May. 2nd, 2017

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So we're back from our spring vacation, which was riding along with friends as they visited Tennessee.

To explain a bit: we've gotten in the habit of traveling with our friends Jim and Susan on our less-elaborate trips that don't have any special purpose beyond getting out of town for awhile. The mechanics vary, but in this case they made pretty much all the arrangements because they have a big ol' car they bought specifically for road trips (I'm not sure whether it's officially a truck, SUV, or station wagon, but it seats six adults comfortably and still has room for a cooler and some luggage) and an AirBnB account. Julie and Susan did most of the planning; Susan did most of the driving.

So last Saturday we got picked up disgustingly early and drove to Knoxville, where some of our former neighbors now live. (Jim and Susan, Sam and Sandy, and Julie and I, all lived in the same part of Gaithersburg, and our kids grew up together to some extent; Jim and Sam were leaders in Julian's Boy Scout troop. None of us live in Gaithersburg anymore.) We stayed with Sam and Sandy for two nights, driving around the Great Smoky Mountains in between. Visited Gatlinburg and Cherokee NC, saw the damage from the recent forest fire, visited the world's largest knife store.

Monday we moved on from Knoxville to Nashville, our final destination, where Sandy had booked a house overlooking the river a little northeast of the city, in Madison, TN. I'm not sure whether Madison is part of Nashville or a suburb, actually. Anyway, it was a great rental, with two comfy bedrooms (and a third we didn't use because it didn't look as comfy), a deck and balcony overlooking the Cumberland River, and lots of other amenities, including a cat named Bolt. Jim and Susan had never had a cat, so they weren't sure how to deal with him, but he was a pretty friendly and cooperative animal.

We didn't know until after we got there, but the house is apparently owned by a moderately successful singer/songwriter who rents it out when she's not in Nashville -- which is often, since she tours a lot. The day we arrived she was leaving for a festival in Mexico.

So we spent a few days in and around Nashville, seeing the sights and hearing the sounds. Toured the Ryman Auditorium and the Hermitage and the Country Music Hall of Fame, saw Studio B where all RCA's Nashville artists of the '50s and '60s recorded (e.g., Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc.), went honky-tonking on Lower Broadway, took a boat ride on the General Jackson, saw the Grand Ole Opry, visited the Johnny Cash Museum, etc.

The one thing we'd meant to do that we missed, due to sloppy scheduling, was eating at the Bluebird Cafe. Oh, well.

The weather in Knoxville was horrible, with rain that sometimes worked up to torrential; the weather in Nashville was mostly great, but that rain meant the Cumberland River was running very high -- by the time we left, it was twelve feet above flood stage. The downtown riverside promenade was under a foot or two of water. Fortunately, the area is accustomed to this -- no damage is going to occur until you get maybe 20 feet above flood stage. (In 2010 a flood crested at 42 feet. That was bad. Lots of places have stuff about how they rebuilt.) It did mean the General Jackson couldn't do their regular route because the water was too high to fit safely under some bridges, so we didn't see downtown from the water.

Our rented deck gave us a good view of the river, as I mentioned, and looking at the trees on the far bank we saw that the river rose a lot just while we were there.

And Saturday we left early and came home, where I'm trying to catch up on everything, and here we are.

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