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Planning a Road Trip: Vanderbilt

So, let's talk: me and two of my friends are going to hop in a car Friday afternoon, see a football game in Nashville, Tennessee, and get one of my two friends back to Westchester County by Monday night at 10 p.m. so he can go to sleep and wake up at 7 the next morning because he's a depressing person with a job while the other two of us are still in college and are confused by his strange ways. The rest of that 96 hour stretch is up for grabs.

First off, you might be thinking: damn, that's like, 26 hours of driving in four days. Yeah. The thing is, this trip is motivated less by desire to go see a football game - no football game is worth that much driving - and more by our desire to go roadtripping because our college doesn't start until like, September 25th. Secondly, you never need excuses to go roadtripping. You just do it. So shut up and keep reading.

I have a few basic guidelines for our trip that I've mapped out, but, please. I'm less experienced with these things than I should be, and I've only really been in the south once in my life, so, please, help me out with your tips on things I have to do and how not to die. And if we do this right, I'll be back on this site next week with a full travelogue.

Having gone to Illinois and  Tampa last year, I've realized there are few things more enjoyable than bumming your way across this nation of ours to see football games. And I've also realized there's nothing better than vaguely stereotyping entire parts of the world. So here, folks, are my guidelines for this trip... AFTER THE JUMP. 



  • Don't die. This is important. We're doing a lot of driving, and when you're driving, you're not supposed to be asleep, or in various other incapacitated states where you're not supposed to be driving. We have to make sure there's none of those two things going on simultaneously. 
  • Spend under $100 on non-gas items. I'm a college student, and also Jewish. These two things combine to make me in the top ten percent of stingy human beings. We figure we're going to spend between 50-100 bucks per person on gas alone, which is a bummer. But this is a completely attainable goal. we have no hotels on our itinerary: just friends' houses and frat houses. (Many times we've been on the receiving end of random guys in our fraternity sending us emails saying they need a place to crash for a night in the Chicago area. Now we get to reciprocate.) And tickets to the game cost $4. So, four days, $100 bucks. Game on, southern United States. 
  • Eat legit southern food: Uhhh. Fried chicken, grits, gravy, mashed potatoes, all that good stuff. Most of this nation doesn't do food right. We base our eating as much on speed as on goodness: my midwestern readers probably are familiar with the brat and the burger, which is a cuisine premised on 13-year-olds being able to comprehend the basic process of making sure the food on the grill is not undercooked and not on fire, always ready within five minutes tops. There's the 94 percent of our nation where you basically can take any food and deep fry it and it's a culinary evolution. And as a New Yorker, I consider all foods not able to be made on a sidewalk to be invalid. (Luckily, being from New York, there are street vendors for everything from halal food to Belgian waffles to burritos to milkshakes.) The south, on the other hand, does stuff right. Cheese grits, son. Cheese grits.
  • Eat at a Waffle House: Waffle House is one of the world's greatest things. It's like Steak n Shake, if Steak n Shake had grits. 24/7, you can go in and get waffles. If that doesn't sound fantastic to you, you're no longer my friend. But unfortunately, us northern folk don't get to rock the Waffle House: there isn't one within 100 miles of New York, nearly 175 miles of Chicago. So, let it be ascertained that I shall eat at a Waffle House. Not a Huddle House, mind you, that's some BS. I need my low-price 24-hour roadside dining breakfast joints.
  • Jack Daniels: You know the bottle: Tennessee Whiskey. Made in Lynchburg, Tenn., population 361. Of course, Lynchburg doesn't have 361 people in it anymore - it has a couple thousand - but they still make every bottle of JD there, just an hour outside of Nashville. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, and I agree, unless you're in Kentucky, because there are some things not worth skimping on, like toilet paper and surgeons for various life-threatening procedures, and no matter how poor you are, there's no reason you should buy Evan Williams' Kentucky Bourbon, even if the bottle does look just like a bottle of Jack. (Also, you will notice that against my will, the words "Jack Daniels" are highlighted. This is because the autotag function has alerted me to the fact that there is a punter for Monmouth University named Jack Daniels. I am not making this up. Best of luck to Jack and the Iron Hawks in all of his punting endeavors.)
  • Don't walk into a scene from the movie Deliverance: Of course, most southerners aren't horribly deformed rapists mad at northerners, and capable of playing the banjo. And most of our trip will be in highly civilized areas, such as the interstate, and Nashville. But you can never be sure. Once you pass that Mason-Dixon line, you never know. Little-known fact: 84 percent of the South is one incorrect left turn from a backwoods town in West Virginia where they don't take too kindly to your type, regardless of what type you are.
  • Don't reveal what type you are: Being half-Cuban and also Jewish, I would normally be the most Hispanic and most Jewish person in the state of Tennessee, even though I'm not Hispanic at all and a terrible Jew at that, outside of the whole cheapness thing. However, turns out I'm the third-most Hispanic guy in my traveling crew. Agreeing to go with my two more Hispanic friends means that should we get into a banjo duel, I'm the de facto soloist for our group. I've played a good amount of guitar and bass in my day, but, life-and-death banjo solos are out of my league. (Never mind that time I lost my soul playing fiddle while touring Emory.)
  • See a football game: Kind of the whole key, ain't it?

Any real suggestions are, of course, welcome, although your stereotypes are even more welcome.