Nashville, TN: Dukes of Hazzard Museum and Grand Ole Opry

Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

Passing through the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace brought me to Nashville, TN, the world’s country music capital.  I could spare no more than a few hours here if I wanted to arrive on time at my next destination, Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave.  Nashville has no shortage of attractions, but aside from the Trace they seem to be artsy and indoors.

Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

I put the Grand Ole Opry at the top of my list.  Being a Luddite without a navigation system, I relied on an 11-year old road atlas to get me there.  The map wasn’t detailed, so I stopped at a Waffle House to confirm my course.  Waffle House is as ubiquitous in the South as Starbucks is in the West.  Here, I walked into one for the first time.

I laid my atlas down at the bar and asked the waitress if I had the right exit for the Opry.  She referred me to a senior gentleman who knew the area well.  The waitress was also a local and one might expect her to know the way to the city’s major attraction.  This was one of many examples I’ve seen around the country of locals being unsure of how to navigate their hometowns.  I wonder how well I would do if a random tourist asked me for directions in Denver.

The man at the bar was very friendly and showed me the way to the Opry.  “Enjoy yourself,” he said in the warm and aristocratic tone typical of older southerners.

General Lee, Dukes of Hazzard Museum, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

General Lee, Dukes of Hazzard Museum, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

Cooter's Towtruck, Dukes of Hazzard Museum, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

Cooter’s Towtruck, Dukes of Hazzard Museum, Nashville, TN: Click to enlarge.

On the way to the Opry I ran into Willie Nelson’s Dukes of Hazzard museum and store.  I was devoted to the Dukes of Hazzard TV series as a kid and felt compelled to stop.  My parents couldn’t stand it, however, so I was sent to the small TV upstairs every Wednesday night.  The show was based on the exploits of an actual moonshiner in North Carolina and ran from 1979 to 1985.  The museum is free and features the key vehicles used in the show: The General Lee muscle car, Daisy’s Jeep, and Cooter’s tow truck.  I understand that many “General” cars were required to film the episodes so I’m not sure of the display model’s authenticity.  The walls are filled with newspaper articles and photos covering the show and its cast over the years.  Story boards discuss the show’s unexpected, huge, and long-running popularity.  Episodes played on a 1980’s vintage television in set in one corner, with orange and yellow plastic chairs provided for viewing comfort.  I sat down but the show did not hold my attention for more than a few minutes.

I found the Opry’s architecture and ambience to be unremarkable and typical of a major concert venue.  It’s flanked by a large, new-looking shopping mall.  After a walk around the mall to bask in the air conditioning, I headed for Kentucky.

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