USA Travel Blog #4

Rhythms of Friendship

September 16: Meeting long-time friends

After our awful Red Roach Inn experience and urgent care visit, we got fortunately got a few hours of sleep at the new hotel. The morning began with a much-needed shower and, of course, a pit stop at Starbucks for a quick breakfast and, let’s be honest, the best coffee around. Today’s agenda included meeting Stephanie Heitz and her husband at The Café in Louisville, a breakfast and brunch spot that had been highly recommended.

Around noon, as Stephanie and her husband turned the corner, the moment was truly surreal. Meeting someone face-to-face after having countless online conversations is an experience that words can’t quite capture. Stephanie and her husband turned out to be the sweetest, most genuine people we could have hoped for.

We spent a lot of time at The Café, sharing stories about life, families, music, and more. We got so caught up in our conversations that it took quite a while to order food! Brunch was fantastic, and after a few surprises from Stephanie, we explored a the Fleur de Flea thrift store before we headed to Stephanie’s hometown, New Albany, which was a beautiful and charming American city in the state of Indiana.

A visit to Eureka! Menswear (an amazing shop btw) turned into an impromptu jam session, with all three of us singing ‘Wagon Wheel’, by Old Crow Medicine Show. The experience of singing together in person after all these years was truly amazing.

After a bit of town exploration, we relaxed at a downtown bar before heading to Goodwill shops. We wrapped up the night with fantastic pizza in New Albany, bidding farewell with promises to meet again soon. It was an extraordinary day spent with friends, proving that #InstagramFriendsBecomeRealFriends.

The next day, September 17, was a travel day from Louisville to Knoxville. Because of rain forecasts, we changed our plans to visit the Great Smoky Mountains and went to Knoxville instead. We visited Guitar Center, enjoyed scenic drives, and had delicious donuts at Duck Donuts, ending the day with a good rest at the hotel.

September 18-20: Mountains, Boots, Unforgettable Connections

The city of Knoxville was quite close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which meant that we had quite some time for a morning stroll in the city. We visited the Sunsphere, sculptures, murals and a coffee shop before we headed to Gatlinburg, where a cozy cabin at Carr’s Cottages was waiting for us.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed us with Chimney Tops, New Gap, and the tourist State line on the first day. Carr’s Cottages in Gatlinburg turned out to be a fantastic stay. 

After we got to our place, we went for food in the middle of Gatlinburg. But before eating, we really wanted to check out a cool boot shop called The Cowboy Way. It turned out to be awesome! Kenny Forbes and his team were super nice and helpful. We chatted about the US, Europe, music, and Gatlinburg for about three hours while trying on shoes, boots, and even some jewelry. We left with great stuff and new friends! Thanks to Kenny and his crew!

The next day, we went back to say goodbye to our new friends at The Cowboy Way and snapped a photo together. We’ll always remember this stay and these awesome people and we’ll definitely be seeing them again!

After leaving the center of Gatlinburg we did two big hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains, before we tackled the trail to see Laurel Falls. You’re not supposed to do these hikes when it’s dark, but we kinda lost track of time. When we got to Laurel Falls, it was already about sunset and slowly getting dark. Since it’s up high in the mountains, getting back to the car meant a lot of walking down dark trails covered by trees. It got kinda scary, and there are bear warnings all over the place. After a day of exciting hikes and breathtaking views we headed back to our cottage, grabbed some food, and called it a day.

On September 20, we took things easy. We wanted to check out Pigeon Forge, known for their loads of different attractions and of course the world-famous Dollywood.

We ended up doing mini-golf, having dinner at the Silver Line Diner, and more western wear shopping. It was a chill day with lots of touristy stuff. Before we reached our cottage back in Gatlinburg, our plans for the next days weren’t set yet. But we talked about my plans for recording the two songs I wrote with Josh Morningstar, in a cool studio in Dallas, Texas. Before the day ended, plans were taking shape, and we knew we were going to Modern Electric Sound recorders at the end of September to record two new TuskHead songs. Hella exciting! But, of course, there was still a lot of road ahead before we got there.

Next up, we’ve got our eyes set on Nashville, Memphis, Hot Springs (National Park), and the grand finale – Dallas! Brace yourselves for the thrilling tales ahead in our next blog! Get ready for more excitement! If you don’t want to miss any of my travel stories, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter!