The morning brought cool temperatures and the sun trying to burn through the heavy mist. Our destination today is another ‘Boondockers Welcome’ host in Watertown Tennesse, about an hour drive west of Nashville.
We delayed our departure an hour from FireFox Campground in the Smokey Mountains, according to the news dense fog and zero visibility was waiting for us in the valleys of Tennessee. Time for another cup of coffee and a photo op before the day’s drive.
An hour after departure the smoky mountains disappeared behind us. The fog lessened as the morning wore on and clouds followed us for most of the morning. The afternoon brought glorious sunshine and heat, the high 70’s.
After the Smokey Mountains, the terrain changed from rolling hills to flat grasslands.
Daylight savings time came into effect tonight, Saturday, also we’re heading west back into Central Time Zone so we will gain another hour……two hours total, that means happy hour will be delayed, two hours later.
We arrived at our Boondockers destination at Watertown, early afternoon. I lead the group today, unfortunately, my truck GPS was slightly off and took us into a bank parking lot next to our destination. I had to drive over a couple of sidewalks, the others followed. All three rigs ended up in the small parking lot………..oops.
Bob, our ‘Boondockers Welcome’ host spotted us and came to our rescue pointing out his boondocking area on the next property.
I sensed the group was not impressed, the boondocking area was bordered on one side by train tracks and just beyond was the highway. We will no doubt be subject to traffic and train noise. Not much can be done at this point,………. we parked.
So far, our “Boondockers Welcome” hosts on this trip have been excellent. We’ve enjoyed many nights of free RV parking as well as, power, water on quiet rural properties, this is the exception.
Lynda and I took the spot closest to the tracks hoping to shield the others from the noise. Taking one for the team,……….. if you will.
Bob is a chatty single gentleman in his late 70’s, full of information about the area. The little old town has a long history of boom and bust. The most recent notoriety a backdrop for country videos, Bob mentioned several country music artists, Greek to me, but the rest of the group knew the names.
Bob supplied us with 30-amp power to keep our RV batteries fresh and power for appliances like the microwave and TV.
Bob’s property will be our base for exploring Nashville an hour drive west. Lynda and I are not country music fans. To me, country singers and songs sound alike. The theme of most country songs is limited to a few topics.
A lost love, horse, dog or car and most country singers copy a Nashville western style accent. Nashville is located in the eastern part of the country, figure that one out.
Lois says modern country is different, she may have a point the nasal sound of the likes of George Jones, Tammy Wynette, and Buck Owens has faded away. I’m sorry if I offended anyone, just an old guy’s opinion.
We set up camp and retreated to the shade to kick back for the afternoon. As we sat enjoying the amazing summer weather the sheriff pulled up, driving his cruiser into the middle of our camp.
Silence fell as we watched the Sheriff slowly exit the police car placing his hat on his shiny bald head,………… just like the movies. He slowly moved towards our circle of camp chairs checking our rigs as he moved.
He walked to a vacant spot between Lynda and Allyson, stood for a second munching on the famous toothpick and said through gritting white teeth, “Welcome to Watertown folks, where you from”.
One could almost hear a collective sigh of relief as Sheriff Larry broke the silence.
Larry was a wealth of information recommending various Nashville venues where famous country singers may appear. One of these venues was 3rd & Lindsley, a small country music supper club featuring such stars as Vince Gill.
After a twenty-minute visit, Larry left telling us to call the Sherriff’s office if we need anything or experience any problems.
A late afternoon stroll along Watertown’s short main street revealed our celebrity status, everyone in the small town knew we were camped at Bob’s.
Watertown is an interesting little place, with some odd features. The town is in a dry county, no alcohol is sold, but you may bring booze into most local restaurants, go figure, alcohol is illegal to sell and serve but it is allowed in restaurants? Strange.
The stores on the opposite side of the tracks are permitted to sell alcohol, they must be across the county line.
Fortunately, the railroad, we are camped next to, is only used occasionally, hauling rock from a distant quarry and bringing tourists from Nashville to town a couple times a week in the summer. Lucky for us the tourist season is pretty much finished.
