Supper with the Fishies and the Grand Ole Opry

Another installment in the Nashville series. For those of you who are new to this blog, I have been recapping the sister’s trip that my sister Andrea and I took this summer. It was a blast. Hopefully these little nuggets will give you a little glimpse into how awesome this trip wasmemories to last a lifetime!


Ann and I decided to sleep in. About 10:45 am, I pulled back the covers and ran to the bathroom to take a quick little bathroom break. As I crawled back into bed, my phone almost immediately began to ring. My new blog friend Valerie was calling to see where I was at. Valerie and our other blog friend Janel were coming to Nashville for the first ever Five Minute Friday retreat.

I gave Val directions to our hotel. Then I quickly jumped out of bed and began getting ready for the day. After about 20-30 minutes, I got another phone call telling me they had arrived. I yelled through the bathroom door to tell Ann I was running downstairs to get them.

I stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the 1st floor. However, God had a sense of humor that morning as the elevator kept climbing….6th, 7th, 8th and so on before it finally began descending to the first floor. I stepped off the elevator, turned right to the end of the short hallway, turned right again and soon my new friends were in my line of sight.

Janel proclaimed, “There she is!” Valerie saw me, ran up to me and embraced me in the hugest hug. After our hug, I ran over to Janel and hugged her. Together the three of us walked to the elevator, stepped inside, and pushed the button for our floor. Once off the elevator, we walked to our room.

Once inside, I introduced my new friends to my sister. We sat on the beds and chatted for awhile. Then we decided it was time to pick a lunch place. After perusing through the Nashville area recommended restaurants, we decided to head to Germantown and the Germantown Cafe.

Our drive to the restaurant was an adventure as we wondered if Siri was giving us the right directions: around one curve, then another, until we finally arrived at the cafe. At the cafe, we checked in and waited for our table. We only waited a few minutes before our server came to seat us. We all looked over the menu. After awhile the waiter came and took our order. Val and I both ordered the same thing: the french onion soup with a fried green tomato sandwich.

As we waited for our meal, we visited. It really was like we have known each other much longer than we have. Soon the waiter came with our meals and we all dug in. It was the most delicious french onion soup that I have had in a long time. The whole top of the soup was covered with ooey gooey cheese that melted in your mouth. The fried green tomato sandwich was yummy too! We all enjoyed our meals.

The waiter came to take our plates away and of course, asked if we wanted some dessert. After a very brief moment of hesitation, we ordered the caramel apple dessert and a yummy chocolate dessert. They seriously were the most decadent desserts. I literally would have ate the whole caramel apple dessert if my friends would have let me.

After our meal, we walked out to Val’s car. A beautiful flowering tree was blossoming in front of us. We stopped to take in the breathe and depth of God’s awesome creation. While we were enjoying the flowers, Val and Janel noticed a baby bird in the branches. We peaked through the branches until we spotted him. He looked so comfortable there…but then he soon decided to fly away.

We all climbed back into Val’s car. Val and Janel dropped Ann and I off at our hotel. We went inside and I called for a Lyft driver to come pick us up. He said he would be there shortly. As we were getting ready to leave, Ann reminded me that I had wanted to change. So like the quick changers from a few seasons ago on America’s Got Talent, I changed as fast as I could.

Our driver arrived. Ann and I got into the car and he drove us to Opryland. Ann and I sat and waited until the time for our tour arrived. Soon the clock struck 3:45 pm and Ann and I walked to the back door where the group of people going on our tour were waiting. The doors opened. We walked inside and sat down. The tour guide played us an introduction video featuring the one and only Blake Shelton.

After the video, our tour began. We stood on the infamous circle where we had our picture taken. As we stood there, I couldn’t help but think of all the stars that had stood in that exact spot as they sang on the Grand Ole Opry. After everyone was done with their pictures, our tour guide took us backstage to see the dressing rooms.

When you first enter into the backstage area, there is a Grand Ole Opry post office. She told us that many of the stars pick up their own mail themselves. She then had us look to the right of the post office where the wall of fame was. Each name on that wall is names of stars who have been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Blake Shelton hung his own plaque and if you look closely, you can see that he hung it

We continued down the hallways where our tour guide showed us all the dressing rooms. They are themed dressing rooms. There is the Stars and Stripes room which has an American flag painted on its wall. There is the Women of Country room. There is the It Takes Two room which is dedicated to the honor of country duos. And many many more rooms as well.

