Posts tagged ‘Tennessee’

December 17, 2014

TN: DOLLYWOOD

Dollywood Road Trip

I adore Dolly Parton. She’s the queen of the south with a colorful personality that sparkles brighter than Christmas lights. A feminist with a sense of humor, she’s guided her career with brains and beauty. Did you know Elvis Presley wanted to sing one of her songs, but she turned him down? She would have loved to have the King sing a song she wrote, but he was also asking for full rights to the music. Dolly knew it was a bad business deal. My love for Dolly Parton made her amusement park, Dollywood, a MUST SEE destination on the dream road trip.

Its located in the smoky mountains not far from where Dolly grew up. She built the park because she wanted to give back to her community, and she figured what better way than to give them jobs. This savvy carries into the personalities of those that work there as well. When I asked the cashier of a food stand if they took credit cards, she gave me a sweet smile and said “Darling this is Dollywood, we are happy to take your money in any form”. I got such a kick out of that statement, I walked away with my delicious fried green tomatoes giggling.

Fried Green Tomatoes

The day we were driving to Dollywood it was pouring rain in Tennessee. A three hour drive from Nashville, traffic was not on our side, and we were in the car about four and half hours. When we finally pulled off the freeway, a burst of sunlight broke through the thick grey clouds. I joked to Bowerbird that it was over Dollywood, because Dolly can do anything, even part the clouds. Driving closer to the park, we were both stunned that my prediction was right, it was bright and sunny over Dollywood.

Because of traffic by the time we arrived we only had a few hours before it closed, but I wouldn’t let lack of time sour our experience. We decided we wouldn’t leave until we were kicked out. The park is “Backwoods Themed”. There are tongue and cheek representations of country people sprinkled around the park, from the signs to animatronic characters inside the rides. I swear there was a robotic fella in overalls holding a jug with X’s on it inside a fireman inspired attraction. But Dollywood also celebrates the charm and character of the smoky mountains, from the ‘County Fair’ to the artisans that still know how to loom and whittle wood.

dollywood signs

Artisans Looming

The number one question I’m asked is if there are Dolly Parton impersonators walking around, and I’m sad to report there are none. But just go to your local drag queen show and I’m sure you’ll find a few. However, there is a Dolly Parton museum, where you can meet a holographic projection of Dolly Parton. It’s an amazing building that houses many treasures of her childhood and countless sparkly costumes from over her career. You can even ask Dolly Parton questions on touch screen televisions. I was able to get Dolly Parton’s feelings on dieting and following my dreams. But what touched my heart the most was being able to see the coat of many colors.

Dollywood Chasing Rainbows

Dollywood Coat of Many Colors

Dollywood_Costume

We spent a majority of our limited time in the Dolly museum, but it was well worth it. As the park was closing and people walked toward the exit, we raced to the opposite end of the park for Wild Eagle. A ridiculously tall coaster that made you feel like you were soaring like an eagle. It had started to rain so we speed walked, and by the time we reached the ride and ran up the stairs through the line ropes and hopped on the ride, we were both out of breath. The restraint was tight and I tried to not get claustrophobic as I was already hyperventilating. We went up at a 90 degree angle, the click clicks of the gear below, and at a 210 feet drop we wooshed down at speed of 61 mph. The twist and turns of this coaster are the best, especially while whipping past bright red and orange leaves. Dollywood is seriously the most nature loving amusement park I’ve ever been to, it’s simply gorgeous. There is a creek running through it!

Dollywood_WildEagle

After Wild Eagle, we exited through the gift shop. Now as Christmas is around the corner I feel incredibly stupid for not picking up more souvenirs as gifts. I know lots of Dolly lovers, and one Dolly fan I am particularly regretful for not picking up a coffee cup or magnet or something. I purchased a keychain for myself and few postcards, but if only they had an online shop I’d get all my holiday shopping done in one place. Dollywood was as magical as I imagined it. And even though we didn’t get to spend all day there, everything fell into the right combination for a fun adventure.

Dollywood_Holigram

Thanks for reading about my time at Dollywood! Comment below with your favorite Dolly Parton song.

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December 3, 2014

TN: Little Bit More Nashville

Road Trip Nashville

 

We spent so much time in Tennessee, and even more time in Nashville. The following happened over the course of a few days, but I thought writing about it in this fashion would be the most efficient. Also easier on the ADD blog reader.  Promise, I’m working on getting my post shorter! Well here is my Nashville…

PRINCE’S HOT CHICKEN

The hottest chicken in the south, Prince’s Hot Chicken, will bring tears to your eyes, no doubt about it. On the outskirts of downtown Nashville, located in a strip mall with a clothing store and nail shop as it’s neighbor, Prince’s Hot Chicken is as much an experience as visiting classic landmarks. We found out about Prince’s through Mind of a Chef, yes Sean Brock visited Prince’s Hot Chicken and recounted the burning sensation on film.

Filled with families and people who were picking up dinner before headed home, Bowerbird and I had to wait for a table to open up like sharks circling a boat. Fortunately the food isn’t served quickly, so we were able to get seats before the chicken was ready. I couldn’t imagine having tried to eat it standing up. It’s served up so hot it burns your fingertips as well as your tongue. We ordered the ‘hot’ chicken, and were told by a regular the two of us were crazy and would be feeling it in the morning. Sensory overload: our immune systems kicked into high gear to fight off the invasion of flavor, eyes filled with tears and noses began to run. Sharing a tiny side of potato salad, we nibbled on it trying to stretch the only way to give our tongues some relief.

