Destination: Tennessee

After the Nashville Flood: Grand Ole Opry House Reopens

USA Today has video from the restored venue, which opens its doors again tonight for the first time since Nashville’s disastrous spring flooding. The Grand Ole Opry itself stayed on the airwaves—as it has since 1925—broadcasting from other, undamaged locations around the city while its home received a $20 million renovation. Says longtime Opry member Marty Stuart: “It was time for a freshening up, so on the silver side of the flood, it’s like, ‘Thanks, God, for the flood and the insurance check.’”

World Hum columnist Tom Swick made it to one of those relocated Opry broadcasts, at the Ryman Auditorium, this summer. He wrote:

There was still the homey banter and the chummy words from sponsors, the easy mixing of newcomers and old-timers. A student at the New England Conservatory (playing fiddle and singing) followed Jack Greene (singing “Statue of a Fool”). As natural as this assemblage of young and old seemed—conscious preservation of the unbroken circle—it constituted something rarely seen in popular music today.

How High Was the Water, Mama?

After the flood, Nashville sings its way out of trouble

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Six Cities to Explore Martin Luther King’s History

Lorraine Hotel National Civil Rights Museum Photo by Victor Chapa, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

From Atlanta to Washington, D.C., Larry Bleiberg highlights the must-see places where the civil rights leader lived and made history

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Travel Song of the Day: ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon

Nashville: You’ve Still Got It

Nashville: You’ve Still Got It Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)


Just after I plucked my bag from the baggage carousel and walked out the airport doors to meet my ride, you wrapped me up in your humidity. Though that kind of welcome would, normally, put me off, I found it comforting. You were just making it clear that I was back in Nashville, that my two year for-no-good-reason exile from your borders had come to a close.

Before my visit, I told you I was nervous. One of my favorite cities, you had gone magical in my mind. When I thought about you, it was always fun fun fun, big food, history, music, blah blah blah. You were far removed from daily life. But from the minute that humidity grabbed me, I knew all would be OK. While my past visits have been anchored with purpose (reporting stories, the Tin Pan South festival, and so on), this trip was about, simply, hanging out and letting the week unfold as it might. I wanted to see what it was like just to be in Nashville, no run-around keep-yourself-busy necessary. My only requirements: eat at least one ice pop at Las Paletas and get a better understanding of the way your neighborhoods relate to each other.

You delivered.

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Nashville: An Affair Worth Remembering?

Nashville: An Affair Worth Remembering? Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Dear Nashville,

It’s been too long. For a while there, we had a thing going. I showed up every six months or so. You entertained me. It was an ongoing affair to remember. But then life got in the way. All my fault. I know. I apologize. But, really, my love for you has grown. I think about you constantly and, don’t tell my hometown (or anywhere else for that matter), but I’m secretly rooting for you in Travel + Leisure’s Favorite Cities survey.

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The Heat Seeker: Into the Heartland

The Heat Seeker: Into the Heartland Photo by Nicolas*, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Alison Stein Wellner likes her food hot and spicy. To find out how hot and spicy, she searched the world for heat. Part five of five: From Nashville to Indianapolis.

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Video: Alison Stein Wellner: The Heat Seeker

Alison Stein Wellner traveled around the world to eat the hottest food she could handle, a quest she chronicled for World Hum

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Trip Planning: Museums on Twitter

Trip Planning: Museums on Twitter Photo by biskuit via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by biskuit via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The experiment: ignore various, er, discussions over whether Twitter is good, distracting, or evil and find other ways to use it to enhance future travel experiences and planning. Since I tend to like museums big, small, and flat-out odd, I figured I would see what some U.S. museums are doing with it.

I’ll admit, I didn’t use the most scientific of methods. I searched Twitter for the term “museum” and, click by click by click, signed up for the first couple dozen on the list.

The information started to drip, drab, and, in some cases, flow in. Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum, famous for its jars of medical oddities, was (and I love this!) offering free health screenings (@MutterMuseum); Northport, Alabama’s Kentuck Museum (@KentuckMuseum) wanted you to put its April 24 poetry festival on your calendar; and Baltimore’s Walters Museum (@walters_museum) offered up a behind-the-scenes photo of an intern working on a Roman sarcophagus and an invitation to its college night with “mash-up DJ artists, tours, & more!”

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Free-Range Squirrel and Other Appalachian Delights

Ever wonder what Appalachian cuisine is? I haven’t either, but Eat Me Daily is running a four-part series on it. Part two, in which the intrepid journalist (in this case, Kathleen Wilcox) goes on the hunt for fried squirrel, is a great read. And before you wrinkle your nose, think about this: that squirrel is not only natural, it’s free range.

A ‘Twitcom’ from Southwest Airlines

This is priceless. Southwest Airlines’ blog, Nuts About Southwest, has posted what they call a “twitcom.” Here’s what they did: They created four characters, imagined a situation for them, and then, during an hour-long time window, Twitter followers submitted the lines the characters would speak. The incentive to participate came from the fact that Southwest picked one Twitterer in a raffle afterwards, and will send that person to the Nashville Film Festival.

The result is a 6-minute skit, acted out by Southwest employees on the airline’s emerging media team. Video below. As it says in the posting, “Please don’t laugh at our acting skills.” But isn’t that all part of the fun?


Morning Links: Bible Park, Pizza Vending Machines and More

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Morning Links: Bowie’s Clown Suit, Cute Penguin Overload and More


Morning Links: A Surge in Train Travel (Stories), the Truck Stop Dentist and More

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Happy 75th to the Great Smokies

Happy 75th to the Great Smokies Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park turns 75 this year. So go there and take a hike (or listen to some mountain music or check out the wildflowers or…) Then, come back and tell us all about it. Or, of course, if you already have a tale of the Smokies, share away.

My favorite memory of the Smokies: seeing evidence of the lives lived there before the land was designated a park. While on a horseback ride in the park, my guide pointed out a nearly perfect square of bright pink flowers. Though the cabin they had been planted around was long gone, the flowers have returned year after year to give a pretty tip of the hat to the woman who used to live on the land.

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