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Reminiscing About Nashville

Reminiscing About Nashville

grand ole opry
Grand Ole Opry - 2011

Not off to a good start...

*I apologize for the horrendous photos!

Five years... Has it really been five years?
  I remember the day I was supposed to begin my 10 hour journey north. I had been working at Universal for over a year and built up a week's worth of vacation time. The minutes on the clock ticked by as I watched impatiently awaiting 3 pm. My shift at the ticket desk in the lobby of the Royal Pacific Resort was almost over. The hotel had a Polynesian theme and was the least expensive of the then only three onsite Loew's hotels. Guests walked the halls with a certain sense of entitlement, expecting luxury for next to nothing.

  My bags were packed and loaded in the trunk, as well as snacks for the road, so that I wouldn't need to stop for food. The person relieving me knew how eager I was to leave and encouraged me to call and ask to clock out early, but before I could, our manager called and requested that I stay late, "Our department head will be coming by the desk to speak with both of you and we need you to stay just a few minutes longer," the voice said seriously at the other end. Of course, I said yes, but was nonetheless aggravated as my nerves rose and fell in waves. Despite my anxiety, I was excited to see my best friend, Christina.
  Christina had moved to Nashville, Tennessee six months earlier, and it had been longer since I last saw her. On a piece of paper in my purse, I had planned out everything we were going to do along with a budget for the week. We would use my car since she used the bus as her primary mode of transportation.
  At about 3:15 our manager, a forty-something dark-haired woman with a Hispanic accent, and department head, a tall dark haired man with a thick mustache, arrived, looking solemn. They took my replacement into the back room first and spent about fifteen minutes behind the closed door. I had no idea what they could possibly be talking about, especially when he came out and walked back over to the desk crying. I was next. Feeling as if I'd vomit, I sat down as they closed the door. It was difficult for them, but they managed to explain that a coworker from another hotel desk, one whom I had only worked with once and mostly heard stories about, had, after two no-call no-shows, been found dead, apparently of natural causes.
  "Whoa..." I said, honestly shocked. Immediately, I felt a rush of guilt about my aggravation.
  "Did you know her?" Our department head asked as he leaned back, giving me a concerned look.
  "I had worked with her, but it's just so unexpected." My manager chimed in that grief counseling would be provided.
  It was 3:45 when I finally made it into my car. Surprisingly, the ride was smooth sailing -no real traffic, and the dreaded Atlanta I'd been warned so much about was free-flowing.
  At a little after midnight, I crossed the border into Tennessee; my GPS read that I still had an hour and a half until reaching Christina's apartment.  For my first time driving along winding mountain roads I was terrified.  It was pitch black out; rocky cliff faces, lit only by my headlights, rose along the sharp curves of the road.  Gripping the steering wheel tightly, I leaned forward to try to better see the road ahead.  Apparently, I was not going fast enough for the white pick-up truck behind me. He flashed his lights and nudged as close as he could to my rear bumper before racing around, cutting me off, and slamming on his brakes. My heart stopped as I quickly pressed my brake pedal, just in time, and cupped my hand tightly over my mouth. In an involuntary reaction, I couldn't help but begin to cry.  Reflected in his rear view mirror, the man's eyes locked with mine. He drove slower than I had been before getting off the road at the next exit. I continued a few more miles, afraid he might get back on and follow me, before I too pulled off into a gas station. My hands were shaking and I couldn't help but be angry at the fact that someone would do such  a horrible thing. What if I had swerved and crashed into the mountain? It didn't matter as long as he could show his dominance to this slow-poke tourist.
  It was 1:30 am when I made it to Christina's apartment; technically 2:30 since I had traveled over from Eastern to Central time, but I was still wired from the trip and we stayed up chatting.

Being a tourist on Broadway

Elvis, Elvis, everywhere...  I couldn't help but think about how much my mother, the biggest Elvis fan I know, would love to visit and a walk along that street.
  As we weaved in and out of stores, another pattern emerged: cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and hot sauce. In each store we saw the same knick knacks, and although the consumer in me was tempted by the neon lights and buzzing energy of the city, I managed to control my spending impulses. Instead, I bought cowboy boot and hat shaped pasta (Made in Nashville) and some jelly (Made in Nashville). Perishable, yes, but there's something about food that strikes me as the best souvenir.
Elvis fortune tellerElvis Statue
Elvis the Fortune TellerElvis Statue - One of Many
  I can't say that I truly remember walking around downtown along Broadway, or if my mind has just blended together all of the similar tourist traps that I've been to throughout my life. One thing I do remember, though, about the 'Music City' were all of the decorative guitars -whether in the shops or on street corners as large statues that had been specially painted by local artists.
hard rock cafe music city
Hard Rock Cafe
jimmy buffet guitars
Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville
painted guitar of famous country singers
Painted Guitar Statue

Grand Ole Opry

  Replica Grand Ole Opry stages for photo ops, complete with mic stands, appeared to be everywhere throughout the city. So, yes, we seized each opportunity. 
MeChristina and IChristina
  Although I don't listen to country music now, having been raised on it, I made sure to tour the Grand Ole Opry where we learned about the Nashville flood and its devastating damage. It was also fascinating to find out that a wood circle of the original stage from the old Opry, the still standing and in use Ryman Auditorium, had been cut out and inserted into the new stage.
circle in grand ole opry stage
Circle in Grand Ole Opry Stage

Adventure

Ticks! Crawling all over my body!
  During a day of hiking along one of the many surrounding mountain trails, I tried to cross a stream by jumping along the exposed rocks; Christina was wiser and walked around, but I thought it would be fun -silly me... I slipped on the flat, slick surface of a large boulder and fell in the icy water.  My best guess is that slip is what led to the ticks I later found ALL over me, while Christina remained infestation free.  It's hard to explain the feeling of little legs scurrying up your pants, under your shirt, and into your bra!
  Despite the threat of lyme disease, we continued to do other fun outdoor activities. Zip-line, anyone? It was both of our first times soaring through the air across cables. We donned helmets and harnesses and followed our guide along the (I want to say 9) lines that stretched between treetops, zigzagging throughout the canopy and over leaf covered valleys.
adventureworks zipline nashville
Christina at AdventureWorks Nashville
  We enjoyed more of the fresh mountain air while taking a horseback tour -another first for both of us. Neither she nor I had ridden one and found that they preferred to do things their way. Her horse liked to wander away from the crowd while mine took the occasional short cut through low hanging tree branches, but isn't that the fun? The new, unexpected experiences?
nashville horseback riding
Our horses for the afternoon.

Museum

  The Tennessee State Museum is definitely worth a visit. When I read online that the admission was free, I expected a tiny, one room building. NOPE! We walked through what seemed like an endless maze of rooms and exhibits on different levels; including one particularly interested display at the time complete with a mummy...
tennessee state museum 2011
Mummy at the Tennessee State Museum - 2011
  We also visited the Nashville Zoo, but to be honest, I don't remember much from that day.  Christina has recently moved to New York (she was in Seattle before that, but that's another post to come), and I know it won't be too long before I visit her there!

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