The Jesus Party and Other Adventures: SC–>OK Road Trip, Part 1

When I decided to head out to Tulsa for the summer, I figured I’d be making the drive alone. It may have been a bit presumptuous of me to assume I’d be in good enough shape to make the long drive just 3 weeks after back surgery, but I am nothing if not presumptuous. I knew that the people who are obligated to take care of me, namely AJ and my mother, were unavailable: AJ couldn’t take anymore time off work, and my mom was out west RVing around the country with my dad. No one else is crazy enough to think that driving from South Carolina to Oklahoma would be a fun time. No one except my best friend, Lauren. That gives you an idea of what type of mindset we’re working with here.

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See ya on the flip side, South Carolina!

We set out from my house bright and early on Friday morning with the goal of making it to Nashville, where we would be staying with one of our sorority sisters. My physical therapist had told me that I needed to take breaks every 2 hours, so we broke the drive up over 3 days. Lauren thoughtfully downloaded a road trip planning app and found “fun” places to stop every 2 hours or so along the way. I was really busy in the few days before I left, so I didn’t actually read the descriptions of any of the places she wanted to go, making this entire thing completely my fault.

Stop #1 was the Pine Crest Inn in Tryon, North Carolina. Lauren wanted to stop there because she is a huge book nerd (“literary scholar”) and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway apparently went there for inspiration. The conversation went something like this:

Lauren: “It will be great! I’ll walk around and look at the same things Fitzy looked at and you can do yoga!”

Me: “I’m not allowed to do yoga.”

Lauren: “Well, you can look at stuff too then.”

Me: “Are we allowed to just like…go to this hotel if we aren’t staying there? Are there public exhibits or anything?”

Lauren: “People can’t just stop you from going to hotels you aren’t staying at.”

FALSE.

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Live action shot of me trespassing at the Pine Crest Inn, because no, you cannot just go walk around hotels you aren’t staying at.

Walking around the grounds was super awkward because it was clearly a bed and breakfast, meaning they knew exactly who was staying there and who wasn’t. We walked around looking for something of literary significance while whispering to each other so as not to attract undue attention. Finding nothing, we walked as quickly as possible back to the car and declared Stop #1 a dud.

Stop #2 was the Great Smokies Flea Market in Sevierville, Tennessee, also known as the home of Dolly Parton (the town, not the flea market. Fine, possibly the flea market.). It was hard not to have high hopes for this place, because really, it just seemed destined for greatness. We were not disappointed. The very first place we walked up to had a series of excellent hats for sale for just $3.

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This is easily worth at LEAST $4.

With Lauren’s exceptional purchase, we headed inside and happened upon, among other items: a combination pocket knife/brass knuckles set emblazoned with the Confederate flag, a set of free books about the Apocalypse (“Ready or Not, Jesus is Coming”) and, as luck would have it, sugar gliders. Lauren had no idea what a sugar glider was but thought holding one was a good idea. While the owner tried to sell the thing to her – for $450, no less – he assured her that it would not be a problem on her flight home because it could just “live in her shirt.” I was disappointed that she didn’t buy it. Seemed like a deal.

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Available at Blade Works Knives: machetes for everyday use.

On the way out, we noticed a van painted with the phrase “The Jesus Party.” That’s really all that needs to be said about that.

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Let’s get it poppin’ for the LORD!

Our third and final stop before arriving in Nashville was the “World’s Largest Treehouse,” also known as God’s Treehouse in (where else?) Crossville, Tennessee. Lauren’s road trip app indicated that “minor trespassing” was required. It did not indicate that the treehouse was now abandoned and the surrounding area was a cross between Deliverance and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The required trespassing involved hopping a fence with some barbed wire on it, which seemed innocent enough until we got closer.

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Apparently we missed all the fun.

This place was the most eerily quiet of anywhere I have ever been. I am easily creeped out, but even Lauren thought it was really bizarre and that we were about to be chopped into a million tiny pieces, so we booked it for the car. Stop #3 was obviously a fail, so for those keeping track at home, Lauren’s road trip app was now losing 2-1 to common sense.

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That gigantic overgrown thing in the back is God’s treehouse.

Shortly thereafter, we arrived in Nashville where we met up with Sarah! It was great to see her, and little did we know she had quite the eventful evening planned. It happened to be her last day at her current job, so we first headed to a celebratory happy hour taking place at basically the most hipster house I have ever been to. These people had chickens in their backyard! In the city! Guess who decided she wanted to hold one? Spoiler alert: OBVIOUSLY NOT ME.

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Amelia the chicken was not that excited about being held. I did not take this picture because that would have meant I was taking my life into my hands by being that close to one of those velociraptors of the sky.

While we were at the house, one of Sarah’s friends asked which bars we were going to for the night. Since Sarah knew we had never been to Nashville, she replied “Well, I guess we kind of have to do Broadway (Nashville’s main drag) since they’ve never been here.” The friend said “Oh, good luck with that. It’s impossible to go to Broadway and not rage.” Lauren and I were all, “Nahhh, it’s not gonna be that kind of night. We’ve got to get up early in the morning and drive.”

It was definitely that kind of night. The friend was right.

