Friday, 6/10/11 - WOW what a day this turned out to be. We left the house at 10 am this morning and didn't return until almost 11 pm and for us........that's a full day.
We saw the Country Music Hall of Fame when we were here in 2005 but this year they have an exhibit on Tammy Wynette which closes 6/13/11 and The Williams family, Hank and Hank, Jr. closing 12/31/11. Now they happen to be two of my most favorite country artists so by all means the "event planner" put them on the schedule.
Our trusty girlfriend, GPS, took us right to place but of course she DID NOT know FanFest/CMA was going on all over Nashville and getting near anything is not easy. We did manage to find a $5 parking lot about 6 blocks away (only because it was early morning) all down hill walking there but up hill tired & hot coming back.
We went in http://www.countrymusichalloffame.org/ and headed straight for the third floor where Tammy's exhibit was displayed. They did a terrific job, lots of TV interviews and her music playing. Jewelry and gowns displayed along with awards and pictures and memorabilia of her life. The remaining third floor was the early days of country music and rockabilly, something both Will and I enjoyed.
We proceeded to the second floor which was all Hank Williams and Hank, Jr. Now Hank Sr is really my all time favorite "old country" singer. I love and listen to his music all the time. The displays of memorabilia, his life, in every segment written down all the way to his incredibly untimely and sad death at age 29. Wonderful, sad and interesting stories we learned about him. One thing we found out he had a daughter born out of wedlock, Jett Williams, who when she was born was adopted by Hank's mother, who sadly died 2 years latter (Hank died 5 days before the daughter was born) and she was then adopted out by another family. She never knew Hank Sr was her father until she did research years latter. They were both wonderful exhibits and we were so glad we went.
Gosh, we didn't realize how long we had been there but now it's after lunch (we didn't eat) and now have to get out of the downtown area and get over to the Grand Old Opry http://www.opry.com/ for our 3:30 pm backstage tour. Of course girlfriend, GPS doesn't know half the streets are blocked off because of FanFest so we play hell getting out of downtown. But eventually, girlfriend gets us there but another mess..........It seems like a couple of years ago they had a terrific rainstorm and the Opry was flooded and all the businesses at the Opry Mills (a mall) were closed down.
The Opry has been completed restored and back in full use however the mall is completely shut down with lots of construction going on all around there. It was incredible hard to find how to get to the Opry and we wanted to park only once so we could take off right after the show for home. (We both hate nighttime driving) After one expensive parking lot mistake, $18 and we were not NEAR the Opry we finally found a great FREE spot in the vacant mall.
It is now 3 pm and our tour is at 3:30 pm but we picked up our tickets for tour and show and now were set. We managed to find Will a turkey sandwich & me a yogurt cup but at least we were there. While waiting we meet a very nice couple, Joan & Mark from N. Carolina (oh, please, I hope all those names are right) and they were on our tour & also had tickets for the show but better seats than us on the mezzanine. The back stage tour at the Opry was terrific, we got to see everything, the entry the stars come in, dressing rooms, the green room - where the stars wait to go on stage before a performance. All in all it was worth seeing and of course they took our pictures at the beginning.....do you think I bought them, of course! My camera was clicking and clicking all day, I'm actually at the end of my second picture card and had to purchase #3. Amazing for pictures no one but me will see, but I love it!
They announced at the end of the tour that this evening they were having a special dinner event backstage at the Opry with three Nashville song writers that would be performing at the dinner. Well, because we had practically NO lunch & didn't know what we would do for dinner (I of course could eat kettlecorn, but not Will.) and we were both tired it seems like a perfect plan to sit down and rest, be cool and have a nice dinner while being entertained.....sign me up, hang the cost!!! Well we and so did our new friends, Joan & Mark and it was terrific. I thought the food was GREAT, but I was starved and the entertain was wonderful. One of the writers was Mel Tillis' son, Sonny and there were 2 other gentlemen there. Of course, I don't know their names but each song they wrote and sang - we recognized. It was a really fun time, I took Wills picture with Sonny Tillis and we accomplished everything we hoped, we got to sit down, rest, be cool, have dinner and be entertained. Afterwards they escorted us to our seats. What a deal.
The Opry show was really terrific and had lots of old time country entertainers, this evening, which Will enjoyed. The list of entertainers were: Little Jimmie Dickens (how many know HIM?) Connie Smith, a GREAT new young singer, Bradley Gaskin - even Will loved his voice, check him out on Facebook or U Tube. Next segment, John Conlee (a favorite of mine) and the winner & runner up of American Idol -Scotty McCreery (winner) & Lauren Alaina. Now both of these kids (I think they are teenagers) were terrific. The Opry was packed with their fans which I guess is why we were sitting in the balcony. Next segment, Mel Tillis, Roy Clark (Hee Haw) Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley's daddy) Last segment, Charlie Pride (Wills favorite) Riders in the Sky (only to be believed when seen) and my PERSONAL FAVORITE.........Josh Turner. It was suppose to be Randy Travis, but he was unable to make it and Josh filled in for him.....my very lucky break. I loved him from his first hit, Long Black Train. All in all it was a great show actually a GREAT day and we were dead tired when we got out of there and headed home. I drove so we made it in record time..........
Saturday, 6/11/11 - It's moving day and we are off to Pigeon Forge, TN also know as Dollywood. We are both tired but will sleep good tonight. Most all of my time, as navigator today, is spent entering our receipts into our account book, looking for places to stay when we go through Kentucky - Bowling Green and Louisville, next week. As we pass through Knoxville, TN and hit our turnoff for Pigeon Forge, I start to realize this place is a BIG mistake. It is three towns, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg....it takes us 45 minutes to go 16 miles through 2 of the towns. It is one gigantic amusement park for families - our personal favorite. We find our RV park, a Passport America, cheap park that is the definition of "trailer trash." I make a quick decision to stay only 2 nights not 3 as planned. No lunch today, just an early dinner cooked by the navigator/events planner. Much love to all family and friends. Oh and a shout out to my cousin Rob Becker who lives in Franklin, TN....so sorry we didn't connect but look forward to seeing you & Gale real soon.....much love.