The Grand Ole Opry and Opryland Adventure

After a double loop around the exit ramps while I tried to figure out which way West was on the map, we headed out to Opryland.

THe area
Huge Huge

The will call line was well marked, and we walked up, waited in line for seconds and were out in minutes. Nice.

The show

Garrison Keillor copied this.

Mike Snider!


Pulled up at the Magnolia building, and the valet filled us in. The steak house is the only restaurant that validates the $20 valet parking. Fine. Sign us up.

Lavish drinks in the bar, but Bette and Sara were stuck behind some sick prom night girls so I sat in the bar while they were in line in the john. Then our pager buzzed so I had to find the dude to tab out. Nice relaxing drink.

Lavish Dinner at the Old Hickory Restaurant. I had a very good baked Onion soup, the Prime New York Strip. Bette had the Plantation Plate and an interesting tomato salad; the tomato slices were 1/2 inch thick separated by a 3/4″ thick slab of cheese topped with basil etc. Almost too overpowering. We like Bette’s tomato salad better. Sara had a chop salad that she enjoyed. Another couple glasses of nice wine and Malibu and coke for Sara. The coolest thing — popcorn ice cream — popcorn flavored ice cream, with caramel topping sprinkled with kettle corn. Recommended.

Lost at the pool.

Nashville – Lunch, Pool Time and Vanderbilt U.

Lunch at Noshville, a New-York style deli with lovely pickled tomatoes and new pickles. I had the pastrami, and yes, it was good like the dude said. Bette had the liverwurst sandwich, and Sara, who was not hungry, had a HUGE turkey sub, and saved most of it in the cooler. Good, but a pastrami sandwich was 9.99 with no drink. The bill for the three of us was over $30. Not a cheap lunch. They had neat sodas at the counter, with sugar, not HFCS, but they didn’t have it cold. A strange way to sell $2.00 sodas on a hot day.

We sat out by the pool, watching the runners slowly filter out to the pool to soak their aching legs in the cold water. I dangled my feet — it did feel good after walking.

Vanderbilt U

Met student, led us through the campus to the bookstore.

Follett employees get discounts, but I didn’t have an ID.

The Country Music Marathon 2007

We woke at 4:30AM to get ready to hit the breakfast bar at 5:00 (conveniently opened early by a VERY accommodating management) and had some carbs. At 7:00, we headed onto Broadway, left this time, and walked past the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University, with Corny’s statue right on Broadway. We made a note to come back to look around.

The corrals

The race

Waiting for Sara at mile marker 10

The Union Station Hotel

Hike to the finish

A call for help
So here we are by the railroad overpass and the phone rings. Sara calls. She is done with the race, and is waiting at the finish line, a 3 mile hike thru town and over the bridge right next to the stadium. Off we trudge.

Reunion by the Croc Tent

We looks for the tent selling Crocs, and look around. Eventually we find Sara, a little worse for wear but looking good.

The long walk home, with a beer.
We walked back a bit, asked Sara if we should get a cab. She thought a walk would help her work out the soreness, so off we go, a different route this time, but down Broadway on the other side of the street. It was about 1PM or so, and we found a bar that had big open windows and was across from Legends, so it looked like a good people-watching location. And had a beer – had to replenish those energy stores!

Nashville – Packets and Carbs

We arrive finally to the Hampton Inn Nashville/Vanderbilt on West End Ave and check in. Room is good, let’s go!

Across the street, as if by Divine Providence is an Italian restaurant, Amerigo. Carbs here we come. First we need to pick up goodie bags, chips, bibs, etc. Lots of stuff.

The desk clerk gives us directions to the Convention Center — and recommends Amerigo as “one of the best Italian restaurants in Nashville”. Good news!

We head out and walk 1.25 miles (according to Wayfaring), and pick up the packets. We stop in the expo, which is a fancy word for lots of stuff for sale. Shorts, bras, everything you need to run. Plus I got a cool hula shirt with guitars — at $50, too much, but made in USA and cool.

We wander around that area, which is the bar district. Every bar has a band going, it is loud. We walk around, but time marches on and we need to walk back – besides, Sara can’t really drink anything.

Today’s walk: 3.28 miles.