We started out by guessing how many bachelorette parties we’d see that night, since Sarah said it was a very popular place for them. She guessed 7, Lauren guessed 10, I guessed 12. Stay tuned to find out how many we actually saw. At the first bar, which had a great live country band, we immediately picked out a man who, from our vantage point on the second floor, was obviously extremely intoxicated. He was fist pumping to every song, even slow ones like “The Dance” by Garth Brooks.  He was out of control, and every time we looked over, it seemed that another button of his shirt was unbuttoned and it was like…9:30 pm. Too soon,  sir. We decided his name was probably Pat – he just looked like a Pat – so when he came upstairs, I asked him his name. Through his slurs, he said “Andy,” but he’ll always be Drunk Pat to us. For some reason, we thought it was really fun to give people in the bars fake names and then find out what the real ones were.

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After the first bar, I found a koozie in the street. It says “Jackies Bachelorette” on one side and “CHEERS, BITCHES!” on the other. Bachelorette party count at this point was about 9.

The second bar was a dueling pianos bar, which is precisely the type of bar that I want to hate but can’t help but love. This was no exception. We walked in and were immediately handed beers by a group of police officers from Chicago who were there for a friend’s bachelor party. The friend had already passed out, and the rest of the group wasn’t too far behind him. It wasn’t long before I was accosted by one extremely drunk man, who was apparently an undercover drug cop for the CPD named Scott. This was our introductory exchange. Feel free to add your own slurred words for effect:

Scott: Taps me on the shoulder. “What are you even DOING here?”

Me: “What are you doing here?”

Scott: “I’m drunk, what are you doing here?”

Me: “Well, I’m drinking I guess.”

Scott: “But you’re like…HOT”

Me: I have now sensed that this is not going to end well. “Oh, thanks. So, what do you do? I think your friends said you’re a police officer, right?”

Scott: “I FUCKING HATE THE POLICE!”

So I’m still not sure what the answer to my question was. Scott kept trying to make bedroom eyes at anyone and everyone while “seductively” unbuttoning his shirt. I’m sure it would have been much more seductive if he was sober enough to look people in the eye, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. It wasn’t very long after that that Scott and his friends were kicked out of the bar, for obvious reasons.

We quickly met another bachelor party, this time with a very drunk man named Peter at the helm of the group. He kept asking us for a light for his cigarettes, and we’d tell him to go outside and ask for one since that’s where people were smoking. Somehow he kept coming back with more cigarettes and no lighter. For some reason, he was also very enamored by the idea of taking off his shirt – this seemed to be a theme. He’d stop every couple of minutes to try and grind on someone -anyone with a pulse, really – and we alerted his friends to this situation. As I stood talking to one who sounded Australian but swore he was from New York, Sarah came up and grabbed me and said “Um, this guy’s friend just said I shouldn’t leave you alone with him because he’s really sketchy. We need to leave.” Bachelorette party count? 24.

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Dance party at the piano bar! My face looks like a poltergeist, yet I cannot stop looking.

The next stop was a trailer park themed bar. Let me give that to you again. A bar with the theme of a trailer park. COME ON. It was the greatest place I have ever been, Ecuador not withstanding. No, I’m kidding. I think. Anyway, by this point in the evening we had eaten no dinner but had plenty of beer and two (maybe three…actual count unknown) shots of Fireball. So much for not raging. I went and grabbed a pitcher of beer, and Lauren and I noticed a guy next to us who had super aggressive America-themed tattoos. Because obviously this man would be at the trailer park themed bar. We tried to guess his name and what branch of the military he was in, and Lauren was the lucky winner, although I don’t remember what the prize was. We also bet him “everything in the world – twice”  (WHAT?) that he would not be able to pick up the women behind us, who were quite clearly lesbians. He really did give it a valiant effort, but thankfully he did not succeed because I have no idea how we would have delivered on our end of the deal. He actually turned out to be totally adorable and really liked us for some reason, even though his friends were not amused by our antics. I think they were just mad because we didn’t give them any beer from our pitcher.

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Adam-Ryan-Matt (actual name now forgotten) was in the Army, in case you were wondering.

Finally, we decided to leave and grab some food. On our way out of the bar, we counted our 35th bachelorette party. People, that is 35 bachelorette parties over the course of 3 hours at 3 bars. That is out of control. It’s also worth noting that not a single person we talked to actually lived in Nashville. Apparently only tourists go to the bars on Broadway, and I can totally see why. It’s because they are death traps and you literally can’t help but be completely out of control when you’re there. It’s a safety issue, and I get it.

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Bachelorette number 35 is behind us…our hands are making a 3 and a 5, for those of you who are wondering WTF this is.

We ventured to the little restaurant (which is a generous description) attached to the trailer park bar and grabbed some greasy drunk food. Not before, of course, a homeless man wearing a Confederate flag as his clothing came into the place. And not before we took a picture with this man?? WHY WOULD WE DO THIS? I have no idea what our motivation was aside from the fact that it just seemed like good blog material, which is half the reason I do a lot of the stupid crap I do.

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Tie-dyed bandanna? Check. Cigarette dangling precariously from lips? Check. Confederate flag as outfit? Check. Air Jordans? Also, somehow, check. Our dignity? Nowhere to be found.

As Lauren is apt to do, she began talking to this individual, who insisted on calling her “Tiffany-baby” no matter how many times she corrected him. She bought him a cheeseburger while I sat in the corner trying to figure out WTF was going on. She says that she was trying to redeem herself with the homeless population after the Kyoto homeless incident of 2014, but I remain skeptical. Many thanks to our very kind cab driver, who was really amused by our stories of the shirtless men of Nashville until suddenly he wasn’t and then couldn’t get us out of the cab fast enough. Oh well.

Have you ever been to Nashville? Did you survive? If so, God, HOW?

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