Sunday, August 26, 2012

Country Paradise

In Search of Elvis Etcetera: Day 6
Wednesday, August 19, 2012
Nashville to Dalton, GA

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel is an amazing 2,881-room fantasyland under glass.  Our rooms are in the “Cascades” wing, where a massive multi-acre atrium is filled the with sound of water splashing from waterfalls and fountains, koi swim in tranquil ponds, and delicate orchids and colorful bromeliads hang from trees and are tucked in the faux rocks. We eat breakfast in an “open air” restaurant beside a pool in the middle of the tropical garden.


After breakfast, we wander through the other recreated wonderlands within the hotel--a garden conservatory and a New Orleans style riverfront town, both beneath vast expanses of glass, and lined with hotel rooms.  Walkways meander through the atria at ground level and in the tree-tops, offering seemingly endless beautiful views-- grand architectural details, tropical paradise vistas, artful container garden arrangements, unusual flowers.  We are in photo safari paradise.   


There are lots of shopping opportunities, but we just ogle the window displays of the very upscale shops.  There are over ten different restaurant and snack food options around the hotel.  We could spend another day here and not run out of things to see and do (and eat), but we need to start wending out way home, so we check out mid-morning.


But, we aren’t heading home quite yet.  This is a road trip dedicated to music greats, so we can’t leave Nashville without visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame.  We spend a couple hours listening to music, watching early film and television coverage of country music greats, and enjoying artifacts on display (love all the rhinestone and fringe bedecked country music attire, find all the instruments very interesting after our recent Gibson guitar factory tour).

photo by Fred Langley
This is our final, and unexpected, Elvis sighting.  We think of him as the King of Rock and Roll, but he was also a King of Country, elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame over 20 years after his passing.  His plaque in the Hall of Fame acknowledges that, “Sales of hundreds of millions of records around the world sealed his place as a musical icon who helped forge new territory for country music and forever changed its course.”

Photo by Fred Langley
 After a very cosmopolitan revisionist Southern lunch near the Hall of Fame, we start our drive toward home, getting as far as Dalton, Georgia, when we decide it is time to stop for the night. 

Lured by 15% off coupons from our hotel, we go to the Dalton Depot for dinner.  The restaurant is housed in a well-preserved old railroad depot, and trains frequently pass on the tracks outside, adding to the authentic atmosphere.  The food is good, and they offer smaller portion options, which we welcome after all our hearty road food dining on this trip. Wednesday is half price wine night, so we get a bottle, of course.  All told, we spend just a little over $40 for dinner for four, including a bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay--a perfect ending to another perfect day.  

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