Road Trip : Chicago to Tennessee

If you follow me on INSTAGRAM, then you saw my stories through the week of this fun trip down south.  After almost a year of planning, our road trip was finally here!  I met these three lovely ladies through one of my Chicago photography communities and we became fast friends.  You will see them with me at most of my weddings helping me as 2nd shooters, and visa versa.  We are all so different, both in our personal lives, and in our photography, but that is what makes us AWESOME! 🙂  I always have a blast with these ladies and they always get me laughing.

Do you ever have that moment where you are sitting around with your friends, wine is being had, and then someone says ‘we should go on a trip!’? We decided it would be so fun to do a road trip and photograph it. (Because, hell, we are ALL photographers!). 😉

Liz (Elizabeth Nord – we call her NORD) is from Tennessee and suggested that we could go check out all of the areas where her family lived. This was such a cool idea! We got a chance to explore Nashville, Jackson, and Memphis because she had family in all three cities.  So, on a Sunday morning (more like afternoon after a small delay and quick lunch), we started out our drive to Nashville.  I did most of the driving down so the girls could all sleep. (Believe me, owning your own business is TIRING.  Any chance for extra sleep is readily welcomed).  After a few stops (especially in Elizabethtown, KY because it’s ELIZABETHtown, duh!), and close to 9 hours in the car, we made it to Brentwood where Liz’s amazing Aunt Mary greeted us with wine. (Needless to say, we became fast friends.)  Her Aunt, Uncle, and cousin were all so kind and welcoming.  We were all EXHAUSTED…can you tell? haha!

Here is our TN story :

(Make sure to check out Nicki, Maria, and Liz‘s sites for more on our trip when they post!)

We were all excited to sleep in and enjoy a relaxing morning at Aunt Mary’s.

Then we spotted a tree house in the backyard…time to play!

After an afternoon walking around Franklin, we made our way to downtown Nashville for dinner (but first we explored Printer’s alley).  It was perfect for a few photos before the rain came down.

– iPhone pictures 🙂 –– iPhone pictures 🙂 –After dinner at Puckett‘s and some amazing live music, we made our way down to the strip and explored a few other live performances before heading home.

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I don’t know about you, but I LOVE taking tours when I visit a new city.  Our first official tour was at the Grand Ole Opry House.

Of course we take tourist pictures! 😉

There is so much history in this place, and whether you are a country fan or not, it’s pretty cool to see.

There is an actual mail room for inductees where mail gets delivered.

So, if you send fan mail to your favorite country music artist, it gets delivered here.

We got to see where all of the music artists wait before they go on stage.  All the rooms were so different and SO detailed.

In 2010, there was a HUGE flood in TN and most of the Grand Ole Opry was under water.

You can see the floodline marked below, as well as the stain in the mural where the water came up.

Our tour took us from the artist entrance, to the waiting rooms, and in through the back of the stage to see where the family sits to watch their loved ones perform.

All of the visitors get to have their picture taken on the iconic wooden circle, the original wood where all the singers have stood before.

It was kind of funny having 4 photographers get their photo taken together. 😉

(You immediately check out what his photo setup is, ha!)

As we were standing there getting our picture taken, I looked down and realized THAT was the picture I wanted to take…we were standing where so many artists stood before us.  Now, us 4 photography artists got to stand there together for a picture.  It was pretty darn cool.

Don’t get me wrong though, this one was pretty cute of the four of us! 🙂

I’m so glad we did this tour. That place was really fun to explore!Soon after, we decided to head more into the downtown area as the sun was starting to set.

We were searching for some cool areas in Nashville for…what else…head shots!

When 4 photographers travel together, why WOULDN’T you take each other’s pictures?! 😉

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As we were driving in, we saw this amazing building to our right surrounded by cherry blossom trees and some cool art.

Of course we parked there!

As we drove into the parking lot, I saw this wall and old train on display IN THE SUN, and I immediately starting snapping away.

Shooting in the sun = MY JAM! 🙂

Steps outside of the parking lot, we found this white wall with some fun greenery around it.

And there we stayed for quite a while. LOL!

We decided to start with one person and the rest of us would shoot.  Check out Nord ROCKING these pictures!