After our tour, Ann and I walked across the street to the Opryland mall where we decided to have supper at an Aquarium restaurant. Ann and I looked over the menu and ordered our meal. As we were waiting, we watched the fish of all shapes and sizes swimming in the tank.

Our meal soon arrived. Ann and I ate our meal and then walked back across the street. We waited for the doors to open. Then we found our seats. They were in the balcony; second row or so right in the center. We waited for the show to begin.

Soon several Congregational Medal of Honor honorees were led to their seats. Throughout the night, these men and women were honored for their service to our country. The show began. Jeannie Seely soon walked onto stage. Then a bluegrass band played for us. After 30 minutes, a short break was had and then the next section began. We heard from Pam Tillis, Mark Wills, Mel Tillis, The Gaither Brothers, Raelyn and so many more.

One of my favorite moments was when RaeLyn was on stage. She sang one of her songs. Then she asked the audience to sing “America the Beautiful” with her. She shared about how her brother serves in the military. It gave me goosebumps. After she finished, Larry Gaitlin stopped her and said, “I love your heart young lady. You could have promoted your own career and played one of your songs, but you didn’t. You chose to celebrate and honor these military men and women.”

The show ended. Ann and I walked outside with the swarm of people. I plugged in my phone as the battery was dying so that I could call for a Lyft driver to come pick us up. We waited on the curb for him to arrive. He finally arrived and drove us back to our hotel.

We got out of the car, thanked him for our ride, and walked into the main lobby of our hotel. We rode the elevator up to our hotel room. Then Ann and I took the time to carefully pack all of our new souvenirs so nothing would get broken on the plane ride home. After everything was carefully packed away, we both crawled into our beds but not before I took one last look at the Fitbit. We had walked 7,416 steps; 3.19 miles; burned 2,304 calories and had been active for 23 minutes.

As we laid our heads down for the night, Ann and I were both sad that our trip was coming to an end. Memories to last a lifetime!



A Wednesday at Opryland (Nashville: Day 3)

After a great first couple of days, Ann and I decided to sleep in. Once we woke up, we got dressed and ready for the day. While we were getting ready, Ann and I decided to try a car service rather than a taxi since the taxi from the airport was so expensive. (The night before we had asked the person at the front desk the best way to get from the hotel to Opryland. She suggested Lyft or Uber and gave us a discount card for Lyft rides.

I pulled up the Lyft app on my phone and called for a driver. Soon I received a text saying that he was outside waiting for us. (I decided that I actually prefer Lyft over Uber as Lyft shows you a picture of the car and a picture of the person, so you know who to look for!) Ann and I took the elevator and walked to the front of the hotel where our driver was waiting for us. We got into the car, put on our seat belts, and headed off to Opryland.

Before we knew it, our driver was dropping us off directly in front of the Grand Ole Opry. Ann and I got out of the car and walked towards the front doors of the Opry. As we were walking there, we saw two giant guitars; an electric guitar on one side and a regular guitar on the other side with the words “Grand Ole Opry” written on the neck of the guitars. Ann and I were getting ready to take a few photos when another tourist asked if he could take the pictures for us. We agreed. He took our pictures and then we took pictures of him and his wife for him.

After snapping our photos, Ann and I checked in at the lobby to find out where the General Jackson would be boarding in a few hours. Once they told us, Ann and I decided to check out the gift shop. The first display that caught my eye was a display of t-shirts, cds, etc for the new television show Nashville. I found a cool t-shirt with the words Deacon Claybourne written on them. I found my size and decided to try it on. Ann and I were overwhelmed with all the choices.

After awhile, we went to try on our clothes. The dressing room was actually a storage closet, so there were ladders, boxes etc taking up space which left not much room for us to try on our clothes. As we discarded items, we found ourselves laying them over empty boxes, ladder rungs, etc. Ann and I found the items we wanted and headed to the register. Ann bought my t-shirt for me as an early birthday gift. (Thanks sis!)

Once we made our purchase, we crossed the street into the mall. We walked through the mall until we arrived at the food court. The receptionist had told us that the General Jackson docks directly across from the food court. We walked out into the hot August air and crossed the road. All we found was the old dock for a prior boat. We looked to our right and saw a tour bus unloading. We looked at each other and said that must be where the General Jackson boards so we turned right and headed there.

We stood in line. Once we were escorted in, they asked us to go stand in front of the boat and then they snap your photo. After our photo was taken, we sat down and waited for the boat to board. After awhile, they began boarding the boat. Ann and I found our table; table 26 and sat down. A Dad and his two twin daughters from Wisconsin soon joined us at our table.

