We woke up a little bit before the alarm clock went off at 9:00 am. We chatted about the concerts and Kevin had a great description of Tom Waits' music: "If a thrift store came to life, and all the found objects started singing, it would sound like Tom Waits." Brilliant! We had coffee in the room, showered, packed up and checked out at 10:30. We decided to finally get a photo of the "Dover" sign in the elevator for Jarlath. It was just too funny and we hadn't thought to get a photo before. This would be our last chance. While waiting for the valet to return with our car we couldn't help but laugh at the building across the street, which proclaimed itself to be the "Life and Casualty Tower". This seemed like something Tom Waits would have commented about had he seen it himself.
We drove to the Pancake Pantry. On the way, we passed The Great Escape record store, which we hoped would be open later in the day. Because we were with Kevin, the parking gods smiled on us and we got a spot right on the street directly across from the Pancake Pantry. There was a line extending around the corner, but it wasn't too long, and for the most part it was in the shade. Craig and Kevin stood in line while I walked down the street getting a few photos. As we neared the entrance we were allowed inside the doorway area where there were benches for seating and a small bookshelf. We were making jokes and having fun joking with a woman and her young daughter. The way things progressed they went from being right behind us, to right in front of us, and we were teasing them about it. There was a sign that clearly explained the rules and we pointed out that she was setting a bad example for her daughter by disobeying them. It was all in good fun and we were all laughing about it. The woman was a little embarrassed and joked with us about not following rules when she was in school either, much to the amusement of her young daughter. About 40 minutes after having first gotten into line, we were seated.
There were folksy paintings of the restaurant and stacks of pancakes on all walls. It was a pretty large room, and we got a booth by a window. Craig got coffee and fresh orange juice, and I had sweetened iced tea. Craig was very excited about the orange juice and said it was really good. We enjoyed a few cups of coffee while waiting for our food to arrive. It was quite busy and yet moved along at a relaxed pace. The table next to us ordered before we did and at one point they looked over at our table to make sure we hadn't been served before them. It seemed they were getting very impatient waiting for their meal to arrive. We joked with them that they needn't worry as our food wasn't there yet either. No sooner had we said that, the waitress came out with all of our meals. Catching the look on one of their faces, it was clear they weren't very happy about it either. To add insult to injury, we asked the woman if she wouldn't mind getting a picture of us with our freshly delivered breakfast. She complied grudgingly. Fortunately the waitress arrived just seconds later with all of their breakfasts as well.
For the main meal, Craig ordered a stack of wild blueberry pancakes with wild Maine blueberry compote and powdered sugar. Kevin ordered a stack of pecan pancakes and I ordered sweet potato pancakes with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and cinnamon cream syrup. It was delicious! The pancakes were tasty and had a light fluffy texture. Craig and I also shared an order of sausage patties and hash browns. The maple syrup on the table was warmed and highly satisfying. The hash browns were delicious and everything was delightful. The things we heard about the Pancake Pantry were all true and future visits to Nashville would have to include a stop there. Despite the fact that they were quite busy, we never felt rushed at all. Matter of fact, even after we finished eating our waitress was asking if we were sure we had enough coffee and that we didn't want anything else to drink. It was quite refreshing actually.
After breakfast we made the short drive arriving at the The Great Escape at 12:50. It opened at 1, so we stood on the sidewalk with a few other patrons until they opened. They had a great selection of vinyl, and Kevin bought a still sealed "One From The Heart" LP, among other things. He was in his glory looking through the many bins of vinyl and finding all sorts of gems. We picked up a handful of good used blues discs (It seemed to be an appropriate time and place to pick up one of Duke Robillard's CD's). The store also had a big selection of VHS and DVD, along with some novelty items. The walls were all covered with items and every place you looked you could find everything from bins of Beatles 45's to classic movie posters. It was definitely a place where you could browse for hours and hours. We talked to a local guy named Will, who also suggested that we visit the Parthenon. He told us there was a museum inside but if we only had a few minutes on the way to the airport that we should at least drive by and get a look at it. We finally dragged ourselves away at 2:15 but could have easily stayed much longer.
