TERRE HAUTE —
When one of the first people you meet is Tammy Wynette’s stepdaughter, when you’ve stepped on the feet of people you haven’t met while trying to navigate Ernest Tubbs’ old Silver Eagle tour bus, and when the activities director of your resort is, well, Elvis, you might be vacationing in Nashville.
Yes, it was spring break for the girls last week — Ryan was with his grandmother and going to baseball practice — and even though Jenny and I aren’t what you’d consider country music buffs, we had an awfully good time in the Music City.
The GPS system I predicted I’d be given after last spring’s frantic — and, as it turns out, unnecessary — sprint to Texas worked like a charm once we learned its programming quirks, and the weather was great — except for that tornado, of course.
Part of the reason for our good times was Wyndham Nashville. I mention the name because, as vacation companies go, Wyndham seems to be a pretty good brand if our week is any indication. And those good times started with our welcome party on the second night.
Jenny and I have been to a few of these (they’re Welk-um parties if you’re out west at a Lawrence Welk resort) and this was easily the best of them all — presentations by some of the musicians (like Tammy’s stepdaughter plus the Eagle Creek band, obviously an omen for somebody who grew up in Lake County’s Eagle Creek Township), tour guides and representatives of other tourist venues around the city.
Jenny won two free tickets to Bobby Green’s Good Ole’ Nashville Tour, which was a money saver, and as the evening which had been nicely choreographed by John and Debbie from our resort neared its end, John was brought to the stage — and revealed to be the performer for “A Tribute to the King” every Monday and Thursday. After hearing a quick rendition of “Jailhouse Rock,” we signed up for the following night.
Monday afternoon, however, the weather got a little dicey. We got a little nervous sitting in our suite when one of the chairs on our porch blew past from left to right and then, not 15 seconds later, another chair blew by right to left, but the storm at our place was a quick one — although it did knock out our power.
I saw John on duty when I went to the office to get a flashlight, and he admitted he was unsure if the show would go on that night. As it turned out, the power was down in the entire neighborhood for about nine hours, which meant supper was burgers from Fat Mo’s — had to drive about five miles to find anyplace with lights — and our entertainment was playing Uno by flashlight instead of watching Elvis.
By Tuesday, however, the weather was back to gorgeous. We broke out the GPS to find the Loveless Cafe for lunch — their biscuits have been televised by Bobby Flay and Conan, to name two — and then, since we were already out and about, went downtown to wait for the hockey game.
I bought Predators tickets back in the fall, as soon as we’d booked our trip, and had been rooting all season for both them and the Atlanta Thrashers to remain in playoff contention so we could see a last-week-of-the-season game with desperation involved for both teams. The Thrashers didn’t hold up their end, but Nashville’s 6-3 victory gave us nine goals and a fight, converted JoJo into a huge hockey fan (I knew it would) and even brought Jenny and Darcy around a little bit.
Wednesday was our Redneck Comedy Bus Tour with Tater and Gil. Earlene, who was a scream at the welcome party, was unavailable — because of a court date, the guys said — but it was two hours of tour, laughs and redneck certification. We learned that “Bless your heart” isn’t always a positive expression and to say “God rest his (or her) soul” anytime a deceased star’s name was mentioned — something that happens fairly often in the city.
The girls also got to visit their first saloon, the Whiskey Bent, along the way, where we saw a blue-haired fiddle player wearing purple tights. Afterward the girls and I hit an arcade (since JoJo was too short to drive a go-kart), the Cooter Museum (for all the “Dukes of Hazzard” fans) and the Willie Nelson Museum.
By Thursday we were in full vacation mode: Darcy built her own stuffed animal at one of Debbie’s activities in the morning, then it was downtown for lunch and the Country Music Hall of Fame (well worth it even if you aren’t a big fan), then Elvis. John and his wife Darlene have put together quite a show, even though nothing could induce the older people around me from getting up and boogeying (so I could).
Friday was our tour with Bobby (everybody is on a first-name basis after about 24 hours in Tennessee, you’ll notice, which is one of the reasons I like it). He filled us in on the homes of the stars (and a few other people), the gossip and the history; took us to places like the Ryman Auditorium (formerly the Union Gospel Tabernacle, thus nicknamed “the mother church of country music”) and the girls’ second saloon, Tootsie’s (where Willie and Kris Kristofferson, among others, occasionally lived); and showed us the entire town and surrounding area.
Bobby — who is a big Larry Bird fan — has a tour I’d recommend highly, although if you hear a song called “A Woman’s Touch” (Bobby’s currently pitching it to Alan Jackson — whose house is very substantial, by the way) on country radio soon, he might be too rich to conduct it anymore.
I wouldn’t say that everybody in Nashville has some kind of musical aspirations, but if you walk down Broadway you can’t swing a guitar without hitting, well, another guitar. Maybe the only one who doesn’t is former Hautean Ron Howes, who is still doing the weather for the city’s Channel 5.
• GLARING error — Got home from said vacation to find a couple of week-old e-mails alerting me that my system for doing the Amey Teams had at least one bug in it.
Not only did I leave a significant player out, it was a player I’ve known since he was playing T-ball — and a player whose family I’ve known an awful lot longer than that.
Be assured, then, that West Vigo’s Cody Thornton should have been on the boys Unsung Team for the many things he got done as an undersized power forward/shooting guard for the Vikings. I hope I’ve been able to get to him to apologize in person before he reads this.
• Tigers honored — Also learned that two members of the Paris boys basketball team were honored by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association on its 1A/2A all-state teams. Dalten Temples was on the fourth team and Cory Cunningham earned honorable-mention honors.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.