Not only is Tennessee a beautiful state to drive through, but their people are just as lovely.
Nashville has been a favorite for a lot of us. Some of the kids said they could live there and all of us agreed that we want to at least go back for vacation. I personally would like to go back on an adult vacation without the kids, but.. Shhhhhh.
We started out our stay in Nashville by going to dinner at The Cracker Barrel, a first for the kids. The next day, we went down to the Honky Tonk Highway, a long strip of bars and restaurants with live music in each one. It goes for blocks and is crowded with people 7 nights a week. The party goes from 10am through 3am. It’s like a classier country version of NOLA’s Bourbon Street and is lit up like Vegas without the casinos. We ate at a place called Rippy’s which was one of the only places there that allowed kids under 21 after 5pm. We did some of the typical touristy stuff in Nashville like Centennial Park to see the full scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, Olympic Park, and Capitol Hill to see the State Capitol building. We attended a Midnight Jamboree, which got mixed reviews. Midnight Jamboree is a radio show broadcast at midnight every Saturday night with live performances in front of an audience for about an hour and a half with little breaks from the host to do a little talking. We were, by far, the youngest people there. One of our favorite things to do in Nashville was going to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. I NEED to go back and stay in that hotel! There are 9 acres of “courtyard” that look like they’re outdoors but is all indoors with a glass ceiling. In these courtyards, you’ll find restaurants, shops, a riverwalk along the indoor river, an island, light and water shows, a conservatory, gardens, an indoor water park, waterfalls, gazebos, and fountains. The hotel rooms line the outside wall with balconies overlooking all that beauty. We finished off our stay at Nashville by going out to breakfast at the Pfunky Griddle where you cook your own pancakes on a griddle in the middle of the table. It was a really fun experience and has inspired me to consider opening one in the Rochester area when I get home.
Now, the tornado. We can’t talk about Nashville without mentioning the tornado. This was my personal experience, which I’m beyond grateful was what it was and wasn’t something more. There was a storm, lots of wind, rain, hail like I’ve never heard before, deafening thunder, and nonstop lightening. I was scared, but the kids were sleeping and I figured it had to end eventually. I got a tornado warning on my phone. It said to find shelter immediately, go to basements, houses will be damaged, mobile homes will be destroyed, vehicles were not safe as there could be flying debris. The town sirens were going off. The kids all woke up, saw the tornado warnings on their phones and were scared. Without letting them know I was equally scared, to let them see that it was far away from us, I pulled up a map to show them where the tornado was becauee the warnings gave the location. When I looked at a map, I saw we were just a few miles north of it: too close for comfort. Other people in the RV park had already jumped ship, so we got dressed and headed north to Walmart while we waited it out. The next morning, I avoided driving into the affected area for many reasons (they were asking that people avoid it, power lines were down, trees were down, roads were closed, they were searching for missing people, etc). Even staying away from the heart of it all, we saw a devastating aftermath. Guard rails torn from their posts decorated trees like tinsel. Branches and debris had been cleared to the sides of the highways. Houses had giant holes where a roof used to lie. Light poles bent over like sunflowers following the sun. It was an awful thing to witness and brought out strong emotions in all of us. 22 people have been confirmed dead. Over 30 first responders were injured trying to help others. Countless people’s lives have been touched by this so I’ll end here today asking that you please set aside a moment to pray for the many, many victims of this tragedy.
*pic- inside the Opryland Hotel