That LOOK on the right – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Hey HEY lady!

Maria got me in action (LEFT) shooting Nord and her awesome laugh (RIGHT).

Maria’s turn!!! <3

Love that smile lady!

Maria is my shawty – standing barely 5 ft tall (and I’m 5’9”), we cover ALL angles. 😉

HAHA LOVE these of you lovely!

My favorite pictures to take are of people genuinely laughing.  These make me so happy!

Nicki was up next and girl with those eyelashes was ROCKING IT!

I mean, COME ONE with that gorgeous smile lady! <3

I found these later that Nicki took when she grabbed my camera – I can’t wait to see more of what the girls got of ME! 🙂

I made a spontaneous purchase at this cute store in Franklin called Jondie – LOVE my new hat and long vest!

As we were walking to a new spot the SUN flares SHOWED UP!

(and so did our silliness! HAHA Nord!)

😉

Me taking a picture of the ladies taking a picture of me – HA!

And then we found our spot – no literally – we stayed here for the rest of our shoot. HA!

(So much for downtown photos of each other! Hey, when you find good light, you USE it!) 😉

Maria, you are the CUTEST!

HAHAHAHAH! <3

Then Nord comes in and busts out the SULTRY looks!

But I’m telling ya, I LOVE those laughing pictures.

🙂

Especially this one of Nicki!

You look so cute here girl!

Oh hey, just walking away into the sun…ha! 🙂

Two hours into shooting, we were having WAY too much fun!

OF COURSE I set up the camera for a group shot!

To the streets of Nashville we went exploring…The at&t (aka BATMAN) building.We checked out a bunch of places on the strip, including ACME with this amazing rooftop view.My favorite thing about Nashville : almost every bar had a live band (WITH NO COVER).

That’s basically unheard of in Chicago.We had dinner at The Stillery that night and then walked around and took in the night life of Nashville.  Our night in Nashville ended at Benchmark listening to some AMAZING artists sing both original and cover songs.

You really do need more than a few days to explore this city.  I can’t wait to go back!

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The next morning we had brunch with Nord’s Aunt at the famous Loveless Cafe before hitting the road again.

I made sure to buy some of their famous jam for my own breakfast at home. For sure another favorite thing about TN so far was THE FOOD! We made sure to try everything that each area was known for, whether it was hot chicken, biscuits, or BBQ. Can you say YUM?!A few hours down the road and we made our way to Nord’s hometown area.

We planned to meet up with both her mom and mother-in-law for lunch in Jackson.

Nord had told us all about her mom and her sweet nature, but man are they so much alike!

So much laughter under their sweet southern accent.  Their happy nature was so infectious. <3After lunch, we drove to her parent’s home, the home where Nord grew up.  Talk about a difference form her current Chicago home!

Check out this view!  After a few miles of empty roads and open fields, we made it.

NORD IS HOME!

Right away, we all felt at home.

Momma McGee opened the wine and made the coffee and we all relaxed on the porch while she told us some hilarious stories.

We also got to met Nord’s ridiculously sweet friend Caroline.  I felt like we had known her for years.<3

So much laughter in this house…

🙂 🙂 🙂

After a while, we decided to take the four wheeler’s and ride over their tree house…

And when I say tree-house, I mean a HOUSE in a TREE. This place was crazy cool! You can actually live in there!

After some dinner, the rain came for a bit, soon followed by the most beautiful rainbow that just happened to sit right on top of their home.

IT WAS PERFECT!

(These pictures don’t do it justice.)

Nicki snapped this cute picture of us all hanging out before we headed back home. LOVE IT!I mean, look at this view! This home was like a vacation AT HOME – a STAYCATION! <3After a VERY early bedtime (we all passed out around 8! Road trips are tiring yo!), we woke up to a gorgeous sunny day.

I wanted to take as many pictures of their property as possible. It was so peaceful there.

HAHA! I loved all the dogs in this family.  So loving and playful.  This one is Nellie – who did NOT want us to leave.  She actually ran and followed our car all the way down the driveway when we left. (She had never done that before). Just loved her!

Then there was sweet Leaper – Aunt Mary’s dog – who had the sweetest nature about her. <3

Thank you Mom and Dad McGee for hosting us! Your home is amazing!

