Saturday, June 29, 2019

She's Gone Country (Nashville Part 3)

Over the next few days, we really got a feel for Nashville... 

Tuesday, June 4th

Sadly, Tuesday was Eliot's last day in Tennessee.  I still had a list of things that I'd wanted to do while he was there, so we got up pretty early to tackle the day.  We all showered and got ready.  Then, Eliot and I packed up his luggage up and Rick and him put it in the rental car before we set off on our adventure in Nashville.  We set the GPS for the Parthenon and Centennial Park and away we went!

I sat in the front seat and helped Rick navigate on the way in.  We got stuck in a little bit of traffic, but we expected that with the CMA Fest (Country Music Association) and CMT (Country Music Television) Awards happening over the next few days.  We were in Nashville the same weekend as most of the biggest country music artists.  There was definitely a lot of commotion, but it was really cool to see it all!

We arrived at Centennial Park and were lucky to find a parking spot right near the Parthenon.  I'd really wanted to see it because I've been to the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece.  Once we arrived, it was clear that something was going on there as well.  There were vans, cords, what looked like equipment and people moving it all around and setting something up.  (We later found out that Carrie Underwood was performing there the next day as part of the CMT awards!)

After looking at the outside of the Parthenon for a few minutes, we realized that you could go inside where there was a museum.  The four of us decided to check it out.  It was really interesting.  We learned the history of the Parthenon both in Athens and in Nashville, why the replica was built and more about Centennial Park.

Eliot and I were a bit shocked when we got upstairs.  There was a giant golden statue of Athena that stood 42 feet high.  To put it into perspective, the statue of Nike that she holds in her right palm is 6 feet high, about the size of the average person.

We took a bunch of pictures upstairs before heading back downstairs to catch up with Elissa and Rick.  Eliot and I purchased a few souvenirs for our magnet and ornament collections and I also got my post cards for my scrapbook before we left.

Eliot, Elissa and I took a few pictures of the outside of the Parthenon before we returned to the car.  On the way back to the main road, I couldn't help but admire the beauty of the park.  Eliot and I agreed that it was a little warm for our taste, but it would be perfect to visit and explore in the spring or fall.

We headed further into the city towards Bridgestone Arena so we could see where the Nashville Predators NHL team played.  Unfortunately, we were about two blocks from it when we realized that the road was closed for the CMT Awards.  Apparently, they had blocked off a bunch of streets so there could be performances outside.

I quickly plugged in our last destination and we headed away from the downtown area and towards the Grand Old Opry.  None of us realized that it was as far outside of the city as it ended up being.  We eventually got there and found a place to park in a huge parking lot before heading over.

There was so much going on.  They had little food carts, places to sit, a stage set up, and people all over.  We took a few pictures outside the Opry.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to take a tour due to Eliot's flight.  Instead, we went into the Grand Old Opry store and purchased a few souvenirs.

While there, Elissa realized that one of the country artists she likes was going to be there that night taking pictures and signing CDs before his performance at the Opry that night.  You had to purchase one of his CDs from the store in order to get the card to meet him so she got that and planned to stay.

We were running out of time before Eliot had to get to the airport for his 6:30 flight so we decided that I'd stay with Elissa while Rick took Eliot over to the airport.  I was starving at this point, so we all rode over to the Opry Mills Mall Food Court to get something to eat.  After that, we went back to the car and got ready to split up.  Elissa and I said our goodbyes to Eliot and Rick dropped us off near the Opry before taking Eliot to the Nashville airport.

Elissa and I walked back across the street.  At this point, they were preparing for the Opry show that night.  They had metal detectors and security that we had to pass though.  Then, there was a concert going on on the outdoor stage.  After walking over, Elissa discovered that it was Teagan Marie.  We still had a little bit of time so we watched her as well as the next performer.

Eventually, we needed to head over to the Josh Turner CD signing line.  We met a few nice people that we talked to while in line.  We were surprised that it moved pretty quickly.  The Opry had people taking the photos so they could make sure the line continued to move.  Before we knew it, she and I were inside getting our CDs signed and taking our picture.  He was really nice.  I let Elissa take one by herself and he told me to come over for one afterwards.

After that, we called Rick and he was on his way back from the airport.  Elissa and I slowly made our way back over to the Opry Mills Mall where Rick had parked.  We met up with him after crossing the street from the Opry to the mall.  Then, we walked around the mall for a few hours checking out the stores.  Elissa and I looked at cowboy boots.  We explored some specialty Nashville stores.  We bought a few things for Elissa's apartment at 5 Below.  Elissa bought a salt lamp and I got a beautiful rainbow butterfly wind chime at another store.

At closing time, Rick, Elissa and I went back to the car and plugged the apartment back into the GPS.  We took a quick detour to Walmart since Rick had gotten a notification that Elissa's pots and pans had arrived for pick up.

Then, we went back to her apartment.  I ate my pink music note sugar cookie from Dollywood and headed to bed.  I was so tired that I found it hard to stay awake.  Eliot and I had been sharing a queen size air mattress for the past two nights and I hadn't been sleeping very well.  Thankfully, I waited until Eliot texted me that he had landed safely in Portland before drifting off into a really deep sleep.

Wednesday June 5th

I was out cold, but as I slowly came out of my sleeping stupor, I could hear Elissa and Rick moving around out in the living room and kitchen.  Elissa and Rick knocked on my door and let me know that they were going to be down at the laundry room cleaning all of her clothes from her Galapagos trip.  They also grabbed a few things for me.