We went through the buffet line where there was a plethora of choices set before us; yummy Southern food. We enjoyed our meal and visited with the family sitting at our table. After awhile, a gentlemen came by to show us our photo and ask if we wanted to purchase it. Ann and I decided to get our photo.

Soon Nashville Live began. Nashville Live is a show where they sing country songs from all different generations. If you have ever been to North Dakota and the Medora Musical, it kind of reminded me of the musical. We indulged in the decadent cheesecake as we continued to watch the show.

After about an hour and a half, the show finished and we were all invited to go stand and/or sit outside on the deck of the boat. Ann and I stood and enjoyed the view of Downtown Nashville from the boat. Soon the boat turned around and our hotel was staring right back at us. We both scrambled to see if we could get a quick photo of our hotel from the boat. Then we climbed the staircase to the gift shop where we purchased a few more souvenirs. Then we went back downstairs, sat on the deck and enjoyed the cool breeze as we headed back for Opryland. Before we knew it, we were docking the boat.

We walked back to the Grand Ole Opry to see if they had any backstage tours available for the afternoon. They only had a 4 pm showing and my new friend Jen was coming to pick us up so we decided to wait until Friday when we would be coming back to attend the Grand Ole Opry.

Ann and I waited patiently for a car with Iowa plates to come pick us up. We were standing on the sidewalk when I noticed a car turn into the mall parking lot. Then my phone buzzed. It was a text from Jen asking where we were. I told her we were standing on the sidewalk and I had a colorful maxi dress on. Before I knew it, my eyes spotted the Iowa plates. She pulled up into the turnabout and we got into the car.

Jen had me navigate back to our hotel. After about 15-20 minutes, we arrived at the hotel. We parked in the parking garage and then went up to our room. After awhile, we decided to go pick up batteries for our cameras and then we would go explore downtown Nashville for a little bit.

I entered the directions to the CVS Pharmacy in my phone and tried to navigate us to the store. However we got lost along the way. We had Siri recalculate the directions and then headed back towards where we had come from. I spotted the CVS out of the corner of my eye. It was hidden and not easy to spot…no wonder we drove by it the first time. Jen waited in her car while Ann and I ran into the store to purchase the batteries.

We drove back, parked Jen’s car, and ventured downtown Nashville into yet another tourist shop. We all looked around for awhile. Ann and I decided on a few more souvenirs. With Ann’s hands full of souvenirs, she accidentally dropped an item and it broke. Luckily the store manager was very kind and told us that we only had to buy an item at that same price which we had planned on doing anyways.

Soon Jen, Ann, and I were on our way back to Jen’s car. Along the way, we stopped and snapped a few photos of downtown Nashville. Before we knew it, we were back at Jen’s car. We spent some time deciding where we would eat. After a while and from a recommendation from the couple who sat with us at 3rd and Lindsley on Monday night, we decided to try out Monells.

I again navigated our way to the restaurant. We parked the car. The restaurant stands in this beautiful red brick house. We walked inside and checked in at the restaurant. We waited. Then a waitress came and seated us at a huge oak dining room table. I sat down, Ann sat down to the right of me, and then Jen sat down to the right of her. Soon another party was being seated at our table as well. I thought it was funny that their slogan is “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.”

The cook came and served us all family style. We passed the numerous bowls of food around the table. There was sooo much food; pork chops, baked chicken, fried chicken, cucumber salad, green beans, cornbread, melt in your mouth biscuits and gravy and so much more. For dessert, we had yummy banana pudding. All of the food was home cooked and oh so delicious. We were stuffed by the time we left the restaurant. We couldn’t eat another bite!

We paid for our meal and headed outside. Outside it was raining. We briskly walked back to Jen’s car; trying to stay as dry as possible. Jen drove Ann and I back to the hotel and then dropped us off but not before, I told her we had to snap a quick selfie together.

After the selfie was snapped and once we were inside the hotel, Ann and I noticed there was a band playing at our hotel. We went to our room and dropped off our items. Then we came back downstairs and listened to this young band for awhile before heading back upstairs to lay our heads down for the night.

It had been a great day. We had walked 8,237 steps; 3.55 miles; burned 2,276 calories and walked 19 active minutes. Little did we know that while we were riding on the General Jackson, there had been a shooting at a theater in Nashville. Many friends and family messaged us to make sure we were okay which we were.

