Epic Seattle-Memphis Road Trip: St. Jude or BUST!


Buckle up people, because it’s going to be a crazy ride. 3 mothers are shirking their parenting responsibilities, throwing caution to the wind and embarking on a 5-day road trip across the country that we suspect Will. Be. Epic.

But we need your help. First, you’re the reason we get to head out on this crazy journey in the first place. When I first asked you guys to send in the gnomes, I thought you might think I’d lost it & run away. But I underestimated your awesomeness. You gave and gave and gave. And now we’re gearing up to pile all our gnomies in our motorgnome and head to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. And as you probably know by now, I don’t do anything halfway. So we want to take advantage of every last mile of our trip {plus the miles upon miles of endless highway might drive us to sing show tunes, so we’ll need something to break up the monotony!}.

That’s where you come in.

We want to see the coolest sights, eat the most delicious food and maybe meet a few of you along the way. Here’s our route {and yes, we know we have lost our minds!}:road trip map

Thursday, August 8th: Seattle to Boise
Friday, August 9th: Boise to Cheyenne, WY to Denver, CO to Wichita, KS {yep. We realize this is insane. We’re mentally preparing for it now!}
Saturday, August 10th: Wichita to Pigeon Forge, TN
Sunday, August 11th: Pigeon Forge to Nashville, TN
Monday, August 12th: Nashville to MEMPHIS, TN!!!
Tuesday, August 13th: Memphis to Little Rock, AR
Wednesday, August 14th: Try to recover from the car-sickness, caffeine-high, sleep-deprived, jet-lagged state we’re in.

We have to be pretty strict as far as the route is concerned. We can’t afford {time and money wise} to deviate many miles out of our way. But if you live near or have ever visited anywhere on our route and have any pointers, tips, or “must-sees,” please pipe up! World’s Largest Ball of Twine? We’re in! Best donuts in the country? Better tell us where those can be found! Coolest garden/scenic overlook/picture-perfect view? On it!


We’d also love to meet you if you’re up for it {and if time permits}. We’ll join you for lunch at your town’s favorite cafe, check out your cool garden or random collection of teaspoons from around the world, or even join you around your own dinner table if you’ll have us {serial killers and ax-murderer need not apply. Be warned we have mad ninja skills and we are not afraid to use them!}.

We are so excited we can hardly stand it, but our trip still has a few holes we’d love for you, dear readers, to help fill in.

Whatcha got for us?

~ Mavis

Read more about our St. Jude Fundraiser

See all the Gnomes that Have Been Sent In

Donate a Gnome  to St. Jude

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  1. Judy says

    Mavis while in pigeon forge… go to the Christmas shop! also there’s some beautiful quilt shops if you like that kinda thing… and while your that close there’s also the dolly pardon dinner show a’s don’t miss Gatlinburg’s main drag… it’s a must.. crazy Blvd with lots to see and eat!!!

  2. Tracie says

    Recommend going the speed limit in Arkansas… the cars are gold and they are anxiously awaiting speeders! Loved Graceland but it’s in a trashy part of town, so didn’t try any of the food places nearby. Since you are Seattle people you seriously might want to try those cooling wraps you can get from Lowes/Home Depot to wrap around your necks so you don’t get heat stroke.

  3. Stacie says

    While in Memphis, go to the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks march http://www.peabodymemphis.com/peabody-ducks/ and also grab some delicious ribs at Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous http://www.hogsfly.com/VisitUs.php That restaurant has been all over the Food Network & when I visited I was not disappointed. If you want to veer off your path slightly from Memphis, you could head down to Tunica, MS, where they have lots of casinos and the famous Blue & White Cafe and visit with Steve. I go to a horse show in Tunica every year for Cowboy Mounted Shooting and eat at the Blue & White every single day. Have fun!!!

  4. Angela says

    Hi Mavis,

    I have visited or lived in or near many of the places you have marked on your map.

    I could send you a long list of suggestions on things to see and do and places to eat – too long for messaging here. Please let me know the best way to get the list to you. For example, if you want some down home southern cooking at prices that are much, much lower than going to one of Paula Deen’s restaurants, you need to take Exit 1 off I-24 E as you head from Kentucky to Nashville; this will be the first exit for Clarksville, TN. While hidden away just a bit, right off the Interstate is Moss’s Southern Cooking Restaurant. They serve a meat and three with several daily specials from which you may choose in addition to regular menu items. If you are passing through at breakfast time, it is just as good for breakfast – omelets are huge, so you may want to order different items and share; you will get plenty to eat inexpensively and without having to stray too far off the Interstate path.

