I recently spent four fabulous days in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. This was my first time visiting Tennessee and I expected to hear some extremely Southern dialects and to see at least a few country music stars, but actually neither one happened. Oh, except on the flight up and the flight back. But, I’ll explain that in just a minute.
The resort itself is breathtaking with its nine acres of indoor gardens, waterfalls and a river, all enclosed under a beautiful atrium. “Experience a 360 degree walkthrough,” the brochure states. And walk we did – I figure this almost made up for missing aerobics classes back home. There are six full service restaurants and several small cafes. Without a doubt, I slept on THE most comfortable bed and had the best nights’ sleep I can remember in a long time.
But the trip wasn’t without calamities: when we left the airport we asked the taxi driver (not Southern) to make a stop to buy wine. However, upon walking inside, a powerful and putrid odor overcame us. It was like of a mixture of sour, burned potpourri and gasoline. Seriously! We were in and out of there in four minutes flat (unheard of for women shoppers.) The odor was so bad that a few of us tasted it when we left. I am serious. Someone said maybe pest control had been there. Who knows?
After checking in and ogling over the beauty of the resort (and getting a quick bite,) we hailed a cab to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. All along, I was excited to see Nashville for the first time. But y’all, it was pouring down rain so hard you couldn’t see anything – never mind walking around downtown to take in the other sights. And again, the cab driver was NOT Southern. Even the registration clerk at the resort who checked us in was not Southern. Where were those dang Southerners, I wondered? And by the way, I AM Southern, but I was expecting a Reba McEntire Southern to be nearby – much stronger than my own accent.
The next few days were pure bliss. Though I was there on business and attended meetings and seminars, we dined, shopped, partied and laughed until our sides hurt. Then, on the final night, we had a huge gala complete with a live band, dancing, cocktails and desserts. I mean, what could be more fun than being with fabulous friends and no worries? Except that I got preoccupied at times, snooping around, hoping to find a country western singer! “Fughetabout it!” one friend said as I mentioned for the umpteenth time, “That COULD be Sara Evans (or Taylor Swift, or Miranda Lambert – fill in the blank) over there, incognito.”
But about our plane experiences: On the way up, I did indeed hear a beautiful Southern voice and it was the flight attendant. Talk about darling! A beautiful blonde named Missy that was as bubbly, friendly and nurturing as any flight attendant I’ve ever seen. At one point, she said over the intercom that we had a very special person on board. We all looked around and raised our eyebrows, but no, it WASN’T a country music star. It was, however, a 92 year old lady celebrating her birthday. We were then asked to sing her happy birthday, but not before we turned out the overhead lights for ambience. Next, a “cake” was presented, which Missy said she had prepared. I was amazed (and yes, I’m gullible.) But the cake was a roll of toilet paper with decorative red plastic toothpicks sticking up out of it. Sweet!
Okay, about the flight home: You’re gonna love this. My dear friend, Cathy, was sitting at the front of the plane next to her twin sister, Lori. We were on a very small plane this time (not a fan!) and so I couldn’t see them from my seat in the back. However, when we got off the plane, the twins were out of breath, beyond excited, standing there in the airport, grinning! It seems Keith Urban had been on our flight and they figured it out – of course, he was lying low with his baseball cap, hunkered down with his iPod, but they said his tattoo gave him away. When they reached the terminal, they asked him to pose for a photo with them and he agreed! The whole thing took place in under a minute. So, actually, I did hear one Southern voice, Missy. And even though I didn’t see a country music star in Nashville (it was our layover in D.C.), my friends did, so I have bragging rights as well.