Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 3 June 24, 2010 Grand Ole Opry to Godknowswhere Iowa

What is so... continental about a continental breakfast anyway? Since when did the term define breakfast as free and having at least one or two items that don't totally gross you out before you hit the road? I'm curious. Either way, the Nashville Holiday Inn is doing it right. Eggs, sausage, fruit, cinnamon rolls bigger than my head, grits, oatmeal, and the southern staple of sausage gravy and biscuits. Mmmmm.... ready to roll! The fine meal turned into a fine tour at the original Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium. This entertainment mecca was a historic treasure find. Especially for a musician like myself and a country music fan like Sarah. We got the full tour with Buddy, who has been working the joint since 1964 officially, but has been hanging out there since he was "knee high to a grasshopper". He's a legend in the building and had stories that raised the hairs on our arms about some of the most legendary performers in showbiz. He went on and on about Johnny Cash kicking the light bulbs off the stage and the night Minnie Pearl's tag slipped from her hat with the trademark $1.98 that she kept as long as she performed. We heard stories about Hank Williams, Carl Perkins, Chet Atkins, Elvis Presley and scores more that graced the stage during the golden years of the Opry while touring the bellows of the backstage area. It was a real thrill and it was awesome to see the building spared by the floods that have pretty much destroyed the sister club Opryland on the other side of the river. On the way out, Buddy told us he'd turn his back and let us in to a show free of charge if we ever came back. I'm thinking I might take him up on that.... I know Sarah will!

We roamed the famous haunts of Nashville that morning including the guitar shop, the poster print shop where all the famous concert posters have been made since 1879, and an excellent old fashioned malt shop where I got a creamy root beer float and Sarah got a milkshake for the road. We were ready to hit it.

The journey through Tennessee was very pleasant and of course we played classic country for most of the ride. Even after we picked up a new ipod adapter at a Target in Missouri, we still had the country music carrying us for the majority of the drive. Sarah captained the Escape through St. Louis and well into the state before we stopped for gas and a bite to eat. I took over at the helm and proceeded to roll through Ozark country with Sarah providing music education; it was a fantastic time. We stopped on a whim, at the historic town of Blackwater, Missouri, which Sarah was quick to point out has a population of 199. Not the type of place you want to be after dark.... it had a certain horror film quality to it if you looked at it that way. Otherwise, Main St looked like it hadn't been changed since 1880 and we both agreed it felt like we were in the Whistlestop town portrayed in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes". Blackwater's City Hall looked like a boutique shop and if you didn't see the stenciling on the window, you would figure it to be as such. We got a kick out of the county jail, which looked fresh out of a western flick and we were so enamored with the cute Western setting, we stayed to watch the sunset over some cornfields at a little park on the outskirts of town. An old rottweiler provided company to us while the sun sank deep into the western sky. It was a quiet and heavenly scene.

As the night came on we drove some heavy miles deep into the throes of corn and dairy laden Iowa. There were times when there was nobody in front of us and not a soul behind. After midnight we had a tough time finding an exit that had available rooms. We settled for a motel that said "Motel" on the side of the road in the flattest land you ever saw. It was almost 1 am and the woman at the counter was way too alive for the time of night and she was chain smoking. This should have been a warning. The room was as clean as would be expected for what we paid, but you could smell the 40 years of smoking in the air and it kept me up all night. I was happy to get a cup of coffee in the morning and get outside. It was the first time on the trip that I woke up before Sarah!

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