September 18, 2014
What an amazing trip to Nashville Gina and I had this past weekend! Being a huge fan of country music I’ve always wanted to trek across the Great Smoky Mountains to where the heartbeat of country music will forever beat strong. Although, somehow in my mind I thought Nashville would ‘look’ country instead of big city. You know, sky scrapers accessorized in cowboy hats and chaps and tall drinks of water everywhere. Sigh...slight tug of disappointment. Yet as we walked the streets in our flip flops...totally doing the tourist thingy, it was like “OMG, we’re really here!!” Of course, one of the first ‘must sees’ was where the Grand Ole Opry originally broadcast from, the Ryman Auditorium. Wow, just to be in the room where mega talented singers preform you could almost hear down home country lyrics reverberating off the walls...until they made me get off the stage.
Those famous words from beloved Minnie Pearl, “How-w-w-DEE-E-E-E! I’m jes’ so proud to be here!” seemed to echo through the Ryman as we walked past a glass case proudly displaying a yellow dress worn by her. Just down from there was Loretta Lynn’s dress from her first appearance and a suit worn by the man in black, Johnny Cash. Whoa, such history persevered for others to enjoy. Yet as the sun began to set on an incredible day of sightseeing it was time to trade flip flops in for cowboy boots because we were going honkytonking.
By the way, Nashville’s idea of bar-hopping is technically bar-walking. Yeppers, “these boots were made for walking” and we spent the entire night walking from one bar to the next listening to awesome music.
Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN
Well, butter my biscuits we were smack dab in the heart of Music Row and when in Rome, as they say. But we didn’t just bar-walk. One of the highlights was a horse drawn carriage ride around downtown. Can life get any better? We learned ‘who’s been seen where and when,’ from, Lee (the driver), who told us Alan Jackson stopped by his new bar and played for a few hours last week. Shucks, we missed it!
I gotta tell ya being in the country music capital is like being served a smorgasbord of whatever your melodious palate desires. For instance, we walked into one bar right when the band asked for requests so I shouted “DISCO!” Geez, if it wasn’t so loud you could have heard a pin drop. Uh...moving right along...a few doors down we walked in the famous Tootsies where country stars are said to drop in after a show at the Opry. No real-life glimpses but there wasn’t an inch of wall lacking a celebrity’s picture; a literal vortex of greatness. Oh hey, we spotted Elvis in front of one of the establishments so I captured a Kodak moment!
Yep, I can honestly say I’ve been honkytonking now because we got back to the hotel just before the roosters crowed.
Saturday morning meant flip flops and touristy again with a trip to Belle Meade Plantation, built by a prominent family who raised Thoroughbred race horses with such lineage as Seabiscuit and Secretariat. Who says there’s no such thing as time travel? A walk through the home was definitely a tiptoe through time-warp tulips. Rooms were large but furniture small because a hundred years ago folks weren’t built Ford tough. I even noticed the railing on the staircase was very low by today’s standards. I learned so many things that afternoon like...well, like...oh, I love blackberry wine! Who knew? Not me, till the wine tasting.
Will I trek back over the Smokies? In a country heartbeat! Besides, the grand finale of our stay was like a dream come true...a night at the Grand Ole Opry. Even I can’t put into words the overwhelming feeling of awe as we took our seats to watch the show featuring Crystal Gayle, Roy Clark, Mel Tillis, Little Jimmy Dickens and more. Hot diggity dog! (The name of a song by Dickens.) And it didn’t stop there. There was also a ten-year old boy playing his fiddle and singing. Such talent so young, it was amazing! He even got a standing ovation so Whisperin’ Bill asked him what he thought about that and he said, “It’s actually my second one.”
Can you imagine...that’s my story and I’m sticking to it? Smile, and let your boots do the walking.