On Monday morning, Donna went for a power walk from our site at Nashville Jellystone Park (map). While she was out walking toward the Two Rivers Campground and the Nashville KOA, she saw the downtown shuttle pass by and came up with a plan for the day.
She thought we should roast a whole chicken for a late lunch – kind of a dinner for lunch plate. Then we could take the shuttle to downtown Nashville and see the sights. Sounded like a good idea to me, so I unloaded the Traeger wood pellet fired grill and found a problem. We had traversed some rough roads, especially on I-40 through Knoxville. The Traeger had obviously been bounced around and one of the door hinges came off. The screws had vibrated out and the door was askew, the other hinge was loose. Luckily no real damage was done. I found the screw and nut and reassembled the door.
Donna prepared the chicken by rubbing it with olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic that she bought at Brooks BBQ in Oneonta, New York. She went to the pool for a quick dip while I fired up the Traeger and roasted the chicken. It comes out so moist and tender on this grill – it makes the best chicken you’ll ever have.
Roasted whole chicken hot off the Traeger
Earlier I had scootered over to the Opryland Resort and Convention Center. I wanted to get a look at the bus/RV lot that Donna found mentioned in the Escapee’s Day’s End Directory. The directory said that free overnight parking could be found there. I rode all the way through the lots at the Opry Mills Mall and back through the resort. I saw dedicated bus/RV parking near the Mills, but it was clearly marked “no overnight parking.” In fact, every lot I looked at was posted. On the way back to the campground, I saw another lot at a strip mall that had two RVs and a couple of tractor trailer rigs in it. It looked like it would be fine for dry camping – a big lot and no signs prohibiting overnight parking. The downside was the slope of the pavement and the lot was empty during the day, but there were several bars, restaurants and the Willie Nelson museum in the area. I didn’t know what it would be like at night.
We had reserved two nights at the Jellystone Park for half price on our Passport America discount rate – two nights for $75. A third night would cost another $75. I’m trying to average my costs down by finding free or low-cost sites as we move west. Our trip through the northeast was expensive – we’ve been spending like we’re on vacation. But we wanted to stay one more night in Nashville if we could.
Anyway, the shuttle picked us up at 3pm. There were two other couples already on board from the other RV parks. We made one more stop at a nearby hotel where three women boarded. The drive to downtown took about twenty minutes and the driver talked non-stop, giving advice on what to see and where to eat. The shuttle costs $10 per person for a round trip. The return trip is actually free – they pick up on the bottom of the hour (4:30, 5:30, 6:30, etc.) at the Country Music Hall of Fame. They don’t issue tickets – they work on the assumption that you must have already paid the $10 if you are boarding to go back to the Music Valley area.
Donna and I wanted to check out the music scene on Broadway. There are a few street musicians and many clubs and bars with live entertainment. Most of the places on Broadway don’t have a cover charge. The musicians play for a small fee paid by the bar and tips. They are hoping to get “discovered” by a Nashville recording studio.
Our first glimpse of Broadway was at the corner of 4th and Broadway at the Honky Tonk Central (map).
Honky Tonk Central
We walked east on Broadway and made our first stop at the Broadway Brewhouse for a cold one. I had a Tennesee-brewed IPA that was pretty good and Donna sampled and then went ahead and ordered a Tennesee-brewed stout that was really good. After leaving there, we continued east on the south side of the street and crossed over to the north side at 2nd Avenue. We saw a man with a trumpet, microphone and small amplifier on the corner. He had backing tracks playing through the amp from his smartphone and was singing “What a Wonderful World.” This guy had Louis Armstrong down. It was uncanny – Donna thought he was lip syncing at first. We hung around for a few songs and dropped some money in his trumpet case. He chatted with us before we moved on. He was a super-nice guy and very talented.
This guy could impersonate Satchmo
We walked back west on Broadway, stopping in a few shops to look at western hats and cowboy boots. We stuck our heads in a few bars to see who was playing but we wanted to get a look at everything before we sat down somewhere.
A friend of Donna’s suggested we stop at an off-the-wall place in Printer’s Alley owned by her friend. It’s an English-style pub called Fleet Street Pub. We found it a few blocks north of Broadway. Printer’s Alley is a little off-beat for Nashville, but it has history and charm. We stopped at Fleet Street but the friend of Donna’s friend wasn’t there. Donna chatted briefly with her husband.
