A couple weeks ago, I met up with Taylor Bruce (the fellow behind the Wildsam field guides) for a coffee, and he tipped me off to the best new lodging option in Nashville, the city where he launched his first guide two years ago. Taylor describes the Wildsam series as guides that “bring to life what John Steinbeck describes as the ‘faraway joyous look’ that accompanies curiosity,” so it makes perfect sense that his accommodation recommendation was created by a local fiction writer (who, bringing us full circle, wrote an essay about his Tennessee-bred snake phobia for the Nashville Wildsam).
Author of Carry My Bones, J. Wes Yoder is lately doubling as an innkeeper of sorts. Only the inn is a 1962 Shasta camper he bought on eBay, parked in his leafy and secluded East Nashville backyard and gutted from top to bottom with his own hands. To appreciate it now — all clean lines, wood surfaces, white walls and no-fuss, modern detailing — it’s hard to imagine its ticky-tacky state when he bought it: “It was red and white and had maybe 100 items of Budweiser paraphernalia; decals, strands of Bud light christmas lights, Budweiser curtains, and also an oil funnel in a closet with a tube running down through the floor to piss through,” says J. Wes, who also built a sweet, freestanding little bathhouse with a clawfoot tub, and tucked an outdoor shower into a private corner between the two.
Since he spends a lot of time at home writing fiction, he says it’s easy to run the place, too. “I’m a maid, a receptionist and a concierge, basically, and I like doing it,” he says. “I’ve been surprised by how strongly folks have responded to it, and can’t quite figure it out. I suppose it feels like camping, or conjures some happy memory of laying in a fort you made as a child. That’s one guess.” There’s no internet or TV, and sometimes guests join him and his roommates for dinner in the garden. Other times, they end up dancing the night away inside at one of his parties. And so it goes staying with a guy who turned an old Budweiser shrine into a serene backyard retreat, you just never know what you’re going to get. I can’t imagine a better introduction to Nashville. Book it at airbnb.com.
[PHOTOS: All images by Laura Dart]