4/25/13 Thursday at Hohenwald, TN ( Natchez Trace Wilderness Campground-TT)
We were pretty organized today, leaving our campsite by 9:25 am, although we still were relying on the GPS for directions. At least this time we had our previous Nashville experiences to help, so WE chose to go via Hwy 412 (unfortunately there was construction on a lot of it), then I-65. At that point I advised John to follow “Sam’s” instructions, which he did. When we got near, I had a “parking at the Grand Ole Opry” map, but it still was something of a struggle to find the parking lot. Since we were here by 11:30 am, we ate lunch, then talked with our claims adjuster. We all agreed to wait until we have the rig at the campground in Clinton, IN, since we can be there for a longer time than here. If we don’t find a closer RV service company, we’ll have to travel 73 miles to the Camping World in Greensboro, IN.
Grand Ole Opry: Front, back. We bought our tickets for the “Backstage tour” at the front, then entered the back for our tour. As we waited for our tour to start, I had to take a photo of this sign, showing that this is the “Gaylord Opry”. John’s sister, Sharon, used to work for Gaylord. Small world.
We entered through the Artist’s entrance. Not so imposing, right? Our guide said they drive themselves up, no limousines, then park in the nearby parking lot. On the way, they’ll see this outdoor statue that was a gift from Minnie Pearl, her favorite statue.
On a side trip, we saw their “Studio A” for TV. The second image shows an opening that has a huge black door that slides, so the room can be sound proof and dark.
Back near the Artist’s entrance, you see their Post Office boxes. The postman actually delivers their mail (mostly fan mail) here. Actually, only the members have PO boxes here. Their names are listed on a wall to the left. The cool thing is that management decides who to invite to be members of The Grand Ole Opry. They try to surprise the Artist with this announcement and they only invite 1 to 3 per year, not at any scheduled time. We saw video of some of these invitations. I think they are more touched with this honor than any other.
We saw several dressing rooms (the next place they go to). This one is the Marty Stuart/Porter Wagoner room: “The Wagon Master”.
This is the “Green Room” where family can wait with their performer. The bar on the wall marks the level where the flood came to in this room (it got higher as it came closer to the stage).
The last dressing room we saw was Roy Acuff’s (the Father of the Grand Ole Opry) – only he used it. His was closest to the stage entrance. He had an open door policy, welcoming anyone waiting to come in. He especially invited the new and nervous performers. Now that he’s died, it’s still open – for us tourists to walk in and examine. I don’t believe any Artist uses it now. In the last photo, Roy’s room is on the right, the doorway on the left leads onto the stage. His room was straight across from the Green room and he could see into the room from his room. By the way, when they built this new Ole Opry, they built a home across a small parking area, so he could visit without driving. He came every day.
The stage backdrop, a barn frame. Wanting to keep as much of the original Opry here, they kept the wood from the original stage. From the side entrance area (where everyone who performs walked), they cut a 6′ circle which is where the star will stand as they perform in front of the microphone.
From the rest of the wood, they use a piece for the bottom of their Grand Ole Opry statue. By the way, in the early days, this radio program happened right after 1 hour of the “Grand Opera”, so they named this show the “Grand Ole Opry”, for common folks. Now, the radio show is on AM station 650, WSM, 24/7. The live shows, also sent out on the radio show, happen Fridays and Saturdays (adding Tuesdays in the summer), at 7:00 pm, Central Time. You can stream them from www.opry.com or listen on Sirius radio (Willie’s Roadhouse channel).
The view from the stage. Trying to keep as much from the original site as they could, they repeated the oak pews (these have padding added), the circular format, the balcony and the great acoustics.
The Hermitage – President Andrew Jackson’s home (he’s on the $20 bill), from a distance and up close. Once again, we were given a tour of the mansion, but not allowed to take photos. They have 90% of the original furnishings from 1837, because only that family lived there. The house burnt while Jackson was President and rebuilt prior to his return. Jackson and Rachel had an adopted child, Andrew Jackson Jr, who married Sarah. They had 3 children, all of whom lived in the home. Unfortunately Jr. was not a good business manager, so to pay off the debt, they sold the home and some of the grounds to the State of Tennessee. Then the Ladies Hermitage Association was formed and began raising funds to buy back the rest – furnishings and land.
The back of their mansion. High on the wall are 3 different sized bells, for someone inside to ring for a servant that is outside. The last image is a boot cleaner.
On the right is the kitchen and
Andrew and his beloved wife, Rachel, as they dressed for a ball. A bit of history: Jackson’s father died when he was born. He had 2 brothers. All of the boys were involved, in the Revolution, which was heavily fought in North Carolina. One brother was killed in the war, while the other and his mom died of disease during that time. So he was an orphan at 14. He apprenticed with a lawyer, then became one when he was 20. He lost his first bid to become President, but, won his second bid, to the surprise of those in power at the time. He was the first to campaign for the office, considering himself a leader for the common man. At the time there was talk of “nullification”, creating a law where each state could declare what it wanted as unconstitutional. Jackson stood against that, declaring this nation must stand as one. On the other hand, he signed the “Indian Removal Law” that demanded all Indians move West of the Mississippi-causing the Trail of Tears for the Cherokee. Voting at the time was limited to white males. He owned slaves and felt this was acceptable. It could be said that by standing up for the rights of the common man, rights under the Constitution, that he inspired these groups (Indians, women, African Americans) to stand up later for their rights.
As the mansion was being built, they lived in this log home. It was two stories high when they lived there, but when they moved out, they somehow removed the FIRST floor. Slaves lived here later. The next photo shows a root cellar, kept under the floor. They found many more than were needed for their root vegetables, so the historians suspect these were to keep special items from prying eyes (called Hidey Holes).
Belted Galloway Cattle – an heirloom breed (not one that Andrew Jackson kept), that came from Scotland, having heavy fur/hair. The cattle are expert foragers, known for longevity and adaptability to local areas. They are disease resistant, moderate sized and docile. They look cool, too!
Rachel’s garden, where Jackson built her grave (he was buried there too). She died in 1831 and he in 1845. He visited this grave every evening, after he returned to the Hermitage, until he died. He had a long inscription of her wonderful aptitudes on her grave, but simply wanted “General Andrew Jackson” on his. He was very proud of leading our revolutionary army in defeating the British in New Orleans (using the Trace to get there and back).
Cool tree on the grounds. We left The Hermitage around 4:20 pm, to get gas and cash at the Kroger about 20 minutes away. It was at least 5 pm before we started home. Wonderful, commute time. John kept his focus and his cool as we largely ignored “Sam”, getting ourselves to Hwy 155, hoping that would lead us onto I-65. It sort of did. There was an I-65 directional sign (stay on Hwy 155) that gave us hope. Then we saw an I-65 sign to turn left. Hmm, turn left right now, or later? We chose right now. Of course, we could just get halfway into that left turn lane and blocked the other with our rear. Finally the left turn arrow turned green and we were off. Thankfully, it did lead to an entrance onto I-65 South. Life was good – traffic flowing at 70 mph. I was commenting on how well Nashville handled the flow of so many vehicles. THEN the crush hit. Very slow going for about 15 minutes. The cause? Both the left and right lanes in this four lane (south) freeway, had to merge into the center 2 lanes. Nice planning. Once we were a ways past that pinch point, traffic flowed great.
Once home, we decided to have leftovers and our wine from Belle Meade. Ah, home sweet home.