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An Eye Opener

By Staff | Apr 26, 2016

This is one of those deja`vu moments – I’m sitting at my desk, preparing to write about my vacation experience. For some reason, I keep think back to elementary school days when one of the first assignments of each new school year was to write about our summer vacations.

You know all about those….”on the first day of vacation I went swimming and rode my bike. On the second day of vacation, I rode my bike and went swimming….”

I remember some real doozies back then, and they make me smile as I?think about my whirlwind vacation this past week with the Emmetsburg High School Music Department. I was fortunate to be able to accompany a group of musicians, their directors and other chaperones on a trip to Music City, USA, Nashville Tennessee.

Remember the use of the word “whirlwind” a little bit earlier – it will come into play again.

Our adventure began Wednesday; the main party left Emmetsburg at 6 p.m. in a pair of motor coaches for a drive of roughly 815 miles to Nashville. Along with a parent of one of the students, I took off at 3:30 that afternoon in the school van, pulling a trailer with band instruments and suitcases.

It rained Wednesday, most of the afternoon, as the van pushed southeasterly. A trio of fuel stops, including one in Vienna (Kentucky – bet you didn’t know it existed) and the van arrived in Clarksville, TN, at 4 a.m. Thursday morning. A little nap in the van in a restaurant parking lot until the buses arrived a little after 7 a.m., and breakfast for all.

Then came the final 60 mile push to Nashville. As we arrived in the city, the first thing I?picked up on as I drove was the simple fact that, while folks are very, very friendly, they are all convinced that they are being pursued by every cop in three states and drive like they stole their vehicle.

A 65 MPH sign along the freeways is merely a decoration – keeping in eye contact with that Reading Bus Service bus was Goal #1, but we did OK. Thanks Steve and Les on Bus 2. Lyle and Arnie on Bus 1 were great guys as well.

A visit to Belle Meade plantation was peaceful, and then came the trip to the Mother Church of Country Music – The Ryman Auditorium. The choir got to sing in the acoustically perfect structure, sanding in the balcony overlooking the historic stage where the greats of Country Music performed their craft.

(It was during this part of the trip I?threatened to unload all the luggage and instruments in order to load up the sound mixing console and other sound gear from the Ryman to bring back home, but I was restrained….)

Traveling to RCA’s historic Studio B, both the band and choir were able to perform and be recorded in the same studio where performers such as Patsy Cline and a young man named Elvis Presley recorded their hits. The chaperones got to see what it was like in the control room, and again, I had to be restrained from trying to talk the engineers out of their mixing console and other toys as well.

A much appreciated soft bed finished out the first full day, and Friday we toured the Tennessee State Museum. The building was filled with countless treasures, including a mummified cat, displayed with his mummified master.

A quick stop at the Parthenon, not the one in Athens Greece, but an exact replica, allowed for a photo opportunity before the kids got to explore an outlet mall, complete with a Bass Pro Shop.

A tour of the Grand Ole Opry followed before the evening performance where the choir sang in the grand plaza outside the Opry House before the Friday night show.

Once inside the Opry House, show provided great entertainment, from Whispering Bill Anderson to Ricky Skaggs (He had some of the female chaperones excited) and then came Josh Turner (He had ALL?the girls excited).

Saturday featured clinics for both the band and the choir with members of the Vanderbilt University Music Department on the Vanderbilt Campus.

A quick trip to the Nashville Farmers Market allowed the group to see a little bit of everying, and then the finale`, a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame, before supper and the journey home for two busloads of tired kids and chaperones.

And yes, I even managed to find my way home in the van, the trailer stayed faithfully behind me, and garnered lots of looks on the freeway during the daylight hours.

Remember where I?referenced the whirlwind? Nashville was a kaleidoscope of things to see and take in a too-short period of time. I?loved the opportunity to sample the vibrant city, and I’ve already decided that somehow, someday I will return for a visit – but an airplane will be involved.