I’m a firm believer that it is important to keep the romance going by continuing to date your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together. So about the time that I took Mr. Fiancé on our wine date – he told me that he too, had a date planned for me on Dec 12 but refused to tell me anything more. Weeks went by and he refused to give me any clues. Finally, he gave me my first clue.
Clue #1: I needed to take Monday off of work. I asked if he could change it to Friday instead of a Monday, (Mondays are busy at work) and he said he would look into it. Turns out, he had no intention of changing the days.
Clue #2: I pushed for more clues and asked, “Is it in Illinois?” He gave a smirky guilty smile which meant it likely was not in Illinois. He didn’t ask me to take Friday off, so I gathered it was either an adventurous day activity (Living Social deal perhaps?) that could only be booked on that specific day OR it was an overnight stay somewhere. Otherwise why did we have to go on a monday? I share my car with my sister, so I reminded him that if we needed the car, he had to let me sister know.
Clue # 3: On the Thursday before we were to leave, my sister asked me if I needed the car that Saturday. I thought, Aha! We don’t need the car! As innocent as she was, she had no idea that she just gave me another clue. Had he told her we were taking the car, she would have already known and not asked. I told him about my newest discovery and found out my next clue.
Clue #4: We need to leave at 5am Saturday morning. My deductive reasoning skills told me that leaving early + no car needed + taking Monday off, meant we were flying somewhere. But where!?
The night before we were to leave, I insisted on more clues so I knew what to pack. Pack for warm weather? A cruise? Arizona? Florida? Cool weather? Colorado? Yellowstone National Park? Michigan? You can’t expect a girl to go away for a weekend and not need to know what to pack. If you do, be prepared for the whole closet to be packed.
Clue #5: The weather is in the 40’s-50’s. Okay, so a cruise and warm weather places are out.
Clue #6: We were flying somewhere and then renting a car to get to our final destination. He wanted to wait until we were at the airport or on the plane, if possible, to tell me where we were going, but me being the ruiner that I am, destroyed that. I started guessing. My first guess was Yellowstone – you have to fly and then drive to get there. Wrong. But I did get it on my second try! I don’t know how I got it because I honestly had zero idea what he was up to.
Mystery Weekend Getaway Location: Nashville & Memphis!!
WOOHOO! I was so excited! Can you believe it? Seriously? Who does that? Who plans a surprise weekend getaway? BEST.DATE.EVER. What an amazing surprise!
I took an American History: Cold War & Elvis course in college where I rediscovered Elvis and have talked about going to Graceland ever since. Having taken music classes and being a country music fan, I also wanted to visit the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Our Weekend Getaway:
Last time we took a cab in the wee hours of the morning, we had a near death experience, so I decided the night before to ask @Chicagocabbie if he would pick us up. People of Chicago – follow him on Twitter. He is reliable, clean, friendly and prompt. I highly recommend reaching out to him for your airport or local cabbie needs.
Anyways, Southwest had a deal so cheap it felt like we were stealing. They don’t fly into Memphis so we had to fly into Nashville and drive. Have you ever been to the Nashville airport? It goes down in my book as one of the nicest airports I have ever been to. Super comfortable welcome waiting area and very clean. Not to mention, it is smart and practical for airports to have bathroom stalls big enough to fit your luggage inside with you. Just saying.
As this was a surprise trip, I wasn’t able to do any pre-vacation research like I usually do, therefore it was a very spontaneous trip. While he got our rental car squared away, I went to the information booth to get Nashville tourist pamphlets.
First stop: We drove about an hour and a half out to Lynchburg, Tennessee to tour the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Mr. Fiancé really wanted to stop here and since he planned this weekend, how could I say no? Plus I like whiskey. I thought we’d get to taste some like you do at wineries so I was a bit nervous, but you turns out you don’t get any samples. Did you know that Jack is made in this one location only and distributed worldwide? Did you know that it is the wettest-dry city possible? The city is dry but the distillery is still allowed to produce whiskey. Did you know that for $10K you can buy your own barrel that fills about 200 bottles of the rarest single barrel whiskey they make and get a plaque on the wall? Crazy, right? Maybe someday… It was an interesting tour, definitely a lot more land than I expected. You get quite a different vibe when you go to a whiskey distillery compared to a winery.
