Monday, November 13, 2006


We’re here! We’re in Nashville!

But how did we get here?

We were finally able to leave the city on Friday, so we packed up the car with a month’s worth of living, and headed off to the border. We were careful not to pack things that made it look like we were moving in a permanent sense, as that move won’t happen til January.

Still, one the border guards decided to give us some trouble. We were questioned separately about our plans and intentions, and our relationship to one another. But because we’re not planning on working while we’re here, and they couldn’t find any real issue with us, we were given our passports back, and off we went.

It’s about a 12 hour drive to Nashville, but since we have the time, we decided to make it into a little road trip. Our first day’s drive brought us to Cleveland, where we stayed in an awful little hotel. Happily, it was next to an awesome little Mexican restaurant, with killer peppers, and a hot sauce so tasty you could drink it with a spoon. (Well, we could drink it that way!)

The next day was dedicated to the Mecca of Cleveland (for the non-sports fans!), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Wicked good fun! It’s full of exhibits and memorabilia and completely awesome things. I was most impressed with how diverse the music was in the museum. They had lots of displays on the early influences of rock and roll, including bluegrass, country, folk, blues, jazz, and gospel. Mahalia Jackson has been inducted to the Hall of Fame as an ‘influence’. And I discovered a gospel group called the Soul Stirrers, who’s original lead singer was Sam Cooke. Bought their CD - sooo good!

Some of our favourite pieces in the exhibits:
- Elvis’s grade 7 report card.
- Michael Jackson’s glove (tacky, but doesn’t it represent so much of our childhood?)
- Madonna’s Gautier bustier (again, tacky, but...)
- Aerosmith’s microphone with all the scarves on it.
- Handwritten lyrics by Hendrix, Orbison, and the Beatles.
- And my personal favourite, a hand-written chart for Bobby Darin’s rendition of Mack the Knife!

I loved watching the range of people that were at the museum - kids who play in a band back home, and middle-aged couples having high-school flashbacks. So many different people, all in love with great music and great times.

After a quick lunch, we jumped in the car to head to Cincinnati. On the way out of town, we passed by a parking lot full of football fans getting ready for the game, and they were having a tailgate party! They all had the backs of their cars opened up, and they’d dragged speakers and barbeques and dogs and children and noise into this parking lot. So American! Could have been a scene from a movie!

It was a terrible day for driving with Grade A Newfoundland weather - rain, drizzle, and fog. But a triple espresso concoction from Starbucks keep us on the road and singing in the rain.

We hit Cincinnati in the evening, so we really didn’t get to see much of the city. We were looking for flying turkeys, and I was tempted to put up masking tape walls in the room, but other than that, it all seemed sort of plain and normal. Our hotel was really nice, with a big cushy bed and a downtown location. We were exhausted from the rough drive, so we decided to head out for dinner and relax for the rest of the night. We found a great restaurant called Shanghai Mama’s, that advertises as "an authentic 1920's noodle house". It’s dark, and moody, and very cozy. We started with their award-winning shrimp tempura, and moved on to huge bowls of noodles. Mine was orange duckling with thick noodles and a spicy sauce. Just incredible! Next time you’re in Cincinnati...

Next morning, we got up early (well, early for us!) and headed straight for Tennessee. We drove through Kentucky, where we had our first Cracker Barrel visit. Hello! While in Kentucky, Gerald treated me to a medley of every song every written with a reference to Kentucky. And even though we’re definitely in the off-season, you can tell this is gorgeous country down here.

And then, we crossed the border into Tennessee! Whoo-hoo! For our first night in Nashville, we decided to give ourselves a special treat: A night in the Opryland Hotel!

The Opryland Hotel is not like your everyday hotel. It has over 2900 rooms, many with their own personal balconies that hang into one of the many atriums of the hotel. We had a standard room (read: barely affordable) but it was still gorgeous and lush and beyond comfortable. I completely fell in love with the crimped fleece throw on the bed. If I wasn’t so chronically honest, I would have accidently slipped one into my suitcase...

I don’t even know if I can describe this hotel in any way that will do it justice. It has enough stores, restaurants, and pubs to fill a mall. You need to carry your map with you at all times if you have any hope of getting back to your room. But the most spectacular things are the atriums. They are huge and tropical and gorgeous. They are full of palm trees and fountains and cascading vines. They are full of pathways so you can walk above the trees or behind the waterfalls. One of the atriums is so big that it houses several large buildings containing restaurants and stores. This atrium also has a river where you can take a boat ride. When they built the river, they filled it with water from rivers across America and around the world. (It reminded me of baptisms at St. John’s when we use water from the River Jordan and all the provinces.)

But the best part is that it’s all decorated for Christmas! The official shows don’t start til later this week, but all the decorations are up, and it’s fantastic! There’s the stuff you expect: mini lights on every plant, a ginormous tree, and a place where you can write (actually, email) Santa. But there’s also the North Pole village that floats above the Italian restaurant. And the jack-in-the-box that appears to be jumping out of the roof of one of the atriums. And the all-white, larger-than-life-sized nativity that is built in and around the outdoor swimming pool and fountain. (Yes, I did say in!)

The whole experience was romantic and luxurious and just plain wonderful. Not something we could do everyday, but definitely a great way to start our time here in Nashville.

Today, we have checked into a regular hotel in the city. We’ll be staying here til we find an apartment, which we’re hoping will happen this week.

It’s taken so much time and so much work to get here, but now that the time has come, we couldn’t be more excited!

We’re here!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

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