Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Tennessee travelogue

On the morning of December 4 we dropped Poppy off at her sister's house and headed to the airport bound for Nashville, TN. It's a fun time of year to travel – this huge tree with the walk-through base was in the DFW airport:

Rick had reserved a hotel within walking distance of the convention center, foregoing a rental car because of the cost of parking at the hotel and downtown. So we took an Uber from the airport . . . to the wrong hotel (discovered after the driver left, of course). We had to walk eight blocks through wild 'party central' in downtown Nashville with our luggage at night to get to the correct one – which was very nice, BTW, and a welcome sight for weary travelers.

of COURSE I took spinning along

This is the first time in years that Brian and I have gone with Rick to his annual 'horse vet convention.' Last year, of course, was held online; the four years before that we didn't want Brian to miss high school classes so Rick went alone. Brian remembers going during his grade school years (which we homeschooled), walking through the trade show collecting free pens and candy; we enjoying going again.

a cute little trade show attraction

Taking Brian on this trip was our birthday gift to him. On his actual birthday, we all went to the Country Music Hall of Fame,

handsome lad of 20

followed by dinner at the restaurant of his choosing, Cracker Barrel. There aren't a lot of options for vegetarians there, but I was perfectly happy with the "four sides" menu selection, and got two of broccoli and two of fried okra.

The next day Brian didn't want to do much, so I spun and watched Christmas movies, then went in search of the Goo Goo Chocolate Co. store which my cousin told me I had to do. I picked up a small box of her favorite variety and some for us to try, then walked around downtown in the waning light. City life. It can be a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.

That night we went to a convention event for which Rick had been given tickets by a vendor at the trade show. "Storytelling Nashville Style" was a fundraiser for The Foundation for the Horse, held in a posh hotel downtown. The only photos I took were of some of the expensive light fixtures (ha), but the program featuring veterinarians telling funny stories and three uber-talented Nashville singer/songwriters (Rory Feek, Wynn Varble, and Brice Long) telling stories and singing some of their hits was wonderful.

Rick was done with his meetings at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, so we went in search of a place to eat lunch together. Someone at the hotel had highly recommended Pinewood Social, so we walked several blocks to where it sits on the bank of the Cumberland River. Why didn't we find this place earlier??? There were several tempting vegetarian options; Rick and I both had the Roasted Sweet Potato with Lime Yogurt, Brussels Sprouts, Radishes, Arugula, and Pumpkin Seeds. I remembered to take a photo mid-inhalation; it was fabulous. Brian said the gourmet burger he got was the best one he's ever had.

Rick had contacted an old friend of ours who lives outside of Nashville now; he was off work on Wednesday so drove in to meet us. I think Greg was planning on driving us to his home to meet his wife, but when Brian mentioned something he really wanted to see, Greg said he'd be glad to drive us there if it wasn't too far. It took a bit of searching to pin down its location, then off we went.

While I had no desire to make a pilgrimage to a place important to country rapper (seriously???) Ryan Upchurch, it was nice to leave the big city and have a chance to see the Tennessee countryside, all rolling hills and deciduous woods.

Our destination was the 'concrete bridge,' and visiting it and getting photos there was the highlight of the trip for Brian. His hoodie is Upchurch merch. 🙄 😖

our gracious friend

By the time we were done with Brian's pilgrimage, there wasn't enough time to go to Greg's house, so we headed back to Nashville. We had tickets for the Grand Ole Opry that night but had time to kill, so we all walked through the neighboring Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. What a destination! Christmas decorations everywhere, a tubing hill, nine acres of indoor garden atriums, even a gondola plying a canal and blooming orchids. As we were leaving we even caught the end of an ice-skating performance!

I recognized this behomoth as one of my houseplants!

That feast for the senses would have been highlight enough to end our day, but the big event was yet to come. We walked a short distance to that bastion of country music, the Grand Ole Opry, for a country Christmas special:

The acts varied in style, instrumentation, and renown, but all were good. We thought the highlight would be Josh Turner and he didn't disappoint. In fact he had his whole fam-damily up there with him; that's his wife on the piano (she also sang with him), his oldest son with a guitar and his three youngest sons clustered around a mic! But the thrill of the night, not just for me but clearly for the whole audience based on the reaction, were the surprise guests of Jake Hoot (2017 winner of The Voice) – The Tenors!!! I caught the final minutes of their collaboration on video, and have listened to it numerous times:

The next morning we got up early and flew back to Oregon, back to our familiar environs and responsibilities, with Christmas rapidly approaching – too rapidly to feel prepared. On the way, an earworm sprang to mind and has stayed there, even though I hadn't heard this song in years, decades, maybe. So I looked it up, to follow in the footsteps of blogpal A, who includes a music video at the end of each post. Here you go:

That's it for my Tennessee travelogue from . . .


Mama Pea said...

Wow, wow and wow! What a trip. And you're right, it was a fantastic time to be there. I might be missing something but I don't understand the "concrete bridge" and surrounding area that Brian was so taken with. (Of course, I know I'm totally out of it as far as what the younger generation is interested in.) What with everything there was to see and experience, your senses must have been on overload! Is this vet convention in the same place every year?

Michelle said...

Mama Pea, apparently that bridge and creek have featured in Upchurch's lyrics and album art, because he grew up around there and some of the graffiti is his. And no, the vet convention moves around; next year it is in San Antonio, which is also a great place to visit.

thecrazysheeplady said...

What a great trip! :-D

Leigh said...

Looks like it was a fantastically fun trip! What a great time of year to go.

Jeanne said...

I agree with Mama Pea and all the WOWS! What a fantastic trip! Have you been to Nashville before? It was all very interesting to see even from this distance!
I'm glad you explained about the concrete bridge.

It's so nice that Poppy could stay with her sister! We used to leave our dog with my parents. She's could always sense when we were returning so mom always knew...

Thanks for sharing all this.

Wanda said...

What an epic trip!!!

A :-) said...

What a trip! Isn't going to the Opry wonderful? I loved it when I went and I'm not even a huge country music fan! I'm sorry to see the confederate flag on Brian's hoodie . . . Anyway - I'm glad you had a wonderful family trip and that you were brave enough to go! And yay you for adding some music to your post!! Love it!! :-)

Michelle said...

I thought of you, Sara, being so much closer to Kentucky than we usually are. Miss you!

Leigh, the weather was certainly nice and there were definitely some fun times.

No, Jeanne, this was my (and Brian's) first time in Nashville; Rick has been there before. And yes, Poppy getting to stay with her sister was a HUGE blessing.

Lots of memories made, Wanda!

Believe me, A, I hate that hoodie and all it stands for, though Brian argues that it doesn't necessarily stand for slavery and hate and an enemy of the United States of America. We've told him he is choosing to lie to himself instead looking at the past – AND the present, and have cited numerous examples, such as the U.S. military effectively banning its display. But point taken; I don't need to give him another platform from which to flaunt his junk. I will be removing some photos.

A :-) said...

Michelle, thank you for removing the photos.