Saturday, July 28, 2018

Road Trip Days 5 & 6 - Return

Day 5 (Friday) was our first leg for our return trip home. We started by going to Gibson Donuts, a Memphis local haunt that Jack had told us to try. They were good donuts - we tried the blueberry, the red velvet, the sour cream and the maple bacon ones.

After that we drove back to Nashville for a lunch stop.

Stephanie and her friend Jess went to Star Bagel Cafe, a local Nashville coffee joint ( but Nathaniel and I were there for the real local treat - Nashville Hot Chicken ( We opted to get it from Hattie B's based on Food Network's recommendation. (

Hattie B's offers 5 spice levels - Southern (aka no spice), Medium, Hot, Darn Hot and Shut The Cluck Up. I said that we should try Shut The Cluck Up just to say that we had done it, because when else were we gonna get the chance to try it? And then my little brother said that I had to eat a whole tender, I couldn't just eat one bite, in order to say I had really tried it. So I ended up with a medium spice dark meat piece, and a chicken tender at Shut The Cluck Up level (so did he). I got a side of pimento mac and cheese - he wisely went for a cool side of potato salad. The first bite of the tender made my mouth hurt and burn, and I was ready to quit, but we both finished it off (with generous dollops of honey mustard). I recommend the medium - it was good fried chicken with a nice kick at the end. And if you're into feeling the pain, then eating Shut The Cluck Up is worth it for the experience! The Mac & Cheese was good too, but I could barely eat it after the hot chicken had been in my mouth. All in all, Nashville's hot chicken did not disappoint - it's a great local food experience.

After hot chicken, we drove to Charlottesville VA. Along the way, we saw regular reminders that we were in "the Bible Belt" - large crosses were all along the interstate in TN (see photo). We arrived at 11:30 at night, all took showers and enjoyed the hotel's cable subscription by watching Friends re-runs on Nick and Diners, DriveIns & Dives reruns on Food Network. We happened to catch the episode where Miss Shirleys, a Baltimore local place, was featured on Food Network so that was a fun thing for us Marylanders to watch.


Day 6 (Saturday) we went to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. This was the reason we stopped in Charlottesville. I have been fascinated by T. Jeff since I was in the 4th grade and read a kid's biography on him. I realize he's one of the problematic founding fathers, since he talked a lot about freedom but had ~200-300 people enslaved on his plantation, but seeing his house has always been something I wanted to do so we went. In contrast to the civil rights museum, there were lots of little white kids running around and lots of older white guests there with us.

I knew before going that Monticello means "little mountain", but I didn't realize that it literally sits on a mountain in Virginia - here are some of the shots of the surrounding area.

The house itself is known for the architecture taken from European influences, and is not a typical colonial style house. The first view of it from the shuttle is of the "Italian" inspired side of the house, and then the famous dome side is more French inspired. Jefferson couldn't decide what he wanted, so it took him over 20 years to finish building this place.

We were not allowed to take photos in the house, but our tour guide was an adorable little old lady named Linda who kept saying "Just imagine, Thomas Jefferson walking here, or Dolly Madison in this guest room, or Martha Jefferson Randolph (his daughter) talking to her housemaids here". It was a fun tour, and she didn't shy away from the conflict of a man who could talk a big game about freedom but yet kept slaves. Monticello also had a slavery tour that we didn't go on, so they are trying to reconcile the beauty of the plantation with the enslaved population that built it and kept it running. She of course also spent time talking about the Jefferson inventions and architectural influences. My favorite was this clock that I sneaked a photo of in the cellars (not technically the house!). Jefferson had the clock run on a series of weights and pulleys that moved the time and showed what day it was - but the room was too short. Undaunted, he just cut a hole in the floor and let the weights snake down into the cellar on Saturdays - which happened to be the day we were there, so I took a photo. After the house we got 18th century ice cream and walked along "Mulberry Row" which is the series of trade spaces that slaves operated during the time the Randolph family (Jefferson's grandchildren) lived there with him. Stephanie is posing with the bellows on Mulberry Row below.

All in all, the Monticello tour was what I hoped for - growing up going to Colonial Williamsburg, I had always wanted to see the famous house. I didn't learn anything especially new about Thomas Jefferson, but I learned a lot about architecture of the time in the colonies and in Europe, and I learned a lot about ways he saved time and space with weird little inventions in the house - the first set of double doors that open in sync in the colonies, the fancy weight clock, alcove beds, and stuff like that. After the tour, we walked down Jefferson's little mountain, got in the car, and went home.

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