Friday, October 13, 2017

Nashville Sights, Sounds, and Tastes

Welcome to the Belle Meade Plantation in Historic Old Nashville!

Elegant surroundings, southern BBQ, and country music welcomed us as we explored Nashville, Tennessee last week. Along with our travel buddies, Joanne and Gary, we quickly found out why Music City, USA is one of the most popular travel destinations in the US. Tempting us with hundreds of attractions, it became clear that our week in town would only be a brief introduction to all the iconic sights, sounds, and tastes that Nashville has to offer.

Our home for the week was Seven Points Campground on the shores of J. Percy Priest Lake. This Corps of Engineers facility provided large, long wooded sites ... except for Joanne and Gary's site #55 which had a few too many tree limbs hanging over their RV pad making it a challenge to get in. But with a few creative maneuvers by Gary, they were set, and we were ready to plan our Nashville explorations over happy hour!

We talked about all the attractions and entertainment that were now in our backyard ... music, history, breweries, restaurants, and shopping. Maybe a new pair of cowgirl boots??!!

So many choices ... and one thing was for certain. We were going to get our initiation into the art of country music with a visit to the 

Grand Ole Opry!

Joanne and Gary snagged us some tickets, and we were able to attend the Friday evening show. It just happened to be the Grand Ole Opry's 92nd birthday weekend, so we enjoyed a musical birthday party on the plaza beforehand.

Once inside, we were entertained by Ricky Skaggs, Pam Tillis, Vince Gill, Connie Smith, Hunter Hayes, Tracy Lawrence, Mike Snider, Diamond Rio and our favorite ... The Oak Ridge Boys!

It was easy to see how the Grand Ole Opry has stood the test of time and remains an American classic. Country music delivers the boot-stomping rhythm and enjoyment for music lovers of all ages.

Biking Nashville

We found that Nashville has quite a few bike paths and decided to use our bikes to explore the city. The campground is located about 15 miles east of downtown, so one afternoon we drove to Two Rivers Park and hopped on the bike path that led us into the downtown area seven miles later.

Another time we parked by the Nissan Stadium and were able to cross the Cumberland River via a pedestrian bridge. In a matter of minutes, we were in the heart of the city.

From there, Doug was able to lead us on bike-friendly roads as we discovered ...

The Parthenon!
It is supposed to be a replica of the one in Greece,
but because it is closed on Mondays, we could not check it out.
Sorry, Doug, but you may still have to take me to Greece!

Another State Capitol building!
Too hot ... not going to climb up
that hill to get right next to it.

Water fountains just begging you to
bike through and cool off!

And plenty of natural beauty as the bike path
meandered along the rivers and though neighborhoods
lined with southern plantation-like homes.

And after biking around town
in the heat and humidity, he skillfully
managed to find Tailgate Brewery
complete with a large craft beer
selection, delicious pizza, but sadly,
no coasters to add to his collection!

Nashville Music

The true Nashville experience lies in the live music at resonates on the streets day and night. The sights and sounds along Broadway Avenue confirmed to us why the Music City continues to draw music lovers of all ages. 

From country to rock and everything in between, the music venues entertained all. Just walk down the street ... hear something you like? Come on in and grab a bar stool or rocking chair ... or grab your partner and head to the dance floor for a honky tonk good time!

You never know who you may run into when in the Music City!

Nashville Fun Rain or (Moon)Shine!

The remnants of Hurricane Nate brought a little rain to the area. But rainy days and girlfriends are the perfect combination for a "retail therapy" day. And Opry Mills Outlet Mall was calling our name! Persuaded by the promise of a Cinnabon, the boys came along.

Doug and Gary totally shocked us by doing some "buying" also. I'm looking forward to seeing the Wildebeest decked out with laser Christmas lights this December! They also discovered a fun and FREE mall activity while we were shopping ... Moonshine tasting! We enjoyed teeny tiny sips of peach, orange cream, coffee, lime, salted caramel, sweet tea, strawberry shortcake, cinnamon, ginger snap, butter cake, apple pie, chocolate silk and just plain moonshine. My favorite was chocolate silk ... but not for $30 a pint.

We are going to spend that money on the other Nashville delectable ... Barbecue!

Nashville sights, sounds and tastes enjoyed with friends ... now that's music to our ears!

