Tag Archives: Athena

The Tennessee Bucket List

29 Mar

We spent Saturday afternoon roaming around Nashville. We ate lunch on the patio at Burger Republic and played around at Centennial Park. In between, we browsed through some shops. It was while browsing that I found a book called The Tennessee Bucket List: 100 Ways to Have a Real Tennessee Experience. Actually, it only lists 99 ways because the last one is something that a writer would put in there when he could not think of anything else to add.

Anyway, I bought the book because I wanted to know how many of these I had done. Heck, I have lived in Tennessee my entire life. I must have done most of them. Also, buying the book meant I could write a blog post.

Here goes the list of my real Tennessee experience.

See a Show at the Grand Ole Opry – I have seen the Opry at the Opry House and at the Ryman Auditorium. Thanks to a former student my wife and I were lucky enough to see the Opry backstage at the Ryman. She got her picture with Riders in the Sky.

Behold the Beauty of a Tennessee Walker – We have had box seats at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration since I was a kid. Most people go to Shelbyville for the horses. I go for the donuts.

Watch a NASCAR Race – Actually, I have been to a NASCAR race in Alabama. I will be at the Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time in the Fall, and that will be for a football game.

Sip Moonshine – Everyone has done this, right?

Wander the District – You cannot have the full Nashville experience without going to this part of town.

Explore a King’s Mansion – The TV Room is my favorite part of Graceland. The Outlaw Josey Wales is playing all of the time.

There are three tv's. I left out the one showing the trivia answer.

Be a Part of an Archaeological Dig – I am not sure how much digging is done in Tennessee, but there was once a dig on my family’s farm.

See a Civl War Reenactment – The dad of one of my friends took me to a reenactment of the Battle of Stones River. It was surreal to see people pretend that they were living in the past.

Enjoy a Goo Goo Cluster – You have not had candy until you have had a Goo Goo.

See Seven States at the Same Time – Rock City is an old-time roadside attraction that has survived into the 21st Century. If you are near Chattanooga, then you have to, as the barn roofs say, See Rock City.

Take a Walk Down Music Row – You may not see a famous person, but you will pass buildings where awesome music has been created.

Walk the Field at Shiloh – Almost 110,000 Americans fought on this land. There were more casualties in this battle than in all of America’s previous wars combined. It is a haunting place.

Explore Cades Cove – When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was formed, land was taken from people who had lived in the mountains for years. This community has been preserved in its rustic state.

Stroll Down Beale Street – The Blues was not born in Memphis, but this is where the great Bluesmen gained fame.

See the Sunsphere – In 1982, the World’s Fair was held in Knoxville. It is the last World’s Fair to make a profit, but the Sunsphere is all that is left.

Buy a Pair of Boots – I admit that I have done it.

Stand in the Footsteps of History – Everyone should visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. It is housed in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. A few years ago, I took my family.

Explore the Titanic – Yep, the Titanic is in Tennessee. Specifically, it is in Pigeon Forge. It sounds strange, but it is an awesome museum.

See a Shark – Yep, sharks are in Tennessee. Specifically, they are at an aquarium in Gatlinburg, which is down the road from Pigeon Forge.

Hear Al Green Preach – I am cheating on this one. I have never heard Al Green preach, but I have heard him sing.

Visit Franklin on Foot – Downtown Franklin is a great place to visit. The city has found the right combination of preservation and enterprise.

Behold the Statue of Athena – Actually, we saw this on the same day I bought the book. Nashville has the Parthenon because it used to be known as the Athens of the South. Inside the Parthenon stands Athena.image-10

Strum a Guitar – Everyone has done this, right?

See a College Football Game – I have seen games at Neyland Stadium, Dudley Field, Nissan Stadium, the Liberty Bowl and Cumberland University’s Nokes-Lasater Field. However, the coolest one was Chamberlain Field in Chattanooga, which opened in 1908. When it closed, it was the second oldest college football stadium in the country.