  5. cptacek says

    World’s largest ball of twine is about an hour north of I-70…probably too far out of the way :) Also, why the detour to Wichita? You can shave more than 3 hours off your trip if you just stay on 1-70 all the way over to KC.

  6. Jessi says

    You’re going through Denver! If you’re up to hot dogs you should swing by Biker Jim’s. It’s supposedly one of the best dog stands in the country (but I don’t know who they can be compared too with such a unique menu) and it’s a great way to show off Denver’s eccentric flair. They’re at 2148 Larimer Street.

    Parking might be a pain… though it’s doubtful you’ll care afterwards.

  7. denise says

    After you leave Boise you could come further East to Blackfoot Idaho and see the Potato Museum. We have “free taters for out of staters.” There is even the potato sack worn by Marilyn Monroe for Idaho Potato photo shoot. And have your picture taken in front of the worlds largest potato complete with butter & sour cream. Then head straight south to Cheyanne WY. It really shouldn’t add too much to your time. And Being a foodie you can’t miss this once in a lifetime chance! Let me know If I’ve convinced you and I’ll meet you there!!

  8. Jamie says

    Oh, I wish you were staying over in KC because I would so want to meet you! You have inspired me so much with your blog, it would be so great to meet you in person. Because of your blog I have: 1. Put in 4, 8 x 4 square foot garden beds in my backyard, 2. started and continue to buy local fresh eggs every week, 3. Asked the produce guy at my grocery store for produce scraps (no go), 4. bought the seedling light you recommend to start my plants in my basement, 5. am weighing the produce I get out of my garden, 6. am teaching my kids about gardening and local food. Thank you for the effort you put into your blog.
    I hope you have a great trip, you might need some BBQ on your way through KC, so stop at Oklahoma Joe’s. Its the best BBQ you’ll ever get from a gas station! :-)

  9. Barb Poposky says

    I see that your route goes thru St. Louis, MO. 😉 Born, grew up, & lived in this ‘viewing’ area all of my life except 9 months in D-FW, TX. 1 year in IL., but still in the greater metro area.
    For a sight to see, I recommend the MO Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, especially the Climatron — a glass panel geodesic dome. My father was one of the glaziers who worked on installing the original glass panels back in the late 50’s/early 60’s. There is even a picture of him at work up on the frame installing a panel in the Botanical Garden’s anniversary commemorative book about the Climatron. A blown-up copy of the picture was also hanging on the wall of the Garden’s gift shop.
    As far as “eats & treats” in St. Louis, there is White Castle, home of the Belly Bomber, a.k.a. The Slider. There is also Imo’s Pizza, credited with the original St. Louis-style pizza, which is crustless and cut into squares (“the square beyond compare”), and provel cheese. For dessert, Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard is a must stop-by.
    For a home garden, I recommend Mark Brown and all the other fine people with Carondelet Garden Urban Farm. Mark is a master gardener whose mission is to spread a love & knowledge of urban gardening, promoting organic & sustainable methods. His motto is “grow food, not lawns!”. He can be found via CGUF’s facebook page.
    Sure hope you can make a stop in the ‘Lou 😉

  10. Kim says

    When you go to Pigeon Forge, you ought to go eat at the Apple Barn. They have a small orchard, serve apple fritters and apple butter with your food, and are generally fantastic. They also have an awesome breakfast. If you haven’t been, you ought to take a drive through the National Park. The drive to Cades Cove is gorgeous and there are great spots to picnic, stick your feet in the mountain water, etc. Tons of wildlife.

  11. Desi says

    Wow, Day two will be a whopper of a day! Depending on what time you leave Boise, you could stop in Burley for some Breakfast or Lunch or brunch. We are about 2 1/2 hours away from Boise. I don’t really go out to eat much… but I know how to cook some great crepes from eggs stolen from our Chickens or there is a place in town that serves fair type food year round. You even eat outside just like the fair.

    Things to see: Malad Gorge St. Park, the freeway goes right over it. Shoshone Falls is beautiful in the spring but will be very low next month. We have The City of Rocks in Oakley Idaho, it’s amazing, with all the huge rock jutting out of the desert. Or we have a Cheese factory.

    • Desi says

      Totally forgot, there is also the Hagerman Fossil Beds or the Fish Hatchery’s. Hagerman is beautiful with the waterfalls coming out of the cliffs.

