Witty Title Here goes West: from Baltimore to Memphis and beyond

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Three days ago, John and I hugged our families goodbye and said hello to the open road. We were at the beginning of a long journey from Baltimore, Maryland to Los Angeles, California. Since then, we’ve broken into a house in Asheville, performed at an open mic in Nashville, and had the best fried chicken and fried green tomatoes in all of Memphis.

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I write to you from a Super 8 motel in the Texas panhandle after an 11-hour drive. Three days have gone by so quickly, and yet waving goodbye to Baltimore feels like it was ages ago. It was hard hugging my sisters knowing I wouldn’t be able to again for awhile. Even though we still have a lot of road to travel, apartments and jobs to find, and, for me, school to prepare for, it almost feels as though we got the hardest part over with at the beginning of our trip. And right now, I’m just taking it one day at a time. This is a trip I’ve looked forward to for awhile, and I have every intention of enjoying it. And we really have so far.

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Some of the highlights: Day one started out in true John and Cassie form. When we travel together, we tend to run into mishaps. Which are always funny… later. Just an hour or so from our first stop in Asheville, we found out that John’s cousin, whom we planned on staying with, was actually at a Phish concert about ten hours away in Atlanta. (Whose fault this misunderstanding was is irrelevant, because it wasn’t mine.) But John’s cousin assured us over the phone that his back window was probably open if we wanted to break in. And in case it wasn’t, his Phishead friend offered us—complete strangers to him—the use of his home, too. (The key was above the doorframe. Apparently, questionable security is how they do it in the South.) So we took our chances and went to check out the friend’s house—an artist’s shack in which there was a random collection of objects and no AC. We drank a couple of beers on this kind stranger’s porch before opting for a break-in at the cousin’s air-conditioned house. We were successful, and we slept like babies. Day one: a success, all things considered.

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We didn’t have much time to spend in Asheville, though, because it was time to move onto our next stop, Music City. Nashville was a sauna filled with tourists. Our hotel room (the cheapest one we could find in town, and still not very cheap) had construction going on right outside the door, so we switched rooms. To my horror, the second room had a giant cockroach clinging threateningly to the wall next to the bed. John killed it for me, and it was all very glamorous and romantic. Determined to join in on the live music scene, we signed up for an open mic night at the Blue Bar. It took a lot of waiting around (and, subsequently, me building up liquid courage), but we got the chance to sing a couple of the songs from John’s new album, plus covers of the Rolling Stones and Gillian Welch.

The next day, we made a short stop in my mom’s hometown of Columbia, Tennessee, where I got to visit with some family. It was so special to me to be able to see them before moving to California, and it was especially cool that John had the chance to meet them. Two of my worlds collided in a pretty awesome way.

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Several people told us we’d be better off spending two nights in Nashville rather than stopping overnight in Memphis, but it ended up being one of the highlights of the trip so far. When we pulled up to Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, the surrounding industrial neighborhood looked desolate and sketchy. But we walked in, and the place was packed with people—young and old, black and white, local and foreign. A jukebox blared and the cooks yelled at each other in the back, and we ate in a state of fried bliss. Beale Street was impossible to resist with the lights and loud music which, to me, topped the honky tonk that Nashville’s Broadway boasted so much of. Somethin’ about those blues, I guess. Between the food and music, it was worth having driven through for the night.

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And now, we’ve made a big dent in the midwestern portion of our trip and have a whole lot left to look forward to. We’re taking our time with this trip with six more days to go before we get to L.A., and I’ll be updating, mostly in the form of photos, as much as I can. (I’ve been making more frequent updates on Instagram and Twitter if you want to stay up-to-date.)

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Next stop: Santa Fe. Here’s to new adventures, harmonies, and speed limits of 75 mph. See you on the road!