Nashville – Part Two: Ancient Greek Architecture and Country Music

October 8th and 9th were spent doing cool touristy stuff in the Music City. We visited the Parthenon (yes, the Parthenon), Ryman Auditorium, Studio B, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Lower Broadway in Nashville, home to a number of honky tonks and bars, providing all the country entertainment you could hope for.

Getting down with Elvis on Broadway

Lower Broadway Establishments

Lunch at Martin’s BBQ, downtown Nashville

The Parthenon, situated in Nashville’s Centennial Park, is a full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon. Nashville was once known as the “Athens of the South,” so it was fitting for Confederate veteran William Crawford Smith to build it in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. It was a special treat when we visited the original Parthenon in Athens a few years ago. Seeing this full-scale replica is also a treat, enabling us to visualize what the “real” one looked like before its decay. Equally interesting was to view the 42′ tall statue of the Athena Parthenos which stands at one end of the temple. This, too, is a copy of the statue which once graced the Athenian Parthenon. It was the most renowned cult image of Athens, and considered one of the greatest achievements of the most acclaimed sculptor of ancient Greece, Phidias, in the 440s B.C.

Nashville Parthenon

Athena Parthenos

The statue is a depiction of Athena after emerging victorious in battle. With her left hand she supports a shield with carvings of an Athenian battle against the Amazons. On her right, rests the winged Goddess of victory Nike.

The historic Roman Auditorium, also known as “The Mother Church of Country Music” and “The Carnegie Hall of the South,” was the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. Nashville businessman Thomas Ryman built the auditorium in 1892 after converting to Christianity under the preaching of evangelist, Samuel Porter Jones. He originally went to heckle the preacher, but instead converted and was moved to build a church where he could preach to large crowds. The Ryman was initially called The Union Gospel Tabernacle. Over time, its use expanded beyond that of a church and has hosted world famous acts and performances over the last century.

Now Performing on the stage of Ryman Auditorium!

The twins with Bill Monroe at the Roman, “The Birthplace of Bluegrass.”

Looking down onto the Ryman Stage

On the morning of the 9th, we toured the historic Studio B, initially called just “RCA Studios,” built in 1956 at the request of Chet Atkins. It became famous in the 60s for its role in establishing the “Nashville sound,” replacing the rough honky tonk music which was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s with “smooth strings and choruses”, “sophisticated background vocals” and “smooth tempos.” The long list of artists who have recorded there reads like a who’s who of country music. Elvis recorded many of his hits in this iconic place.

A wall displaying all of Elvis’ hits which were recorded at Studio B

Sitting at the “Elvis” Steinway, where he and many others have sat while recording their hits.

Studio B. Among the many artists who recorded here, Dolly Parton recorded both “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” here in one day.

After our visit of Studio B, we rambled through the halls of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, enjoying the special exhibits on celebrities as well as those outlining the history of country music. At the end of the tour, of course, we wandered through the Hall of Fame itself, where the plaques are found which honor those talented folks who have been inducted into the Hall.

At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Part of the Loretta Lynn exhibit at the Hall of Fame

Part of the Shania Twain exhibit

Hank’s famous Martin

Monroe’s famous Gibson

I especially enjoyed the Dylan/Cash special exhibit at the Hall.

Taking our place among the famous duets.

In the Sound Hole

A few well-known favorites in the Country Music Hall of Fame

The Man in Black

Cindy by the plaque of one of her favorites, Randy Travis

Music City – Part One: Bulldawgs and Country Music

We left Louisville before the morning sky had brightened and began the next leg of our journey to Nashville, Tennessee. We were in a hurry to arrive and pulled into the Grand Ole RV Park just north of town just before 9 a.m. Thankfully, our spot was available and we were able to pull right in and set up. This was fortunate because I had a ticket to watch the Georgia Bulldogs take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at 11 a.m. I unhitched the 5th wheel and hooked up the electricity, water and sewer, and headed into downtown Nashville to Vanderbilt Stadium, the smallest football stadium in the SEC at around a 40,000 person capacity. From my 50-yard line seat, I enjoyed a methodical dismantling of the home team. I’m guessing of the 36,000 or so fans at the stadium, 24,000 or more were Dawg fans. It was awesome.

Ready for some football at Vanderbilt Stadium.

A little action on the field

A Sea of Red for the Commodores of Vanderbilt

The Final Score on the Big Scoreboard

That evening, we had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry. Before the show, we had the first of daily meals at local BBQ places — this time at Mission BBQ, located next to the Opry House. The excellent chopped brisket sandwich energized us for the opry. This Saturday evening show was a celebration of the 92nd Birthday of the Opry, which has not missed a live Saturday evening radio show since 1925. The two-hours of country music were great! Vince Gill, Tracy Lawrence, and Stephen Curtis Chapman (among several others) performed to the delight of the appreciative audience.

Ready for the Grand Ole Opry

A pre-opry BBQ dinner at Mission BBQ

Country Music Hall of Famer, Connie Smith was up first.