  12. janet says

    Hi Mavis!
    Is there going to be a send off celebration? I’d love to come!
    I read your blog everyday love it! You do a great job. Thank you for bringing joy laughter and great ideas into my life!
    Have fun! (do I even need to say that?)
    Woodway. Wa

  13. Karen Peebles says

    Hi Mavis. I hope your upcoming trip is a wonderful one. While Pigeon Forge has a lot to do, It is very crowded and child oriented. You must spend a little time in Gatlinburg. Yes is is also touristy, it is much more quaint. While there, the “Cades Cove” loop is a gorgeous drive within the mountains with views of pioneer life. Also the Arts and Crafts loop between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is a must. You will love it!

  14. Penelope says

    Looks like you are taking the I-15 junction to I-80. I’d love to wave at you since that is one full day you have planned! I’m south of there, but SLC is an amazing place. After hearing about how you like to check out bakeries, you might want to stop at the Sweet Tooth Fairy, the owner won cupcake wars last year.

  15. Leslie says

    Hi Mavis! You are stopping in Boise! :) Check out Big Jud’s. They have a world famous burger that is HUGE! 1 or or 2 pounds – your choice, which all of you can easily share! http://www.bigjudsboise.com It’s tasty, too. Adding to what Desi said, if you have time there is also Craters of the Moon National Park. Very surreal. As you get to the east side of Laramie WY, stop at the Lincoln rest stop at the top of Sherman summit. You can’t miss him – a huge bust is looking down at the passing cars! http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/8450 Having just driven from Boise to the Nebraska panhandle this past weekend (continuing on to Nebraska rather than turning south at Cheyenne), just a warning – it is a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG haul! I was about where the top right corner of your number 4 is and it took us 13 1/2 hours, going (ahem) the speed limit with limited breaks. Seeing as you are going another 8 hours past that, definitely pack some good caffeine, rocking tunes and have a great time! Safe travels!

  16. Dayla says

    Seattle is home now, but grew up in the Heartland. The jog down to Wichita is KS will result in a more scenic drive through the Flint Hills when you drive from Wichita to Topeka, versus staying on I 70 straight through KS. I was married in the Botanical Gardens in Wichita, so that has a soft spot in my heart. Let me know where you are staying in Wichita…let me know & I can find out the fave eateries there for you. I will say this, the landscape is so different, but the sunsets can’t be beat in beauty & take some time to look up in the sky @ night…as the openess of the country is awarded with incredible awesomeness & appreciation of the universe. Save travels!

  17. Jane says

    Pppppfffffftttttt. Nowhere near our lovely part of sunny Southern California…. but hey! I sent you the bestest gnome ever. Be careful, don’t strangle each other, stay hydrated, stop to potty…… and as has been said a whole bunch before: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do on your blog. This city girl has truly become the Urban Farmer I’ve always (maybe?) wanted to be….. never happier. Now…. about my potatoes. Best of luck and I’ll be prayin for a safe journey.

  18. Lana says

    Too bad you are not coming on into South Carolina where you could see the famous peach butt water tower on I-85 in Gaffney!

  19. PonyRyd says

    Depending on what time you come through St. Louis, I highly recommend Ted Drew’s Frozen Custard. 6726 Chippewa St, St Louis, MO 63109 – not the one on Grand!

    Great place to stop on a hot Saturday afternoon for a cool treat! I recommend the Hawaiian!

  20. says

    If you need to be one with nature after you rest up in Little Rock, I would recommend a short hike up Pinnacle Mountain at Pinnacle Mountain State Park or go down to the Big Dam Bridge (a walking/cycling bridge) for a beautiful view of the Arkansas River…preferably near sunset because if you have never been to Arkansas during August…it is HOT…and HUMID! And if you want to check out a really cool nursery check out the best one in Little Rock at The Good Earth Garden Center and check out the farmers market on Kavanaugh Blvd. Then have some dinner and drinks downtown at the Rivermarket, Little Rock is small, but a great mix of nature and food, it’s quite eclectic. Have fun in the Natural State!

  21. Vicki says

    Mavis….If you happen to get hungry while driving by Kansas city you need to try our BBQ!!! It’s awesome! It’s the first thing my in-laws eat when they visit from Colorado. Have a good trip!

  22. Faith says

    Stop at the Lost Sea in Sweetwater TN between Pidgeon Forge and Nashville off I-75! It is an underground lake in a cave with prehistoric fish! Eat breakfast at the Old Mill in Pidgeon Forge and tour the gardens in the Opryland Hotel in Nashville! Stop at the New Holland Tractor headquarters and farm in Memphis!

