This one’s long, so the main points are in bold, you lazy bums. We know we’re already halfway through January, but all of us here at Fahr + Away want to wish you a happy new year just the same! You may have noticed we […]
As you know, part of Fahr + Away’s heart is in Germany (see our What’s in a Name page). Jordan has friends all over the country, which has afforded her the opportunity to travel Germany extensively and get to know it from natives’ perspectives. Every […]
Happy Black Friday to all!
With the exception of a couple long weekends, we will be grounded at home in Nashville for the next month or so, resting, reflecting, and recovering (Joe’s surgery is scheduled for November 28th and should, mercifully, be minor).
“Home” for us, as it happens, seems to be one of the biggest tourist destinations in the U.S. right now. It’s easy for us to take that for granted. While we’ve spent the last few months appreciating what the rest of the country has to offer, we’ve neglected to prop up our own hometown, which is jammed with creative, conscientious people making exciting products.
So, we decided to create a Nashville Gift Guide in honor of the city we grow to love just a little bit more every time we leave it.
Theron Humphrey is a Nashville-based photographer who has the most delectable instagram account, @thiswildidea (seriously…he has over one million followers). He frequently travels with his dog, Maddie, who is irresistibly snuggly and seemingly very cooperative in front of the camera (Moxie, take note). His books Maddie Lounging on Things and Maddie On Things make hip gifts for the dog-or-travel lover on your list.
Lockeland Leatherworks is based in our neck of the Nashville woods, East Nashville. It’s a small operation churning out carefully crafted leather pieces. Their studio takes visitors by appointment only, but you can shop online and see their stuff at @lockelandleatherworks on Instagram.
Another East Nashville gem. If you visit their kitchen and showroom in Nashville, Olive & Sinclair seems like a small operation, but we’ve seen their chocolate bars and caramels in stores all around the Southeast, so we get the impression they’re expanding. Which is good, because their products are incredibly delicious. They are perhaps best known for their chocolate but nothing beats their duck fat caramels. At least, that’s what Jordan says. Joe prefers the Bourbon Nib Brittle.
You can shop in their small showroom if you’re nearby (you can even book a tour of their “bean to bar” chocolate factory). But, all varieties are also available online. They even have gift sets for sale. @oliveandsinclair on Instagram.
This one is Joe’s pick. We discovered Nisolo a few years ago and he has invested in multiple pairs of their classic chukka boots since then. The shoes are ethically made out of beautiful leather in Nisolo’s own factory in Peru. Nisolo’s mission is to create jobs that offer safe and pristine working conditions and fair wages and healthcare. They also use ethically-sourced materials. If you are interested in reading more about Nisolo’s operations, you can read about it on their website.
Nisolo also sells women’s styles and leather goods beyond shoes including bags and jewelry. @nisoloshoes on Instagram.
Southern Firefly Candle Co. is a family business that started in a Nashville kitchen. That’s as local as it gets. The candles smell great, they burn forever, and they even have a holiday collection out now. If you’re not into candles because you have kids and kids shouldn’t be near fire (or something – we dunno, are kid houses candle-free?), they also have room sprays and diffusers. @southernfireflycandle on Instagram.
Moxie’s pick! All of Earth Dog’s ego-friendly products are made in the U.S.A. and are primarily made of hemp materials. If you’re all set on collars, they have plenty of other products to choose from. @earthdoglife on Instagram.
Honor|Of is a woman-owned operation offering textiles hand-dyed with dyes made from local plants. Our favorite product is the market tote, but the sleeper favorite is the collection of velvet scrunchies that are perfect throwback gifts for your girlfriends. Jordan had the opportunity to meet the creator of Honor|Of last year and was blown away by her warm energy and positive attitude. If you are looking to support more women entrepreneurs, please start here. @honor_of on Instagram.
