Southeast USA Day 1

Today it was up before dawn to get the finishing touches put together for my trip. I only managed about 4 hours of sleep, but I was hoping to get that back on one of the plane flights. As soon as I finished getting ready, Daniel woke up and drove me to the airport. It is nice to live close to an airport, even if it is one that you have to make connections to get anywhere significant.

The longest line was at the American “Bag Drop” Line which was wholly inefficient compared to their operations at LAX. The check in agents were a relic from a different time, and a different standard of dress and conduct compared to the other agents next to them from Virgin America that were sporting spiky hairdos and up to date designer clothing. The TSA line was uneventful except for the people who were in the expert line who should have been in the “I haven’t traveled since President Carter was in office” line. I dined on a quick McDonald’s breakfast – something of a favorite pre-flight meal of mine – Sausage Biscuit and Hash Browns thank you very much.

We had a minor fog delay before we were airborne. I slept rather nicely on the plane listening to my iPhone. I also used my iPhone to take some nice out the window snaps en route. On approach to Dallas, I discovered I had hit the DFW jackpot as my connecting plane was only 6 gates away, and in the same terminal! Mom and Gary were due in shortly and ended up arriving early, but paying for it because their gate was not ready and had to sit in the plane for a bit.

We had some snacks in the terminal before we boarded the plane to Nashville. As we were getting ready to go, the pilot informed us they had a bad tire and they needed to replace it. Sadly, I had an aisle seat so I could not see the huge jack or whatever they used to lift the plane up to replace it. I wonder if there was a bolt in their tire too??

45 minutes later, we were on our way. We encountered a bit more turbulence on this flight, mainly due to all the weather activity in the area. Nothing panic inducing, but enough to get your attention. The pilot did a bang up job making up time and we managed to arrive only about 30 minutes late into Nashville. We grabbed our bags and piled into our rented Hyundai Santa Fe and headed out to the hotel. Mom managed to score a Hyatt Place for our night stay and I was treated to a comfy sofa bed. We dropped off our bags and headed to get some food at the Steak N Shake near the Hermitage. I did not know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good and cheap the food was.

After eating, we decided to do a whirlwind tour of Nashville and environs. The Hermitage was closed already, but we swung by for a quick photo op, and will visit again tomorrow. Our tour took us downtown past the Titans’ Stadium, the State Capital with the tomb of James K Polk, and a quick drive by of the Ryman Auditorium, the old home of the Opry.

We headed back towards Gaylord Opryland and the Grand Ole Opry. There used to be a theme park called Opryland USA, but it was torn down and converted into the Opry Mills shopping center. Funny thing, is that there is this amazing resort (the Gaylord Opryland) and the Grand Ole Opry itself right there in the parking lot. We decided to forgo the $18 to park at the Opryland Resort and did the 5 min walk from the Opry Mills parking lot. It is a pretty amazing and borderline cheesy place, but it has these huge indoor atriums complete with a riverboat ride, a garden area, and a bunch of shops and restaurants. They also have a dancing waters show that we missed. I took a bunch of photos all over the hotel and then we drove over to the Grand Ole Opry, where I jumped out and took some photos out front.

By then we all were dragging from lack of sleep, but we wanted to get ready for our first drive day tomorrow, so we visited the Kroger Grocery store and stocked up on snacks and water for the trip. We are now all set for our drive tomorrow to Knoxville. We just need to decide what Nashville attractions we want to see now or on Friday when we come back. We are definitely going to have to miss some things on the trip because there is never time to see everything.