Play Miniature Golf – It is one of my favorite things to do. The best place to do it? Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg.

Spend the Afternoon Shopping – The book talks about Opry Mills. However, the Mall at Green Hills is the best.

Savor a MoonPie – It is an awesome snack, but it is best paired with a RC Cola.

Visit the Grave of Meriwether Lewis – This is the Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame. He met a mysterious end in a tavern along the Natchez Trace.

See a Bear in the Woods – I saw a bear with her cubs at Cades Cove. Luckily, I did not end up like Leo DiCaprio.

Go Line Dancing – Everyone has done this, right?

Spend a Day at Dollywood – I have been to Dollywood after it was called Dollywood. I have also been there when it was called Silver Dollar City. I have also been there when it was called Gold Rush Junction.

Watch the Marching of the Ducks – The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is a nice hotel. It is also the home of some cool ducks.

Go Whitewater Rafting – Everyone has done this, right?

Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame – We try to go there each time they open a new exhibit. It is a great museum

Explore Market Square – This is a part of downtown Knoxville with a lot of cool restaurants and shops.

Pig Out of Memphis-Style Barbecue – Nashville people do not like to give Memphis credit for anything. However, they are tops when it comes to barbecue. Go to Rendezvous.

See an Eagle – A few wild ones can be seen around here.

Discover the Mighty Mississippi – At times, I have just sat and watched it flow by.

Ride a Sky Lift – For years, it has been a Gatlinburg landmark. Everyone has to ride it at least once.

Visit the Jack Daniels Distillery – Jack Daniels is produced in Lynchburg, which sits in a dry county. You cannot buy alcohol where the most famous whiskey is made.

Sit in the “Scopes Monkey Trial” Courtroom – One of my greatest moments as an educator was talking about the Scopes Trial in the courtroom. It is worth a visit to Dayton.

Sing “Rocky Top” – I have sung it thousands of times at the top of my lungs. However, I cannot bring myself to sing the “WOO” part.

Tour a Plantation – They are everywhere.

See a Lady Vols Basketball Game – I have seen a bunch of games and seen a bunch of victories. However, it is not the same without Pat Summitt.

Tour the Home of a U.S. President – There are three. I have seen two. Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk.

Ascend the Space Needle – It is a ride high over Gatlinburg.

See a Titans Game – I have done this a bunch. It was fun when they were winning. These days, it is not as much fun.

Cheer on the South (or North) – When I went to the Dixie Stampede, we were late and could only get tickets on the North side. I was told that the North never wins. That night they won.

Take a Riverboat Cruise at Night – Nashville’s General Jackson is a great ride on a Summer night.

Enjoy an Orchestra – We love going to the Nashville Symphony. They are awesome.

Sink Your Teeth into a King Leo Peppermint Stick – I am not crazy about them, but they are a Christmas tradition.

Walk to the Top of Clingman’s Dome – It is Tennessee’s highest point. Just watch out for the fog. They do not call them the Smoky Mountains for nothing.

Listen to a Country Music Concert – Everyone has done this, right?image-11

Visit a Fort – There are forts, but they are not as cool as forts in the American West.

There is my list. I will not write about the things that I have not done. I am sure the author of the book would love for you to buy a copy to see what else is in there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sunday in Nashville

14 Feb

I must start out by bragging a little. Nashville is a great place to live. It has the feel of a small southern town combined with an eclectic culture. Sure, Nashville has country music, but there is much more – art galleries, dining, parks, interesting places to browse. The list goes on and on. I wrote earlier about some of Nashville’s coolness, and this past Sunday I immersed myself into some of it. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how interesting Nashville is.

Sunday was not warm by anyone’s standards, but it was nice day nonetheless. Having spent most of the weekend around the house, my girlfriend and I decided to make our way into the big city and see what was going on. After some discussion about where to begin, I made an executive decision to head toward Marathon Village. This is an abandoned car factory from the early 20th Century that is being redefined as one of Nashville’s hip locations.

