Sunday, October 29, 2006

10/27-28 Nashville and Tampa

NOTE: I apologize for my late post here, but I've been having some trouble connecting to Blogger recently. You'll also notice pictures for games up through October 21st against Minnesota.

Nashville is in the South, an area dominated by Christianity. That is why an apt name for the building that housed the Grand Ole Opry for so long is known as the Mother Church of Country Music. The Ryman Auditorium is a beautiful red brick building that, when it was first constructed, was in fact a non-denominational house of prayer, where spiritual leaders came to preach. Constructed by a changed riverboat and saloon owner for the evangelist that changed him, this building was built to have the best acoustics ever (said to have the second best in the world to only the Mormon Tabernacle). When the building started to lose money, that's when musical acts came in. In the '20s, the building was approached by a popular show called the Grand Ole Opry, and from there, the Ryman Auditorium took off.

Hosting this show until the early '70s, this place was home to hundreds of famous acts. Really, to name any without naming all would not do justice, so that is why I leave it blank here. A simple $8.50 will get a self-guided tour around this place, with an extra $5 for photos on stage with a guitar, a cheesy but cool touristy thing that I did not do. All the seats in the 2200+ capacity theater (all the seats are benches) are original; restored, but original (keep in mind the floor level was built in 1892, and the balcony in 1897). Hallowed but still active, this is a definite must see, even for a non-country music fan (Brian Setzer Orchestra is having a Christmas show here on December 7th).

A short walk across Broadway to Rippy's (a bar that is right across 5th from the GEC) for lunch, and then a visit to the new site of the Grand Ole Opry, conveniently titled The Grand Ole Opry House, located at Gaylord Opryland; home to a hotel, the House, and Opry Mills, an impossibly large mall. Also home to 20 movie screens, multiple sit-in restaurants, and tons of shops. The main draw (to me, at least) is Aquarium, "An underwater dining experience". Aquarium, a Landry's-owned establishment, (Joe's Crab Shack, Rain Forest Cafe [they got one of those at the Mills too]) has three tanks; the largest, sitting in the middle of the dining area, is a 200,000 gallon tank home to a lot of species of sea creatures.

A taxi ride back to the hotel, and watching the end of the World Series, (congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans [boooooo :D ]) and that was an evening.

A quick, 90 minute flight to Tampa was made interesting first by a passenger on the plane not on the manifest (three cheers for the Southwest check-in system) and then a little bit too much rough air for my liking. I'm a huge fan of roller coasters, but that's because they're safe, they're 200-400 feet from the ground, and they're connected to tracks. This was a much heavier vehicle, connected to nothing, and about 34,600-800 feet higher than any coaster in the world. I even do recall getting a bit of negative G's (weightlessness-feeling, "airtime") on a few of the bumps. After landing safely, I was transported to my hotel by a very exuberant but a little bit crazy cab driver. It should be noted that this cab ride, the 13th of my trip, was the first cab I rode in that was driven by a female. It's not that I care either way, I just thought it should be noted. I think of myself as important, therefore I deemed it noteworthy :D .

Busch Gardens Tampa, now known as Busch Gardens Africa, is about a mile away. I'll provide a full update on it either tomorrow night, or Tuesday morning, as tomorrow is when I'm going. Tonight at 5:00 EST sees the Sharks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. I'll update either tonight or tomorrow, and I'll try to get more pictures up too.

Go Sharks (go I can't think of anything to say)


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