For an hour afterwards we our lips were numb.

Prince's Hot Chicken Nashville TN

GROOVE RECORD STORE

After dinner we drove around Nashville until we could head out to the home of our host that night in Hendersonville. Gazing out the window I spotted Groove Record store, a house on the corner of a quaint street with an illuminated sign on the lawn. I love just coming across cool places, versus having it programed into the gps. It makes the discovery that more special. It was 5 minutes to closing, making a joke about being the assholes who are coming in right before the doors are locked, the clerk was friendly and assured us he had enough cataloging to do, and that we were fine. The walls are covered in local artist and music posters. Christmas lights strung beside an in-store stage. The selection of new and used music was phenomenal, and since we didn’t I bring many CD’s for the road trip we picked up Deerhoof and HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock). We even spotted the cd of a fellow label mate, ERRAS. We didn’t stay too long, but it was a great little find to shape our time in Nashville.

Groove Record Store Nashville TN

 

vintage dolly parton

THE HOUSE OF CASH

Thirty minutes outside Nashville, Hendersonville was where Johnny Cash and June Carter stayed until till their passing. It’s also where the Father of Bowerbird’s friend lived who graciously offered to host us for a night. I will refer to him as Mr. Radio because of his amazing voice.  Mr. Radio lived just down the street from the original Johnny Cash museum, The House of Cash, before it was moved to Downtown Nashville. Now a real estate office and dental practice, the buildings were originally an old train depot where June Carter had a little antique store along with where the museum was located. Being so close to more Johnny Cash history tingled the fan girl in me, but my mouth dropped when Mr. Radio offered to drive us up to Johnny Cash’s old home. It was the middle of night and unfortunately no moon, but he drove us along the fence as we peered from the car to see the faint outline of Cash’s home (which had burned down in 2007). Being so close to where this legend had lived gave me chills. As we drove away two fawns were walking on the road and ran into a neighboring yard.

Sign from House of Cash Johnny Cash

 

**The sign from House of Cash is now housed at the new Johnny Cash Museum in Downtown Nashville**

GRAND OL’ OPRY

When I purchased tickets to the Grand Ol’ Opry’s 89th birthday show, with no musical act yet listed, I was making a commitment to the dream. Seven months in advance, the tickets were will-call only and non-refundable. I had to be in Tennessee by October 11, and that’s exactly what I did. The act ended up being Craig Morgan. I’d never even heard his music before, but it was an amazing show. A down to earth musician, former military man, his songs were heart felt stories. Good country music is a story to a melody. He even made me cry, but then again country music always makes me cry. As it was the birthday celebration radio stations, activity tents, and food vendors were set up outside the auditorium. I purchased myself some rainbow kettle corn that tasted like fruity pebbles. The Grand Ol’Opry is located in a shopping center, the Opry Outlets. for me the shops took away from the magic of “The Grand Ol’ Opry”. I’m glad we took a tour at the Ryman. Next time we are in Nashville, I’m buying tickets to a Ryman show, even better I’ll make sure to get tickets to The Grand Ol’ Opry at the Ryman.

Grand Ol Opry Birthday Show

 

Couple ‘Selfie’ After the Show 

Dolly Parton Pumpkin

They had a fantastic Jack-O-Lantern display of Country Music Stars

Rainbow Popcorn and Grand Ol' Opry

My Popcorn and Dolly 

 I missed going to the Blue Bird and a dive bar in an Airstream trailer, but it just gives us a reason to return.

Have you ever been to Nashville?

p.s. Notice all the Dolly Parton pics I snapped? Well next post will be all about Dollywood!

October 13, 2014

TN: Walking in Memphis…

Graceland Memphis Road Trip

Memphis has soul, it possess a grit that can be felt throughout the city. It’s this authentic character even amongst the most tired tourist spots. I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but you don’t visit Memphis without going to Graceland. A different tour guide experience, your handed an ipad and headphones to help direct the tour. Older gentlemen and their wives at times looked like lost children with the clunky tech around their neck, trying to figure out where to go next once the audio (spoken by John Stamos) ended. It’s a tour that depends on self- reliance to move from one room to the next, and a little bit of attitude in not allowing the museum staff to heard you from one room to the next too quickly.

Elvis’s decorating style was as distinctive as his sound. There is no doubt you are in the home of a king; it’s opulent carved furniture, stained glass windows, shag carpeting as wall treatment, and bright patterns on the walls are loud but in harmony. For any interior design nerd, you must go to Graceland. It overflows with unique focus pieces, and is a challenge to the bold to see if one could decorate their own home this way, and succeed.

Next we headed to Sun Records, the source of where it all began. Parking in the back alley a man approached us, being friendly he chatted us up about traveling and being from California. He eventually asked for a couple bucks, and I said I had no change but would give him something when I broke my twenty.  Going into Sun, I bought our tour tickets and then walked back outside to search for the gentleman.  He appeared out of nowhere, once again like how he appeared the first time, and lit up at the fact we had gone out to actually find him to give him the dollar. A woman of my word, I handed it to him and he gave us a hug.

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