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Rolling South for Winter

Updated on December 25, 2015

Are you still a snowbird if there's no snow?

Madison to Nashville; stopping in Columbus, IN where we were warmly welcomed and well fed by Jeani and her mom.
Madison to Nashville; stopping in Columbus, IN where we were warmly welcomed and well fed by Jeani and her mom.

We almost brought Nadia along!

We do love those biscotti.  Sure, get in!
We do love those biscotti. Sure, get in!

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

Jael and Dolly
Jael and Dolly
HowDEEEEE!!  Roy and Minnie at the Ryman, Original home of the Grand Ol' Opry.
HowDEEEEE!! Roy and Minnie at the Ryman, Original home of the Grand Ol' Opry.
The neon extravaganza of Broadway is fabulous to see.
The neon extravaganza of Broadway is fabulous to see.

Downtown Nashville

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

Which one's visiting from Casa Buonorotti and which one is Jim's?  If you said Jim's is the lighter one on the left, you are right.
Which one's visiting from Casa Buonorotti and which one is Jim's? If you said Jim's is the lighter one on the left, you are right.

Plenty Early for the Show

Early enough to look all around, get the Hatch Show Print poster for the show, and enjoy just being there with no idea the musical treat we were in for.
Early enough to look all around, get the Hatch Show Print poster for the show, and enjoy just being there with no idea the musical treat we were in for.

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.

Random Photos from the Nashville Visit

If you're of a mind to dance on the bar and donate your bra in the process,this is the place.
If you're of a mind to dance on the bar and donate your bra in the process,this is the place.
There's a lot of great print art all over town.
There's a lot of great print art all over town.
Hatch shop voyeurism
Hatch shop voyeurism
All your old pals from Hee Haw are right here at the Ryman!  Seems like just last Saturday night.
All your old pals from Hee Haw are right here at the Ryman! Seems like just last Saturday night.

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    • profile image

      Nance McKiernan 

      2 years ago

      WonderFULLL! Did that sound like Minnie Pearl??

      Loved reading this and once again, felt like I was there... and it's been a long, long while since we were there! The warmth, the smells, music and sights - you 'sense' it up just right! History and truth sprinkled in - an excellent read! love you and 'keep on truck'in' - just had to say that!

    • profile image

      Jeani 

      2 years ago

      Hey Girl! Love the narrative - I can actually "hear" you say the words...Safe travels, sister - things are fixing to get ugly outside. Thanks for starting your epic journey here with me and mom. BIG hug to Jim, love ya and hope to see you again on the swing back this way~

    • profile image

      Cilantro Sister 

      2 years ago

      What a wonderful, Christmas gift -- your travel log! No pressure but it is what I live for, lol. We can learn so much in a taxi. Love the pic of Jim getting his hands on THE Les Paul. Screw the rules of posting food pics; can't wait to see some of your road food. Green with envy, your Cilantro Sister. xo

    • profile image

      Nadia 

      2 years ago

      I love this. Beautifully written, great photos - we get to be there with you vicariously! Keep it up!

    • profile image

      Mom 

      2 years ago

      It sounds as though you guys are making the most of every minute. Good on ya! I wore a sundress and flip flops to Christmas dinner. Very nice day. I hope you are keeping a handwritten journal. It will be a treasure for years to come.

      My prayers are with you every mile of your journey.

      XOXOXO

    • profile image

      Barry Callen 

      2 years ago

      Loved your travel narrative. I LOVE Nashville. Thanks for the updates. Safe travels.

    • profile image

      Helen Schneider 

      2 years ago

      Well, this was definitely worth waiting for, Michelle. Thanks for the travelogue.

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