I grew up in Tennessee–specifically in Chattanooga. Yes, as in Choo-Choo. My memories are of a childhood surrounded by history that I was not particularly interested in at the time, “lightning bugs” (known to you as fireflies) in the summertime, those little square cheeseburgers (Krystals) that, sorry, no store outside their birthplace really knows how to make, and breathtaking Fall colors each and every year that brought a welcome relief from the unbelievably oppressive humidity of Spring and Summer. Think wearing all your clothes, plus those 70’s and 80’s torture devices known as pantyhose into a sauna, full steam on, and living alternately in that, and a walk in freezer, do not pass go. Not that I’m complaining about air conditioning!
Sweet Iced Tea…Note: When speaking around Southerners, it’s pronounced “SWEETtea” <–one word. Same with beer, aka, “COLDbeer”…:-)
There’s something interesting I’ve learned about us Southerners over the couple of decades I’ve lived elsewhere in the country though–as a group, we don’t travel much. Driving two hours to get somewhere, to a Southerner, is a major trip. So, it’s really not surprising that even though I grew up in Chattanooga, and lived there until I was around 25, I really hadn’t spent much time in the Nashville area, which is a short 2 hour drive away. Recently, I visited “home” though, and had the pleasure of staying in the Nashville area at a more mature time in my life…when I actually am very interested in the history of a region, when I appreciate what’s going on around me, and when anyone who tried to put a pair of pantyhose on me in this weather, would have to kill me first.
Always mindful of the true flavor in an area…the off the beaten path, not overly touristy stuff, I’ve compiled a few photos of some things to see and experience in the Nashville area that you might be interested in if you’re ever hereabouts…Ya’ll…:-)
My first stop was the Nashville Zoo, which is one of the nicer ones I’ve been to across the country. The best part is their design…they have a lovely tree canopy on most all of the trail, which really comes in handy in the summer heat! For hours and other visitor information, click here: Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
You can’t come here without visiting some sort of Civil War preserved house, cemetery, battlefield, etc. It’s history, and although I know there are some folks who would avoid that sort of thing in order to be politically correct, that’s doing yourself a disservice. To study the reality of history is to protect ourselves from repeating past mistakes. I’ve been to a few of these over my lifetime, but the one I visited on this trip was one of the finest. It was the Carnton Plantation, just a little south of Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee. Everywhere you turn here you can find some sort of house or plantation to tour. But this one, I think, is unique. The house on the property is closed to tours only, which we took. The tour guide was amazing and told us lots of interesting stories about the house, the people, and the Battle of Franklin. This house was turned into a hospital to treat the casualties of the Battle of Franklin, and the bloodstains are literally still on the floors of the house. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before….it was moving and impactful. Click here for more information on this must see: Carnton Plantation
Also, I picked up this related work of historical fiction in the gift shop–a New York Times Bestseller that I am thoroughly enjoying, particularly after touring the house and grounds, and hearing all about the very real characters…Click the picture below to visit the book’s official website…
The last thing that I definitely wanted to see was downtown Nashville…where it all happened and still happens! If you aren’t good at driving in a city while lookey looing, don’t want to hoof it some fairly long distances, or would like to pop into one of the ultra cool bars with live music flowing out onto the street, even during the day on a weekday, then I highly recommend the Gray Line Music City Trolley Hop. The trolley bus is air conditioned, and the tour takes you all around to the important sites–the Tennessee State Capitol, Music Row, etc. And the drivers, much like the tour guide at the plantation, are amazing! During the 90 minute jaunt, they entertain with lots of fascinating trivia, and let you stop a couple of times to snap pictures. One eye opening bit of trivia I learned from our driver is that Music City is not known as such for the reasons you think–Country Music and its Stars. Nope, Nashville got its nickname when the Queen came to listen to musical performers at Fisk University, who were basically singing to fund the continuance of their school’s existence. The Queen first called Nashville Music City–and it stuck. If you take the trolley, you won’t regret it…And, it’ll orient you to where everything is so that you can go back to your favorite spots later!
Here are just a few of the interesting and quirky things I saw in Nashville yesterday…
Me with Gary Rossington’s jacket at the Hard Rock Cafe…that’s where you get your trolley tickets, by the way…:-)
This cool sculpture was too interesting to not get a picture of…remember Minnie Pearl from Hee-Haw? This is an artist’s rendering of her infamous hat located at the Visitor’s Center!
The broken roller coaster on the Cumberland River (Downtown Nashville’s Waterfront)
Nashville’s Parthenon…one of the most visited sites in the city. It’s an exact replica of the original. Here are some interesting facts about the Parthenon from Nashville.gov…
Facts about the Nashville Parthenon
- The bronze doors weight 7.5 tons each. They measure 24′ high, 7′ wide and 1′ thick. There are two sets (4 doors total) of these enormous doors in the Parthenon. This makes them the largest set of matching bronze doors in the world. The Parthenon doors in antiquity were only slightly lighter and were wooden with a bronze overlay.
- Like its predecessor in Greece, the Parthenon in Nashville faces east. In antiquity this would allow light to come into the building as the sun came up and the doors were opened.
- Until 1988 visitors entered Nashville’s Parthenon through the doors at the west end of the building. Visitors now must enter the east end of the building at the sidewalk level.The east façade was considered the “front” of the building by the ancient Greeks
And finally, very close to Music Row is this beautiful, controversial, bronze statue. Beautiful, controversial, bronze, and nude–very nude. Hence the controversy, particularly in Nashville which is very much part of the Bible Belt. I loved it…truly a work of art!
For example, here’s the Baptist Press’s take on things: http://bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=16858 And, here’s some information on the history of the statue: Musica
For critics, I think a picture is worth a thousand words…and, well, one word….ART, not to be confused with pornography….
Well, that’s it for now…I’ll leave you with this…pretty much sums it up and says it all!