Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Vibrant City - Nashville, Tennessee

November 29 - December 1, 2016
Nashville, Tennessee

I was stressed for weeks before my California trip, some of that time is a bit of a blur. Going through some photos, I realize the last blog post missed a whole state and stop. Granted it was just an overnight stay, but the area of West Virginia we traveled through was very pretty.

Our one night was in Milton, West Viriginia, and we stayed at another KOA that we liked. The Huntington-Fox Fire KOA is a nice park not far from the highway with very friendly staff, and clean, level sites. 

I didn't take a single photo.

From there we moved on to Kentucky, covered in the last post :-)

Now that things are back to normal, hopefully I can avoid forgetting any other stops! 

Our back-in site at Two Rivers RV Park is level with trees on either side. FHUs with 30 amp, and our satellite connects. Decent separation with grass and picnic table. Over the course of our stay the water pressure and electric service are less than perfect.

Tuesday we take advantage of sunny skies and head to downtown. We check out Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans. It is different from the other stadiums we've visited with openings at both ends. As a result we can see inside from the sidewalk. Not Titans fans, but it's a great venue.

We take our first drive through downtown where there is major construction on almost every block. This is a town that is growing in a very big way. Looking for the capitol we find Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, and stop for a nice walk. This is a very special place, combining lovely grounds with the history of Tennessee shared along a marble wall. Veteran memorials and large bell towers complete the urban park.

The combination of old and new really works in this city.

A wonderful medium for outlining the state's history

A lot of music history included

Defining moments in the state and the nation

A lovely mall marred by that weird Sheraton spaceship thingy

Half of the circle of bell towers that ring on the hour.

Vegetarian art
We're ready for a bite to eat and some live music. There is no lack of places that provide both downtown, but we head back to the Music Valley area near home, and find the Nashville Palace. Mediocre food, but the music is very good. I'm in heaven with all the classic country songs. Bill is tolerant.

The glare from outside is bad, but I want to remember this talented trio
Our first night Bill noticed bright Christmas lights behind our park and looks up the Dancing Lights Show. Set up in the neighboring Jellystone RV Park, we pay to drive through dozens of light displays, synchronized to the radio in our Jeep. It is very well done, and moving at a snail's pace we enjoy at least ten songs with a wide variety of colors and characters. Definitely gets you in the Christmas spirit! Photos are challenging with the constantly moving lights.....but you get the idea.

There is so much to see and do here, and our priority is visiting the Johnny Cash Museum. Not because we are big Cash fans, but because a fellow Eagle Mountain High School alumni is the founder. Bill Miller graduated four years after Bill so we don't know him well, but we are excited for his success in this wonderful city. We meet him at the museum and learn he and his family were long time friends of Johnny and June, and were with him a week before his passing. They opened the museum while still living in Southern California and moved here when the enterprise took off. Their Patsy Cline Museum is under construction, and their son opened Nudie's Honky Tonk last week. Wow! We are so happy for him!!

Bill has to get to a meeting before I get a photo, next time for sure :-) We take our time enjoying this very professional and personal tribute to a good friend and hall-of-fame musician. It is shoulder-to-shoulder packed by the time we leave.

Personal items including these cups from the Folsom Prison warden in 1968

Childhood and family photos

An amazing career

Johnny's hand written Folsom Prison Blues and two of several Grammy Awards

Sit down for a bit and enjoy a montage of movies and TV shows featuring Johnny Cash

Several personal pieces with these long-time friends and musical collaborators
A musical icon who made his home in Nashville. Come see his museum and learn about his incredible life.
We haven't had a working DVD player for over a year, so Wednesday we pick up an early Christmas present from Best Buy. Bill has it all hooked up quickly, and we're ready for some newer movies! 

At Pam's recommendation (she hasn't steered us wrong yet) we have lunch at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge by the Ryman Theatre downtown.

Live music and bars on two floors, the place is pretty busy on this weekday so we sit upstairs. It's too cold for me to sit on the large roof-top patio, but it's view of downtown is sweet. 

 Still home to the Grand Ol' Opry from November through March.

I didn't realize that "near the Ryman" meant within a couple feet!
Plywood walls and ceiling are un-expected.

No conversations while the music is playing with those speakers :-)

Every wall is covered with layers of writing, including all the way to the ceiling.  ??
We enjoy a light meal and more country music and head for home. Even with just a light breeze, the cold is enough to make me want to stay indoors :-(

Jim and Diana have left Amazon early and get in touch to say they're coming to Nashville for the weekend. This is great news, can't wait to spend some more time with these two new friends!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quick Kentucky Catchup

November 11-28, 2016
Staunton, VA - Harrodsburg, KY - Campbellsville, KY

Finding a fast turnaround on a keyboard replacement turns out to be "difficult", and not inexpensive. When other things start going wrong, we decide there is a better alternative.

Meet the alternative :-)
We stop for two nights at the KOA in Staunton, Virginia. Our first KOA and we were very happy. Unlike others I've checked, this one is reasonably priced.

Our pretty site on the pond.
Staunton has a cute little downtown.
Let's go see stuff!
Pretty country roads along the river
We met Cindy and Walter in Arizona earlier this year, friends of our pals Sue and Dave, and they graciously invited us to stay at their new place near Harrodsburg. The drive is lovely, although Randy (our GPS) routes us through the very tight, very winding, river gorge, adding lots of excitement at the end of the trip!

Cindy checks in with us when she arrives home, and then the next morning we are on our way to the airport before sunrise.