Widening the Circle

When I was little, I didn’t have a lot of friends. In Kindergarten, I met my best friend who was a year older than me. She had been held back because she had undergone a kidney transplant. Mandy passed away in October of 2008. Since that time, God has been all over my friendships. In fact, I have been blessed by some amazing friendships in my life, but I never imagined how wide God would make that friendship circle. There are days I think that the circle can never get any larger and then God expands it even more! God has a funny way of doing that, doesn’t he?

A year ago, last October, I joined the Write 31 Days challenge. My topic was “Being a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness.” Never could I have imagined, how much this writing challenge would change me and would bring more amazing friends into my life. And than God went and expanded the circle more!

Due to the challenge, I was introduced even more to the Five Minute Friday community. (I cannot wait each week for our Thursday Twitter parties) These women have become my heart!!!!!!!!! They continually accept me for who I am. They continually see things in me that I don’t always see in myself. They never let me forget who and whose I am….a daughter of the one true king. We have looked at each other’s Facebook pages and even listened to each other’s voices on social media outlets such as Voxer. We have read and shared each other’s words. We have sent each other snail mail as part of the FMF Snail Mail party. Those words so often are just what I need to hear and come at exactly the right moment. And again the circle grows wider……

Then last Wednesday, my sister and I stood on a sidewalk at the Grand Ole Opry waiting for a car with Iowa plates to come pick us up. That car was being driven by one of the many FMF women. Jen and I have read each other’s blogs and conversed on Twitter and Instagram. But now here we were looking at each other face to face…listening to each other’s words spoken out loud. Jen, my sister, and I explored downtown Nashville together and then went and had supper together. Yet again the circle grew a little bit wider…or in the words of my friend Janel, my heart grew even larger too!

Friday morning, I found myself standing on an elevator waiting to meet two more of the FMF ladies. I stepped onto the elevator and pushed the button to take me down to the lower floor. But instead of going down, that darn elevator went all the way to the 14th floor. God has a funny sense of humor, doesn’t he? The elevator finally reached the 14th floor and then began descending down. It finally reached the lower level and I stepped off. I turned around the corner to the hotel lobby, looking for these two dear woman. But they actually spotted me before I spotted them. A voice exclaimed, “There she is!” The next thing I knew I was being embraced in a warm loving hug. After the embrace ended, I reached out and embraced the other woman.

Together, the three of us stepped into the elevator and rode back up to the 7th floor where we would find my sister in our hotel room. We sat and talked. Funny thing is, it was like we have been friends forever. No ackwardness…but rather pure joy and friendship. The four of us then went to eat at this quaint little cafe in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. The three of us (kindred sisters introduced through the blogging world) now were sitting and breaking bread together. (Jen and I had sat and broke bread together early in the week too!) I still smile at the fact that the three of us ordered the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich while two of us ordered an identical meal: Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with French Onion Soup.

Through the breaking of the bread, gathered around the table, God widened the circle even more leaving room for more friendships to be born and welcomed into this holy space. I may not have been able to attend the FMF retreat, but I still feel like my heart is ten times larger this week and that the circle will always have room for more! God will continually call together women (and men) of different times and places to break bread together.

I am linking up with Holly for Testimony Tuesday; Kelly for the RaRa Linkup, Holley for Coffee for your Heart and Jennifer for Tell His Story:

 

Here in Nashville

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Here.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

I’m here in Nashville this week. My sister surprised me with a sister’s trip last Christmas. We have been here since Sunday night.

Monday we went on a tour of the Ryman and later to 3rd and Lindsley…a bar that was recommended to me by a musician friend. That place didn’t disappoint at all. All I have to say is two words: Vince Gill. Vince plays here every Monday night with a group called the Time Jumpers. I was fangirling hard. I’ve loved Vince ever since I can remember.

Tues we went back to this place and heard a country showcase of young artists. So fun! Ate at Acme Feed and Seed–so yummy!

Wednesday–We rode on the General Jackson riverboat. Also because FMF friends are here for the retreat, I was able to meet a blog friend InRL.* So fun to explore Nashville with Jen and my sis. Even ate at Monells–good home cooked food!

Today we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and historic RCA Studio B. I got chills hearing the music and it’s history there. Supper at the historic Wildhorse Saloon. I even tried my hand at some line dancing. Stopped at the Johnny Cash museum cafe on our way back to the hotel. There was a songwriters showcase. Fun to listen. Finished out our day with a swim.

Tomorrow Grand Ole Opry and also hopefully meeting up with some more blog friends InRL. I am excited that the retreat is here which is allowing for some meet ups. But a tad bummed I won’t be able to be at the retreat.

But also so glad that it is here and many will be able to be there.

*My five minutes ended here!! I had a lot to say this week!!