Are you from Tennessee? You must be from Tennessee. Why? Because you’re the only 10 I see. 😉
I got into Knoxville, TN around 10:40 in the morning on Thanksgiving. Tired from lack of sleep but jittery from the cup of coffee I had during my layover in Charlotte, NC. We left the airport on a hunt for an early Thanksgiving lunch. All glutinous Thanksgiving plans had fallen through. My baby daddy had to work in a couple hours and his lady was stuck house sitting for someone. So we drove through town but was unable to find a place that didn’t consist of an hour long wait. We went back to baby daddy house for pumpkin pancakes. Soon after, me and the kiddo dropped him off at work and headed to my Airbnb. It was my first time staying at one, so I was a bit nervous.
We head in and meet Daniel, my host. He’s there with his brother and parents. He states that originally he was going to be out of town and leave me a key, but his plans fell through as well. He and his family warmly welcome me and the kiddo in. Shows us around and tells us we are more than welcome to play pool or watch Netflix down in the basement and that we can come celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with them.
After a game of pool, he calls us up for dinner. A whole spread of home made southern cooking. Smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn and a bunch of stuff I have no idea what it was, but it was good. His mother was amazingly kind and even made one of my favorite desserts, banana cream pudding with a graham cracker crust. They were down visiting from Kentucky, apparently less than a 3 hour drive. So Thanksgiving wasn’t so bad after all, and also a great first impression of an Airbnb.
We didn’t do too much after that. I think I slept about 10 hours that night. The next morning “Black Friday” me and the kiddo head to downtown Knoxville. We take an Uber which was relatively cheap, only about $9 for a 7 mile ride.
First thing is first. We check out the infamous Sunsphere. If you don’t know what the Sunsphere is, it was built in 1982 for the worlds fair. A giant golden ball at the top of a vertical tower and is at a height of 266 ft. It’s like the southern version of the Space Needle…. Except it’s a sphere and it’s not as tall. But, you can get a full view of Knoxville. Unfortunately, the air quality was extremely bad while I was there due to wild fires so the views weren’t as stunning as they could have been.
Also! If you’re a Simpson’s fan like me, it hit me that this place was on a Simpson’s episode. When Bart and his buddies travel to the world’s fair only to realize that they’re about a decade too late, and at the top of the Sunsphere is a dilapidated warehouse for old wigs. Then they get stranded in Knoxville after accidentally knocking over the Sunsphere with a rock and it falls over and crushes their rental car. Yeah… This is that place.
After our visit to the Sunsphere, we decided to stroll around town before heading to the movies. It was the first official day in downtown for Christmas lights and the opening of the skating rink for the season. There were a million holiday decorations everywhere, vendors in the town square, and even the sidewalks were covered with peppermint candies to show festiveness as you walk through town. There was even a scavenger hunt of sorts for kids. We picked up a card that had 30 squares on it. Each square represented a business that each had an elf on the shelf. Find at least 20 of these elves and submit your card for a prize. I think we only got about 11 or 12, but there’s a month long time frame to get all you can.
As we walked around finding elves at different businesses we decided it was time to start looking for the movie theater to check out movie times. We see the theater and cross the street, but we get stopped by 2 ladies. They ask us if we’re up for a free lunch.
What? What? Yes of course. Who says no to free lunch? They go on to tell us that they are shooting a documentary about small businesses and need people to come sit and eat for about 40 minutes and they would pay. I ask the kiddo if she’s hungry and yes of course she is, so we go on our way to the filming. As we walk, the lady who’s leading us to our destination is talking about all the wonderful places to see and go eat dessert after. And all I’m thinking about is what kind of food it might be. We get to our destination, it’s a place called Yassin’s Falafel House. I’m not a big fan of falafels, but I do love a good gyro. So we order a gyro plate to share as well as some baklava. It was filling and simple, and best of all it was free and we got to be in a movie! Not bad for a first trip into downtown Knoxville.
We did eventually make it to the movies but there wasn’t much adventure after that. We did get a chance to check out the courthouse downtown. It was closed but the area was beautiful. Everything was made of brick and the grounds were green and plush. There’s even an amazing bronze sculpture called the Beloved Woman of Justice. I took some pictures of the area and you can find them on my instagram.
Beyond that, my trip was short. I did make it to the Waffle House! A set goal of mine and a Southern staple. If you’ve never been there, it’s like fast southern diner food. I love really good food, but sometimes it’s nice to indulge in greasy diner food too.
That was my last day in Knoxville. The next day I flew out in the morning, again no lines at the airport in which everyone said it works be crazy. I had a lot of time to kill once I got to the airport, so I grabbed a cheeseburger and a glass of wine. Once again, I don’t drink as much as I used to, so after a half a glass I was feeling pretty buzzed. I’m such a light weight. I finished up and got ready for my first flight out. I had a layover in Dallas.
I got in to Dallas. Because of the time change I thought I was late to my next flight. Nope, I’m just paranoid and had an hour to wait. That freaking airport is huge. On my way to my terminal I had to take a tram to another area of the airport. Inside the tram I was approached by a panicking woman who only spoke Spanish. I had to adjust my thinking back to any Spanish I knew to help her. She was lost and looking for her terminal. Luckily I was heading in the same direction so I was able to translate and help her. She was very much relieved. I just hope that when I have my layover in Moscow going into Prague in March, and I get lost, that someone will be willing to help me.
After I dropped her off at her gate I headed to mine. The airport was packed. I anxiously stood around waiting for my group to be called when I had a sudden craving for chocolate. I gave in and bought an overpriced $5 bag of M&M’s. I have so much regret for buying that. I got on board and took my long flight home to Seattle.
It was a short, exhausting weekend, but also filled with nice surprises. I’ll be headed out there again in a few weeks where I hope I’ll be able to explore a little more and have more adventurous stories to share.