I wanted to see Nashville, but since we had to return for our flight on Monday anyways, I figured it would be easiest if we came back early Monday to tour it then. We drove four hours to Memphis from the distillery. And in the process we saw the back roads of nowhereland, more cows than I could dream of, probably what used to be plantations, and countless confederate flags. We were so far into nowhereland at one point, if my phone’s GPS was a real person, she would have thrown her arms up and said “F it, even I don’t know where you are.” She had us going in circles for a bit.
Ever since I found out we were going to Memphis, I couldn’t get Marc Cohn’s song, “Walking in Memphis” out of my head. Walking in Memphis -I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale… I saw the ghost of Elvis on Union Avenue – Followed him up to the gates of Graceland -Then I watched him walk right through…”
If you visit Memphis – you must stay at The Westin Hotel. When I say the location was perfect, it still doesn’t seem to do it justice. It was two blocks from Beale Street, across from The Gibson Guitar Museum, across from the FedEx Forum (where Bob Seger was performing), across the street from the free Graceland shuttle pickup spot and just minutes away from Sun Studio. Can you ask for a better location? I think not.
Our first stop was BBQ for dinner. We went to Rendezvous and I must say, I was disappointed. I’m not a huge dry rub ribs fan, but even with BBQ sauce, it just wasn’t very good. You shouldn’t have to hide the meat behind layers of seasoning. After dinner we walked down Beale Street and stopped in B.B.Kings Blues Club for some live music. We were exhausted but stayed as long as we could because listening to some quality blues with a drink in hand, is simply the best. We saw horse-drawn carriages with dogs riding along. I was so sad my pictures didn’t turn out of that. Even if you aren’t a dog lover like me, you would still think it was the cutest!
On Sunday, we took the first shuttle to Graceland and I could hardly contain myself. My family had gone when I was about 8 years old, but I couldn’t wait to go back as an adult after my Elvis class. The house was pretty much as I remembered, especially the Jungle Room. He had really horrible tacky taste but man did he have a lot of property. I would hate to be the little house on the lot next door. We got to go inside his personal airplane & jet and see all the cars he collected, including the famous pink Cadillac. We took a tour of the famous Sun Studio which is argued to be the birthplace of Rock & Roll. We took pictures in the same spot that blues legends stood years before us. The Million Dollar Quartet of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded their impromptu jam session here.
Mr. Fiancé still wanted to get his fix of good southern BBQ since the first one was under par. After all he is from Texas, so he has specific BBQ expectations. We debated between either Corky’s or Central BBQ but eventually settled on Central BBQ. Apparently we chose the right one because we ate lunch at the table next to Holly Madison. (I wonder how many of you are still reading. If so, thanks & I bet that caught your attention!!) I had seen a billboard that said she was performing that weekend but didn’t think anything of it. She just played on her phone while she ate and barely talked to friends at the table. Maybe reading email? news? hungover? But Holly was very friendly when she was asked to pose for a picture with the restaurant staff. She looks EXACTLY like how she looks on TV, maybe a little shorter but it was hard to tell with her ginormous heals on. I made Mr. Fiancé slyly take this photo because he had better angle. I was impressed that everyone (but the restaurant) left her alone while she ate.
Driving trips with Mr. Fiancé never seem to feel as long as the amount of hours that passed. We got to Nashville and went straight to the Gaylord Opry Hotel. This place is ridiculous. Driving up, we felt like we had arrived at Disney Land or Six Flags. The hotel was massive. There was a river boat tour and performance stage INSIDE the hotel. The sheer size and high ceilings made me feel like I was on a cruise except for the part about the luscious green trees, flowers and waterfalls everywhere. We tried to tour the Grand Ole Opry but the stupid Rockettes were performing and there are no tours until February. We only got to see the gift shop and outside.
I still can’t believe that Mr. Fiancé took me on a surprise vacation. He really is the best and I’m the luckiest. I tease him that this wasn’t a date because it was a weekend, but I only kid. I just say that because I can’t top it. EVER. I do like being spontaneous but I am a planner at heart who always likes to have an idea of what we will do and how we can do it in the most logical way to save time. However, this trip was out of my control (until we got there) and we had an amazing time. Sometimes you have to sit back, enjoy the moment and go with the flow. And remember to love the ones who treat you well; they are a rare breed, and I’m so lucky to call Mr. Fiancé mine.