Project 615 was founded as a fundraising and awareness project to combat addiction and homelessness in Nashville. It has now donated over $300,000 to related causes and employ 49 people who are in recovery from addiction or homelessness. A purchase of one of their “Love People” t-shirts can apparently provide 20 meals to people in need. As if that weren’t enough, we can personally attest to the quality and coziness of these t-shirts. You won’t be disappointed. @project615 on Instagram.
As a podcast junkie, the long hours we spend in the car is basically Jordan’s version of Heaven. If you’ve ever had a conversation with her that’s lasted longer than a few minutes, she’s probably offered you a long list of annotated podcast recommendations, right […]
You know we love a playlist here at Fahr + Away. Normally, we do a “liner notes” post for our playlists, but I’m not doing that today.
My twenties were, as I’m sure yours were, emotional in the truest, most robust sense of the word. Does anyone have greater capacity for nuanced emotion than a twenty-something? I think, no.
There’s a near-infinite number of emotions I experienced in my twenties but, in the interest of simplicity, I’ll consolidate to three:
9% – The kind of invincibility that only a 21 year-old who’s figured out she’s in her prime WHILE she’s in her prime is capable of feeling;
40% – Basic, everyday satisfaction;
51% – Intensely personal, agonizing, often world-shattering feelings of disappointment and loss and oh-my-god-I-fucked-this-up and oh-my-god-YOU-fucked this-up and resentment and pain and WHY-AREN’T-YOU-LISTENING-TO-ME-GOD-DAMNIT and this-isn’t-my-fault and wait-is-this-my-fault and just-because-you’re-pissed-doesn’t-mean-I’m-wrong.
Also, the occasional hangover.
I have a feeling that, give or take a few percentage points, our breakdowns probably aren’t that different. We understand each other. So, I don’t think I need to go into the emotional or developmental significance of every song on this playlist – just assume they all fall into one of those three categories and let your imagination do the work.
I’m trying to spare you the one-day-older-but-a-decade-wiser reflections, so I’ll just say one more thing. If there is one thing that I am truly proud of today, it’s this: I have managed to get through my twenties with no regrets.
There are certainly things I have said or ways I handled things that, with a gun to my head, I’d be ready to apologize for. A simple call or text would also work, for anyone getting any unsavory ideas.
But, as far as thoughts of, “I think my life would be better now if…” – true regrets – I just don’t have them.
Here is what I know (and what, depending on who you are, I need you to know, too): I stayed when I needed to stay. I left when I needed to leave. I didn’t apologize when I wasn’t sorry. I spoke up. I cut my losses. I held out my hand and allowed myself to be pleasantly surprised when people took it. I got good and comfortable with the idea that someone else’s feelings and my reality are not mutually exclusive. I allowed myself to be hated. I allowed myself to be loved, which is way harder. I charged. I retreated. I sat still.
I did exactly what I needed to do when I needed to do it. And I don’t regret any of it.
This day is dedicated to my mom and to Joe, who were here then and are here now, despite the fact that every word of this is true.
Generator by Foo Fighters
Girl Sailor by The Shins
Boys Boys Boys by Lady Gaga
Somebody Else by The 1975
Such Great Heights by Iron & Wine
Why Can’t You Be by Third Eye Blind
Mama, You Been on My Mind by Jeff Buckley
Christmas Lights by Coldplay
Before Pretirement, if you asked Jordan where The Badlands is, she’d have told you that every national park is “in Utah, probably, and if you’re so smart, why don’t you list the locations of every single international trip the Real Housewives ever took? NOT SO GOOD AT GEOGRAPHY NOW, ARE YOU?”
Joe, on the other hand, thanks to a photographic memory and a U.S. map placemat (“PLACEMAP”??) he had from 1989 to 1994, can list the location, capital, state flower, and GDP of every state in the Union.
So, when Joe started talking about where we should be “based” when we visit South Dakota and Jordan laughed and moved on as you do with any joke, Joe realized he was going to have to take charge of this particular itinerary.
