Morning dawns and the rain has stopped. We are happy to leave and to head to Nashville but before we go I am going to check out the craft show at the convention centre in town. Rudy drops me off and heads for a walk.
There are about 200 hundred vendors. The variety is huge. About 3/4 of them I am not very interested in. However some are really cool. There are the traditional mountain basket makers. These baskets are so sturdy and made from various trees that are split. There is one vendor who constructs small replica buildings out of wood and stone. There are old cabins, pool halls, churches, etc. and each of them are decorated with tiny furnishings and other paraphernalia. There are intricate and definitely reflect the buildings and places here in the history of this area. At one booth there are intricate knives and old replica rifles. Overall the hour I spend there is satisfying. Unfortunately there were no pictures allowed of the products.
And off we head to Nashville. It is mostly freeway driving and we leave the beautiful scenery behind. Once in Nashville we settle into our hotel and then take a shuttle down to the strip. It is just what you would expect; bars with bands, bookshops (selling cowboy boots and hats), and barbecue eateries. We wander from open window to open window listening to the music and occasionally stopping for a beer and a listen. We end up at Robert’s Honky Tonk and make our way to the balcony. We get a front seat. It is all magical. I love it. We are starving but in this type of venue along the strip the options are few. Rudy orders what is called the recession special — a fried baloney sandwich, a bag of plain chips, a moon pie, and a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer to wash it all down — all for $6! I order onion rings. We gobble them down.
The evening is eventful. Americans are super-friendly. A young man sits down on the stool beside Rudy and introduces himself.
So where are y’all from? Me? Well, I’m from a small town in North Carolina called Mount Airy?
Oh yeah? Well we were just there on the weekend.
For the Autumn Leaves Festival? Hey, I was working there. I made a quite a bit of money so now I’m here in Gatlinburg, spending it in this bar. Actually I’m the driver for this gentleman sitting here at my table. Do you read? Well, you may have heard of my friend — he’s Martin Clark, an author, and he’s doing a promotional book tour and I’m his driver.
We’re introduced to Martin Clark, who smiles at us and says hello. We turn back to listen to the band, and quietly google Martin Clark on our phones. Hmmm… Looks like Mr Clark is actually a pretty important and famous author — the New York Times calls him “the thinking man’s John Grisham.” Perhaps that will be the next book that I read.
After finishing our beers we wander up and down Broadway for a bit longer and then take the shuttle back to the hotel and settle in for the night. We’ve booked this hotel for two nights so for once we don’t need to worry about packing up and moving on in the morning. Ahhh… all is well.