Tennessee Trip – Part I: The Drive To Tennessee

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For those of you here for the car content, yes there are cars in this post (At the end), but this post is more about my trip to Tennessee during the two days before Stoopicold. Stoopicold event coverage will be in the next post!

I decided to go on this trip only about a week before I needed to leave, so I didn’t really have a solid plan of what I wanted to do. I was just going to wing it and see where I ended up. I left Prairie Du Chien, WI at 1:09 A.M. Thursday morning and although it wasn’t as cold as it has been here recently, 37° is pretty chilly compared to the weather in Tennessee right now. It had been raining most of the night and then being warmer, there was a lot of fog for the first half of my trip.

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I didn’t decide until I was in Missouri that I wanted to stop by St. Louis to see and get a photo of the arch. I had never been through there before, so why not?

I drove around for a good 45 minutes trying to find a spot to pull over and take a photo. There were none. The only parking in the area were lots that you had to pay to get into, and I wasn’t about to pay twenty bucks to spend five minutes snapping photos and then leaving. I ended up just parking my car in the road, hopping out and taking a quick photo, and it shows, but that was the only option that day.

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What I DID love about St. Louis was the graffiti. After I stopped for the photo above, I saw some graffiti on the wall next to me. I drove a little further and graffiti was everywhere, and it was incredible.

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I stopped and only took photos of my favorite pieces, but this wall stretched for about 2 miles.

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I put on some Frank Sinatra and thought I should share since most people I know don’t get into the old stuff. If you know me personally, you know I love Frank Sinatra. Check out more of his stuff, you might surprise yourself and like it.

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The next stop I made ended up being at Burden Falls in the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. Once I hit the small dirt/gravel road that takes you back to the falls, the scenery completely changed. My Subaru is very photogenic in it’s natural habitat.

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I parked and it was only about a 50 yard walk to see this.

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After that, I went further down the creek to find the big waterfall. It wasn’t a massive drop, but definitely not something I would care to fall from. I made my way through a cave and some rock ledges to get down below the falls.

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Everything in this forest has moss on it, and it makes even the most basic things look amazing.

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I rested for a bit and just watched the water…fall.

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The spot was too good to pass up a modeling opportunity for some new profile pictures.

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Some bad weather was about to hit again, so I headed back to the car and packed up to leave for the next spot.

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Fog was rolling in before I made it out of the forest.

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And then more rain.

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The next stop on my trip was Land Between The Lakes, which I’m pretty sure is in Kentucky, but I’ve seen a few things that also say Tennessee, so I don’t know 100%.

I crossed over this bridge and decided that I was going to spend the night down by the beach.

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Welcome to my home for the weekend.

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I’m fairly certain someone was looking in my car with a flashlight during the night, but I had made a “tent” with that zebra print blanket you see above, so they couldn’t actually see me. Ha.

I woke up and wanted to see the Elk and Bison. I got to the spot at sunrise, and found out that the card slot on the gate was broken, and it was only accepting cash. I only had 100’s and 20’s on me, and the gate only accepted 1’s and 5’s. I drove about 10 minutes back to the nearest town to trade bills at a gas station, and caught the sunrise when I was getting back on the bridge.

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The Bison were apparently not visible due to “management activities”. I don’t know exactly what that means but, I didn’t get to see any Bison.

I did get to see some Elk though. This one was the closest Bull to the road, and the longest lens I have right now is the 135L, so I couldn’t get photos of the other Bulls.

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He had a busted antler, which I thought was pretty gnarly.

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I drove a bit further and saw a bunch of Cows walking around near the road. The Bull didn’t have a tag or collar, but all the Cows did. I’m not sure how I feel about that, coming from my thoughts on animal rights, but I do understand the reasoning. After some research, these Elk are being reintroduced to the area after being hunted so heavily that there just were no more. They are being tracked to check up on them and make sure they aren’t getting sick.

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I spent more time with the Cows because they walked up closer to me. They were beautiful animals. I just wish they didn’t have the tags and collars.

Next stop Memphis.

I got to Memphis and I was super hungry. I had done a bit of looking online, and found some vegan restaurants, and decided to hit up Imagine Vegan Cafe. I saw they had a Philly sandwich so I had to try it. They also have a bunch of other choices for those of you vegans who like eating faux meats and what not.

So I got the Philly, and some Mac and Cheese. I wish the Philly had a little bit more meat and veggies in it, but overall it tasted great. The mac and cheese either comes in a yellow vegan cheese (not sure of the brand), white homemade cheese, or a mix of both. I asked the waitress which she prefers, and she said mixed. I was not disappointed. Vegan cheese is the most frustrating thing for me. It’s either great or totally disgusting. I’m very glad this was good stuff. I really wanted to hit up the restaurant the next day as well, but I didn’t end up having time.

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I saw the ‘I Heart Memphis’ mural. That was pretty cool.

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Then I got to the house that my friends Nick and Jasper were staying at. They rented it with a guy named Nathan, and some others who I didn’t formally meet.

Nathan owns this Genesis Coupe. I had only ever seen the car in photos from when it was owned by a different guy. It’s pretty rad though. The wheel choice is spot on and I love the body color. The car had some engine problems that he had to spend most of the afternoon fixing.

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Nick and I were supposed to shoot while we were in Memphis. He had taken his car to wash it, and unfortunately curbed his brand new Rotiforms on one side, and scuffed both wheels on the other side while in the car wash. Tough fuckin’ break. For real. So we ended up postponing the shoot until that damage gets addressed. I did snap some shots of his car at the house though. We were all fooling around and talking about camera settings and lenses and this is just what I ended up with.

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We hung out at the house for a while, and then I took off for the Stoopicold Pre-Meet. Apparently, the original spot got shut down by Police. I got the location for the second meet-up and found it. I was only there for about 15 minutes before the cops showed up AGAIN and shut us down. I did get some cool shots in before I had to leave though.

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After the meet got shut down, I heard that Violent Clique had a meet at their hotel, but I decided not to go, because the rest of my friends were just about to Memphis. I met up with them, and we got food and went to the wash.

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That concluded our shenanigans for the night. I ended up getting to stay at their hotel instead of in my car, because they are nice to me.

The next day was Stoopicold, and that’s where I have to end this post. I still have some editing to do from the event, but the full coverage will be in Part II. I got some AWESOME shots, and if you’re one of the people I talked to at the show, seriously come back because I have photos for you that you’ll want to see.

Thanks for checking out my post! I hope you enjoyed the photos and my ramblings.

– Dustin

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