You don't see 12 foot guitars every day. So when you do, you should take a picture!
The last and only time I was in Tennessee, I was four years old. My parents, my uncle (who was then 12) and I were doing a road trip from Wisconsin to Florida, and we left the day before my birthday. My parents had explained to me that we were going to celebrate my birthday "on the road." I interpreted this to mean that we would literally be having my birthday party on the road. I envisioned a birthday cake and presents in the middle of the highway. I was kind of disappointed when they told me to open my present in a moving vehicle, and I told them so. Of course they just laughed about how cute I was. The fun continued at my expense on that trip though. I managed to pick up a southern accent in the single day I spent in Georgia, and it didn't go away for over a month.
Trinity is a star.
To this day no one, including me, really knows if I was doing it unconsciously or if I just liked the way it sounded.
I want to start off by saying that I am definitely going to go to Nashville
again. Next time, though, I am going to visit more real parts of the city. Having said that, this day trip was undoubtedly the most hilarious adventure we had in summer '09. It really is a shame that this was the day that Twitter was hacked, because I texted so many funny things that day to my Twitter account. But, it's okay. I think I can almost completely sum it up in the one thing that actually posted to Twitter: Nashville is exactly like every cliche I had ever imagined about it.
We started giggling almost immediately when we got off the plane and we heard "Hi, this is George Straight. Welcome to the Nashville Airport" or something to that effect. There are all kinds of airport announcements from country music stars informing everyone about security procedures and thanking us for choosing to fly out of BNA. (Did I have another choice?) Actually, as airports go, this one is very nice. On our return we ate dinner at O'Charley's there and it was great, and we shopped and bought some collectible M&M's for my dad's collection in a toy store there.
We waited an entire HOUR for the city bus. It was similar to Milwaukee's transit system in that it was slow and ineffective outside of the downtown area. It is also very poorly explained. There are "bus stops" all over the city, but none of the signs there have numbers or colors, or anything that would give you any type of information about the bus or where it was going or coming from.
I can't believe Elvis slapped Trinity. I'm never washing her cheek again!
The express bus I took said it had only two stops (the airport and Music City Central), but it stopped randomly all over the city. There is too much assumption on their part. A friend went to Nashville a few weeks after me and ended up missing her flight because of the bus. But we got downtown safely, and at 1/30 the cost of a taxi, so when I go back, I'll be taking the bus again!
Now, to my story about the cliches. We really had no plan, other than just walking around and taking in the city. We walked a bit, and our first stop was the visitor's center. Inside, we saw the Travelocity gnome, and three people who had no teeth. They were staring at Trinity and I the way three year olds stare at us right before they ask me how it's possible that I am Trinity's mom if we have two different skin colors.
Nashville, home of Big Guitars and Tiny Pianos
They stared so long it became really weird and ridiculous. But whatever! We took some pictures inside and then headed back out. Downtown Nashville is a lot like Vegas, except instead of casinos and photo ops with multi-million dollar free attractions in front of hotels, you have about a thousand stores that sell boots and hats, and plastic statues of Elvis lining the street. Well, Trinity and I needed nothing more than that. We started in the first store, and I took pictures of Trinity with every different hat and sign and Elvis statue we could find. She does an almost perfect job of inventing a personality for every prop she poses with, plus she's cuter than me and I'm the one with the camera. We spent probably about four hours doing this. In every store we went in, Trinity would hang out around the the check out counter, because she knew that if anyone bought anything, the person working there would say "Y'all have a good night now" and we were giddy as the four year old southern-accent-loving me at the beginning of this blog.
If it says so on an oversized guitar pick, it's the truth.
We started going into stores and just waiting there just to see if they would say it, and they said it. They said it every single time
! Trinity was begging me to buy things in each store, because she wanted them to say "Where y'all from?" to her. We did get a couple things, but mostly we just "shopped." For snow globes and key chains, magnets, t-shirts and guitars, and of course hats, hats and more hats! When we were hungry, we attempted the Hard Rock Cafe, but it smelled so horrible, we actually had to leave. Trinity summed it up pretty well, she said it smelled like rotting wet wood. It was gross enough that not only did we not want to eat there, we didn't even stick around to look at the displays...and I'm sure there was some seriously fun photo ops inside.
the confused hillbilly look
We were too hungry to try and figure out where or what else to eat, and we were counting on the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. That was how we ended up eating lunch at Sbarro.
