We went into downtown Nashville today. Randy & I were in Nashville in June of 2004 with Jason and Lindsay. We attended the CMA Fan Fair and really enjoyed ourselves. But, I wanted to see Nashville without all of the hubbub of the festival. This really, really isn't Randy's thing, but being the good sport that he is, he went along with it.
I had just planned to walk around downtown and get pictures of some of the famous bars and honkytonks that I've read about. But, friends of ours, Darrell & Judy, told us that we had to go to the BiCentennial Mall near the state capitol. So, that's where we started.
The Mall is a beautiful park that was originally created for two purposes; one, to preserve the last remaining view of the State Capitol; the views from the south, east and west had been obscured by the construction of the many skyscrapers built in the 1950s and 60s. The other purpose was to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Tennessee. It is similar to the mall in Washington, DC.
At the opposite end of the mall from the Capitol, a courtyard is found that is dedicated to the musicians, performers, singers and the musical heritage that is closely associated with this city. Surrounding the courtyard are carillons containing 95 bells that represent the 95 counties of Tennessee. We happened to be there at noon and were treated to the playing of "The Tennessee Waltz." So very cool.
On either side of the mall are two walkways; one is the Walkway of the Counties. Embedded in the walkway are 95 disks upon which are written the name of each county; date of establishment; the county seat; square mileage; and a short blurb about its history. Buried under the disks are time capsules which will be opened at the state's 300th birthday in 2096. The walkway is divided into three sections: East, Middle & West Tennessee and along the path you'll find descriptions of the geography of each area as well as foliage of each section planted along the way.
The other walkway is a history of the state beginning at the dawn of creation! I am not kidding you. This 1400 foot wall has inscriptions of all of the major historic events that have happened over the past 2000 years. Most of the history pertains directly to the establishing of Tennessee as a state. The history lessons begin in earnest at the 1796 mark, when Tennessee became a state. The pathway ends in 1996 as this was built for the state's bicentennial.
Also found at the mall are beautiful green areas; a World War II Memorial in which another time capsule is buried and to be opened in 2045; a river walk; a 200 foot granite state map highlighting major geographic formations and roadways; and a memorial to the Civilian Conservation Corps.
We were a little concerned about driving into downtown Nashville because our truck is sometimes not the easiest to maneuver in cities. But, we had no problems and actually found a parking lot that we could fit in!
All of the landmarks I wanted to see were in close proximity to one another, thank goodness. After walking the mall for an hour, I wasn't sure how long my knees and ankle would hold out! But, I persevered. (I know, I know. Such a trooper. And humble, too!) We first went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. This was a great tour when we were here. And it's a neat building, too.
From the Hall of Fame, we walked up to to Broadway which is home to the honkytonks in which many of the musicians we know got their starts. Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is one that many people have heard of and many country music stars played before we knew who they were. And, from what I've read, some of them still drop in from time to time to jam. How cool would that have been to see!
I got pictures of the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry was formerly housed and still holds concerts and shows. We walked down to the Wildhorse Saloon which has been showcased on Country Music Television (CMT) and in which many stars still appear. Folks were beginning to line up for the night's entertainment.
We wanted to see Fort Nashborough, a replica of the original settlement of Nashville. It sits on the riverfront of the city, which is just one block over from the Wildhorse Saloon. As we were walking along the riverfront, I looked across the street and standing outside the back entrance to the Wildhorse Saloon was Bucky Covington! Now, many of you may not know who Bucky Covington is, but if you watch American Idol, you will. He was standing with his back to me, but I knew it was him because of his hair! :) So, I hollered over to him, "Hey, Bucky?" He turned and smiled and I asked if I could get a picture. I had just planned to take a picture of him, but he invited me over. Well, I wasn't going to turn that down! What a nice guy he seemed to be, very polite. He was getting ready for a show at the Wildhorse. After the picture, I wished him good luck on the show and off we went. I know he's not a big star, but it was fun anyway. You never know . . .
Fort Nashborough was the site of the 1780 Cumberland Compact which established the government for this new settlement. Its founders were James Robertson and John Donelson who lead two groups of settlers for nearly 500 miles overland and about 1000 miles via the river to get to this area. This replica of the fort is just a quarter of the original size, but allows visitors to get an idea of how those pioneers lived. All I can say is that I am grateful for those people and the trailblazing they did, but I sure am glad that I live in this era. I like my amenities!!
We had a great day touring Nashville. And there is still so much more to see. We were unable to see some of the historic areas outside of town. And we never got to The Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson. We'll be back, I'm sure.
Tomorrow will be packing day; getting ready to travel on Monday. We will arrive northeast of Atlanta and will be spending a week there so we can spend Thanksgiving with Randy's sister, Melissa and her kids. Really looking forward to that as we were last here in April. Gotta get that family time in.
Hope your weekend is going well. Friends and family up north, stay warm! Take care of each other. Stay in touch. Until the next time . . .