Marathon Village is a series of early 1900’s buildings which once housed Marathon Motor Works. Today it is a combination of eclectic shops, distillery tasting rooms, entertainment venues and museum. One of the shops is Antique Archeology, a second store for Mike Wolfe of American Pickers.
We wander through the buildings, observing that perhaps half of the shops are closed due to the impact of Covid-19 and related restrictions on the tourism and entertainment industries. Hopefully most of these businesses will survive.
Fort Negley Park
Fort Negley was built by the Union troops in 1862 after they captured Nashville. It’s on a high hill less than 1.5 miles from Music Row. On this hot, humid afternoon we swing by the park for a short walk and and view of Nashville’s skyline.
The park has a stone archway which was built by the Civil Conservation Corps In the 1930’s, however none of the fort has survived. We enjoy the walk through the park looking at some of the plants and animals we encounter. They are using goats to manage the grass - a creative approach and appropriate for this hilly park.
We also get a decent view of downtown Nashville, so the 45 minutes we spend at the park is worth it - even in the heat and humidity.
One of our goals this month is to check out some Nashville towns for a potential future home. We have heard good things about Franklin, 16 miles to our south and today (Saturday) we decide to do a little exploring.
We drive through the downtown area which is filled with small shops and a lot of mostly mask-faced people walking along the sidewalks. I’ve used Zillow to search some available properties and we drive through the neighborhoods. After looking at six or seven properties we return to Main Street to do some exploration using our feet.
The town is very cute, and feels a bit touristy. To it’s advantage it has good schools and an Irish Pub right downtown. But, it’s property costs reflect this as well as it’s location so close to Nashville. We put Franklin on the desirable but somewhat pricey list.
More Nashville Explorations
William and I expand our exploration of Nashville during our walks (okay, so I do a little more walking, but William joins me for one walk on most days). The Scarritt Bennett Center is just a few blocks up the hill from our Airbnb. It was a college for Christian workers from 1924 to 1980 and a graduate school until 1988. It’s now a retreat center. The tower of Wightman Chapel stands out against the Nashville sky and reminds me of the chapels in the English countryside.
To the east along Broadway is Union Station, which was completed in 1900. It closed as a railroad station in the 1970’s and has been converted to a hotel. William and I stayed in the hotel about twenty years ago when it was a Marriott property. The rail lines still run on it’s western edge. On it’s eastern edge is the Frist Art Museum, occupying Nashville’s former main post office.
A little over a mile to the west of the Airbnb is Centennial Park with a full-sized replica of the Parthenon. It was built as part of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition originally as a temporary structure and replaced with a permanent building in the 1920’s. We walk around the Parthenon and also enjoy Centennial Park one afternoon.
Nashville is a city of music, which is unfortunately subdued due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Live music can still be found at some of the restaurants, but for most it has stopped, at least in our neighborhood. A smile comes across my face as I see a man riding a bike with a trailer holding his two guitars. I am not sure if he’s a street musician, on his way to a lesson, or about to start a set somewhere, but it’s uplifting to see.
The Airbnb we have rented in Nashville is in the Music Row neighborhood. The owner sends me the door code in advance and on Sunday we easily use it to enter to the one bedroom apartment, our home for the next month. It matches the photos and our expectations, so all is good. The first couple of days we settle into the apartment, making grocery runs and a stop at Target to pick up a few things.
I use my daily walks to explore historic Music Row. On the northern edge is the statue “Musica”, paying homage to Nashville’s musical legacy. Across the street is the statue of Owen Bradley playing his piano. As a musician and record producer, he was one of a small group responsible for creating the 1950’s and 60’s Nashville sound.
I walk along the streets underneath the magnolia and poplar trees, passing by famed recording studios including RCA Studio B where Elvis recorded 260 songs and the Old Mill Studio (now Nashville Songwriters Association) where Alabama recorded their albums. The County Music Association is just a block and a half away, and 17th Street (a.k.a Music Row West) is dotted with buildings owned by Mike Curb, musician, record company executive, motorsport car enthusiast, and former Lt. Governor of California. One of the most interesting buildings architecturally is Curb World Records. This is the home of Christian artists including Amy Grant and For King and County.
It’s a wonderful area for morning and/or evening walks.
Terra Haute, Indiana
Nashville is 520 miles (837 kilometers) from Racine, about a 9.5 hour drive if stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks. But why rush? Terra Haute, Indiana lies along the route and we want to explore the area a bit. I make a reservation for two nights at a Marriott and Thursday morning after hugs with William’s Mom we hit the road.
We prefer to support local businesses, especially with the challenges they face during this Covid-19 period. So, when we get hungry I use Google Maps to help us find the locally-owned Yanni’s Cafe in Manteno, Illinois for a late breakfast. It’s delightful to get freshly cracked eggs rather than the pre-packaged Sysco eggs used by so many of the chain restaurants.
We pull into Terra Haute in the late afternoon. After checking in and a rest at the hotel our attention again turns to food. Some web searches draw us to Piloni’s, a local Italian restaurant that shows up on several best of/top five lists. Sitting at our socially distanced table in a small dining room we enjoy some incredible pasta. It is fresh and done perfectly al dente. We wish we could ask the chef for his secret on the ravioli - we can never get ours as firm.
