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Bristol, Tennessee

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If you like the fast-paced life and rhythm of big cities, you should probably avoid most of Tennessee. With the exception of a few big cities, the State primarily consists of small, rural towns. To me, the true heart of America. You will not see many fancy people walking the streets but instead ordinary, common folk like the man in this photo. A simple, middle-class, hard-working American. He passed me on a quaint street in Bristol, said "howdy" and I asked to take his photo. "Sure, ma'am." In this part of the country, people will commonly call you by a lot of names - "ma'am," "sir," "sweetie," "honey,"....true Southern dialect.

Right before Christmas, I spent five days driving through Tennessee. We'll start the series of reports today with a short post about Bristol, the first stop on the journey.

1. Bristol sits on the Virginia/Tennessee border and it's a "twin city." There's both a Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee, as evidenced by the sign.

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2. The boundary between the two cities is the point where Virginia and Tennessee divide. The boundary point runs straight through the main part of the town known as State Street. Several different attractions in the U.S. where you can stand at a certain geographic point and be in two States simultaneously. In most places, such markers will exist to let you know where the boundary lines are drawn.

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3. One indication you're in a very small town is the parking prices. In Bristol, it's only 25 cents for two hours!! Compare with Washington, DC, where you will pay on average $20 to park for two hours and up to $30 for the day.

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4. The payment method for parking here is unusual. I've never seen anything like it. In the lot, a number is placed on each parking spot. Find your number, go to this yellow box, use the metal tool and slide the quarter in. Antiquated system, but for 25 cents there's no room for complaints.

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5. You can walk the main part of town in under one hour. It's full of charming little shops, all of which were decorated for Christmas. In this part of the country, people are passionate about college football. Trees and snowmen in the shop windows often had ornaments, scarves or other novelties with the logos for the most popular college football teams in Virginia and Tennessee - the Virginia Tech Hokies and University of Tennessee Volunteers. By the way, Tennessee is known as "The Volunteer State," and this slogan appears on license plates. I don't know how many Russians follow the National Football League (NFL), our pro football league, but star quarterback Peyton Manning studied and played for the University of Tennessee during his university years. American football - my favorite sport! :) Manning's team is in the final playoff game this weekend, trying to get a spot in the Super Bowl.

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6. Do holiday shops exist year round in Russia? In America, some shops specialize only in Christmas items and remain open all year.

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7. Even in rural parts of America, there's always plenty of food options. A lot of small coffee shops, delis, cafes and pubs on State Street. I remember on the long drive from Moscow to St. Petersburg we would go long distances with absolutely no food places or gas stations. Rare that this would happen in any part of the U.S., although in some remote parts of the West you can drive long stretches with absolutely nothing around. I experienced this myself in Wyoming.

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8. Classic delivery car for local bakery.

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9. In the center of the town, there's a nice veterans' memorial.

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10. Names of fallen soldiers are inscribed on a stone walkway, covering casualties from all major wars.

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11. Most people associate country music with Nashville, Tennessee but part of Bristol's fame is that it's the birthplace of country music. The small town makes sure everyone knows it, with a lot of nice wall murals dedicated to country music. It's also home to one of the major NASCAR races held each year, and similar murals exist in the race's honor.

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12.
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13. A rail track runs right underneath the big Bristol sign in photo 1.

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14. Cute train station, also decorated for the holidays.

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15. Local resident. Two dogs, exactly the same breed! Twin dogs, walking in a twin city.

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16. Street named in honor of Jimmie Rodgers, the "father of country music."

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17. One of the town's slogans is "believe in miracles." I saw it on several signs and in windows. Nice sentiment but sometimes difficult in life.

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18. After Bristol, we continued onward for a short stop in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. This area I've visited multiple times with my family. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park - the most visited national park in America. Honestly I'm not sure why. I think the parks in the West have more visually stunning landscapes.

