Friday, September 14, 2012

You Really Should Go To Tennessee

Generally I try to keep my posts pretty short and to the point so that they stay interesting. But I'm going to have to break with tradition here because Danilo and I returned from a trip to Tennessee a few weeks ago, and I'm going to provide you with plenty of pictures and a day-by-day itinerary. Basically I'm going to do my best to convince you that you should go to Tennessee too.

Why did we go to Tennessee? To visit Lynlee. She hadn't been in Utah long when we met around 7th grade and after we graduated from high school we even had a few college classes together. She returned to the South after she landed a job in Tennessee shortly after graduating with her bachelor's degree. Ever since she has made it a point of letting me know we would be welcome to come stay with her and her husband anytime.

All of us Utah kids got a kick out of Lynlee because as a result of her Texas upbringing, she would say "ya'll" where the rest of us would say "you guys" ("knock it off you guys," vs. "ya'll need to knock it off"). It didn't take me more than a few hours after landing in Knoxville to find out I was definitely now part of the minority.

The night we arrived before going to bed Lee, Lynlee, Danilo and I sat around the kitchen table in their beautiful home and pounded out a plan for the next six days. We did it all and then some. We came home completely exhausted and with no regrets.

Nashville, TN
Here we divided our time between The Grand Ole Opry 
and The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum. 

The Grand Ole Opry began with a radio show that broadcasted country music as early as the 1920s and the Opry House is where they've put on the show for the last several decades. When you have made it big in country music, they invite you to be a member.

For the price of a tour at the Grand Ole Opry, you get to go inside the auditorium at 
the Grand Ole Opry.
But wait... that's not all. For the price of a tour you may also view 
the Artists' Entrance when they come to perform at the Grand Ole Opry

the country artists' backstage rooms

See the man on the bottom left? Willie Nelson. I am not kidding.

you get to see where the artists and guests gather after the show
All I'm saying is Alan Jackson may have sat on that couch. That's all.

and for the price of a tour, you even get to go backstage.

But ladies and gentlemen... I am not through yet.

The circle on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry 
is where artists have stood to perform
through several generations of country music.
When the location of the show was changed to the Grand Ole Opry House
in the 1970s, the circle came along. 
My Nashville dreams culminated the moment they let us

There is a gift shop. I have never had so much fun in a gift shop.

I could not have been more satisfied.

About ten minutes away you'll find the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum.
Here is the actual Hall of Fame.

The museum is full of country memorabilia.
Elvis's Cadillac

Taylor Swift's dress

Faith Hill's shoes

Tim McGraw's jacket

all this was worn by Jason Aldean

I was already satisfied with my trip and we had five days left.
We spent the next day in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, TN.

cabin from the 1820s

Church from the 1800s surrounded by a cemetery... we had to drive about 40 minutes through the Smokies to arrive at these landmarks... it fascinates me to think about these people and why they chose to live so far removed from civilization as they knew it. I may have mentioned Dr. Quinn a time or two during the course of this trip.

 Gatlinburg is an entertaining little town with a Ripley's Believe It Or Not on every street.

Lee joined us Friday night. We grabbed a hotel in Atlanta and spent the next day at 
 The World of Coca-Cola
They told us Coke's secret formula was moved from a bank after 80 years to this vault. I think they were serious.

For the price of a tour, you can try hundreds of different Coke brand sodas from all over the world.

and The Georgia Aquarium
I sang about baby belugas in first grade, but I hadn't ever seen one before

see man's head vs. fish for size comparison

we were told that this manta ray weighs over 6,000 pounds as it swam over us

the way the fish are displayed to view at this aquarium is incredible

a shark whale
Monday we drove for a few hours to Asheville, North Carolina to tour the  
Biltmore Estate. It was built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the 1890s and we were fairly awestruck by it's grandeur.

Pictures were not allowed inside, but there are over 250 bedrooms, a massive dining room, an indoor garden, a bowling alley, swimming pool and kitchen dumb waiter system. 

We spent the last day of our trip in Pigeon Forge, TN touring the Titanic Museum.
The exhibits are presented in really fascinating ways. ways. Not only do they have luggage and personal effects recovered from the wreckage, but, for example, as you turn the corner to move to the next part of the exhibit, you find yourself staring into a glass window where on the other side there is a stairwell with water pouring down the stairs. At one point you enter an area where the air temperature is the same as it was the night of the shipwreck and you are able to dip your hand in a pool of water that is set at the same temperature as the ocean water that night. They have ramps set up in one exhibit at different angles of incline showing you how steep the deck became as the ship sank that night. They have handwritten postcards mailed from people who sent them just before they sailed, and they have the telegram a man sent to his family to let them know he had survived. Having been on a cruise ship, the experience really impacted me. The Titanic, as far as everyone was concerned, was not supposed to sink. But it did, and it still intrigues us 100 years later. 
(If you have some time and want to see some fascinating pictures of the Titanic taken by a passenger before it sank, go here. These pictures didn't surface until after the photographer's death.)

If I had to pick my favorite part of the trip, I would be at a loss. I haven't even gotten to the fireflies or fried okra or uplifting church sermons. 

Thanks to our good friends Lee and Lynlee for their friendship and efforts to ensure that we had SUCH a wonderful time in their home and everywhere else. I am excited to be able to say, "I spent some time in the South..." and I hope to go back before too long.


Renae said...

I know this isn't the focus of your post, but I need to tell you that it makes me so happy that you love Dr. Quinn- because I do too! I used to watch it in the evenings with my mom, and then I'd watch reruns on tv after school, and then I checked out some of the DVD's from the library to watch. And I'm pretty sure I added the complete series to my wish list on last Christmas. If you ever need company watching Dr. Quinn, call me. :)

Lynlee said...

My favorite post ever - loved reliving our fun week!!

Andy and Brooke said...

Looks like lots of fun. Thanks for some ideas to do while I'm in the east! If you ever want to visit the nation's capital....let me know. You are welcome to stay with us too. wink wink.

DaniloandBrittney said...

Sounds fun!