On The Road To Nashville

8 Jan

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Spread out along the banks of the Cumberland River lies one of America’s legendary cities: Nashville TN. Probably the first few things that come to mind when you hear” Nashville”, are country music, cowboy hats, boots and the Grand Ole Opry. While all of these things are well represented, it only scratches the surface of this southern belle. Kris and I have been visiting the Music City since the late 1990’s, we have gotten to know her over time, as one does a friend, discovering the many facets  that make up her personality. We had not been back since the devastating flood in May 2010, with the luxury of time to travel between the holidays we expanded our Midwest boundaries and headed south. The local snowfall had delayed our departure,we got out of town later than we had planned, which meant we had no choice but to take the freeway down, darn! While traffic moved at a good pace through Michigan and northern Ohio, in Cincinnati we were at a crawl, Louisville was no better, after a quick lunch stop it was back on I-65.

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When we  reached Bowling Green KY we took a well deserved break to visit the National Corvette Museum. This non-profit museum is dedicated solely to the Corvette nameplate; there are 70 Corvette models on display along with photos, movies, advertisements, models and all sorts of memorabilia. Exhibits are laid out in an easy to follow path, life-size dioramas portray era-correct settings; a large Mobil gas and service station features several beautiful models. I am fond of the older models, the dashboards are so cool, and I love all the chrome; how refreshing to see automobile interiors in bright colors instead of the grey, black or tan of today. One section tells us the history of the Corvette assembly plants from the early days of 1953 when the first 300 cars were built in Flint Michigan to the current plant located right across the road from the museum building; it is the only place in the world Corvette’s are built. Tours of the assembly plant are available Monday-Thursday.

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There are engines with names like L88 and L84, race cars, convertibles and most interesting, concept cars; Chevrolet donated the 1-millionth Corvette to the museum. As we wind through the space we find ourselves in an unusual room that is home to the Corvette Hall of Fame, in it we find images of the likes of Harley Earl, the father of the Corvette, along with famed driver Dick Guldstrand, Larry Shinoda, Bill Mitchell and of course Zora-Arkus-Duntov among many others. The museum is a wonderful tribute to “America’s Sports Car”, and well worth a visit.

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Finally arriving in Nashville, we quickly check into our room then immediately head to the village of Hillsboro for dinner and a movie. Hillsboro is one of those super quaint neighborhoods we often find bordering a big city. I read that it was a street car suburb as the trolley line went right down 21st Ave, which today is the main street. Comprised of a 4 block radius, the streets are lined with lovely boutiques, galleries, cafes, specialty stores and even an independent bookstore. You can do your banking, drop off your dry cleaning, eat lunch, pick up an espresso machine and have a local beer all on the same block. Homes were built between 1910 and 1940, they are soooo charming, we had to take a walk and get a closer look. Many are brick, and all have porches, windows are beveled glass, doors are ornate wood, the Arts and Crafts style is most prevalent. Both Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities are within walking distance giving the neighborhood a lively, vibrant feel.

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Zumi Sushi was our restaurant of choice, located on Belcourt it is just a short walk from the movie theater; we have eaten here before and the food has always been superb. The dining room was bustling, with the inclement weather, mainly cold and rain, nobody wanted to sit in the enclosed patio tonight. The menu has many Japanese favorites to choose from including Udon, edamame and bento boxes;  we were here for the sushi! We started out with the avocado tempura, yum, and then chose a few specialty rolls; washed down with Zumi’s own mango sweet tea, the meal was delicious.

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With just a few minutes before the movie was to start we walked over to the Belcourt Theatre, they were featuring the work of Alfred Hitchcock, showing 24 of his films in 23 days; we were seeing Vertigo tonight. The theatre itself is not one of the fancy ones with gobs of ornate plaster, chandeliers or an elegant lobby, instead paintings from local artists decorate the plain gray walls. Originally opened in 1925 as the Hillsboro Theatre it showed silent movies and sat 800 people. It’s biggest stint came in 1934-1936 when it was home to the Grand Ole Opry. Through the years it went through changes from film to a playhouse and then back to film again before finally closing down. In 1999 it re-opened as a non-profit cultural institution showing independent, documentary, world and classic cinema. The lobby is small but efficient, this is where tickets are sold along with an amazing concession counter. Here at the Belcourt you are not limited to popcorn, candy and soda pop, you can indulge in hot dogs, bratwurst and a full bar offering beer, wine and spirits. Having stuffed ourselves full of sushi, we filed into the auditorium and settled into our seats. The movie trailers began, we were happily surprised that they were vintage Hitchcock trailers, the man definitely had a flair for drama……By the time Vertigo came to an end we were completely exhausted, thankfully it was only a short drive to the hotel where we fell into bed and immediately to sleep. Tomorrow will be full of new adventures.

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