Trans-Canada Highway.

Heading from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, we found ourselves on the Trans-Canada Highway. For some reason which escapes me, I thought that ran much further  north. 

Then it dawned on me.

I am further north than I have ever been. And yesterday, I was further east than I have ever been. 

So, as we drove along, I started singing Gene Pitney’s “Trans-Canada Highway, take me home…” because my brain-pod had immediately started playing it as soon as I saw the sign. 

There was a moment of awkwardness when I realised Sean had not heard the song before, but then I kept singing it anyway. That’s how I roll. 

We crossed into New Brunswick, bypassed Moncton, and headed to Port Elgin. Once there, we headed over the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. 

We headed for Charlottetown and found ourselves on the Trans-Canada, yet again. 

  
Three provinces in one day. Not bad for an Aussie maple leaf, adrift on the wind!

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Carousel.

Yesterday Sean and I returned to Port Dalhousie to see the carousel. It was built in 1903 and was restored painstakingly in the 1980s.

The carousel has over 60 hand carved animals and some benches that look like sleighs. A calliope organ plays songs from the early 1900s that make a ride on the carousel a trip into history. 

   
   
A ride still costs only 5 cents. 

 
Whaaaaat? In Australia, someone would be charging $5 and blaming it on the price of insurance.

We had a lovely ride that lasted over 5 minutes.  It was simply delightful. 

  

Hard Rock Cafe

There are any number of places to eat along Hollywood Blvd.
We went into one place that looked great after looking at the menu outside, but we couldn’t stay there because the music was so loud I couldn’t stand it.

We quickly chose to go to the Hard Rock Cafe partly because it’s iconic, partly because we know the food is good, and partly because every time I see the sign, Carole King tells me to.

Our experience there wasn’t quite as outstanding as it was at Hard Rock Niagara Falls, but it was still pretty darned good. Delicious food, fantastic music, and good, quick service.

Aces.

American Diner #2

Diner 66 on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is super cool.
There’s lots of neon lighting, retro-styled waitresses, a Classic American style menu, and great rock’n’roll playing on the jukebox.
The service is quick and friendly, and the food is good. The chili chese fries are a must if you visit here: it’s worth having those as a starter and ordering a 66 Burger without any sides, or even just having them as your meal. They are sensational.
This was a fantastic Route 66 dining experience. I absolutely loved it.

The Bible Belt.

You know you’re in “The Bible Belt” when the radio station that was playing AC/DC and Bon Jovi last night plays only gospel and contemporary Christian music on Sunday mornings, there are radio advertisements for churches and church services, and all other ads start with “When you get home from Church today…”

The Grand Ole Opry.

Wow.
What an absolutely amazing night of entertainment.
Legends and newcomers took the stage together for just over two hours of top quality country music performed live at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, TN.
I was moved to tears by both Chris Janson and Jim Ed Brown, for different reasons. I loved Lorrie Morgan and Brandy Clark. Jeannie Seely was fabulous. Riders In The Sky were wonderful with their medley of songs from Toy Story 2 and incredibly funny with their between-song repartee.
And then The Band Perry played four songs to finish the night. They are incredible: so much talent, very energetic, and powerful in their lyrics.

It was a huge thing for me to get to a show at the Opry: it has been on my bucket list for decades.
Tonight, “one day” became reality.

What a wonderful way to finish my first visit to Nashville.

Nashville #3

The Swingin’ Doors Saloon is close to Broadway on 4th Ave, Nashville.
This bar is awesome!

The food is good and the servings are very generous. I had their home special, the Swingin’ Doors burger with fries. It was fantastic, but I had no hope of finishing it. I could have shared it with a couple of homeless people and we would have all had enough to eat.

We spent a couple of hours here listening to Jamie Baxter and Paul Pace, great singers/musicians and very funny guys.
They were doing some songs together, but their main game was for one to challenge the other with the name of a well-known country singer, and he then had to sing a song by that artist. They changed it up by asking the audience to nominate artists.
The entire time we were there, these guys did not miss a beat. Song after song, they were absolute crowd pleasers.
They interacted with the crowd in a very positive and entertaining way.

If I lived in Nashville, I would be a regula at this bar.
Heck, they’d have to throw me out at closing time. Every night.