Friday we spend the day exploring some of the 39 covered bridges of Parke County, most built in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. There are five driving routes which all meet in the city of Rockville. We follow the western side of the Red Route (the total route is 36 miles) starting in Rosedale. When we reach Rockville we switch to the Blue Route for 36 miles, catch about half of the Yellow Route (16 miles) then use the eastern side of the Red Route to take us back to Rosedale. From there it is just 25 minutes back to our hotel. We have lots of fun navigating the (mostly) backroads and enjoying ~20 bridges along the way.
Dinner Friday evening is at another local establishment, M. Moggers Restaurant and Pub. Terra Haute was once known for it’s local breweries, and Matthias Mogger was an early pioneer. As befitting the name, the restaurant has over 100 beers available with a good number on tap. William and I enjoy our meals in the early 1900’s decor with signs of old breweries and beers decorating the walls about us.
Bismarck to Racine
We say goodbye to my Mom and Aunt Jan as well as cousins Barb and Paul after dinner on Thursday evening. We have time for a photo of “the girls” before the hugs.
Friday morning we pack up the car and hit the road. We have mapped out a route to Mankato that avoids the Interstate - mostly through farm country. We follow U.S. Highway 83 south, winding through Strasburg, ND, population 409 and the birthplace of Lawrence Welk. We both tell stories about watching band leader Lawrence Welk on TV with our grandparents. Eventually we turn east on Minnesota Highway 14 and pass through Walnut Grove, population 871 and the home of Laura Ingles Wilder Museum of Little Home on the Prairie fame. What highlights! Lol. We stop for the night in Mankato, Minnesota.
As we drive along the backroads of North and South Dakota we have time to reflect on our past month. I begin to draw analogies in the spirit of the North Dakota people to the way Colorado is described in Atlas Shrugged. The people we met work hard for their own prosperity as well as the betterment of their family, friends and the community. They are independent and high-spirited. They want to be able to make their own decisions and chart their own course. When they have a problem, they figure it out, if necessary calling on their family or friends to pitch in. No one we encountered is looking for a handout or someone to tell them exactly what to do. It was refreshing.
Saturday we drive to Pewaukee, Wisconsin. The thousand+ acre farms of North and South Dakota give way to the 300-500 acre dairy farms. After a short rest we meet up with friends Dennis and Cheryl for a delightful evening. They recently moved into a new home and we tease them that that are supposed to be downsizing. Then on Sunday we head south to Racine for a short four night stay at our nephew’s apartment. It’s good to see William’s Mom and the family for dinner.
A few times a week we are fortunate to have dinner with my Mom, Aunt Jan and sometimes other family members. We have some meals at Aunt Jan’s, some at our Airbnb, and several at Cousin Barb and Paul’s home during our stay.
A few meals over the past month stand out in my mind, starting with a walleye fish fry for 20 people hosted by Cousins Ron and Dawn one of the first weekends we are in town.
There’s a Thai restaurant named Eat just two blocks from our Airbnb. I pass by it almost every day on my morning walk. One Wednesday we order take-out from Eat and Mom, Jan and Barb have their first Thai food experience. The restaurant offers four heat levels, so we ask for the most dishes at mild (1) or no heat(0). Good thing - even the mild gives quite a kick! Everyone finds they have a favorite or two but all find the food to be very good and an interesting new experience.
For another meal we make home made lasagna. In preparation William cooks up a batch of his famous spaghetti sauce (which is a delicious meal for us, Mom and Aunt Jan on Tuesday). Thursday we make home made ricotta. The gallon of milk, pint of cream, pinch of salt and 4 ounces of vinegar yields over two pounds of cheese. We have fun watching the process as William stirs for approximately 40 minutes bringing the ingredients to a boil. Saturday we assemble two lasagnas. One is popped into the freezer and the other is put in the refrigerator to be baked for Sunday’s dinner. Mmmmm!
We have a wonderful steak dinner Monday and a fantastic beef roast dinner on Thursday of the last week we are in Bismarck. It’s beef that is raised and butchered locally in North Dakota. Very, very, good!
On a number of mornings William and I go to Kroll’s Diner for breakfast, a local favorite since 1969. William orders the Meatlover’s Breakfast, which includes four eggs served with two strips double-smoked bacon, two link sausages and two country sausage patties. Oy! We take some home each time we visit.
When talking about local foods with the family many people comment about going to Big Boy (yes, Bismarck still has a Big Boy!) for a pizza burger “flying style” (grilled in a sandwich press) and “hot ‘n tots” (a cinnamon coke). We didn’t make it to Big Boy on this trip... maybe next time. 🙂
North Dakota Farming
I’ve mentioned that the family in North Dakota farms. This is not 200-300 acre dairy or vegetable farming like the farms near my home town. My cousins farm 23,000 acres! There’s acres and acres of soybeans, barley, sunflowers and other crops. This is large-scale farming, done with mega-machinery.
Recently they completed construction of a 24,000 square foot (~2,230 square meter) building for their machinery and office. Four semi-trucks parks at one end seem to barely make a dent in the space. There’s even a heated floor throughout to make it more comfortable during the cold months.
A whole different world for William and I who grew up in the city and suburbs.
Enjoying Scenery and Nature
Many days while we are in North Dakota we find time to be outdoors. Most mornings after a cup of tea I take a 45 to one hour walk. Our Airbnb is very close to two walking trails, one along a golf course and another through a park, which makes it easy. And although Bismarck temperatures can reach 90F (32C)+ at 3 pm, the mornings are often 65-70F (18-21C), which makes walking even more enjoyable.
By 11 or 12 am William and I venture out together with cameras in hand. We enjoy capturing the scenes we find along North Dakota roads and in it’s parks
Hi. I'm Anne. I wander around the world with William.
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