Shower, dress, and at 5:05 PM, head across the street to Amerigo. The place is packed! We are delayed 3 minutes while crossing the busy West End St, and worry about getting a table because all the people from the other side of the street are piling in. I ask about wait, she explains about the marathon and carbs. Duh. 15-30 minutes. Head to the bar.

Bette has a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, I have a bottle of ale from the Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery next-door. It looks good enough that the next table asks about it.

The bar is full and Bette and Sara are perched on a ledge under the window in the corner, I on a stool.

I should note here. Runners are a club. Everyone who runs or observes belongs. It is obvious Bette and I are not, but Sara looks it and we are one of the clan. We trade comments, recommendations, and when the group next to the girls on the ledge gets good bread and olive oil dip, we ask them about it and get our own. Reminds me a lot of Sam’s triathlon parties.

Bette grabbed menus while I was waiting at the bar. I can see what the waiter delivers to the table next to us, looks real good. I ask the guy (the whole table is runners), and it’s the CHICKEN MARGARITE (Flame grilled chicken over angel hair pasta, with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and choice of tomato sauce, garlic butter sauce or scallion cream sauce. 10.5) Mmmm. Sara sez, “I am having that”. We corral the harried waiter, and with a smile he agrees to bring more bread and drinks. We munch on the bread and olive oil, and just enjoy the neighborhood.

We are seated 20 minutes later. I pay for the drinks and tip the bar dude well for giving us a lot of service for a small order on a really busy night. The table is along the front window, we can see people piling into the door and the hostess stand. This was going to be one long night.

The tables have nice paper covers, and we waste no time. I order another Woop Woop (love that name — girls at the next table ordered a bottle. The name cuts thru the noise!) Shiraz for dinner and we order our meals. I have the ARUGULA WITH FLAME GRILLED APPLES (Roasted walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and gorgonzola vinaigrette. 6.5) salad and CHICKEN PARMESAN (Breaded chicken breast sautéed over eggplant, with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Over angel hair. 17) Bette had the CEDAR WOOD ROASTED FISH OF THE DAY Today’s fresh selection roasted on cedar wood with blended Asiago cheese leek potatoes and vegetables. As Quoted = 24 with a Caesar and Sara has the CHICKEN MARGARITE.

In front of me (behind Sara) is a table with three older gentlemen. We are waiting for the food when the gentleman on my right turns around and asks Sara, “Is there something going on here this weekend? We come here pretty often and it is NEVER this crowded.”

Sara told him about the Marathon, and that she was running, and the need for carbs and THEN he understood why the place was busy. We talked about our itinerary and also told him we were going to the Grand Ole Opry, and he asked when. We said the next night, and he asked which show? We said 6:30, and he said, “I’m playing that show!” Turns out this guy is Mike Snider (link to Opry page) a banjo player, Tennessee State Bluegrass Banjo Champion, a Hee Haw cast member and member of the Opry. Really nice guys, and the one man at the table (in his band, I think) said, “Mike here is one of the finest banjo comedians.”

Mike asked us, “do you like tiramisu?”. We said sure — I have had enough lousy ones that I rarely ordered it. Mike said he loved it, had it all over, and this was the best. He gave Sara an autograph on Hampton Inn note pad, and they soon finished and left, to be quickly replaced by the Woop Woop Wine girls.

Then the news cameras came through. NBC4. We talked to the reporter while the cameraman was videoing several large tables, it was obvious we were not enough fun.

The tiramisu did not disappoint. It was huge — 4 inches square, 1.5 inches thick, on a light chocolate sauce. We shared one and it was really good. Thanks for the tip, Mike.

Back at the hotel, the girls fell asleep while I read and watched the news. Sure enough, the 20 minutes of video was edited into 45 seconds of large parties. It was kind of neat to see the Army Hat Girl from two tables over on TV — she did not look happy.

Hampton Inn Nashville/Vanderbilt 1919 West End Avenue
Amerigo Restaurant 1920 West End Avenue
Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery 1918 W End Ave

The Road to Nashville

We left Woodstock at 6PM Thursday nite. We stopped at a Steak and Shake in Bloomington for dinner, and arrived in Indy close to midnight.

Up bright and early, and after the breakfast bar, headed out. The stretch of I-65 seemed much busier than the trip the night before. Maybe it was so late.

Pulled into Nashville at 2PM