Marathon Village

I went to Marathon Village for a couple of reasons. First, we are going to a concert there in a few weeks, and I felt that some reconnaissance was in order. Second, this is the location of Antique Archaeology, a store that opened not too long ago. If you have ever seen American Pickers, then you know that this store is filled with stuff found by Mike and Frank. The store was filled with people and, to our surprise, had live music. After some browsing and listening, we crossed the street to a really cool art gallery.

By this time, we both needed to eat and have a few drinks. There are a variety of good restaurants to choose from in Nashville, but we went with an old standby. J. Alexander’s. The chain is based in Nashville and has several locations, but our favorite is on West End. I must admit that the food wasn’t great, but we had good drinks, good conversation and a good view because many of the tables, including ours, overlook Centennial Park.

Yes, we have a Parthenon. There is even a statue of Athena inside.

Centennial Park was created for an exposition to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary. At the time, it was covered with buildings and exhibitions from throughout the world. The Parthenon is the only remaining building. And, why does Nashville have a replica of the ancient Greek structure? Before being known as “Music City”, Nashville was known as the “Athens of the South” because of the numerous universities in the area.

Speaking of higher education, our next stop was the bookstore at Vanderbilt University. It used to be a Borders, and my favorite bookstore in Nashville, but, as most book lovers know, Borders was killed by Kindle users. Barnes and Noble took its place with a hybrid public/university bookstore. It is a great place to browse the shelves, but, as a University of Tennessee fan, the black and gold memorabilia gives me the creeps.

After buying a few books, we found ourselves not wanting to go home. Instead, we headed to Whiskey Kitchen, one of the happening places in Nashville. It is packed most nights, but Sunday afternoon gave it a laid back atmosphere with people wanting have a few drinks and some comfort food. We drank the drinks but skipped the food.

As the name entails, they serve whiskey.

After watching the red carpet part of the Grammy’s, which made me drink more, we left the Whiskey and hit Midtown. This is an area behind Vanderbilt (Honestly, we did not make a complete circle around the campus.) that has a collection of small bars and restaurants. This is one of my favorite places to hang out, and a good time is always had in the area. Well, almost always. Loser’s, one of the bars, was one of the last places Steve McNair was seen alive. If you don’t who he is, then I suggest you Google it. The story captured our city for a long time. We didn’t go bar-hopping to Loser’s or many of the other places. We hit the Blue Bar.

I have no idea why they call it blue when it's really red.

Our Blue Bar experience is what makes Nashville special and different from other cities. There are parks, restaurants and bars everywhere. However, only in Nashville can you hear people sing and think they may be famous one day. Obviously, Nashville is full of people wanting to be stars. But, it is hard to imagine how many. There are bartenders and waitresses all over town who have more talent than many superstars. They just haven’t caught the break that everyone looks for. Talented people sing in small bars and venues throughout the city just hoping they will be seen. I have heard a bunch that never made it but a few that did. I saw Jewel open a show once and didn’t think she had a chance. So, my eye for talent may not be very keen. But, we saw a band on Sunday that may have a shot. In fact, it’s the only unknown band I have heard that hit me in that way. They were called Peter Terry and the City Profits, and I urge you to Google them. They have an album on iTunes that I have already bought. If they make it, then my girlfriend and I can always say that we saw them at the Blue Bar along with 15 other people.

After all this drinking, I needed some more food before driving home. This time we skipped the quaint bistros and went straight for the king of all Mexican food chains, Chuy’s.

Not real Mexican food, but it's good anyway.

The food is great, and half of the stuff on the menu is an homage to Elvis. How can you beat a combination of Mexican food and Elvis? Here’s a hint – you can’t.

That was our Sunday on the Nashville scene. If you ever get a chance to visit, then be sure to make it happen. You’ll have a great time.