Whether you call it Nashvegas, Music City, or Hollywood with a touch a twang, Nashville is a trip worth taking. Plus it’s only 4 and 1/2 hours from home, which gives me enough time for a nap but not so much time on the road that I get stir-crazy.
Since our honeymoon to Punta Cana isn’t until January (I’ll be packing swimsuits and flip-flops while all of you are digging out your flannel-lined jeans… I know you’ve got a pair too!) Todd & I decided to run off to Nashville the weekend after our wedding to relax and get away. We conned our good friends/neighbors/travelling buddies into going with us. Hey, every girl needs a dancing partner and I knew Todd wouldn’t pack his dancing shoes!
After a late Friday night arrival, Saturday morning got started with a handful of flyers from the hotel, fully charged camera batteries, and our friend Mr. Garmin. When we arrived in downtown Nashville, we realized that the rest of the city must enjoy sleeping in on their Saturdays– which meant plenty of parking spots for us.
Would anybody like to buy me some tickets to the Bridgestone Arena when the CMA Awards come there in November?
Well fine then. On this particular night, George Strait & Reba would be in concert there. We kept our eyes and ears open for any last-minute ticket deals, but to no avail.
Our first stop was the Ryman Auditorium, which was built in 1892 as a church. Under some impressive female management, it held the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974 and hosted all the great artists of the time. It’s still functioning as a concert hall today.
With its wooden pews and stained glass windows, it’s no secret where this building’s roots are. Trisha Yearwood taught us in an introductory tour video that the Ryman has the second most perfect acoustics in the world, making its acoustics better than Carnegie Hall. Only the Mormon Tabernacle Choir can boast to be better.
We had free reign of the place, with the chance to wander wherever and check out the exhibits at our own pace. Here’s outfits from Johnny & June.
We had the opportunity to get on stage and have our picture taken, but why wait in line and pay for a picture when you’re travelling with your very own photographer?
Or, at least when you’re travelling with me.
The balcony seats are said to be the best in the house.
Joe swears he’ll have these seats for a concert one day. I hope he gets tickets for me!
You hear that, Joe?
Luckily, Todd loves to read about history and gave the rest of us his Cliff’s Notes… since the rest of us didn’t have the patience to read everything posted on the wall. The Ryman found these pink tulips painted along the edge of the balcony after they took off layer upon layer of more recent decor. As the original decoration, they decided to leave it.
There are autographed posters on the wall from the artists who have performed there.
I’ll take a Miranda Lambert, please.
The Ryman then…
… the Ryman now. The church roots are still there.
Broadway is a very neat street. There’s the requisite saloon after saloon, but also gift shops slipped in there too. Which means shopping without the guys getting the hint! There was a college football game in town that day with LSU against Vanderbilt, and seeing all the LSU-ers wandering the street gave me bad memories of when I was at the Sugar Bowl in N’awlins. My Illini were playing LSU, and all the LSU-ers screamed bloody murder at us, Tiger Bait! Tiger Bait!
I dislike you, Tigers.
This is where I’m headed to first when I make my next trip to Nashville. This wonderful boot shop has a special “Buy One Pair, Get Two Pairs Free!” deal.
How did we leave without 3 pairs?
Why did we let that happen?
I will have to redeem myself next time!
After reclaiming the car from the ticking parking meter, we started to head to our next destination: the Country Music Hall of Fame. By the time Todd tapped our destination into Mr. Garmin, we found out we needed to make a big U-turn and go exactly where we left from… but a block over. The good news is we ended up in a free parking lot right next to the Hall of Fame. And no one will argue with free.
I love the ole’ “Turn and wave, boys!”
They listen well.
We visited the Hall of Fame on September 11th. And on display was an enlarged copy of Alan Jackson’s original handwritten lyrics to his song “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning.” What a great reminder.
Throughout the museum are tall tubes where you can circle around and listen to specific songs for the era on display. Here’s Todd & I showcasing “Together Again”.
This is a lot of hit records.
And this is many, many more hit records. About 3 stories more.
After learning about country music through the years, Jason Aldean’s Wrangler jeans, Elvis’ gold Cadillac, and Tammy Wynette’s wig collection, we ended up in the actual Hall of Fame. Circling around the top near the dome are the words “Will the Circle be Unbroken”, the unofficial anthem of the museum.
We had to break it gently to Joe that Taylor Swift was not yet a member of the Hall of Fame.
Todd & Joe were ready to swipe this Nashville fire engine and take it for their own little tour of Nashville.
Luckily, Mary & I came prepared to intervene such crazy, testosterone-driven ideas.
These two don’t get sick of pictures together.
On our way to the next stop, Belle Meade Plantation, a thunderstorm snuck up on us. Luckily, it hit while we were in the car and decided to be done by the time we were parked at the plantation. Also in our favor, the rain scattered the people around who were visiting for a Fall Festival, and we managed to sneak in for free!