Initially, in an effort to warm Jordan’s feelings toward the reality that there is, in fact, days and days of incredible shit to see in South Dakota, Joe planned to be based in Wall. Wall Drug, the massive general store and apparent jewel of South Dakota, judging from the fact that there are signs advertising it starting no less than 500 miles away, is in Wall (duhr).
And Joe knows that if Jordan is a moth, a giant room full of old-fashioned candy in barrels is the flame.
Luckily, though, we met a South Dakota native in our travels, who told us that the best place to base to see all the things we wanted to see is actually Rapid City. We didn’t know any better. She did. So, that’s the story of how we wound up spending three days in a city we’ve never heard of in a state Jordan quite possibly still couldn’t point out on a map.
And it worked out perfectly.
Day 1: East
Badlands and Wall Drug
If you had a long day of driving yesterday (like we did – we drove to Rapid City from Omaha), we recommend doing The Badlands Scenic Loop and Wall Drug Store on your first full day in South Dakota.
Without stops the entire journey takes about three hours. Of course, you will be making stops, but it’s a short enough day that you can sleep in, take a leisurely drive through the park (unless you intend you hike, which…why?), and get home around dinner.
- Start: Rapid City
- Take I-90 East to Exit 131 (75 miles)
- Take Exit 131 for SD-240, which is the scenic loop through Badlands National Park
- Proceed to the Northeast Entrance of the park
- Entry fee (2018) is $20 per car – Included if you have an annual National Park Pass
- Follow the scenic loop (40 miles)
At a 45 MPH speed limit, without stops the scenic loop would take about an hour.
With stops, including a picnic at Bigfoot Pass (OBVIOUSLY), it took us around two.
The nice thing about the scenic loop is that it actually takes you right to Wall, which is the second stop of the day.
South Dakota is a huge state. That being said, if you’ve ever driven through even a tiny corner of it, you are guaranteed to have seen signs for Wall Drug Store in – dunt da-na-naaaaa – Wall, South Dakota.
This two-acre shopping center, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with country-style desert kitsch
in this 700-person town is one of South Dakota’s biggest tourist draws.
Jordan could not wait to get to Wall Drug. She was so looking forward to a room full of candy, which, as we all know comes standard in any general store-style tourist trap, that she kind of torpedoed the first part of the day and mailed it in for the scenic drive through The Badlands.
She’s also kind of maxed out on being impressed by red-rock style desert dirt formations after our month in the Southwest, but the candy at the end of the dirt rainbow is really what had her lead-footing it through the park.
Our honest assessment of Wall Drug is this: Meh.
(And not only because they did NOT, in fact, have a room full of old fashioned candy in barrels which is JUST PLAIN UNAMERICAN. Wall Drug, you’ll be getting a strongly-worded email from us here at Fahr + Away).
We can’t even tell you what we expected out of Wall Drug (besides the candy barrels, of course), but what we got was something like a two-acre Cracker Barrel.
If you have not spent the last thirty years of your life in the American South, or the last month hitting all the faux-vintage tourist traps in America, we can see being dazzled by Wall Drug. For both of us, of course, neither of those things is the case, so we didn’t even stick around long enough to get a picture.
We walked in, used the bathroom (which was very clean, for what it’s worth), and left.
Day 2: Southwest
Mount Rushmore, Iron Mountain Road, Custer, Needles Highway
We were only in Rapid City for two full days, which was poor planning on our part – or, more uninformed planning. We didn’t know how much there was to do in South Dakota. We smashed days two and three into one day, which was about a twelve-hour day. That did not include significant stops in any of the towns along the way. So, it can be done in one day, but if we had it to do again, we’d split the Southwest and Northwest loops into two days.
That’s how we’ve structured it here. Do as we say, not as we do.
The Southwest loop took us about six hours, and we stopped fairly frequently. That sounds long, but if you leave around 7 am you could conceivably be back in Rapid City by 2 pm, so very manageable by sightseeing-day standards.
