We headed south out of Elk Rapids and spent the first night in a Wal-Mart parking lot on the west side of Toledo, OH. This became something of a turning point in the trip. It got HOT! Real HOT! (It’s STILL hot as I write this from North Carolina.)
We had planned to spend the morning in Toledo and leave around noon since the distance to our next stop wasn’t far. But even by 9am, the heat was getting to us and we could see no reason to sit and bake in that parking lot. So we headed out. We called ahead and there was no problem with us coming in to our next stop early, anyway.
We arrived in Wapakoneta, OH, early that afternoon. The resort looked really nice and inviting at the front. However, the sites were pretty ordinary and fairly close together. We’d originally planned 3 nights here, but had already changed our minds to stay only two. After seeing the place, we decided that was a good move.
There wasn’t much to do in this little town. So we decided to enjoy the break and just hang out. We’d been on the go so much that a rest day sounded kind of good.
We did go out to lunch, though. We drove west to Celina and found a restaurant just across the street from the lake. It was a neat setting and I was mad at myself for not grabbing my camera before we left. So you’ll just have to take my word for it: the view was very cool.
We planned a stop-over between Wapakoneta and Nashville. But as we drove, it seemed like it wasn’t that much further to just do it all at once. We called ahead and they had room for us, so we went on to Goodlettsville, TN, just north of Nashville.
Now this was a nice park. I didn’t get a picture of our site, but it was nice there.
Our first full day there, we drove into downtown Nashville. We walked Broadway and some of the side streets. I guess we really didn’t know what all we were seeing – we learned that the next day. The heat got to us and we headed back towards the campground and had lunch at Calhoun’s, home of the “best ribs in America”. I can’t speak to the best anything in America, but the BBQ was very good.
The next day we were off on a combo-tour that would keep us going around the important sights of Nashville all day. (We were totally exhausted when we got home, but we saw most everything we could have wanted to see.)
Our first stop was the Ryman Auditorium, where The Grand Ole Opry began.
While here, we saw a short movie on the beginnings of the Opry, which was quite interesting… even for a couple of non-country listeners.
We drove past the state capital and other cool, official buildings. Then we went to one of the city parks. There are different sections to this park and one of the sections contains this replica of the Parthenon. It’s beautiful.
Our next real stop was at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
No pictures were allowed inside, but we saw people doing it all over the place. We only had about 45 minutes, but did enjoy seeing the different exhibits and displays. We were glad to have been able to see it.
Along the way we got all sorts of history and learned about the flood of May 2010. All of downtown was under water. It was hard to believe – you simply could not tell that just over a year ago, several feet of water engulfed the town.
We were dropped off at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. We had time for a quick soda and then it was back on the bus. There was a live performance going on, but none of us knew who the kid was. He wasn’t bad and it was another piece of country music history.
We were dropped off at a Shoney’s for lunch with the promise that we’d be picked up again for the afternoon portion of the trip. They were late, but the promise was fulfilled and our first stop was the Grand Ole Opry House.
We got the backstage tour which was very interesting. We started here, at the performer’s entrance.
Can you see the picture of Minnie Pearl on the left? I remember seeing her on TV when I was a kid. I guess that makes me old, right?
From there we went by the wall with all the names of those who are members of the Grand Ole Opry. It’s a major honor, not everyone is considered a “member”. There are currently 66 living members, so that gives some perspective.
We walked by a few open dressing rooms and then into the “green room”, the last stop before a performer goes on stage.
And then we all walked on stage. We heard a little more history and then the tour guide asked if anyone would like to sing. One lady did. She sang “Crazy” and was amazing. I overheard her say she came all the way from Australia just to do that. Wow!
Then the guide offered to take pictures. So we had to have ours taken.
Notice the circle of wood on the floor that is a different color. That circle has been under the microphone for EVERY Grand Ole Opry performance, no matter what venue, from the Ryman Auditorium to here. And we got to stand right there! Pretty cool, huh?
Here’s the stage from the back of the hall.
Our next stop was the Opryland Hotel. We’ve never seen anything like it! It’s about four and a half acres under glass! It’s beautiful.
This is one part of it, the first part we saw when our tour group entered on our way to the boat ride.
Here are some shots of the hotel from the boat ride we took.
Once off the boat, we walked around to other areas of this enormous hotel. It’s beautiful everywhere. Julian took this next shot and this little girl was SO cute.
Some other shots from around the hotel.
Remember, this is all under a glass roof. They keep the inside air temperature at 70 degrees year-round. It’s an amazing structure.
I mentioned the flood and this hotel was also struck by those high waters. There is a red line on the pillar in this photo that shows how high the water level was during the flood.
And in spite of that tragedy, everything around the hotel is spotless, clean, inviting. You’d never know that anything had happened at all, much less only a little over a year ago.
After the breakneck pace of this full-day tour, we opted for a quiet day at home to follow. We groomed Heidi – well, that’s not so quiet as she really doesn’t like it. But we got r done! I did some laundry and we went to Red Robin for lunch (Yum!).
Our last day in the area found us driving south of Nashville, to Franklin. We’d read where it was in the running for prettiest small town or something like that. When we got there, we could see why. The downtown area was spotless and very pretty. Lots of brick – in buildings and on the streets. Very “homey”. We walked the shops and bought a couple things. Then we had lunch at an Irish Pub, which was really good. (Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures, there.)
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Nashville area, and would recommend it to anyone.
On Tuesday, July 19, we pulled up stakes and headed to Maggie Valley, NC. So stay tuned, there will be more to read about as our time in NC continues.