Again, free is always good.
The Muscadine variety of grape used in a lot of Tennessee wines is one I’m not too familiar with.
But we’re becoming best of friends.
This is the slave cabin that has been preserved on the grounds.
And here’s the dairy barn.
Now, I’m a big fan of dairy cattle. Let it be known. But even I am very aware of the fact that the dairy cattle had better quarters than the slaves, which is a sad reminder of the way things used to be.
The mansion here is supposedly one of “America’s Grandest Mansions.” Granted, we were unable to tour the inside (even with Todd’s good looks and Joe’s charm), but I still can’t see this house competing with anything like the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC.
Don’t we make a cute couple?
Clearly the Oakley sunglasses are not meant to be part of the 1800’s reglia. Just in case you got confused.
Would you believe that even with all we’d seen and done, we were able to sneak in naptime before heading out for dinner and dancing? Well we did!
And I snuck a shower too. The surprise rainstorm wreaked havoc with my hair.
Without a clear destination in mind, we ended up at the Wildhorse Saloon. The $5 cover charge put a bad taste in my mouth, but I managed to swallow it. Turns out, we hit the jackpot with our random choice. Not only did we get seated immediately, have a great waitress, and got great food, we also got seats right by the dance floor and stage. Initially we weren’t sure whether or not there would be live music, but our waitress clued us in that Brother Trouble would be performing that night.
Brother Trouble is a group led by 2 brothers (shocker!) who recently won some contest sponsored by Kenny Chesney. They also signed a record deal, and told us they’d be on the radio by the end of the month.
You want me to burn you their CD. Trust me.
They played great original music, performed awesome covers, and were pretty much hilarious on top of it all.
They autographed the CD we bought with “To Todd & Jess. Y’all rock.”
They called the addition of sombreros their “wardrobe change.”
With Brother Trouble rocking the stage, the dance floor was hopping. There was a line dance for every song, some of which Mary & I were able to do and others that we had no hope. This guy was a Line Dance Allstar, and he was the one to watch and learn from.
At 8:30, the band took a break and a couple of Wildhorse Saloon Gals got on stage to teach a line dance. Finally, something at my pace! Mary & I took advantage of the lesson, which you can tell by this picture took a lot of concentration.
But don’t go thinkin’ that the guys weren’t having a hip-smacking good time too! I think they had a blast with their prime people-watching position.
Until I can get back, I guess I’ll just keep wearing out my Brother Trouble CD and my new dance steps.
But with all the ruckus of a live band, flooded dance floor, and 3 stories of an ex-warehouse full of people, there was still love in the air.
Their slow dance was sweet until Mary made mention of a certain fella with a mullet and New Balance tennis shoes.
Then Joe looked down at his own New Balance tennis shoes, and evacuated the dance floor.
It’s okay Joe. At least you don’t have a mullet… yet!
We decided to hit Broadway at about the same time all the football spectators and George Strait fans did, and the street was a tad busy. Most saloons had lines snaked out onto the sidewalk so we started walking, once again without a clear destination.
We ended up on the street parallel to the Cumberland River, which we expected to be bustling. Turns out, this street was the backside to all the venues that were hopping on the other side. Basically, it was a tad shady.
Not the place to hang around without a destination.
Which is how we ended up coming through the back side into the famous Coyote Ugly. After about 120 seconds, it was clear that Coyote Ugly was not the destination we had in mind and we made our exit through the front side.
Back on Broadway, we had a new realization: that we were all tired and ready to get back to the hotel. But there is one must before bedtime– ice cream. We made a stop at an ice cream place conveniently located on Broadway before hitting the proverbial hay.
After a night of blissful sleep, I awoke on Sunday morning and came out of the bedroom to find Mary, Joe, & Todd all lined up on the pull-out sofa.
It was time to say goodbye to Nashville!
But wait! There’s more!
Before crossing back over the Tennessee state line, we stopped at Beachaven winery in Clarksville. Unfortunately, they were first going to open at noon which meant we had some time to kill.
So we lined up on a small bench to patiently wait for the lady to unlock the door.
Anyway, the winery was nice and the wine was even nicer. After the purchase of 3 bottles, we totalled 7 bottles making the trip home with us. Hey, we’ve got a large wine buffet to fill!
We made one last stop (okay, one last stop not counting pee stops) to eat lunch at the infamous Patti’s in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. While Joe & Mary enjoyed their multiple inches of pork chop, I had cajun shrimp and Todd stuck with a steak. There’s just something about consuming a 2 inch tall pork chop that doesn’t sound too appetizing to me.
Travelling with Todd is probably pretty similar to traveling with a child. And he wonders why I have so many silly pictures of him doing silly things.
So who’s ready to go to Nashville?
‘Cause you better be taking me with you! I could use a little more twang!