Hee Haw!

Hee Haw!

I’m not sure where to begin! Last weekend we traveled to Nashville specifically to see the George Strait, Chris Stapleton, Litttle Big Town concert. I had purchased tickets months ago so started planning the weekend at that time as well. So much to do in three days! But I think we were successful!

On Thursday we drove up to Lynchburg, Tennessee (home of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery). I had booked us a room at the Lynchburg Valley Inn, a local B&B. It’s a beautiful 1800’s colonial home. As is the case with most everything in Lynchburg, the Inn has quite a history intertwined with the Jack Daniel family. We’ve come to love B&B’s and will always seek one in our travels, if it’s possible and convenient.

Friday morning we awoke to the scent of fresh coffee brewing and breakfast cooking in the kitchen. One of the biggest perks of B&B’s is, obviously, the breakfast. This one consisted of biscuits, scrambled eggs, fried country ham, hash brown casserole, and sliced bananas. It was delicious and a perfect start to the day ahead of us.

After breakfast we showered and got ready, packed up, and headed to our first adventure for the day – a visit to the Lynchburg Cake and Candy Company at the recommendation of our B&B hostess, Joyce. It’s an amazing operation making thousands of whiskey cakes, praline pecans and whiskey balls shipping throughout the country and beyond. Of course, they integrate the hometown brew into every bite of their products. I’ve only tasted the whiskey balls and I have to say they are most delicious.

The tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Oh my, this was such a fascinating tour. We learned so much. Our guide, Melissa, was fabulous and full of knowledge.

To start, Jack Daniel left home at the ripe old age of 6. YES! He then took up with a local preacher named Dan Call who taught Jack how to run the whiskey still. He was around the age of 12 when Dan decided to let Jack run his still full time while he went back to preaching full time. Dan also had a slave named Nearest Green who also taught Jack how to make whiskey. Nearest would be with Jack for many years after Jack founded the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Distillery. Green was hired as the first master distiller. He was the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States.

Jack is the one in the vest and bowtie in the middle, to the right of Nearest Green’s son George Green. There is no known photo of Nearest Green. It is said that Jack (being a man of short stature) is standing in this photo while everyone else is sitting.

The distilling process at Jack Daniel’s Distillery is fascinating (read all about it here). They make their own coal, burning hard sugar maple which is used to mellow the whiskey. The water they use comes from a spring (Cave Spring Hollow), two miles down that is surrounded by limestone which naturally removes any iron deposits. Iron is not friendly to whiskey. The spring water is 56 degrees year round. They draw 800 gallons per minute to make their whiskey.

Their sour mash is a combination of 80% corn, 12% barley, and 8% rye. Any left over used sour mash is offered to local farmers for their animals. Yes, they are believed to be very happy annimals.

They make their own barrels using locally sourced white oak. These barrels are hand-made. No glue, no nails. Each barrel house contains about a million gallons of whiskey. They have 95 barrel houses in the area. And they are 100% sustainable. Imagine that. They make their whiskey exactly how Jack did over 150 years ago.

After the tour, we had reservations for lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant. What a treat! Miss Mary Bobo’s used to be a boarding house. Now it serves up delicious family style meals to patrons three times a day. Yep, they only have three seatings -11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Their concept is a tad different than most family style restaurants. Patrons are seated in different rooms within the house. All set up for family style dining with one large, long table that seats about 13 people. At the head of the table is a “host” or “hostess” who engages the patrons in conversation, shares knowledge of local history, etc. This is the concept difference that makes them stand apart. Our host was quite entertaining, to say the least. The wait staff who work there are offered college scholarships. They have to apply, are interviewed, and be approved but the funding was set up long ago by Miss Mary Bobo herself. It’s a win win for the college kids and for the restaurant.

If you’re looking for a fun day trip or weekend trip, I highly recommend visiting Lynchburg and touring the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and definitely stop in at the Lynchburgh Cake and Candy Company but call first to be sure Billy is there! And have a seat at one of the tables at Miss Mary Bobo’s. You won’t regret it! And will be just as fascinated as we were with the entire Lynchburg experience!

After Lynchburg, we headed to Nashville, checking into the Hilton Downtown as soon as we arrived. What a great location just a couple of blocks off Broadway. It was perfect.

Our Friday night consisted of tickets to the Grand Ole Opry. That night we saw Rhonda Vincent, Tiera Kennedy, Mike Snider, Rhett Akins, Connie Smith, Brian Bates, Ben Fuller, and Charlie McCoy! What a fantastic experience. The Opry is beautiful. So much history, so much talent. We had such a great time. My only complaint is that it is so far away from downtown where most everything else is located. We’ll definitely go again.

Then back to the hotel. We ordered “in room dining” as they called it. Another treat but we were too tired to venture back out in search of food. It was good!

Saturday morning we had breakfast, again, in our room. Then got ready to conquer the day. It was going to be a long one and a hot one! First up, we visited the Ryman Auditorium, home of the original Grand Ole Opry. What a fabulous tour! And what history!

The Ryman is an intimate auditorium with a seating capacity of 2,362. The building began its life as a gospel tabernacle in 1892 and has been through many changes since those days. My, what a venue.

Everyone from Elvis to Foo Foo Fighters to Johnny Cash to Jelly Roll any everyone inbetween have performed here. Ed Sheeran recently held a concert there. So you see, it is meant for all musicians, artists, comedians, politicians, etc. Experts have praised Ryman Auditorium’s acoustics, calling them among the best in the world. What a testament to the building, it’s supporters, and it’s investors. It has gone through many renovations and reiterations to continue to stand today for all to enjoy. A “must see” venue if you are in Nashville.

We then visited a few shops on lower Broadway, finding ourselves settling in at Jason Aldean’s place for some bar snacks and a drink and then onto Ole Red, Blake Shelton’s place for more of the same. Everything was so crowded because of the George Strait concert. So many people were in town for that one!

We soon left to head to the hotel to get ready for the concert! We got ready and then headed out to walk the .8 miles to the stadium. Little did we know what was in store for us!

This is us set for the evening festivities! We were decked out in our cowboy hats and cowboy boots! Our seates were on Row 24, on the edge of the isle. The usher guy didn’t give us anything specific that would allow us to move freely back and forth for refreshments, only saying he would remember my husband’s shirt. And he did! It was so funny!

When we arrived, we were first detained in the bottom level of the stadium due to lightening and thunder nearby. Oh my . . . they finally let everyone into the stadium and to their seating. That delay was about an hour long which meant that the acts playing that night shortened their set list a bit to accommodate less available time. That included George Strait. He came on and played maybe 8 songs before it started raining, then it became a monsoon. He told everyone goodnight and be safe and then left the stage. We had already left before that but we did get hit outside the stadium as we were attempting to get an Uber back to the hotel. EVERYONE was trying to get an Uber. It was a mad house but with cash in hand, we did secure a car and headed to the Hilton.

George singing (in the rain) Amarillo by Morning, said to be his favorite song.

Time lapse video of the monsoon. What a mess!

We did get back to the hotel soaking wet, looking like drowned rats. But we were safe and soon warmed up a bit. Even with the warm temps, the rain water was cold!!

The next morning we got ready, packed up, and headed across the park to the County Music Hall of Fame. What a musuem!! So much memorabilia, so much history. You would truly need to spend about four hours there to really absorb everything. It was truly mesmerizing!

To sum up the weekend, we had a great time. The historical significance of everything we saw was almost too much to soak in during the three days we were there. It definitely means we will be making another trip soon!

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