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Nashville #2

The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN, is a great place to spend some time.
The museum houses all sorts of memorabilia, outfits and instruments from a range of country music identities, past and present. There are video presentations on different themes and artists which are well integrated with the rest of the exhibits.

When we visited there was a small but special Glenn Campbell exhibit which brought some powerful memories flooding back to me. My mother loved Glenn Campbell and it’s fair to say that I was raised on his music.
There was also an extensive Reba McEntire exhibit titled ‘Reba: All The Women I Am’ which had video presentations as well as her outfits and memorabilia. The video material was very personal and engaging, and gave some thought-provoking insights into the complexity and sincerity of Reba as a performer but also as a woman who has worked incredibly hard with her talents to achieve what she has.

The museum offers a number of interactive games and activities that anyone can participate in, including recording your own vocal track and designing your own album cover. Those were a lot of fun, and resulted in a pack of digital souvenirs that get emailed to you at the end.

The Hall of Fame is housed in a large round room that bears the inscription ‘Will the circle be unbroken’. A
brass plaque commemorates each
Hall of Fame personality with a short description of their career in country music.

I feel really blessed to have been able to visit here today. I saw clothing and memorabilia of many artists whose voices and songs I love, and I enjoyed a number of “Oh! I remember that!” moments which were really enjoyable.

Nashville #1

Broadway, Nashville, is an amazing place.

By day it looks like any other shopping/restaurant/bar strip, but it is defined by the sounds rather than the sights. Music streams from the venues into the street in an oddly harmonious way. The shops play recorded music inside, but in the street you can hear a variety of live performances in the bars and restaurants that run in four hour sessions from 10.30am to about 3 in the morning.
Some of the acts we heard were really good, especially a guy named Randy Moore who was playing at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville bar. He was doing some fantastic acoustic country-style covers of recent pop/rock hits as well as country music.

Many of the shops are open until midnight, especially those selling boots, hats and clothing. The souvenir shops all have the same things in them, so you really only need to go into one and you’re done. There is a candy store that smells absolutely amazing. They make taffy, fudge, and caramel or chocolate-dipped goodies on the premises, as well as selling all sorts of other candy.

As dusk falls, the neon signs get brighter and the street fills with people. Broadway springs to life like a nocturnal creature that has been waiting all day to eat, drink, dance and party. Security staff appear at the doors of the venues, just to make sure everyone behaves themselves and has the most enjoyable Nashville-by-night experience possible.
Horses with open carriages behind them clip-clop their way up and down the street, offering the opportunity to see the city from a different perspective.

Right through the evening, people stream up and down Broadway. There are more than just stereotypical country music fans here: bikers in their leathers and bandannas, young women in short dresses and high heels, families with children, groups of teens in jeans and sneakers, as well as those in their jeans, boots and hats. Everyone is here looking for fun, or food and drink, or music, or boots, or a hat, or any combination of those things.

Roadtripping #16

It is a mind-blowingly beautiful day in Southern Kentucky. Sunshine, blue sky, vivid greens of grass and trees, spring blossoms atop graceful trunks and branches, horses and cows in the fields, and the gentlest breeze bringing the scenery to life.

KOA Horse Cave was a gorgeous spot to camp. It’s well laid out and thoughtfully provisioned with a fire pit and picnic table for each camping site. There are lots of trees and some very pretty walking paths. Squirrels, chipmunks and ducks visited nearby while we were staying there. I still think squirrels are some of the cutest critters on the planet, despite regular assurances from my American friends that they are “pure, unadulterated evil”.

Kentucky is a really pretty state. There’s no end of “heartland” scenery here. The patchwork of farms on the landscape is lovely. There are some interesting barn designs here too, as well as the standard “American barn” style.

It is also very clean, from what I have seen. People here obviously take pride in how things look. It’s so nice to drive down the interstate and not see rubbish on the side of the road. It’s obviously something the state encourages too, with signs along the highway that read “Warren County: a certified clean county”. As a roadtripping, photo-taking tourist, it’s very much appreciated.

More than once I’ve seen three crosses set by the roadside – not the kind used to mark where someone has died in a crash,although I have seen those, too – but the kind used to remind people driving by that it’s almost Easter. It’s simple but poignant, and reminds me of Randy Travis’ song about “three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway”, so that has been playing on the brainPod today as we drive, along with George Strait’s “Heartland”.

I guess it’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone now that I’m heading to Nashville today.