with strangers, but they’re often over-rated and sometimes even annoying. And I wasn’t feeling lonely or left out, it was simply an awareness of being by myself whereas everyone else was together.

Walking into the Opry House was beyond thrilling. You could feel the history and the music in the air. It’s a gorgeous building; I wish it was still located in The Ryman, but you can’t have everything.

Dwight Yoakam was the main performer, and I was beyond excited to finally see him in person. It was his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry in over 16 years! Furthermore, his latest album is “Dwight Sings Buck Owens” – Buck being my favorite all-time singer, so I was basically in heaven. Dwight, dancing around with his skin-tight pants and ridiculous moves, twangy voice and tan cowboy hat. He was excellent, as was the entire evening. I admit it – I teared up at one point, overwhelmed by the fact that I was where I was, when I was, feeling how I was… just everything was perfect.

I also want to mention that on my way to the Opry House, my Magellan GPS system was telling me what to do, like the bitch that she is, and I had to laugh out loud when she said “Turn right onto Grand Olee Road” – stressing the long ‘e’- almost making an olé out of it. Hehehe.

See, these are the things that entertain me when I’m by myself.



Ozone Falls, TN

I haven’t told you about Ozone Falls! It was a place off of Interstate 40 that Scott told me I should check out on my way over to Nashville. It’s right off the highway; however, it’s tucked away in some foliage and sandstone, so it makes you feel like you’re far away from reality. The crazy thing is you can walk directly up to the falls. As in, you are standing at the point where the stream falls 110 feet over the rock into a deep blue, rock-strewn pool. A ‘rugged ¾-mile trail begins along the bluff near the falls and then descends into the gorge passing a small rock house called Gamblers Den. The trail follows Fall Creek to the confluence with Renfro Creek where hikers must backtrack to return to the trailhead’. That sound fancy, but I copied it from a website.

‘Ozone Falls is situated on the eastern edge of the Crab Orchard Mountains on the Cumberland Plateau. Legend has it that the area was named “Ozone” because of the “stimulating quality of the air” created by the mist that is generated after the long plunge of the water. In the 1800’s, grist and sawmills had been built above the falls. The last one was washed over the falls during a spring flood in 1900.’

Haha, that’s kind of hilarious – the stimulating quality of the air, not sawmills being washed over the falls. That’s scary. Sort of like how I was literally laying over the edge of the falls, staring over a hundred feet down to my death.

But that wasn’t the point of this story – to just share the scary-ass part of it. What was crazy was the moment I shared, by myself. I lay there, shaking with anxiety, and I forced myself to lay upon the sandstone, with it’s slightly downwards tilt, and stare out over the falls. The water was falling over the rocks about an arms length away from me, on my left. And I was part of the landscape; it was almost impossible to believe that I wasn’t going to slide right off the cliff like the water was, and it took all my strength to force myself to stay there for a while.

It seemed like minutes, but it was probably about 45 seconds before I allowed myself to move away from the edge. The way I saw it, who knew when I was going to have an opportunity like that again – to be hanging on a precipice, safe but somehow in such an extreme position, completely alone, and enveloped by the landscape.

It was basically a spiritual experience. And it rocked. 🙂

Asheville, NC

After leaving Savannah at 10:30 AM, I drove five and a half hours back to Raleigh, North Carolina, to be comforted by my friend, Corey. As I told Rick this on the phone, he laughed and said “I’ve never heard of anyone going to such lengths to nurse a hangover.” Which, once I thought about it, was half-hilarious, half-pathetic, and completely necessary. I was a mess. After all that crying and all that feeling displaced, I needed to be somewhere where I felt safe, and could regroup and start again.

That drive was THE most painful experience of my life. It was never-ending, and excruciating. Everything hurt. I assumed it was a hangover, but then Kara Simpson reminded me that I was working off of about 5 hours of sleep in a 48-hour period, so that helped to explain the distinct feeling of slow death.

Finally, I reached Corey, and spent the next day recovering and trying to figure out what was next. I slept like a baby, in a bed by myself (not random Swiss guys and hot chicks), and consumed absolutely no alcohol. Thank goodness for straight-edge friends. And thank goodness for Corey. 🙂

As the title of this post infers, I am currently in Asheville, North Carolina. I drove here yesterday, and spent the night in my first hotel – not only the first hotel of my trip, but the first hotel I’ve ever experienced by myself. I felt stupid spending money to sleep somewhere, but it was nice to not feel obligated to anyone, and be completely alone.

Of course, being completely alone eventually led to me talking to myself, a lot… but it’s all good. These things happen.

Woke up this morning, not hung-over and completely alone, which was divine, and walked downtown Asheville. Lots of artsy people and stores, and it was relaxing and enjoyable. I had been communicating online with this guy, Chris, from couchsurfing.com, and he had told me where he was working, so I stopped by to say hi and make sure he wasn’t a psychopath. He was, indeed, a non-psychopath, and we ended up having a great conversation, and making plans to meet up later. And that’s where I am now – at his apartment, with the beautiful view of the mountains and the sunset, feeling comfortable and completely non-violated. 🙂

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Consider the strange feelings gone, thank goodness. Of course, my mind still feels a little fuzzy (am I still tipsy from those two drinks 40 hours ago? haha) and my heart is still a bit achy, but it’s all good. I’m alive and willing to keep on living.

Always a good sign.

Another smoothie by my side, I’m recovering from an arduous day of shopping and laying on the beach. I have more of a tan (or is it just a burn line?) than I’ve had in my life, and it’s only been two days. I sort of don’t want to leave – the atmosphere here is so relaxed and warm. I definitely feel “on vacation” here. Sarah works a lot, and I sort of tinker about on my own, which is fine with me, since I’m comfortable by myself. I also don’t feel (too) weird or awkward being myself with her, which is a relief. Sarah has always been one of those people who can get along with anybody, and I honestly believe she barely ever has a truly negative thought about anyone; she’s so loving and accepting.

Started reading “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” today, as preparation for my trip to Savannah. I was concerned about how I was going to experience Savannah in a way that would be inspiring and transporting, but then I remembered couchsurfing, and sent out a couple emails. Hopefully I’ll get a response, and someone to help me see the city. Perhaps even a couch to crash on.

I think I burned the top of my head. I always burn the top of my head.