We decided to take Eric and Will's advice and swing by Centennial Park and see the replica of the Parthenon. I don't know what I was expecting ("It's only a model!") but it was a full scale replica. It was built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition. The Parthenon is the only building from the exposition which still stands, over 100 years later. We didn't have time to go inside, but apparently, for a $5 fee, you can see plaster replicas of the Elgin Marbles, which were direct casts of the original sculptures. There is also a 42-foot statue of Athena which was commissioned in 1982. It was completed in 1990, and was gilded in 24 karat gold in 2002. Apparently it is quite a sight to see. The Parthenon also serves as an art museum. It seems like there was plenty to see there (and it was pretty surreal), but we just didn't have the time on this trip. Our entire stop to view the Parthenon had taken literally ten minutes, and now we were off to fill the car with gas and get to the airport.
We were hoping to find a gas station on the way, but we never passed one. So when we got to the airport exit and realized none were to found here either. We got back onto the highway and took the first exit which offered gas and filled up the tank. There was a convenience store there which had a little table full of minnows out front. We felt compelled but we couldn't come up with a reason to buy any. Kevin still hadn't found any appropriate gifts for his family, so we went next door to a Cracker Barrel store. Craig and I bought some fudge, and Kevin beat himself up about which gifts he would buy. Kevin is not a speed shopper and carefully looks through every option, second guessing his prior choices. We tried to help him but I think that confused him even more. So, we left him to make his choices while we went outside to wait for him there. Out on the porch, we sat in the nice comfortable wooden rocking chairs that were for sale. We wondered if we could fit one in our carry-on backpacks.
It was 3:20 by the time we finally left the store, and our flight was at 4:25, so I was starting to get nervous. We made the short drive back to the airport exit and found the rental car return area. When we arrived, the security guy insisted on checking our trunk. Kevin moved our Tom Waits poster out of the way to try to keep it safe from the security guard who was poking our stuff around. Once he was done, he ended up accidentally closing the trunk on it. D'oh! We had kept it in pristine condition thus far. Kevin, who is militant about protecting his stuff, and always super careful with collectable things like this, was mortified by his mistake. He was very apologetic and said he knew a place where he could get it repaired. He insisted on taking it to have it repaired, and said it would be taken care of the following day. Closer inspection revealed that miraculously there weren't even any real creases in the paper. It was actually in very good shape, considering. Once the initial moment had passed and we were able to joke about the accident, Kevin said "I feel about this big" gesturing with his fingers as if holding up a quarter. "I'll so pay you back". We all had a good laugh.
Inside the airport we went straight to the check-in line. Fortunately there was really no line at check-in or security, so we were at the gate by 3:50. We were hungry and didn't know when we'd actually get a chance to eat again, so we each got a personal-size meat lover's pizza at Pizzeria Uno and a Snapple iced tea. We ate it at the gate and then immediately boarded the plane.
It was a very small plane. It was a 2-2 configuration and the seating area was very tight. Matter of fact, the whole plane felt very cramped and wasn't very comfortable at all. The flight attendant's hips were actually wider than the width of the aisle, and kept grazing me as she passed. We were served water, our only beverage choice, and a bag of mini pretzels. It was way too hot on the plane, and we were glad it was only a 50 minute flight and so far everything was on schedule.
We landed in Charlotte, went to terminal B, and sat at the gate for a few minutes. Kevin called his sister Monica to arrange for her to pick us up at the airport upon arrival. We boarded the plane and it was a much more comfortable and spacious 3-3 configuration. Craig had a window and I had an aisle seat, but the plane was packed and I ended up trading with the woman who was supposed to be between us. During the flight, there was a beautiful sunset visible from our side of the plane. It looked like pools of lava in the distance. Beautiful hues of orange, yellow, and pink lit up the sky. This flight seemed to go by very quickly, and we arrived in Boston right on time at 9:45. Monica was there to pick us up, and she dropped us off at home at about 10:30. What a fantastic whirlwind journey to Tennessee.