We ate our pizza and got out our tourist map and plotted what to do next. We had already seen every plastic Elvis statue there was. Have I mentioned that I was wearing the world's most uncomfortable sandals? I thought it would make sense to wear sandals rather than sneakers because of the heat, even though I knew I'd be walking a lot. Turn out it's better to have hot or sweating feet than it is to have hurting feet. The sandals hurt my feet so bad, in fact, that when I got home, I threw them in the trash
. Now, I have no sandals. I'll have to find some by next summer.
The fun with tourist shop novelty items never ends!
While we probably could have happily continued on for another four hours trying on hats, the fact was it was way too hot outside. We had to go somewhere with air conditioning, and that someplace was the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I should say here I am not really a country music fan. I grew up with it playing in the house, and while I do have lots of 80's Oakridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Brenda Lee songs in my memory banks (and my iTunes for that matter), I really don't know much that has been recorded since about 1986. I definitely have an appreciation for it's history, but the closest I come to liking (or knowing) it in the present times are when people consider James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett country singers (which I don't). I do really like Brenda Lee for whatever reason, probably because of my mom.
Gold and Platinum albums in the Country Music Hall of Fame
And so, it was much to my dismay that about two minutes after I paid the $32 price of admission for one adult and one child, I realized that irony had once again won our never-ending battle: the Brenda Lee Dynamite exhibit which was advertised all over the place would be opening the NEXT DAY. Instead, we amused ourselves by taking photos without using a flash of Elvis's golden piano, the costumes from Hee Haw, and the squirrels that Hank Williams himself shot and stuffed. There was a Brenda Lee movie playing in the theater, and so we watched that ...twice. I enjoyed the movie, but more than anything I enjoyed taking my backpack off and sitting down for 20 minutes. .
The actual Hall of Fame, where they have plaques for each member, is a room in the shape of a circle, with the words "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" written around it.
The Country Music Hall of Fame
In the center, coming down from the huge domed ceiling, is a roughly 30 foot long diamond shaped needle. Again, I don't know anything about country music. But, as a one time pre-film student (I ended up majoring in English instead), I do know a lot about movies...and this was a little too much like The Omen
for me. Remember the scene where the photograph of the priest appears having a spike hovering over his head, and the subsequent one where he is impaled in the graveyard? Standing under and staring up at this needle in the center of the Country Music Hall of Fame, I got the feeling I was living Father Brennan's last moment. But I guess the architect(s) did not see that movie.
After that, despite the heat and the sun, we walked up to the top of the Shelby Street Bridge, then back down to look at the Museums Walk of Stars (or maybe it was the other way around).
Yeah, this is not creepy at all. Except that I saw it in THE OMEN.
I seriously had not even heard of the majority of the people on the Walk of Stars. I was very familiar with one name though...Jimi Hendrix. Yes, Jimi Hendrix, a name synonomous with country music (?). After that, it was back to the airport for us, so we walked back to Music City Central, a name which sounds more like a tourist destination than a bus station. But at least it's not named Union Station, like 90% of the other bus/train stations in America. Another thing about Nashville, the sidewalks sing. There are speakers on the street corners which are playing country music. On the way back we heard the only
country song I always leave on my iPod no matter the season or mood (I change my playlists for each): "Rocky Top
Country music loves America, and likewise.
Great song that is!
I admit, we did do a lot of mocking of Nashville's cliches on this particular trip. A lot of my friends were upset with the photos I took because they felt I was making a joke of Nashville. But truthfully, I never intended it that way...we were just having fun. I can't help it that cliches were all I saw! Next time I go to Tennessee, I want to do something involving the outdoors. I've seen plenty of hats to last for awhile... although the hats are great, I'm not going to lie.