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The Hermitage is just 10 miles east of downtown Nashville

I'll throw in just a tiny bit of history...there's was much to...




Jackson and his Rachel. He adored her.

The Hermitage mansion

Where the Jacksons are buried surrounded by Rachel's garden

No photos were allowed inside; our guides were in period costumes.

Jackson's original home complex before the mansion was built.


On a road leading to their church and cemetery.

This fellow scampered across the field before I could grab my camera

Is he a woodchuck? I don't know what he is. He was...

Part of Willie Nelson's museum


The guitar Willie played that first night on the Opry stage at...

Now, are these common in the malls? There was a mini stable...

For rent! Almost did it!

Oktoberfest posters from different years lined this hallway to the German restaurant

This one was significant because two of my kids and I went...

Family style...big tables. Good sounds. Good food.

Beautiful aquarium was actually a restaurant.

Maybe I should've eaten there!

The 'new' Opry opened in 1974. I guess it's not new anymore,...

The seats were full by the time the show started. I sure...

The Opry Square Dancers.

Note the wooden is from the floor of the Ryman, the...

This fellow, Mo Pitney, sang a song that touched me..."They Laughed"

Eddie Stubbs - the same announcer who was there in 2010. (Three...

Reading his commercials between performances.

The whole show is live.

We went through metal scanners entering the property. This fellow was on...


Ricky Skaggs is the fellow with the white hair.

Connie Smith - Hall of Fame, 11 grammy nominations

Mark Wills, song writer/singer

Bringing Bill Anderson out to honor his lifetime achievements

It was the Hall of Famer's 80th birthday and the evening was...

The others all sang Bill Anderson songs and celebrated his life

Stubbs almost smiled

Bill introduced Don Schlitz, who was just inducted into Hall of Fame...

Not a recording artist, but a song writer. This was first time...

Standing on the sacred circle while performing overwhelmed him...which overwhelmed me.

He wrote (and sang tonight) The Gambler and Forever and Ever Amen

Yep, it was a great night. Oh, and one more thing...

You like to read? I'm pretty sure you'll like this. Check it...

David Rheem Jarrett. Yeah, I went to Jr. High with him and...

October 28 was a long day, but a good one. I hate to admit how careless I was but it explains why I spent so much time wandering around a mall. I haven't been to a mall in years and perhaps the things that surprised me are familiar to everyone else. How was I careless? Well, I purchased my Opry Tickets online and clicked on the 9:30 p.m. show instead of 7 p.m. So I had to bide my time until I felt I could tolerate standing outside in the 43 degree weather to wait for the Opry doors to open. I ended up shivering with a couple hundred other people for about 45 minutes. That's okay. IT WAS THE GRAND OLE OPRY!!

I began my day, though, at The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home and burial site. Though he was our 7th president, he's equally as well known as the hero of New Orleans when we fought the final battle of The War of 1812 (which actually lasted three years) and defeated those Brits. General Jackson, not knowing the Ghent Treaty had already been signed, carried on and won in a spectacular manner, assuring himself a prominent place in history.

Visiting The Hermitage was impressive. Besides the big cotton plantation home where he lived until he died, the original cabins on the property where he resided before building the mansion are there and restored. He had over 100 slaves operating his cotton fields. Don't tell the radical protesters, though, or our mint might be in danger. If you don't remember what he looks like, he's on your twenty dollar bill.

He loved his Rachel, a divorced woman, in fact still legally married to her first husband when she and Andrew married. (They, ahem, didn't know that.) Rachel died of a heart attack in the beautiful home after he had been elected and the day before his inauguration. She was buried in their garden in the white dress she was to have worn that day. After Jackson's 8 years in office, he returned to The Hermitage and visited her grave daily. He is buried next to her.

It was just a short drive west back to Nashville where I stopped first at Willie Nelson's little museum. Interesting if you like country/western, but the souvenir shop fronting the museum is the profit center. Huge. Nope, didn't spend a dime. I then wandered the Opry Mall, ate dinner at a German restaurant which had a German band (big plus) and finally moseyed across the street to the Opry.

I had had reservations to the Opry back in 2010 on my Big Trip and it so happened that weekend was just 4 days after the 100-year flood had inundated Nashville and filled the Opry building with 4' of water. The country/western world doesn't let much stop them, however, and the Opry show went on in the old Ryman Auditorium. That was a huge plus for me. After all, that's where Hank and Johnny and Loretta and Patsy all made their mark. The Opry was held in the Ryman from 1943 to 1974. Nashville was still trying to get water out of their buildings and town and the venue was only about 1/3 full. But I sat there and enjoyed Little Jimmy Dickens (who died in January 2014 at age 94), Alan Jackson, and then teared up with everyone as we stood and joined Lee Greenwood sing God Bless the USA. It was a special, special night.

This year, there were no stars whom I knew, but they were all biggies in their own right. Two got me choked up, and the announcer made us all giggle (mind you, he's very serious and his humor was not intentional). Eddie Stubbs was announcing back in 2010 too - in fact, he's been an WSM announcer over twenty years. WSM AM radio, of course, broadcasts the Opry live (I'm listening to it as I write) . It's the 90 year old country/western station and the program that lured Dolly and Loretta out of the hills. And many before them.

Yep, this year was a special night too. I wore my best cowboy boots.

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