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Small Town, Big Town

It seems as if I've been hot for as long as I can remember; the summer heat has dragged on forever so I'd pretty much forgotten what it is to be cold. Waking early on Friday morning, I got Bruce to accompany me down to the river for sunrise. Waiting in the warmth of the car while I took photos from every spot I could use! While doing so I realized my hands were getting mighty chilly. Freezing temperatures will do that to a person.
Once the sun rose higher than pictured, I jumped back into the car and we decided to see if there were other places along the levy walls where you could access the river. We drove and drove, and before you know it, we were on another road and crossing another river. I saw there was a boat launch sign and B agreed to drive down in there so I could see what I could see. Fantastic sight is what I saw!
It is not often that I see steam rising from a body of water due to cold, that's for sure. Oh yeah, before you read on, I must warn you this will be long and full of photographs because we need to get back to the here and now on my blog before I forget everything that has happened this past week!

Moving on....

Returning to the b & b for breakfast, I saw this neat bird in the frost bitten grass. Anyone have a clue on what kind of bird this is?
It was still pretty early and our hostess must have still been in the kitchen because the dining room was empty. We ate our breakfasts here:
I may very well be mostly a mid-century modern girl, however, I still appreciate a good antique, particularly when it is upholstered like this!
Our plan for the day was a visit to the National Quilt Museum situated a block or so from the river. Oh my, oh my, was it ever wonderful.
Look how gorgeous the day turned out after the early morning freeze! It is hard to know where to begin while trying to describe the glories of the museum because each room contained magnificent works by supremely talented folks, including several men, one of whom actually created a quilt made of wood. Sounds crazy doesn't it? Here is a link to his website, and if you appreciate creativity, I suggest you click on it!
No photographs allowed of the entire piece, but in keeping with the super nice spirit of the place, they gave us a sample to photograph. There were miniature quilts, red and white quilts, WW1 quilts, prize winning quilts, and more, each and every one spectacular in their own way. It's a darn good thing they did not allow photographs inside because this post might go on into tomorrow!

Bruce may not be a quilter, but he is a craftsman, and can appreciate great work and skill when he sees it. Eventually it was time to go, lunch time long past. We roamed the few downtown streets looking for a place to eat. The light and buildings were perfect.
The days may be short, but vacationing near Christmas does have some advantages.
There are a few empty spaces, but mostly the town seems to be prospering, or as much as a small town can. There are reminders of the past on most blocks.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch at JP's, followed by roaming around in the little shops looking for Christmas gifts. Orlando peeps will be surprised/amused to learn that in one of the antique shops we came across a box of matches from Ronnie's! The sun begins setting around 4:30 in the afternoon in that part of Kentucky...goodness.
Our server at lunch told us he lived across the river in Illinois; the narrow bridge just down the road took you there. My darling husband, always looking to please, thought I'd enjoy a trip over into Illinois, so off we went. A very good thing I was not driving, as even Bruce admitted it was very, very narrow.
I did not get the name of the town we crossed over to, however, it looked more like I expected Kentucky to look--dirt poor! By now I'd heard from Hilary, asking us to come back out to the house at 8 to meet more of the family. How could we say no? We began looking for a little gift to take with us, stumbling upon a Moonshine distillery owned by a woman and her grown son.
Housed in one of the old downtown buildings, it was pretty neat. Chatting with the son, he asked B what brought us to Paducah? After a small explanation, B mentioned Dr. Hunt. Wouldn't you know it--he not only had fixed the broken arm of the son when he was a teenager, but Hilary's son, also an orthopedic surgeon, replaced both of the woman's knees! That's a small town for you. She told us that when he was practicing, Dr. Hunt was a pretty big shot. :)

So, remember I told you how dark it is on some of the roads? As we were driving on the highway towards Hilary's house, I had only just suggested to B that he turn on his bright lights, when what should appear in the middle of the highway but a HUGE deer. As in a buck with about six points. You've heard the saying, "deer in the headlights", right? It was just like that....we are so hoping he made it back to safety. Ginnie and Hilary, once again, welcomed us as if they'd known us their whole lives. In attendance? Two of Ginnie's adult children, along with children and spouses, as well as Kevin, the builder, and his wife, Beth. Hilary posed B and I in front of the fireplace, photographing us for posterity. With his phone, I might add. After visiting with everyone for a while, we took our leave, heading back out into the dark, dark night. What an experience it all was!!

