Yeah, I got back from Nashville pretty late on Wednesday night. Besides that little misunderstanding at the hotel, I had a great time and Jeff was the perfect host. Here’s all the stuff I saw, in order (I think):
- The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s house. Pretty cool. I wish I’d have been able to take photos of the inside of the house because it was so pretty, but photograph wasn’t allowed. The wallpaper showed a scene from the Odyssey (actually, the Telemachy, if you want to be picky) and it was original. The tour guide was like, “Try to stay away from the walls and women, hold your purses in front of you and not on your shoulders because this wallpaper is 200 years old and we don’t want to mess it up.” The outbuildings were nice too. There was a garden and I talked to the gardener and he said they were trying to make it as authentic as possible, using not only the plants Andrew Jackson would have grown, but non-modern versions of those plants. He pointed to a bed of flowers that had been sentenced to death and would be dug up soon because they were modern and hadn’t existed in Jackson’s time. They don’t have a lot of records about what Jackson grew in his garden, though, so there was some guesswork and a lot of reliance on Thomas Jefferson’s garden records. I asked if they were growing Jefferson’s cannabis anywhere and he said no.
As for Jackson himself, I learned a lot about him at the Hermitage museum. I hadn’t realized he was so influential in American history. I have mixed feelings about him. Because, you know, great leader and war hero, but also slave-owner and Native American persecutor. I mean, I know EVERY white guy back then was a horrible racist, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable.
- The Ryman Auditorium. I hate country music and so does Jeff but it’s hard to spend a week as a tourist in Nashville and totally avoid country music stuff. I guess a lot of really famous musicians have played at the Ryman, and we got shown their dressing room and glass cases of stuff that belonged to them. But like I said, I hate country music and didn’t recognize half the names the tour guide mentioned. At the gift shop, it was hard to find anything I was interested in. I didn’t want a t-shirt or something like that because I didn’t want anyone thinking I liked country music. Finally I bought a Christmas tree ornament, and wound up giving it to Michael’s mom when I got home.
- The Hard Rock Cafe, Nashville. We ate there, but really I just wanted to go for the t-shirt. I collect Hard Rock Cafe stuff and that shirt is the first one I’ve gotten new instead of used, online. (I actually own a very old Hard Rock Cafe, Leningrad shirt. Leningrad hasn’t been called Leningrad since the Communist era, so that’s how old it is.)
- The General Jackson Showboat. This was a cruise on the Cumberland river at night. There was dinner (which I didn’t eat, though I did have some pecan pie for desert) and a band playing country music themed Christmas songs, and some scantily clad dancing girls and their decently covered-up male partners. Jeff and I were seated at a table quite near the stage, and there was a married couple at that table, in their seventies I think. I got to talking to the lady and she told me her granddaughter was one of the dancing girls and they went to see her perform often. It was really cold outside but Jeff and I did go out on deck for a bit and took some pretty pictures. Nashville is a surprisingly attractive city, especially at night.
- The Parthenon. Back in the 1890s Nashville built a full-scale copy of the Greek Parthenon for their Centennial Exposition. They decided to keep it (most of the buildings they made for the centennial they pulled down after it was over) and now it’s an art museum. Jeff and I wandered around inside checking out paintings and sculptures. I’m not really interested in art. But the statue of Athena was really cool. It’s like 50 feet high and painted gold and stuff.
- The Lane Motor Museum. This is a car museum, obviously, though it has a few motorized bikes as well. I took loads of pictures. The museum specializes in foreign cars (most of them seemed to come from France) and micro-cars. The micro-cars were so ridiculous looking. Many of them made my dad’s Smart Car look spacious. They looked like circus clown cars or something. There were also some propeller-driven vehicles. One, according to the sign, had been made by a French guy and hidden in a barn in the 1930s, and wasn’t retrieved until the 1990s. It was restored and it actually passed safety tests so it’s street-legal in France.
- The Belle Meade Plantation. A historic plantation with all the period buildings and a beautiful house where, again, photography was not permitted. The house was decorated for Christmas and each room showed how a different decade of the 1800s celebrated Christmas. They also have a winery and complimentary wine tasting. There were six different wines, three red and three white, all of which tasted equally horrible to me. (I really, really hate all forms of alcohol.) I did, however, buy a book for my dad about Prohibition-era recipes. He makes his own wine on top of his fridge using Concord grape juice, and puts it in used two-liter bottles, labels it “Chateau Good”, and gives a lot of it away as gifts. A lot of people really like it and come back asking for more.
So that was the last thing I saw before I checked out on Wednesday and returned home. I’m going to resume my updates tonight or tomorrow. A lot of stuff has happened in my absence.
[EDIT: Oh, crap, I forgot to say I saw Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak at Andrew Jackson Hall. That was AWESOME. Honestly, that experience alone made the whole trip worth it. He said so many interesting things and a lot of it was so funny too. He had a PowerPoint presentation, and he said, “A lot of you are wondering about Pluto and whether or not it’s a planet. Well, I’m going to answer that question in my next slide. It’s a very nuanced slide so read it carefully.” The next slide just said in huge letters, “NO.” Neil went on to say he had been “implicated in the demotion of Pluto” and had “not actually committed the crime” but “I was an accessory, I drove the getaway car.”
There was a Q&A at the end and I thought of a great question, but unfortunately it was after he was wrapping up and it was too late to ask. My question was, “So what do you think of the Wow signal?”]