Steve and I are on a vacation with the oddest itinerary. The destinations were picked because I had back to back races which required travel. We decided to simply take the week off and go from one race to the next without going home between.
First stop, Nashville, Tennessee for the Country Music Marathon. I lived in Nashville for a few years, but I haven't been back in over a decade. This is an ambitious town, but it remains absolutely Southern and charming. When I lived here, I interned briefly with Nashville Sports Council. Of course, there weren't many sports in Nashville then, just an triple A ball club and college sports, but no big events or pro teams. Setting up a non-profit to bring big time sports to twang town was dreaming big. A decade later, Nashville has an NFL team and its new stadium downtown, an NHL team and its new downtown arena, a marathon with 30,000 participants and it was picked to host the Women's Final Four. The economic impact to Nashville - over $340 million dollars over 14 years.
While I've been gone Nashville has also built the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of the premier Symphony venues in the country. Everything they are building is downtown within walking distance of each other. That's Nashville, growing, ambitious but still very charming.
We've had a wonderful couple of days here. We've been busy, but not overwhelmed. Steve got here late on Friday night, we had a quick dinner from the Bar-Be-Cutie then went to sleep. On Saturday, I did the race in the morning. Typical to Nashville's partyin' style, neighborhoods turned the race into a big cookout / breakfast cocktail party. After the race, we hung out at Bongo Java for coffee and a view of the Nun Bun, visited the Parthenon, then sat on the lawn at Centennial Park and listened to the Dave Matthews concert going on across the street at Vanderbilt's Football stadium. On Sunday we visited Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art, had a fabulous dinner downtown and capped the night honkytonking at Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Monday we had breakfast at the Loveless Cafe (oh, how I had missed those biscuits) and then hiking woods at Percy Warner park. Then we went to see that AAA club, the Nashville Sounds, who have completely redone their stadium. Before heading in for the night we walked to the Tennessee State Capitol and then on the see the grandeur of the Hermitage Hotel.
We'd still like to squeeze in visits to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman, the Center for Visual Arts, dinner on the riverboat, listening to songwriters' night at the Bluebird Cafe, stops at Belmont and Belle Meade Mansions, a visit to the "other" Hermitage, a drive to Lynchburg to visit Jack Daniels and meals at about 5 barbecue places that I've missed.
Alas, we leave tomorrow.