A stop on the way to Nashville
We left Knoxville a little after 10:15 to drive to Nashville. Our plan was to stop drive a while down I-40 and then stop for a late breakfast. We told Sophie we wanted her to experience a real Tennessee breakfast, and so we stopped at one of our favorite places-- Cracker Barrel.
Cracker Barrel is a restaurant chain that started in Lebanon, Tennessee (just east of Nashville) in 1969. Their 16th restaurant was located at our exit on I-40, and I can remember eating there with my parents when they came to visit for the 1982 World's Fair. Today there are 592 Cracker Barrel restaurants in 41 US states, almost all of them at interstate exits.
Charley and I really got to like Cracker Barrels when Kelly was young. We liked stopping there on long trips for a good meal, and the restrooms had those fold-out diaper changing tables. We also used their rent-an-audio-book program; you could rent a book for $3 a week and return it to any Cracker Barrel restaurant.
Cracker Barrel serves country-type food that's typical in Tennessee, big portions, and at a very reasonable price. The service is usually friendly and efficient. You can order breakfast at any time of the day, which is what we often do. In winter there's a big blazing fire. I like the shop too and do occasionally find something to buy. Christmas decorations are especially economical. Charley and Kelly like the candy store.
Cracker Barrel trivia: They use 35 million little bottles of maple syrup a year, 6% of the world's pure maple syrup supply. They use 151 million eggs a year. (!!!) And they use 70,000 lbs of flour every day to make their biscuits and dumplings. (Their biscuits are GOOOODDD!) You can read more about Cracker Barrel's history here.
We wanted Sophie to experience another aspect of Tennessee, so we stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Harriman, Tennessee. (This is not far from the big TVA fly-ash spill that happened not long ago.) Although we were only about 40 minutes from Knoxville, we were very much in rural Tennessee.
Charley had an Old Timers breakfast: Scrambled eggs, sausage, hashed-brown casserole, grits, biscuits and gravy. Sophie had a Smokehouse breakfast, all of the above, but without the hashed-browns. I had pecan pancakes with bacon, and Kelly had blueberry pancakes with country ham. I traded Charley some of my pancakes to get one of his biscuits with gravy.
My high-calorie, high-cholesterol, wonderful Cracker Barrel breakfast
Sophie was impressed that we got endless refills of coffee and diet cokes-- something that doesn't happen in France. She is a tiny woman, but she ate everything, including the biscuits and gravy. She put some of Kelly's blueberry syrup on her grits and then ate them all. And she even had chocolate cobbler for dessert!
While we waited for our food, Kelly showed Sophie how to play the little peg game that's on every table. After we ate, she taught Sophie how to play checkers. They sat in rocking chairs near the remnants of the morning fire to play on a board set up on a big barrel. Kelly won, but Sophie did very well for her first game.
Sophie and Kelly at Cracker Barrel
Then onward to Nashville!