Their neighbors? Oh, just a bunch of cows. (I’m sure many in Chicago can say the same thing.) 😉

A happy Nord ready to go visit her brother and sister in Memphis.

Like I said before, we wanted to experience the food that was famous in every town.

We had hot chicken at Hattie B’s in Nashville, and then we tried BBQ at Central BBQ in Memphis!  IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!

I’ll for sure being heading back to TN for the food if nothing else!

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Before heading downtown to meet Nord’s siblings, we decided to do another tour…

GRACELAND!!! Time for some Elvis!

We took a shuttle to Elvis’s home and got headphones and iPads for a cool interactive tour while you walked around the rooms where he once lived.

Let me tell you, there were some INTERESTING rooms in this house…and stairwells.  The 60s & 70s were, how do we say this…’unique‘.

I mean, WHOA!

This was the Jungle Room : inspired by Hawaii.

Lisa Maria (Elvis’s daughter) said this was one of her favorite’s as a kid.

The backyard was where he had a place for horses and all of his cars…keep scrolling to see those!

The tour was pretty cool.  We got to learn about his family history and saw gifts that fans had sent to him.

They even had their wedding attire on display. (I could SO see someone wearing that today!)

P.S. How handsome was he?! <3

HI! 🙂

Into the recreation room where he played a last game of racquetball with friends before his death later on in the bathroom.

The family graves are all in the backyard under a HUGE white cross, just behind the swimming pool.

Our tour included a look at all of his classic cars on display…

The famous Pink Cadillac that he gifted to his mom.

Next, a tour of his first awards…

PREACH!

And finally, on to the WARDROBE!

(There were so many!)

And so much detail…

Quotes that we as wedding photographers should remember going into each new wedding.

William Speer was the photographer who took some of his first promotional photos.

(Oh to be a fly on THAT wall.)

On to downtown Memphis we went to make it to The Peabody by 5pm to see the Duck March.

To be honest, when Nord first asked us if we wanted to see the ducks march, I thought WHAT?! Ducks march where? I had no clue the history behind it.

The hotel itself was so elegant and historic.  As we walked in, it was already overcrowded with people trying to get any sort of view of these famous ducks.

Here is a little history on them : Peabody DUCKS

Maria and I were on one side of the 2nd floor balcony watching the presentation.

As the conductor directed the ducks to the elevator, we ran to be one of the first to the rooftop.

When we got up, there were only a handful of people there and we didn’t see any ducks.

Moments later we heard ‘Quack, quack, quack!’ and turned to see our own front row view of the famous animals making their way across the rooftop.

This was the coolest view!

Maria got some fun videos and as we saw the ducks jump into their rooftop home, she turned and we both couldn’t stop laughing.

That was the cutest!

Later, I realized the duck march was actually referenced in an episode of ‘THIS IS US’.

Have you seen that show? If not, grab a box (or several) of tissues.  So good! <3

A gorgeous day to be on The Peabody rooftop.

At sunset, we made our way to the famous Beale street in downtown Memphis.

We had another amazing dinner with Nord’s brother, sister-in-law, sister, and brother-in-law, and made our way to the nightlife of Memphis.

These beauts! <3  I love this picture!

I had the best week with these beautiful people and I’m so grateful to call them my close friends. <3

I handed my camera to Lauren, Nord’s sister, and we got to get some pictures of the 4 of us.

HA! We are crazy!

🙂 🙂 🙂

Nord with her sister and sister-in-law, both named Lauren.

And to top off the night – a fun sibling picture.  You all are so cute!

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I am so grateful for this trip! I had more fun than I can say and I can’t wait for our next one!

THANK YOU TENNESSEE FAMILY!!!

To all of you who hosted us, I can’t thank you all enough for your sweet hospitality.  There is something about that Southern charm.  I felt so welcomed the entire time and loved meeting you all.

To my beautiful friends (Nord, Maria, and Nicki) : I LOVE YOU! Thank you all for an unforgettable trip! I’ll never forget this week we had together.  You all amaze me and I am truly so honored to call you some of my best friends.

If you haven’t been to TN yet, pack and up and GO! Such a fun place and I can’t wait to explore it more in the future.

HUGS.

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