Monday, October 10, 2011

A Totally Tea-rrific Day

Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas - October 7, 2011

It was 536 miles and it took me three days to get to Little Rock, Arkansas, but I had a blast this past weekend meeting up with some friends from far-flung places such as Kansas City, Memphis, Little Rock and of course, East Tennessee (that would be me).  Did you know that there is a website ( where you can plug in names of cities and it will calculate the mid-point between those cities?  Little Rock wasn't the exact mid-point between the four of us, but somehow it sounded a bit more enticing than Kennett, MO.  I'm sure Kennett is a beautiful place and I know that Sheryl Crowe, who hails from Kennett, would've been happy to come back and show us around, however, we didn't want to inconvenience her!  

But I digress..............

I left home at dark-thirty Wednesday morning with Mt. Juliet, TN as my destination.  It always pains me to drive by the Lebanon exit without seeing my sister, but her work schedule did not permit a visit this trip, so I chose the next best thing.  Hiking with new friends!  I read a LOT of travel and hiking blogs with the result often being new friendships that sometimes hop off the written page into the real world.  I found Gene and Judi a long time ago and have followed their travel journal ever since.  They are from Nashville and travel full-time in their RV.  They are also avid hikers and I'd hoped someday to have an opportunity to meet and hike with them.  They are settled in Nashville for awhile and when I contacted them about a hike on Wednesday, they readily agreed.  We met Wednesday morning at Panera Bread in Mt. Juliet and as expected found easy companionship immediately.  We set off for Long Hunter State Park and the Bryant Grove Trail.  The hike is not a loop, so with two cars available, we left one at each trailhead eliminating any backtracking.  The trail was easy, pleasant and FLAT all making for an enjoyable stroll combining the joy of hiking with the fun of getting to know new friends.  It was a wonderful day and I look forward to getting to know them better.  Having just returned from Alaska, their plan for next year is to stick closer to home and I'm already hoping for some extended time in East Tennessee where we can do more hiking together.

I spent a restful afternoon and evening in the Calico Cottage at Rockhaven Cabins in Mt. Juliet.  We found these cabins and their delightful owners, Nate and Rhonda Powell, several years ago when they were just starting out and had only one cabin, the Magnolia.  They now have three and all were built by Nate, decorated by Rhonda and are exquisite.  We've stayed in all of them multiple times and have enjoyed every moment.  Only problem is that everyone else seems to be discovering them as well and it's becoming more and more difficult to find them available!  I was lucky this time because it was a spur of the moment decision and Calico happened to be open.  

 Calico Cottage - Rockhaven Cabins
Mt. Juliet, TN - October 5, 2011

I was up and out early Thursday morning for a cup of coffee and a tour of Gene and Judi's RV.  Once again, a delightful hour of talking mostly about hiking and travel.  

But I had a long way to go and as is my usual mode of operation, had no intention of spending my day driving west on I-40.  Once through Nashville, I exited on to Hwy 70 driving through towns such as Kingston Springs, Dickson, Waverly, Camden, Huntingdon and eventually to Trenton, my intermediate destination.  

It's that bizarre bucket list of mine again.  At some point in time, I've read something about the Teapot Museum located in Trenton and it piqued my curiosity.  When mentioning it to Bill, he's always had the "I'll wait in the car" response, so it seemed fitting that I work it into a solo trip.  Trenton itself is a cute little town with a beautifully restored courthouse, a lovely historical district and a quaint little coffee shop called, "To the Last Drop."  But I was there to see the teapots and what an interesting display it is.  These aren't just any teapots, they are Veilleuses-theieres (pronounced vay-uhz tay-air), or Night Light teapots and there are LOTS of them. More than 500 to be exact. An amazing display and very impressive even if you could care less about that sort of thing.  I easily spent two hours in Trenton and had it not been uncomfortably warm, I would've walked around longer and enjoyed a cup of coffee at To The Last Drop.  

 To The Last Drop Coffee Shop
Gibson County, TN courthouse

But I still had a long way to go, Memphis to navigate and then 155 more miles to Little Rock.  So I forced myself back onto I-40, made it around Memphis more easily than I ever have and headed due west directly into the setting sun (Ugh!!) and rolled into Little Rock just before dark. 

After a restful evening at the Residence Inn by Marriott Little Rock,  I set out to revisit some of my favorite places in the the city and scout out some new ones before the arrival of my friends.  Since my last visit to Little Rock, another pedestrian bridge has opened and I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours along the Arkansas River waterfront and a stroll across the Junction Bridge.

 The Junction Bridge viewed from the Riverfront Amphitheatre
 Another view of the Junction Bridge
Downtown Little Rock as seen from the Junction Bridge

Back at the Marriott, I anxiously awaited the arrival of my friends.  I was ready for some fun and we were planning to have it!!

More about that later - thanks for reading!!

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