Saturday, October 4, 2014

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2014: The Grand Ole Opry

After our short jaunt to Mammoth Cave National Park, it was on to the next state on our trip, one which I'd never been to before but always wanted to visit.

Let's take a trip to Tennessee...find a spot by a lazy tree...

Yes, Tennessee, more specifically Nashville, was a place I'd always wanted to see.  It was actually the one destination on our itinerary that did not involve an amusement park and we were all just as excited to check it out as we were for any of the theme parks we visited. 

Since we arrived in Nashville late in the day, we decided to hold off until the morning to explore, and our first destination was Nashville's most famous of landmarks,, the Grand Ole Opry.  Now I've never been a big fan of country music, but being in Nashville and especially at the the Opry, you can't help but be excited to be there for its significance to the music world in general.   The experience was one which I'll remember for a long, long time.  

*Just an FYI for anyone out there thinking of visiting Nashville and the Opry...the place is not actually within the limits of Nashville proper, but about a 20-minute drive outside of the city.

It was Rich's idea to book the backstage tour.  His sister, mom and niece had done it a couple of years ago and they told him how good it was.  And it was probably the best introduction to all the history that is the Opry and country music itself that we could have had.

We booked our tour for 11:30 a.m. and waited around for about a half-hour, checking out the gift shop and surrounding area, which included a shopping mall and the Gaylord Opryland Hotel (stay tuned...).  While we waited, there was this nice local girl working a lunch menu from the entrance to the tour, and I asked her about something I'd been noticing ever since we had arrived in Tennessee.

Practically everywhere we went, there was this sign in the front window indicating "no handguns allowed."  I though it was odd, and since the girl was so friendly I thought I'd ask her about it...

Do that many people really carry around guns?

Well, no, not around here in Nashville, but yeah, in the surrounding areas.  Sure. 

Coming from New York, where we probably have more reason to carry a gun than anywhere else, but don't, this was a little disconcerting.  Wait a second, we were in the Bible Belt!  (Things that make ya go hmmmmm!!!!)

Back to the Opry...

Anyway, that half an hour went by quickly and before you knew it, we were in an anteroom getting our introduction, via video, from country music superstar and Opry member Blake Shelton.  Once the video intro was complete, it was time for our tour.  I actually got goosebumps as we walked by the backstage door where the singer's enter the Opry, all of the dressing rooms and the lounge.  We saw the front desk and the wall where all of the Opry's members were posted in little gold plates.  We got to see the sound stage where the show Nashville is often filmed, and all of the stars' personal mailboxes.  The whole thing was hella cool!

The piece die resistance, though, had to be the stage itself.  This was the culminating stop on the tour, the place where so many great country artists have performed, from Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Garth Brooks and so many more.  We even got to stand on this famous little wooden circle, that has been a part of the Opry stage since its inception, the very spot where all of the greats stood and sang their hearts out over the past almost 90 years.  Now that's history! 
The Grand Ole Opry is a must if you ever get to Nashville, and if you're really into country music, catch a live show (yes, they still happen all the time!) in addition to the backstage tour.  You don't have to be a country music fan to really, really enjoy it.

Stay tuned for some more places we visited on our Roller Coaster Road Trip 2014.
Meanwhile check out some more pictures from the Grand Ole Opry and also my previous entries on our road trip:

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