I stayed in bed and was lazy for quite a bit.  I played on my cell phone.  Eventually, I got up and took time to organize some of my stuff in the bedroom.  I slowly ate my breakfast.  I called to check in with Eliot at work.  I talked to my Mom on the phone for a bit.  Then, I took a shower so I'd be ready when they got back to the apartment.

Once they returned, we made our shopping plans.  We'd already decided that we'd take Wednesday as our "down time" day to relax and go shopping.  It made sense to go to the dollar store first, since we were planning to load up on groceries at Costco.

We went to the Dollar Tree down the road.  I ended up finding a few treasures that I bought to bring home with me.  I was afraid that they would't have them home and I'm glad that I got them.  (After checking our local stores last week... I was correct in my assumption.)  One of those was the David Tutera Disney Fairy Tale Weddings book that I've been looking at since before Eliot and I were married.  It's still available on Amazon, but I couldn't say no to only paying $1 for it.  In fact, they had two so they both came home with me!  Elissa also found everything she had on her list.

After we checked out, we put Costco into the GPS.  It was leading us to the highway but it was pretty much at a standstill.  We decided to improvise and take our own detour.  The other way took us through Brentwood and we passed a section that had the most beautiful houses.  Elissa and I marveled at the stone mansions as we passed them.  I did a quick search online and discovered they were about 1.5 million each.  I could see why... they were absolutely gorgeous!

We eventually found the Costco.  Elissa got a bunch of food to stock up as best we could.  She had limited space in her freezer, but we did a pretty good job.  After checking out, Rick got a hot dog and Elissa and I both got churros.  Then, we went back to her apartment to drop everything off.  Rick and Elissa unloaded the car and I divvied stuff up into the freezer, refrigerator and the pantry.

Elissa wanted to go to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  It's one of her favorite restaurants and there was one nearby.  I didn't realize that Cracker Barrel started in Tennessee.  It seemed like it was a necessary part of the Tennessee country experience.  Both Elissa and I left the restaurant with plenty of leftovers.  We also both left with purchases from the country store.  She found small games and couldn't say no to the mini Lincoln Logs kit.  I opted for a miniature Lite-Brite.  I was obsessed with mine growing up.

After dinner, we returned to the apartment to relax for a bit before heading to bed.  We had plans to go to CMA Fest the next day so we wanted to get plenty of sleep!

Thursday June 6th

The next morning, Rick, Elissa and I got up, got ready and headed back into the city to go to CMA Fest.  It was taking place at the Music City Center which we had passed the other day while downtown.  We finally found the entrance to the CMA Fest Fan Fair.  It was a giant Expo of country music.  I was a little bit overwhelmed.  Eliot's family is really into country music and I was a bit out of my element.  I know more country music then I give myself credit for, but this was next level.

Rick had a custom made vinyl record that he was going to get for his brother, so we decided to split up.  Elissa and I wandered around the expo floor checking out different booths.  We both signed our names on this giant coloring wall.

Elissa found a few artists she wanted to get pictures and autographs from.  I deferred to her since she knew who these people were.  We didn't really know how it worked but the nice volunteers explained it all to us.  A lot of the really popular artists had sign ups or meet and greet lotteries prior to CMA Fest starting.  Since we hadn't planned to be there, we stood in an overflow "hopeful" line.  It worked though.  We ended up meeting Matt Stell and Mitchell Tenpenny.  They were both really nice.

Apparently, Elissa and I missed the CMA Fest puppies.  Miranda Lambert had an adoption center and there were puppies over there.  Elissa and I got to see where they were though.  We also saw the Radio Disney stage at the end of the night.

Once CMA Fest was over, we decided to walk around to see what else was going on in downtown Nashville.  We walked past Bridgestone Arena and ended up going into the Nashville Predators Store.  The store was huge!!!  The Sharks have a store at their arena, but this one must have been at least 3-4 times bigger than that.

Afterwards, we headed over to Broadway.  There were so many bars and restaurants that lined the street.  Every one we passed had open windows and a live band playing music.  It was exciting but also a little overwhelming.  Due to the CMA Fest, the road was all closed off and there were food and merchandise trucks instead.

We ended up going into the Geico bus after seeing a few people with lanyards.  It was a bus with the history of the CMA Awards.  At the back of the bus, there was a "photo booth" where you could take a picture that they printed onto a small poster.  Then, they also emailed it to you. It was pretty cool and a nice souvenir to take home.

We continued to explore as it started to drizzle.  I honestly thought the misty rain felt really good.  They were giving out free pizza at the Hunt Brother's food truck so we all got a free slice of cheese pizza.  We stood outside of the Hard Rock Cafe and listened to their live band sing an Imagine Dragons song before it really started to rain.

We decided it was time to head out so we walked back to the car in the rain.  It was still pretty refreshing.  We stopped at a Starbucks on the way to get a drink.  Then, we got back to the car and headed towards the apartment.

We swung by Walmart to pick up a few more things that we'd added to our apartment list.  Then, we went to get dinner at the Taco Bell near Elissa's apartment.  We wanted to see how far it was from her place and if it was walkable.  After dinner, we went home and watched the rest of Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.  Once the game was over, we all headed to bed.  °o°

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