We found a blues club in Printer’s Alley and went inside. A very talented guy was on stage playing Mississippi Delta blues – more specifically he was playing songs by the blues great Leadbelly. He took a short break and came over to where we were sitting. His name is Fritz and he was really friendly. While we chatted with him, a woman who was sitting next to us went up on stage and played the keyboards and sang. It was so cool – these talented musicians are all over the place. After a couple of songs, Fritz joined her and they did some songs together. Fritz was playing a cheap knock-off Chinese guitar, but in his hands it sounded great. Then he picked up a saxophone and wailed on a song accompanying the woman at the keyboard (we didn’t get her name).
Fritz making music
We wandered back to Broadway and started our pub crawl. We would stop in a place that had live entertainment. If the band caught our fancy, we would order a drink and hang around for a few songs. Other times we listened for a few minutes and moved on. In one place there was a duo that shined. One of the guys guitar playing style reminded me of Stephen Stills. Donna put in a request for Homegrown by Zac Brown. They didn’t really know the song, but they looked it up on an iPad and immediately played and sang a very good rendition. I was blown away.
We finally came back to the Honky Tonk Central for our last stop of the night. It’s a three-story building with a bar and stage on each floor. We stayed on the first floor where one of the hottest bands I’ve heard in a while was playing. The guitar player was amazing and the sound he was getting from his Dr. Z amp was unbelievable. I haven’t heard tone like that since the Joe Bonamassa concert we went to a few years ago.
Hot band at our last stop
By then I’d downed enough beer and it was time to find the shuttle home.
On Tuesday morning, I got busy re-organizing the trailer – again. I’ve had the Traeger grill in the very back of the trailer, behind the scooter. Donna thought it might be getting a rougher ride back there than it would in the front. I bought into her logic – I could see how the trailer might whip up and down behind the axle over bumpy sections. I took everything out of the right front, next to my tool chest by the side door. I rearranged that stuff and then lifted the Traeger into that area and strapped it in place. We’ll see if it rides better there.
I took my time – check out time was noon and we were only going a few miles. We had everything packed and I fired up the engine at 11:50am. We drove to the lot I had found the day before. There was a bus conversion RV and tractor- trailer rig as well as another semi-trailer parked in the empty lot. We claimed a space between the tractor-trailer and the semi-trailer.
Donna and I walked to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. On our way, we saw the lot that was mentioned in the Day’s End Directory. It was marked RV/Bus and Trailer Parking. I had missed this lot on my reconnaissance run earlier. I had passed by it on the west side where there’s a private lot being used by Bridgestone Tire and Rubber Company for high-performance driving classes. I thought the whole area was for Bridgestone.
We walked into the RV/Bus lot and didn’t find any signs prohibiting overnight parking. These signs are posted in all of the other lots on the huge Opryland complex. This lot was level and looked to be very quiet. After some debate and walking back and forth across the lot, we decided to go back to the coach and move it across the street to Opryland. While the lot we were in looked to be a sure thing, I was a little apprehensive about how things might go in the night. It wasn’t level and all the bars in the area could mean lots of noise and the possibility of people getting out of hand in the night.
The RV/Bus lot only had a handful of cars in it and one big truck in our section. The next section over has had a number of tour buses coming and going. It’s very quiet and level.
The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center houses the largest atrium I’ve ever been in. It has waterfalls and a stream running through it. It’s filled with tropical plants – so many were in bloom that I had an allergy attack. A big New York Life Executive Council meeting was happening there. We wandered around. Donna wanted to take the boat ride in the stream that’s inside the hotel complex, but when she saw it cost $9.50/person, it didn’t seem worth it. I couldn’t capture the grand scale of this place, but here are a few pictures.
Fountains in the atrium
Stream inside the hotel
Boat rides through the atrium
Donna in front of a waterfall in the atrium
We went to John A’s for dinner, it was only average food at best. Then we stopped at Nashville Palace to take in some live music. Once again many people that appeared to be regular customers got up on stage to join in for a number or two. Lots of talent here. Our overnight spot turned out to be quiet with no troubles.
Today we plan a short trip down the Natchez Trace Trail to the Merriwether Lewis National Monument. We found free dry camping is available there and we hope to take advantage of it before we head west to Memphis.