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Rolling South for Winter
Are you still a snowbird if there's no snow?
We almost brought Nadia along!
Oh my gosh, we're really doing this!
With Thanksgiving leftovers in the little freezer and plenty of treats from loved ones, we waved goodbye to our neighbors and set out for our first overnight of our first snowbird flight. Within 2 hours, the last rumblings of anxiety about this trip had magically disappeared; the rolling ease set in. Our lovely friend, Jeani, had recently moved to Indiana and her mama, Mari (whom we had not yet met) invited us to pull right up and plug in. After a generous home-cooked meal and a nice visit by the fire, we said our farewells and went out to The Calypso. The temperature dipped a bit below freezing but we were cozy and ready for an early departure for Nashville.
Walking with the Stars
We pulled out of Nashville on a drizzly Solstice morning after a dazzling introduction to a sparkly town. Our friend, Jael (formerly of Madison), came out to Two Rivers RV Park shortly after we settled in. She and I had planned to go to a belly dance class but, dang it, that was cancelled. So she took us directly to the famed downtown, pointing out highlights all the way and finding free parking, which is clearly no easy thing. There was no cheap parking and that won't likely change, as Jael explained, given the gentrification the area is experiencing.
After a walk on the bridge over the Cumberland River, we strolled along Broadway. Music - good live music - pours out onto the street from every bar. Barkers work the crowd. There's no cover to walk in to whichever honky tonk draws you in. We went into Tootsie's and listened to a country rock band for awhile before going upstairs where there was another band. We slipped out the back and around the corner, past the Ryman Auditorium and another few blocks for coffee at The Frothy Monkey. On the way up 5th Street, we passed an historical marker (pictured) describing how Nashville was the first major city to begin desegregation.
Civil Rights Historical Markers
Day 2, Nashville, USA
After another delicious breakfast that included KP's granola and pink grapefruit from the Miller-Grande's, we shuttled from the RV Park into town again. You can walk around downtown Nashville all day and never run out of fun and interesting things to do and see. Don't wear your new cowboy boots, you don't want your feet to wear out before you do. We walked up to The Frist (http://fristcenter.org/), where we wanted to see the Michelangelo drawings on exhibit. They were lovely, indeed, but left us wanting more. The real show stopper for me was the collection of Islamic art from the Boston Fine Arts Museum. This was an exquisite collection that I would see again, given the opportunity. So, it you don't make it to the Frist before January 10, keep this in mind for a future trip to Boston. I certainly will.
Jim's Michelangelo Moment
Plenty Early for the Show
Tonight at the Ryman
After a very satisfying museum visit, we had a lovely lunch at Merchants. (http://www.merchantsrestaurant.com/). The plan was to take the shuttle driver's tip and eat at the Swinging Door, just behind The Merchant but we walked in by mistake and liked it so we stayed. Nice menu (Southern Bistro?), a little pricey but worth it and our waiter was friendly and fun (always a plus). After lunch, we poked around in shops, museums, and in and out of bars (remember, there's still all the music everywhere). The Johnny Cash and George Jones museums were especially appealing to me but not so much that I wanted to pay the price. The gift shops were fun and that was enough. A true fan will absolutely want to buy the ticket and take the whole ride. Ready again for a break, we stopped for coffee before heading to the famed Ryman Auditorium to see The Arcs (Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys with a different band). The Ryman is worth a visit even without a show. It's beautiful and there's a lot of history there. As it happens, though, this was an outrageously good show. The opening band, Mariachi Flor de Toloache, was great. These 4 women had it all going on. They left us screaming for more and we got it when 3 of them came out again, playing with the headliner.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Back to the RV Park
It was inevitable that we would run up against some "just between us white folks" talk. The driver who took us out around noon worked an extra hour to come pick us up from the Ryman. He was round and animated and had a well-rehearsed schtick that lasted the entire 11 miles into town. On the way home, he was tired and complaining about how slow business had been that day, making it drag. We knew it was coming before he even got all the way there. It started with politics and took the turn in a predictable, if circuitous, fashion. The lead-in of "Don't get me wrong, I served with 'em in Viet Nam and we had each others' backs...",without specifying who "they" were - assuming we were with him - gave us a chance to brace for it. And there it was, the rant on what's wrong with people "...of a certain color." We calmly countered, in what was a surprisingly civil conversation, with our own thoughts on the matter and he made another sideways run at it. Jim said, "I'll have to disagree with you there..." and stated his anti-racist position. We said our goodnights and tipped him appropriately for not leaving us stranded. One got the feeling this was a game the driver enjoyed playing. This conversation is ongoing and will be picked up again in my post from Memphis, where we visited the astounding National Civil Rights Museum.