Until next time ... Have a Grand Ole (Opry) Time ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

On the road to New Orleans for a two week Habitat build and a first time visit to the Big Easy. As always, we appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Louisville: Gems Along the Ohio River

After spending the last few months in familiar territory with family and friends, we are venturing out on our own once again. Our first new area of exploration: Louisville, Kentucky where gems along the Ohio River consist of more than just horse racing and bourbon.

We stayed on the Indiana side of the river at Charlestown State Park. Located fourteen miles from Louisville, it provided large full hookup sites, wooded hiking trails, easy access to the river, and a gem of a historical site.

The only glitch was that when coming from the north on I-65, Google Maps gave us the shortest but not necessarily the most RV-friendly route.  We were directed to take Hwy 160 into Charlestown. This route ended up being scenic, but also a tad bit narrow and twisty ... a true test of the agility of the Wildebeest and the steering skills of her pilot. Sometimes, Google Maps just doesn't understand the pressure that this co-pilot is under to "nag-igate" the best route.

But all ended well, and we set out to explore our new surroundings.

A short hike from the campground and over Fourteen Mile Creek bridge lead us onto Rose Island. This abandoned amusement park is being preserved by the state park. Rose Island was a popular summer vacation destination for the citizens of Louisville in the early 1900s.

The grounds contained all the luxuries for a summer holiday including a hotel, cottages, dancehall, dining hall, zoo, roller coaster, ferris wheel, and swimming pool.

The people of Louisville and along the river would pay 25 cents to come by steamboat or cross a footbridge to enjoy the recreational area that was developed in 1923 by businessman David Rose. The park entertained 135,000 people a year until it was destroyed by the great flood of 1937 and abandoned. Over the years, the land has returned to a more natural state, but hints of its former life still remain. As we joined the park ranger for a walk around the abandoned playground, she pointed out remnants and shared stories of days gone by.

The purpose of some of the remains are obvious like the ...

swimming pool,

picnic tables,

archways leading across the park,

and the three pillars along the river entrance ...
... that held a placard similar to this to
welcome guests to this summer playground.

To figure out the purpose of some of the other structures, the park service relied on old photos and memories of past guests.

Located by the pool, they believe that
this was a bathing suit rental stand.

And because of its central location,
this is believed to have been a water fountain that
doubled as a home for the baby allegators
that Mr. Rose brought from Florida every summer.

The purpose of some structures, however, remains unknown. We had fun speculating what this concrete trough-shaped structure was used for ... Any guesses?

The best theory is that it was a large ice water holder providing cool water for the visitors when they arrived at the park. Many Rose Island guests believed that it contained fresh water pumped up from an underground stream. But, in reality, there is no holes in the bottom of the concrete holder or underground stream in this location. Thus, the current theory is that Mr Rose, who had an ice making machine on the property, would have his employees fill the trough with ice water every day. Not sure that I would want to drink the water that sat in a dirty concrete container for long periods of time.

Most certainly, a walk through the Rose Island of yesteryear was a fun way to combine a history lesson with a walk in the park!

On the weekend we headed to Louisville to explore the river city. We figured out that we could avoid paying the toll bridge and parking costs in Louisville by just parking in Jeffersonville, Indiana and biking across the Ohio River on the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge. While we did not put on our derby attire and head to Churchill Downs, we did enjoy biking along the river and through the neighborhoods of Louisville to discover ...

scenic bike paths that lined both sides of the river,

majestic mansions in the
Old Louisville neighborhood, 

along with fancy neighborhood fountains,

and a "Cheers" style pub where
everybody knows your name.

And while Louisville is known for their bourbon, we are not so much into that ... maybe someday we will expand our horizons. But for now we were happy to discover a gem of brewery just across the river in New Albany, Indiana. 

Floyd County Brewing Company sported a Medieval Pub theme and delivered top-notch ales, fish n chips, bread pudding, and ...

... that long awaited coaster from an Indiana brewery!

The perfect combination to fuel our journey back ... and get us excited for more gems to discover as we continue RVentures south to Nashville.

We have our tickets for the Grand Ole Opry but would appreciate any suggestions on what else to see and do in Nashville ... music, food, brews, another state capitol building??!!

Until next time ... continue to appreciate the gems around you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!