Lynda and I were pleased, we will not be woken in the wee hours by a rumbling freight train. The highway beyond the track was another problem trucks and loud vehicles start at daybreak.
After Larry left, Allyson, our resident tour guide, got busy checking out Nashville’s country music venues and making reservations.
The Grand Ole Opry reservations were made a week or so previous. They were for tonight, Saturday. The shows are limited to weekends so even though we were tired from the day’s drive, a trip to Nashville was necessary.
Our tickets for The Grand Ole Opry were for the 9:30 show. We left Watertown at 5 pm allowing a few hours to check out the town and find a place for dinner. BBQ was the groups choice, it must be a favorite of the south judging by the number of billboard advertisements.
Ralph volunteered to drive to Nashville, his truck has seating for six and a short box reducing the length making it easier to park compared to Henry’s and mine full eight-foot boxes. The GPS took us through party central a bar area not far from the Grand Ole Opry.
What a crazy place, three blocks of Broadway packed with semi-sober people wandering from bar to bar. Every block housed several country music bars with speakers blasting inside and out. Some three stories buildings housed a band on each floor, some floors had two bands.
The party atmosphere was like nothing any of us had experienced before, a combination of Mardi Gras and Las Vegas. I am not a country music fan, but downtown, Nashville is a place everyone should experience.
The bands play for tips hoping desperately to be discovered and become the next country sensation. We wandered the streets enjoying the crazy party atmosphere.
Security was tight, each bar entrance had a couple of bouncer type large men checking pockets, purses, bags etc. I’m glad I left my purse in the trailer with my makeup.
The gang was getting hungry, we spotted Jack’s BBQ, serving turkey, beef brisket, ribs, pork shoulder, hounds teeth and many sides like baked beans, corn bread, slaw, corn on the knob, mashed potatoes with gravy and probably more I cannot recall.
A delicious cafeteria style dinner served on genuine styrofoam plates and plastic flat wear. The meat was tender and juicy. The only complaint, the cornbread was dry and corny.
After dinner, we continued our trek around Broadway. We saw an interesting phenomenon, on every third change of traffic lights the lights turn red in all directions. Stopping all traffic so the pedestrians can cross the street in all directions at once even diagonally,…….. weird.
Several attempts to enter the bars failed never enough seats for six. Finally, we found an outdoor patio, sounds nice but not, a dirty little alcove beside the entrance. We sat resting our feet and were obliged to buy a beer. Even though we were outside there was still entertainment.
The bar door flew open, out rolled a herd of bouncers riding an angry patron who may have overindulged, before long they handcuffed the guy and dragged him back inside. Strange, I thought, it was as though he wanted to leave but the herd had other ideas.
Finally, it was time to head to the Opry, a couple of blocks away. We lined up for the 9:30 show after passing through airport like security. The early show let out late which translated to standing in a crowded outside foyer for an hour, not fun.
Eventually, the doors opened and we made our way inside the 125-year old Ryman Theater. We found our seats on wooden church pews benches. Our perch was in the upper balcony, the nosebleed section, the theater is small, our seats provided a decent vantage point.
The live show was interesting, a radio era performance including commercials by a face for radio announcer who read commercials about Dollar General while instructing the crowd with hand signals to applause. The audience laughed until it became clear this was no joke.
The performers were a mix of talented newcomers and former stars doing their best impressions of a younger version of themselves. Apparently, we arrived in Nashville at the wrong time, just missing performances by well-known groups.
Even though the performers were not at the top of their game they provided an entertaining evening worth experiencing once.
I always thought The Grand Ole Opry was a place like an opera house, not, The Grand Ole Opry is the production the Ryman Theater is the building.
Even if The Grand Ole Opry is not your thing a trip to Nashville and the sights, sounds, and performances on Broadway are worth the trip. After the show, we climbed into Ralph’s truck just in time to avoid a parking ticket, our time had run out a few moments before.
By the time we arrived back at Bob’s boondocking venue, it was midnight, a crazy barking Buddy dog greeted us as I unlocked the door to his trailer. A quick reunion and off to bed for a very tired group.