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19. Full of streams, winding roads and bare winter trees. Temperatures still weren't very cold in early December. Unpredictable weather patterns in this area and my home State of Virginia. One day spring, the next day winter.

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20. You can get lost in the trees on many dirt and gravel roads. Beautiful in these remote spots, away from all of humanity.

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21. On one of the desolate roads we discovered a graveyard on a hill, anyone can enter by unlocking the gate.

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22. Some people may find graveyards unnerving or spooky, but I like them. Especially older ones but most of the burials here were from the 1900's. Real sadness to see the tombstone of a young child. In larger American cemeteries, there's usually a designated spot for child burials.

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23. Mountains, sky and wildflowers. A nice combo!

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24. I continued onward into the sunset towards the small town of Crossville, home of the world's largest treehouse, which I'll tell you about later.

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How about you? Do you prefer big cities or rural areas when vacationing? Many interesting places in Tennessee! I'll tell you all about them next week. Stay tuned...

Comments

( 70 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 02:07 am (UTC)
I've never been to the deep South like Mississippi or Alabama. Necessary to visit this region soon. Tennessee, it's one of my favorite States!
koka_lermont
Jan. 16th, 2014 02:31 am (UTC)
Какие интересные вы люди- американцы.И если бы знали, как вас и вашу страну ненавидят многие мои знакомые. А я люблю Америку и трудолюбивый американский народ.
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
I hope you get the opportunity to visit America some day. I love traveling to other countries, but there's a lot of beauty and places in my own country left to explore. Why do your friends hate us? Many people hate America for its foreign policy, but such bad feelings should never be directed toward American citizens. People and politics, almost always separable.
(no subject) - koka_lermont - Jan. 16th, 2014 03:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fareastener - Jan. 16th, 2014 08:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - koka_lermont - Jan. 16th, 2014 08:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fareastener - Jan. 17th, 2014 10:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 02:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - polnopop - Feb. 13th, 2014 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 15th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
vad_dba
Jan. 16th, 2014 02:59 am (UTC)
Nice pictures...Nice town... God bless America.
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I like it also. Very warm and cozy.
alexeykostylev
Jan. 16th, 2014 03:27 am (UTC)
Nice.. no mess, no hustle. I like such places
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
Me too! I prefer such environments over big and crowded cities. If you're a city person, I think you will be bored in almost all of Tennessee.
moonrainbow
Jan. 16th, 2014 03:28 am (UTC)
Hi!

I liked Tennessee, though I can't tell one specific reason why. It was something in the air. I like music, and Nashville had some distinctive fun and party feeling. And the Southern cuisine is lovely (nothing like the North of the US), and the people were relaxed and friendly like nowhere else (not even in a holiday destination like Florida). We had fun chatting with taxi drivers, with receptionist ladies, with waiters and waitresses, and there were so many restaurants and cafes with really good music inside.

