Well, fellow spinsters, I've returned from the not-so-deep South an older and wiser woman.
First off, I learned the real difference between whiskey and bourbon. Whiskey involves a charcoal mellowing process; bourbon puts the distilled liquor right into oak barrels, no charcoal. Distillers of the respective liquors will each lay claim to theirs being a superior process. I find each to be delightful. But of course you know where my loyalties lie (cf. name of website). But, if I do happen to indulge in a nip of whiskey, my brand of choice will be George Dickel whiskey. Why? Because I enjoyed the tour of their distillery, even if the waterfall pictured in their brochure turned out to be nothing but a creek.
It was still pretty though ...
The tour guide was a total sweetheart ("Every time I go into a bar ... not that I go into bars ... seems every time I do, someone wants to beat me up ... must be something about me ...") and I learned a lot of useful information about what happens to you if you drink moonshine (the iron content in the water will give you heavy metal poisoning) and that anywhere you distill corn liquor yourself, you're going to get a black mold that grows on everything, which is why you have to move your moonshine still from time to time. (Black tree trunks = dead giveaway.) I also learned that Merle Haggard drinks Dickel #8, which they don't make anymore. Take that, Jack Daniels.
Incidentally, Lynchburg is a really scary company town entirely owned and operated by the Jack Daniels' corporation, and the entire county's on the payroll. It's strange, and I wouldn't be fooled by their ads in which they claim to live in a sleepy, old fashioned town, because it's slicker than a New York City lawyer in a rainstorm. I and my gentleman friend had "lunch" in Lynchburg (at 11:00 in the morning; everything in Tennessee opens and closes absurdly early) at a little place called Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House.
It was a great lunch (featuring the best fried chicken I ate in Tennessee, great candied apples, crispy fried okra, tasty turnip greens, which I thought were called "collard greens" but maybe they're not, and an unfortunately disappointing pie called "chess pie" which I'd skip if I were you) but the Stepford-y vibe I got from the hostess was kind of freaky.
So if you find yourself in Lynchburg, skip town immediately and head to Tullahoma, where you'll find the much more satisfying Dickel Distillery.
Nashville itself is full of old people. It's great.
I particularly enjoyed touring the Ryman Auditorium, aka the Mother Church of Country Music, where I imagined Patsy Cline up on stage (though they were setting up for, um, Tesla) and snapped pics of Loretta Lynn's sequined evening costumes.
The Ryman housed the Grand Ole Opry back in the day, but later the show was moved to its new location in, well, "Opryland." Yeah, I have a little bit of disdain for the glitzy, mall-like new opry. I guess I like doing things the old way better.
But I saw Porter Wagoner at the new opry, which is awesome.
The Country Music Hall of Fame is a no-brainer; you have to go there if you're in Nashville. It's a beautifully designed museum, obviously curated with care and love. I saw John Loudermilk speak there, and he favored us with a few songs, some hilarious anecdotes and words of wisdom/advice ("You have to reach through the veil"). I love that man.
Other venues of musical goodness included The Station Inn, The Bluebird Cafe, Robert's Western World, and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.
Foodly goodness was obtained in the form of biscuits at The Loveless Cafe, and pancakes at the Pancake Pantry. I was so enraptured with the vittles that I couldn't even snap a photo. But trust me, they were damn good. The pancakes at the pantry were divine. They were -- sigh -- much much better than mine. My god they were good. I wish I was eating their apple cinnamon pancakes right now. The Elliston Soda Shop was also a good old fashioned meat-and-three lunch counter, but don't go overboard with nostalgia and get a chocolate malted because they sound cool -- stick with the shake.
Also: I rode a riverboat:
*For Spinster Travelogue The First, click thusly and scroll down.