After a serious breakfast with Valerie, our hostess, we got back on the road again, heading to Nashville, using the scenic route through an area between Kentucky and Tennessee called, "The Land Between the Lakes." Did I mention it was raining again? We made a stop at the Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River. Have you seen any good dams lately? This was pretty neat.
Nearby is the Kentucky Dam, which is even larger. The sky was pretty dismal by now with the smallest sliver of light peeking out from the huge cloud cover.
I had my heart set on driving through the bison and elk reserve in the LBL, so in spite of the constant rain, Bruce drove slowly through, with both of us eyeballing the winter landscape for signs of life. We did not have to wait too long before seeing the herd of bison, or part of it anyway.
I believe the area encompasses 750 acres of prairie land, looking mostly brown this time of year.
All that brown makes it even harder to spot the animals, however, on our second trip through, I finally spotted some elk up in the trees. Can you see them?
Fortunately I have a zoom lens bringing them close while still far away. We learned elk weigh around 800 pounds. I love facts like that, don't you?
Continuing along the hilly, winding main road in the rain, we came across an area where the buffalo roam.
Eventually we made it to Nashville, checking into our downtown hotel. While B rested for a bit, I did a little roaming around, finding a place to listen to music later on. We were in Music City after all. Once he was refreshed we headed the few blocks to Broadway where the neon shone brightly against the gray sky.
There were so many great signs I could do a whole post on them, but I'll confine myself to just two more.
I did see a lot of folks wearing boots, that's for sure, and there is no shortage of places where a person interested in them could purchase even more pairs.
Sometimes inclement weather can really make photos pop! Because we had a little time to kill, we went into a place, I think it was called The Swinging Door Saloon, where folks were playing music both on the ground floor and upstairs as well. We came to learn later that this is pretty standard for Nashville.
Nearing 6:00, it was time to head over to The Listening Room Cafe, a block from our hotel. Songwriters, in this case four, took turns playing their songs, mostly ones record by major stars. It was absolutely great, made even better by our position at a front table.
They each had their own style, and you might be happy to learn that none of the songs were the standard country fare of trucks, beer, ripped jeans and so on. In fact, it was so good we stayed around for the second show, featuring a singer with a voice the likes of which neither of us had ever heard before. Think Mariah Carey with a male voice--CRAZY BIG.
Stephen Salyers may not have been singing about ripped jeans, but he was sure wearing them! Distracting is what they were.

Sunday morning, after a good breakfast in the hotel we began a little exploring mission. Nashville has all sorts of buildings under construction, apparently tearing down much of what was there before. I wish I could have seen the entire Johnny Cash mural behind the fence.
Speaking of boots..
I hope you're not bored yet because there is still more to come!

Writing came to a halt around here because we went to church; last week it was a church of a different kind we visited around this time.
That's right--the Ryman Auditorium, the "Mother Church of Country Music." An excellent tour if you visit Nashville. Fully restored it looks great inside.
Trying to be succint (!!), I'll leave it at that...well, wait, here's something interesting. Here is the homemade dress worn by Tammy Wynette during her first appearance on The Grand Old Opry.
Love it!!

Heading back outside, music blared from every joint on Broadway. We stopped here,
after having a bar-b-que lunch at Jack's, a Nashville institution. The line was long when we went in, winding out the door as time went on.
The music in Layla's was not hillbilly by any means--more like Southern rock. I loved that the band was old guys, one of whom invited Miss Vickie to sing onstage. Singing a Bonnie Raitt song, she was mighty good for a non-professional.
As music lovers, this was a real treat, however, the time had come to head to the airport. Although we often don't go back to a place we've visited, we are both anxious to return and listen to live music all day long!

Arriving early at the airport is not my favorite thing to do, however, it is Bruces, so I did not complain. Much, anyway. Fortunately a little girl came over to entertain me, making the time fly by. Sarah, traveling with her Grandmother to Orlando, was a ball of fire.
Perhaps that was a fitting end to our trip since I never knew my own Grandmother? Make of it what you will...

your reporter at large,

Gail
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