I would love to visit it again and to go to Smoky Mountains. I think Smokies are popular because they are really close to very many highly populated areas, and you can take a day trip off there from your home. National Parks of the West are a lot more remote.
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 02:04 pm (UTC)
I didn't know you traveled to Tennessee! The North and South are VERY different, and it's true what you say about Southern people being extremely friendly. Even I was shocked at how pleasant they are. I think I already showed you one of the big cabins my family sometimes rents in the Smoky Mountains. Definitely worth doing if you have the time. I haven't been to many national parks out West. It's a real goal of mine to drive cross country in the next few years and stop at a lot of them. Happy New Year to you and Maria! :)
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Jan. 17th, 2014 01:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 17th, 2014 01:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Jan. 19th, 2014 07:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 19th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
fesma94
Jan. 16th, 2014 05:15 am (UTC)
Thanks, dear Shannon ! It was great to start vacation morning with coffee and interesting calming essay. I don't know what I prefer, I think it's depend on place and reason to visit.
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! And what did you eat for breakfast? :)
evg115
Jan. 16th, 2014 06:04 am (UTC)
Very interesting pictures. Thanks for sharing!
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! Most American small towns look similar, but you can always find something unique in each one. I think they look very different from the normal provincial town in Russia (at least the ones I've seen).
(no subject) - evg115 - Jan. 16th, 2014 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 04:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Jan. 16th, 2014 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Jan. 16th, 2014 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Jan. 16th, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Jan. 16th, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Jan. 16th, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
rider3099
Jan. 16th, 2014 06:53 am (UTC)
You know I like everything in America - the big and small cites, nature, roads, people :)
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:52 pm (UTC)
I concur with everything in your statement, but mostly I love American people. :)
amandakysses
Jan. 16th, 2014 07:18 am (UTC)
great post! such a cute little town. I love visiting hidden gems like this and more rural areas and seeing beautiful landscapes. But I prefer to stay in big cities. Fancier accommodations, more nightlife. My favorite vacation is a beach vacation though. Hearing the waves crashing, toes in the sand, a good book and an even better cocktail. Perfect! Keep up the beautiful writing woman! Loves! xoxo
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:54 pm (UTC)
You're more social than me. You know last week I went out twice, drank both times and was exhausted for days. True sign of old age! Mostly I don't like big cities because I can't stand large crowds, pushing and shoving, etc. But in NYC Central Park is great. Lots of open spaces in which to roam.
my_coast
Jan. 16th, 2014 07:22 am (UTC)
Thank you for this quick immersion into a provincial American town.. Very interesting, and the story has changed a little what I thought about America before :) lovely town:)
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:54 pm (UTC)
All of my posts from Tennessee will be about provincial towns, except Memphis. I hope you will enjoy the rest, which I'll publish next week.
fareastener
Jan. 16th, 2014 07:50 am (UTC)
That's really good pics, Shannon.

Wow, the largest treehouse - that is one about Sasha wrote? Looks rather impressive.

I hear Alan Jackson and keep watching your next posts :)
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 01:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's the same treehouse Alex wrote about. Of course, we were on this Tennessee journey together. Sometimes I worry our overlapping readers are bored with my posts because he is more disciplined and always writes his first. So, they've already read information about the same place. Hopefully I bring a different outlook on some of the places/topics. And most of the time I photograph people more often than him because they are most interesting to me. As a woman, I'm more observant and patient and can scope them out from a distance. :)

Alan Jackson? :)) You're a country music fan? I used to not like it so much, but it has grown on me over the past year. My sister listens to it all the time.
(no subject) - fareastener - Jan. 16th, 2014 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 11:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fareastener - Jan. 16th, 2014 11:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
lavagra
Jan. 16th, 2014 08:33 am (UTC)
It in very nice town. I was in eaglish Bristol. He does not look like this. :)
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 02:00 pm (UTC)
I've been to England several times, but never to Bristol. I like Bath, Brighton Beach and the coastal areas. Very beautiful! Have you been to the area known as Seven Sisters? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Sisters,_Sussex
(no subject) - lavagra - Jan. 16th, 2014 02:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 03:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
Jan. 16th, 2014 09:53 am (UTC)
I like rural cities!
Thanks for the post!
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 02:01 pm (UTC)
Which rural city do you like best in Russia?
(no subject) - mybathroom - Jan. 16th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 16th, 2014 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mybathroom - Jan. 16th, 2014 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Jan. 19th, 2014 07:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 19th, 2014 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
notabler
Jan. 16th, 2014 04:28 pm (UTC)
Looks like ideal living place for me. Not too small, not too big, exactly right
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
Do you live in a small village in England, or larger town?
(no subject) - notabler - Jan. 16th, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
newharvest
Jan. 16th, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC)
Nice post!
Usually I travel in a rented cars and visit different towns and cities.
peacetraveler22
Jan. 16th, 2014 06:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yes, driving is the best way to travel. Allows you to stop and see much more than bus or air travel. And in a car, you're in control of your own destiny and can stop as you wish. This is not possible on organized tours.
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