Tests and an appointment with my doctor set my mind at ease, making the trip worthwhile. And I have a wonderful time getting caught up with family over the three days I'm in Valencia. As excited as I am to see the boys, and to spend time with each one of them, I fail to take any pics :-(  

My last evening there is spent with Ezra and his folks, making it really hard to say goodbye this time. Playing with him in the creative playground at the mall is the best medicine! He is such a special little boy, so full of love and good spirit, I know it's just going to get harder from now on.

With the time difference I land back in Louisville early enough for us to meet Cindy and Walter for dinner at The Kentucky Fudge Company in Harrodsburg - it's great to finally spend some time with them after moochdocking on their property for several days!

Sweet spot.
One day we drive to Lexington to see the Kentucky Horse Park - their RV park looks like a great place to stay!

Kentucky Horse Park on a cold afternoon 
Still some color in Lexington 
Lots of wonderful architecture 
Contemporary murals 
As a horse lover I am disappointed at the lack of horses we see the whole time we're in Kentucky. It seems the cattle industry has taken over the white fenced pastures with few exceptions. I'm sure we missed the big horse farms that remain, but I had imagined horses on every hill :-)

One evening we have a lovely dinner with Cindy and Walter at nearby Shaker Village. Definitely one of the best meals we've had since coming east. All fresh, grown on site, everything is exceptional.

Sunday is our last day, and while leaving Bill behind to watch the night game, I join our hosts for a wonderful pot luck meal at the home of one of their friends. So fun to share a meal in a warm home with inspiring conversation.

I manage to spend our entire time here without getting a single pic of our hosts. Of course I did get some of the sweet little horses. Teeny tiny Supreme is at the vet's so I miss a pic of her. I am just so bad at the whole people thing!

Tristan and Hoopla 
Our short 55 mile drive to Campbellsville on Monday takes us to Cedars RV Park, a few miles outside of town.

Good size sites with grass and gravel, FHUs with 50 amp. No office, no hosts on site, everything works, and we have a wonderful old barn out our front window. While there are several units here, we only see one other person the whole time. Very quiet, very clean, only $25/night.

Like our last stop, we're here for people, not place. One of Amazon's distribution centers opened here a few years ago, and some of our friends are working the holiday Camperforce program. 

We haven't seen Linda and Steven since January in Quartzsite, and we have yet to meet Jim and Diana although I've followed their blog for a long time. We're all friends on Facebook as well, so it will be fun to get caught up in person.

Tuesday morning we pick up Linda and Steven for a day of sight seeing. It's great to see them!

First stop is the Abraham Lincoln's Birth Place National Historic Park at the site of the Sinking Spring Farm. Although the original cabin did not survive long enough for restoration, the monument, completed in 1911, includes a symbolic cabin, the same size and age as that which housed the Lincolns when Abraham was born on February 12, 1809. It is a beautiful neo-classic monument, feeling very much like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

The small museum includes an interpretation of the cabin's interior.
The Lincolns - Nancy holding Abraham, with Thomas and Sarah 
The weather is perfect, and we all enjoy being outdoors under the blue skies.

56 steps, one for each year of age at his death.

With all the trees in the area it's odd there is more chink than wood.
Sinking Spring still here.
Next we make our way to the Maker's Mark Distillery. This is an exceptional tour on beautiful grounds. Our enthusiastic guide shares information on the distilling process, the history of the family and the location, the reason why the buildings are black, and how for $15k/barrel we can order our own custom blend of bourbon. Tempting.

The grounds are dressed for the holidays 
Explaining the process of making bourbon
We visit the fermenting vats
We're invited to taste it - not bad, sweet. 
Original Makers Mark and Makers Mark 46 with charred wood slats for flavor.
In the short time we're in this area, they fill, cap, label, dip and box dozens of bottles. So much bourbon!

The art of the "dip"
The original is my favorite.
The Chihuly glass ceiling is incredible. The bourbon truffle samples under it are the very best part of the tour :-)
Linda masters the dip!
The trademark bottles on every red shutter.
The buildings are painted black because the fermenting process creates fungus that grows on the walls - light colored walls are much harder to maintain. And now you know.
There is a lot that goes into all of this, and for wonderful details on the tour check out Jim's post from their visit a couple weeks ago. After reading it, I knew we had to see it ourselves - you'll want to too!

Tuesday turns out to be the only sunny day of our visit. Cold and cloudy rounds out the rest of the week. Other than our holiday get together, we spend our days driving in the country, enjoying both the pretty countryside and the Jeep's excellent heater :-)

Green River Lake. Kinda sad the lake couldn't have it's own name :-(
A sign was easier than ending the road before the water??
The sun slowly breaks through
Does this shoe make my leaf look fat?
This isn't a real beach!
Winter roads

Jim and Diana only have one day off and we're glad we can all share Thanksgiving together. A tasty meal at the Cedar Creek Restaurant followed by dessert and Linda's yummy Irish Coffee at our place make for a wonderful holiday on the road. We are so fortunate in the people we've met in our travels, and that we're able to call many of them friends. We're looking forward to catching up with Jim and Diana again this summer. Linda and Steven will be on the other side of the country for awhile, so it's especially great that we had this time together again!

Love these fellow travelers!
Tessa makes everybody smile :-)
Bill, Steven, Linda, Jim, Diana, Jodee

Kentucky has the narrowest roads of any we've traveled. They are on flat land so I'm unclear why they can't put a shoulder on more of them. For that reason we add 40 miles to our route south. With the big storm expected to hit Nashville mid-day, we head out at 8:30 on Monday morning. Highway 55 to Cumberland Parkway to Interstate 65 is a great drive. We get some pretty strong winds and a bit of rain, but arrive safely around 10 am (with the time change along the way). Fortunately our space is available and we get settled in before the clouds let go.

Looking forward to a fun time in the city of Nashville, Tennessee!