Joss and I learned early in our courtship that we both shared a love of country music. We had in common such favorites as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and others. She introduced me to Randy Travis, the Judds, Dixie Chicks and others and I introduced her to the Kingston Trio, the Statler Bros. and more. We were looking forward to seeing Nashville the closer we got. The week before we were to hit town, Joss asked me to get tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, which I did online, and we were all set for the Tuesday night radio show performance.
As a young girl, Joss watched "A coal miner's daughter" and fell in love with Loretta Lynn's story and her songs. She would listen to a cassette tape over and over to learn the words. When were we dating, she made me watch it with her as a test of our compatiblity. I loved it too. I grew up listening to Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Johnny Paycheck, Dolly Parton and dozens more from my Dad's 8-track tape player in the car and country radio. Every weekend, Hee-Haw would be a staple in the Streett household and I would watch right along with my Dad and Mom (I don't remember my sisters being there, humm...) The very first thing I ever won on my own doing, was a 45 single of Johnny Cash's "One piece at a time". I won it from a Los Angeles country radio station, KLAC 570AM when I was about 12. Johnny Cash is still and always will be my favorite singer.
Anyway, back to the Gypsy travels. We found an Army Corp of Engineers campground about 8 miles East of Nashville and set up camp. I really wanted to see the Country Music Hall of Fame and the other's weren't as excited about it so I went alone one day. I liked the museum a lot but it didn't have enough of what I was looking for (very little on Johnny Cash or the Carter family!). But it was awesome in its design, lighting, movies and audio features. The Grand Ole Opry museum however, did have more of what I was looking for. More about that later.
Tuesday rolled around and we all got dressed up for the Grand Ole Opry. It struck us as quite funny that it was located adjacent to the parking lot of the Opry Mills shopping mall. (If you're from So Cal, think Ontario Mills and you'll have the picture of the Opry Mills). Well it turns out, the Opry moved to it's present location 30 some years ago and everything else built up around it. We were amazed at the size of the crowd as we parked Clyde (our truck) and headed to the performance. Wouldn't you know it, after 3 pictures outside, our camera battery went dead...and we had forgotten to bring the spare! Joss had to buy a disposable camera so the shots from that evening are still trapped on film, encased in plastic, sitting in a box, in the trailer.
We had mezzanine seats, or should I say bench seats (nicely padded however) and had a good view of the stage. In the center spotlight, there is a 6' circle of stage from the original Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. The performers of today can stand on the same wood as the legends of yesteryear...pretty cool! During the performances (there were 8 acts of 15 minutes each) the audience was encouraged to come down front to take pictures. Joss took turns taking the boys down at different times and they loved it! The one left behind with me was thrilled to see his brother and mom "down there"!
We all came back to the city another day to eat lunch at the Hard Rock and take a trolley tour of the town. It is amazing how many song writers are working in Nashville today trying to pen that next big hit! I believe our guide said something like 30,000. Our trolley took us to Music Row and the Capital Building and the Parthenon. After that we went back to the Grand Ole Opry to visit the museum they have next door. The museum is free and very, very interesting. It goes in depth with all the main stars of the Opry; Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Porter Wagoner and dozens of others. It's a Nashville must see!
Just before leaving, we drove down to Murfeesboro to meet up with a new friend, "Mike the bike" (as the kids call him). The day we were leaving Savannah GA, Mike pulled in on a shiny new motorcycle and proceeded to pitch his tent. The boys were attracted to him like iron dust to a magnet and we talked with him for what must have been an hour. Later we gave him our website and said our goodbyes. Down the road in our travels, Mike emailed and said when we get to Nashville to look him up...so we did! Never give a gypsy an open invitation if you don't want them to take it! We thought it a good opportunity to see another town around Nashville so we offered to meet him close to home instead of back in the big city. He and his friend Miche (pron. Mickie) went to an Italian dinner with us and we loved getting to know them better. After dinner, the boys loved hanging all over Mike's bike!
Joss and I both felt we could spend more time in Nashville and look forward to coming back.