- Around 40 minutes from Rapid City
- Opens at 5 am
- No Pets
- “Free” Admission but you have to pay to park, so admission is essentially $10 per car
- If you have an annual National Parks pass, it does not cover parking fees
It’s important to note that we are come-and-go tourists: We come. We gawk. We leave. We are not people who walk through every exhibit, or read every plaque, or take every tour. We probably never get our entry price’s-worth out of any tourist destination.
So, that being the kind of tourists we are, we spent about thirty minutes at Mount Rushmore. That included setting up our tripod a couple of times, going to the bathroom, and gawking our utmost.
There are exhibits. There are museums. We heard that you can even go behind the sculpture inside the mountain. We don’t know because we didn’t look it up because that’s not the kind of tourists we are.
But if you are, make sure you do some research and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Iron Mountain Road
- 17 Miles
- Leads from Rushmore to Custer State Park
This is a scenic drive that takes you through the Black Hills right to Custer State Park. It’s popular, slow, and winding, but really worth it if you have a steel stomach and you enjoy driving.
The highlights are the tunnels, which are usually only about 8 feet wide, and some of which perfectly frame Mount Rushmore from a distance. Luckily for us, the leaves had also started changing, which made for an especially pleasing drive.
Custer State Park
- $20 per car
- South Dakota State Park, so annual National Park Pass not accepted
We’d heard the Wildlife Loop through Custer State Park was worth our time, and the Iron Mountain Road leads right through it.
The loop was good, more of a nice drive than anything. We saw some buffalo from quite a distance, as well as a few big horn sheep and some burros.
We wouldn’t ENCOURAGE you to skip it, necessarily, but if you are looking for something to drop from the itinerary, this could be it.
- 14 miles
- Picks up at the exit of Custer State Park Wildlife Loop
Another scenic drive, but nothing like the Iron Mountain Road and absolutely not to be missed.
Conveniently, the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park leads right to the Needles Highway. You can’t miss the signs for it.
Another winding mountain road that gives a new meaning to scenic “overlook” – to take in the sights, make sure you’re looking up. The rock faces have, over time, been whittled and sharpened into thin, massive points that resemble – you guessed it – needles. We’ve driven all over the country and it’s the only thing like it we’ve seen.
Day 3: Northwest
We recommend going to Devils Tower first and working your way back to Rapid City via the cute and kitschy towns along the way.
The Journey to Devil’s Tower will take you across state lines into Wyoming, and not just one or two steps over the state line, either. Allow two hours to drive the 100 miles from Rapid City.
Devils Tower, like many national parks, is the only thing worth seeing for miles – and you CAN see it for miles.
You can hike and climb there. Devils Tower also holds spiritual significance for many people, so we don’t want to discount that some may be visiting for that reason.
However, if, like us, you are mere box-checking tourists, here’s a tip: to get the full effect of Devils Tower, you don’t need to pay the $20 to go into the park. Just outside the gates are two general stores that have excellent views of Devils Tower. Perfect for taking pictures. Once you’re inside the park, your picture taking abilities are nil – you’re too close.
It may seem strange to truck out to the middle of nowhere to not go in the park, but if you have no plans to do anything once you’re inside besides read placards and take pictures, the $20 may not be worth it. Annual National Park Passes are accepted.
On the way back to Rapid City, you’ll go through a couple of towns, the most notorious of which are Deadwood and Spearfish.
Deadwood is known for being the home and burial pace of Wild Bill Hickock. The entire town is on the historic register and maintains the aesthetic of an Old Western town.
Spearfish was suggested to us by an ex-South Dakotan. We didn’t spend much time there, but we did stop for dinner at Steerfish, which he specifically recommended. It was incredibly delicious BBQ. That from a native Tennessean and a Carolinian. So, if you happen to be in rural South Dakota and you’re in the mood for BBQ, Steerfish is your place.
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Today we are leaving for our second (and almost-twice-as-long-as-the-first) leg of our U.S. Pretirement tour. This leg, as with the first, was planned around immoveable time considerations. The first is the wedding of our very dear friends, Ashley and Nick, who are getting married at […]