Day One Hundred Five

Driving Thoughts

My ladies-only trip to Nashville officially came to a close today when I dropped my mom and sisters off at the airport and made my way north on I-65.  I didn’t have time to stop and check out any trails like I did on my trip south on Day One Hundred Two.  I was dreading the thought of walking anyhow, because after all the weekend’s wanderings, my legs were SORE.  It wasn’t so much the amount of walking we did, but all of the hills and stairs.  This flat-as-a-pancake-prairie girl was not accustomed to all of that CLIMBING!

Between listening to N.P.R.’s Diane Rehm Show and Bluegrass Junction on Sirius XM, my mind wandered on the six hour drive.  I found myself walking through all the places I’ve explored since Friday:

  • The Tunnel HIll Trail, in Southern Illinois
  • The Stones River Greenway and The Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge in the East Hills neighborhood of Nashville
  • The streets of downtown Nashville
  • The Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River
  • The Bicentennial Mall State Park
  • The atria at the Opryland Resort
  • The Shelby Bottoms Greenway in the East Hills neighborhood of Nashville

Although this is a great list of places to visit, walk, and (eventually) write about, my thoughts dwelt on how it was good to laugh with my sisters and hear about their families.  I realized how grateful I was to my mom for being her wonderful self and making the trip a reality.  Finally, I reminded myself to thank my husband for graciously altering his schedule and taking charge at home.

Good day, good trip!

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Day One Hundred Four

Ladies’ Trip in Nashville:  Day Three

Spring, 20132

For our last full day in Nashville, my mom, my sisters, and I spent the morning at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.  I had no idea this place was so huge!  Nine acres of indoor gardens with fountains and an indoor river (with bridges!) took us awhile to explore.

Later, we drove to get a great lunch at Burger Up in the 12 South area of Nashville.  After lunch we walked around the surrounding blocks and all agreed that this vibrant neighborhood (and Burger Up, for that matter) was our favorite.

For our final group activity, later in the afternoon we went walking at the Shelby Bottoms Greenway.  This paved trail is east of downtown Nashville, but along the west bank of the curving Cumberland River.  It connects at the northern end of the trail to the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge (which we visited on Day One Hundred Two) and the Stones River Greenway, but we took an unpaved loop near the river and a paved loop through a wetland prairie area instead.

Shelby BottomsWhile walking, I enjoyed seeing local families making use of these great Greenways, and I applaud those who had the vision to make them.  What can be better than spending time with family and moving yourself through beautiful green space?  Not much.

Good day, good walks!

Day One Hundred Three

Nashville, Day Two

The trip with my mom and three sisters continued today with our visit to downtown Nashville.  We started the sightseeing by walking along the west bank of the Cumberland River.  We then walked down Broadway past great classic stores like Hatch Show Print, Diana’s Sweet Shop, and Gruhn Guitars, and past bars with open doors and the sounds of music pouring out onto the streets already at 11:00 A.M..  We also walked by the beautiful Ryman Auditorium on 5th Avenue/Opry Place, but did not take a tour.

Spring, 20131

Next, we headed up over the Cumberland River on the historic Shelby Street Bridge.  This National Historic Place truss bridge was almost torn down, but instead was nicely refurbished and reopened as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in 2003.  There is a wide bike lane down the middle of the bridge with raised sidewalks on each side for pedestrian traffic.  A new public park sits along the Cumberland at the east base of the bridge.  Both bridge bases are easily accessible by an elevator or stairway if you want to cut off some of the ramp up to the bridge.

After seeing the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge yesterday, the Shelby Street Bridge today, and their lovely surroundings, we all gave Nashville high marks for making the most of their public spaces.  And there was even more to come!

Next, we drove over near the capitol building and went to the Nashville Farmers’ Market.  I had read about the award-winning farmer’s market which includes restaurants and an eating area.  We enjoyed seeing it and getting some lunch. This is easily the largest farmer’s market I have ever seen!

After lunch, we stepped out onto the adjacent Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, yet another wonderful public space, north of the state capitol building.  These lowlands were not conducive to building large multi-story buildings like those constructed on the east, west, and south sides of the capitol building.  Instead an open mall, patterned after Washington D.C., was constructed here to honor Tennessee’s history, with the added benefit of keeping one side of the capitol building visible and not blocked from sight by large buildings.

Nashville DowntownThe Bicentennial Mall contains a “Pathway of History” (a walk-along timeline of important events in Tennessee history), a Centennial Memorial, a World War II Memorial, a bell carillon, fountains celebrating the “Rivers of Tennessee”, and (my personal favorite) a 200 foot granite map of the state.  (I really regret not taking a picture of this from atop the hill near the Capitol building.)

After walking around for awhile, we decided the time had come to make the trek up to the Capitol.  So. Many. Steps.  After I recovered from the climb, we walked along the east side of the capital building which honors Tennessee’s three presidents, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson.  In fact, President Polk and his wife Sarah are entombed here.

Tennessee Capitol1

By this time, I, at least, was pooped!  What a great day of walking around Nashville, seeing the sites, telling stories of home and family, and laughing!

Good day, good walking!

Day One Hundred Two

On the Road:  Southern Illinois and Nashville, Tennessee

I hit the road today at 6:00 A.M. and headed for Nashville, Tennessee, to meet my three sisters and my mom for our bi-annual trip.  We started meeting up from around the country for these trips shortly after my dad passed away, so this is our fifth spring trip since 2005.

I’ve driven through Nashville at least ten times over the past several years, but have spent little or no time there.  I had several suggestions of things I wanted to see once we got there, but I also planned a little side trip for myself along the way.

I had decided to take a slightly longer route through Illinois (instead of taking I-65 through Indiana like we usually do), mostly just to try a different route, but I also wanted to stop and see the Tunnel Hill State Trail near Vienna, Illinois.  I have read about this trail on traillink.com, and it is also featured in the current Rails-Trails Conservancy newsletter:  I just wanted to check it out for myself, even if I only had time for a quick look.

I found the trail and the tunnel pretty easily and it was only a few miles off of I-24.  I parked in the small lot, headed south on the crushed limestone trail, and followed a sign to the tunnel.  It was really cool.

As I made my way toward the tunnel, I could hear water dripping down between the hanging plants along the side stone walls, cut back in the 1870s, to make way for the Vincennes and Cairo Railroad .  There was enough water dripping down the walls that the “mini-ditches” on both sides of the trail had water running in them.

Tunnel Hill

Tunnel Hill 2
I only went a few steps into the tunnel before turning around and heading back to my car.  I decided that I would just have to come back sometime and share the experience of this trail and tunnel with my family.

I look forward to exploring more of the trail’s 45 miles, 23 trestle bridges, and many intersecting trails, but at the time I needed to get to Nashville!

Once we had all arrived in Nashville and had done some catching up, we were ready to leave our, unfortunately, shabby rental townhouse and do something.  I suggested we head to the Stones River Greenway, one of Nashville’s many trails (Greenways) linking parks, public spaces, and neighborhoods.  Everyone agreed to the plan, and off we went.

(Here’s the thing:  I had done some research before the trip, knowing that my active sisters and mom would be game to do some extra walking and sightseeing on foot.  I think, however, that they were surprised to learn of my new obsession with bridges.  Oh, and that I’ve been blogging…)

We parked at Two Rivers Park and after a quick GPS search, headed towards the Cumberland River and the new Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge and the scenery were beautiful; catching up and laughing with family, priceless.

Stones River

Good day, good walking!