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I am going to combine these two days together as not much happened on Day 36. Saturday really consisted of two things. We drove about 5 hours and went to the movies. The day started out quite normal. We woke up in the morning, checked out of the hotel and got on the road towards Nashville. The drive should have only taken us about 3 1/2 hours, but since it was Memorial Day weekend and the freeway was under heavy construction it took us about five.
Psst.. Come here…. I have a secret to tell you. We are big Disney fans around here. Oh? You already knew that! So I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise to you that we wanted to go see Pirates of the Caribbean. When we arrived in Nashville, I found the nearest theater to our hotel with my handy mapping software, we plugged it into the GPS and in seconds, we were on our way. Oh technology how we love you! The movie lasted almost three hours and was chalked full of action. My favorite thing about all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies is that they are a lot of fun to watch! It was 7pm when the movie let out, so we got a quick bite to eat before packing it in for the night.
On Sunday morning, we woke up enthusiastic to tackle Nashville. After a little research online, I managed to find a couple of places that were of interest to us. Perhaps the biggest tourist destination in Nashville is the Country Music Hall of Fame. After some consideration, we decided against going to this “mecca” because we just aren’t big country music fans. Some of the reviews said that a non-fan wouldn’t get much from it and at $14 a head it just didn’t make sense.
The other major destination for any tourist in Nashville is the Parthenon. (According to the web.) This building is an exact replica of the actual Parthenon in Athens, Greece. As part of my research to learn more about the building itself, I viewed the Parthenon’s website. It seemed like an interesting place to go and the site said it was open on Sunday from 12:30pm – 4:30pm. We arrived at the Parthenon at 1pm only to discover that it is only open on Sundays from June until August. Since this was the last weekend in May it was closed and we were out of luck! The Parthenon building houses a very large art gallery along with a three story statue of the Greek goddess Athena. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get inside, but the outside of the building is impressive enough. The building itself was originally built in 1897 for an exposition. It was only built with temporary materials and was scheduled to be torn down shortly after the fair was over. When the fair was completed the city left the building standing but after many years it was collapsing. In 1921 the effort began to rebuild it with permanent materials. It finally reopened in 1931 more or less the way it is today. We stayed for an hour and let Shawn Reece play in the playground next door. Then we decided to drive around and explore the city a little more.
On a trip like this, everything is a little hit or miss. Today, it seems, was more misses than hits. After leaving the Parthenon, we drove around for a while, exploring the cities different neighborhoods. This type of exploring isn’t very hard around here since this part of the country is incredibly beautiful. We then followed a few signs from the highway and stumbled upon The Hermitage which was president Andrew Jackson’s (you know the guy on the $20 bill) estate. The whole estate is now a large historical site and museum. Unfortunately, we arrived about 45 minutes before it closed and once again the cost for the time we would’ve had there was prohibitive. I left wishing that we had arrived a little earlier, but on a day when we missed everything by a little bit, it was no surprise.
After leaving the Hermitage we headed over to the Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry House. The Opryland Hotel is the largest non casino hotel in the world. They also recently began an expansion of their convention center which will make the Opryland Hotel the largest convention hotel in the world outside of Las Vegas. The over 2000 rooms surround four separate indoor garden areas that each have their own unique features. The newest section, called the Delta, has an indoor river with a boat ride. For a small fee the boat does a “grand circle tour” of the Delta. The entire hotel is very unique and stunningly beautiful. The words “indoor gardens” don’t begin to describe what they have there. I loved the hotel so much, that I definitely want to stay there when I return to Nashville in the future!
The Grand Ole Opry House Theater is right next door to the hotel. The beautiful theater building is made of brick and sits in a compound amongst several other support structures, including a museum. The Grand Old Opry is a radio show that has been going on in Nashville for a few years (82 or so). It is known as the oldest continuously running radio show in the United States, having made it’s debut on November 28, 1925. They have shows a few times a week featuring many of country music’s biggest stars performing live at the theater. From what I understand it is quite a worthwhile experience. The shows are not done on Sundays so we couldn’t get inside the theater, but we tried to visit the museum next door. Take a guess, yes that is right, we got there about 15 minutes after the museum closed. Another miss! Next to the Grand Ole Opry is a large shopping mall which was built after the Opryland theme park was torn down in 1997. The whole area around the Grand Old Opry is quite impressive. I wish that we were able to visit the museum, but I guess we weren’t meant to see it today. We will have to take it in when we come back to stay at the hotel!
After leaving Opryland we ate at a BBQ joint near our hotel called Bar-B-Cutie! The food was excellent. I think I have eaten more great BBQ on this trip than in my whole life previously. Tomorrow we are going down to Pigeon Forge, TN which is on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains. On Tuesday we are going into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to camp. After that, on to the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina!
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The Coomer Family
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