Oh, Nashville, you failed yet again to convince me that there's a better pair of cowboy boots than the beloved pair I owned when I was 9. I've been to this town several times over the last few years, and though I look every time, there's still never a pair that makes me take the leap over my adult self-consciousness and into a pair of new boots.

I planned this part of the trip by the seat of my pants, firming up plans to stay with my cousin shortly before leaving Atlanta. Graham was in the process of moving out of a 3-bedroom townhouse, which reminded me yet again how grateful I am to have a relatively small amount of stuff, both with me on the trip and back at home. It was good to reconnect and to finally meet one of his brothers (my immediate family is quite small, but extends greatly through 2nd cousins and new marriages). I also got to spend some quality time with Tiger, Graham's Catahoula Leopard dog. She's a total sweetheart, soft, snuggly, and with the most perfect, dramatic eye roll I've ever seen a dog pull off.

My friend Jess managed to take an afternoon off from her busy graphic design business, Jessica Rodrigue Designs (check out her work - she's super talented!) to take me on a walk in Long Hunter State Park. We took the 4-mile Volunteer Trail, which winds through the trees and around the lake at an easy pace. The sun sparkled off the water and lit up the yellow and green woods, Jess's tiny daughter Leah collected rocks, and I got to walk their sweet dog Dresden. Being in the woods was exactly what I needed that afternoon. It was quiet, conversation flowed easily or not at all, and I was definitely ready for some BBQ for dinner when we finished!

Jess, Leah, and I met my friend Casey at Edley's Bar-B-Que in Nashville. The atmosphere is very laid back, but the food is served quickly. I ate every single thing in front of me - it was so good!

The chance to see another friend and spend time catching up was also pretty wonderful! Casey and I met at a work function and stayed in touch when we traveled, going out to lunch and cramming in time to chat when we could. It was really nice to spend an hour talking about our crazy dogs instead of work.

Graham and his brother worked like dogs on packing up for 48 hours and left in the middle of the night with the moving truck. Waking up alone in someone else's now-former home is eerie. It felt like the soul had gone out of a place in 8 short hours. I got myself together and scrammed for Jackson, MS as soon as I could.