Jim Lauderdale was the second performer of the night

Enjoyed Tracy Lawrence

Banjo player and funny guy, Mike Snider

The excellent, young, Charlie Worsham

Jerrod Niemann

The Whites

Steven Curtis Champman, older than I remember, but still great.

Closing out the show, the inimitable Vince Gill

Happy 92nd Birthday, Grand Ole Opry!

Open House, Thoroughbreds and Sluggers

On the morning of Tuesday, October 3rd, we pulled out of our site at Rose Point Park Campground in western Pennsylvania and drove an hour and a half westward to Akron, Ohio. We stopped in Hubbard along the way for an RV and Truck wash at a Blue Beacon Truck Wash — Very happy with that! Unfortunately, as I was later to discover, washing the RV is a hazard to our refrigerator. When we arrived in Ohio, we noticed our fridge was blinking and giving us an error message on the digital display. A little google research revealed that this is a common problem after washing the RV. Water comes in through the refrigerator vent on the side of the RV, causing the high temperature switch to fail. The switch, and other fridge components are totally exposed to the elements through the slits in the vent. After some further research and a couple of calls, I spoke with Ron, at Ron’s RV Service (googled him). He was familiar with the problem, but was tied up and unable to help us. He did, however, give me instructions in how to fix the problem. I purchased a small 3/4″ magnet from the hardware store, removed the vent, and placed the magnet over the LED light on the temperature switch, and… Voila! It was working again!

Parking our rig in front of my mother-in-laws house.

Our main purpose in stopping in Akron for a couple of nights was to see family and friends, and to allow them to see our RV. We were going to set up in a nearby RV park, but they wanted to charge us $10/person to even visit our RV. We politely declined their offer and, instead, were blessed by the hospitality of our good friend of many years, Nelson Carter, pastor of Calvary Apostolic Church. He and his wife, Judy, so graciously allowed us to set up our RV next to the church and supplied a regular extension cord for some power. On the day of our arrival, about two dozen friends and family stopped by for a visit. Wednesday was a little bit of a work and errand day for me. I recently bought a tire-pressure monitoring system for our 5th wheel tires and discovered they were quite low. So, I bought an electric pump and brought the tire pressure up to recommended levels (110 PSI). I installed a low-flow shower head in addition to taking care of a few other things on the to-do-list. And, finally, I bought a 3400 watt inverter/generator for the RV. Wednesday evening, we attended the midweek service at Calvary Apostolic. The next day we would continue our journey southward.

Rainbow from our spot parked at Calvary Apostolic Church.

Flowers for the ladies.

Denise, Mom, and Nancy at Open House

Christy, Beth, and Cindy at Open House

John and Gloria at Open House

Tammy and Barry at Open House

Mark and Debbie at Open House

On Thursday, October 5th, we departed Akron with an additional adventure-seeker. Christy, my wife’s twin who joined us on occasion aboard our sailing vessel, Beatitude, has now begun her periodic visits aboard our land vessel, Beatitude II. We were happy to have her join us for a week and a half of RVing fun. Our drive to Louisville, Kentucky, was not all that fun however. It was the longest drive of our brief RVing experience, and almost the whole trip was carried out in a steady rain. Yuck. We made it safely, however, and set up in our site for a two-night stay in the Derby City. Our first evening, we grilled some burgers for dinner and hung out at the RV.

Driving in a rain storm.

Our RV site at the Louisville South KOA

Grilling out at our campsite.

Friday was exploration day. We began with a trip to Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May. It was exciting to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum located on site, as well as enjoying a short walking tour of the facilities. The founder was the grandson of William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame.

Churchill Downs – Home of the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.

The pre-race stables behind.

My two fillies at the starting gate.

Practicing my jockeying skills. Now, only to lose 100 pounds.

The storied track

“And they’re off!”

Appropriately sized stallions.

We then drove downtown to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum, home to the famous baseball bat. J. F. Hillerich opened his woodworking shop in Louisville in 1855. Hillerich’s seventeen-year-old son, John “Bud” Hillerich, who played baseball himself, slipped away from work one afternoon in 1884 to watch Louisville’s major league team, the Louisville Eclipse. The team’s star, Pete “Louisville Slugger” Browning, mired in a hitting slump, broke his bat. Bud invited Browning to his father’s shop to hand-craft him a new bat to his own specifications. Browning accepted the offer, and got three hits to immediately break out of his slump with his new bat the first day he used it. Browning told his teammates, which began a surge of professional ball players to the Hillerich woodworking shop. Thus began the famous baseball bat factory. On the factory tour, we did get to actually go through the factory and watch bats being manufactured. The MLB players’ bats are manufactured using a higher grade wood and on different machines than the minor league bats and bats prepared for mass production. The museum was nice to visit as well.

The “largest bat in the world” outside the Louisville Slugger Museum

Holding Mickey Mantle’s Bat

My Babe and The Babe

Christy and Ted

After walking around town for a little, with a stop at a bourbon tasting, we had a steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse. We then returned to Beatitude II in anticipation of an early departure the next morning to Nashville.

Walking the streets of Louisville

Stopped in at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. The tours were filled, but we did get to have a tasting.

Dinner at Texas Roadhouse