  23. says

    Hi Mavis! We live in Cheyenne, WY! Not sure what you’ll have time for, but maybe one of these suggestions will fit in your schedule…
    Just for fun, hope you can stop by one of the nation’s smallest towns: Buford, Population 1: http://www.bufordtradingpost.com/ It is about halfway between Laramie and Cheyenne.
    Also between here and Laramie is Vedauwoo (pronounced vee-duh-voo) – in case you’d like to stretch your legs and do a little rock climbing 😉 http://www.vedauwoo.org/
    We love the historic train depot museum and depot square: http://www.cheyennedepotmuseum.org/
    Cheyenne trolley tours are fun way to see the highlights: http://www.cheyennetrolley.com/
    The Botanic Garden is wonderful. Especially considering we are windy, high and dry at 7200 feet! http://www.botanic.org/
    Horse drawn carriages tours: http://www.cheyenne.org/listings/index.cfm?action=display&listingID=123&menuID=65&hit=1
    Just south on I-25 is Terry Bison Ranch, where they have llama, camel and buffalo herds- they have tours by train or by horse! http://www.terrybisonranch.com/
    Highly recommend the free state museum and also a quick peek at the state capital, which is a national historic landmark: http://wyomuseum.state.wy.us/ and https://sites.google.com/a/wyo.gov/capitol-page/

    Guess I’ll stop, but I’m sure there are more… also, if you’d like food suggestions, give me a holler! :) Have a safe and fun trip!!

  24. Kelly says

    If you have some time in Denver, you must go see Red Rocks park and outdoor amphitheater. One of the most renowned and favorite places to play a show for most musical acts in U.S. Everyone from The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix to U2, Dave Matthews Band and Coldplay have played here at this magical place. You can drive through the park and see the amazing red rock outcroppings and stand at the top looking down onto the stage or walk down the famous steps to the stage and hear yourself echo while playing your best air guitar! Morrison is the tiny town adjacent to the park and there are some good and bad restaurants there. The good ones are kinda pricey and the bad ones are not worth it in my opinion. Beso or Cafe Prague have beautiful patios if you want to splurge. As an alternative, I highly recommend a trip into nearby Golden, home of the Coors Brewery, for pizza at Woody’s and a walk on the creek.

  25. Angela says


    I sent a page and a half of suggestions with links to your Facebook message in box. The things are combinations of interesting tourist type stops, food stops, and stretch-your-leg stops.

    Good luck and have fun!

  26. Mandy P says

    In Cheyenne you can check out the Sierra Trading Post store (http://www.sierratradingpost.com/lp2/outlet-stores/). Great deals and not far off the beaten path. In Denver you can go to the Golden Step at the Capital building but beware…it is really more like a plaque on a step that says 5,280 feet. Wichita has a nice zoo but if you are without kids don’t know if you wan to go that route:) I put out the call on Facebook to ask for good food in these places so I hope to send you some good ones:) Good luck! And that side trip to Wichita might be the death of you…its a long drive across my home state (Kansas).

  27. Mandy P says

    Here you go Mabel. These are suggestions from my peanut gallery. I live in Colorado and grew up in Kansas so I have more help for those cities.:
    Memphis: Rendevouz BBQ; Nashville: Watermark or Loveless Café for restaurants; Little Rock: Heifer Ranch in Perryville (you might have a lot of fun with this one!)
    Denver: Lakeside Amusement Park if you are up for that after all the driving. It is cheaper than the other local amusement park. Also in Denver is Water World but they close at 6 pm so I don’t know if that works with your time line. You could go to Case Bonita, the Disneyland of Mexican food restaurants. It is fun but the food is terrible and you have to get a meal to get inside. Also the Denver Aquarium is fun but you live in Seattle so that might be a letdown for you. We also have a nice butterfly pavilion in Denver. As for a place to eat, my sister-in-law loves the Buckhorn Exchange.
    Wichita has the Tanganyika Wildlife Park or Exploration Place, a fun science museum. Chester’s Chophouse was a recommendation from another sister-in-law as was the site 360wichita.com. Also suggested eatery was Red Beans Bayou Grill.

  28. rachel garber says

    Boise to Cheyenne is seriously 12 hours with road construction right now. I just did it last week. Cheyenne to Denver is about two hours with all the traffic that goes constantly up and down the 1-25. Just letting you know!! That will be an epically long day if you’re hoping to get to KS from Boise in a straight shot.

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