Thursday, November 17, 2016

Nashville in November, 2016

Nashville at twilight

Well hi there! How’s everybody doing today? I’m good! No, wait... Actually, I’m really good. November is shaping up to be quite a month. In fact, November’s awesomeness is already in full swing! Allow me to explain...
For quite some time we’d been planning to attend the Green Bay Packers/Tennessee Titans football game, which was scheduled to kick off in Nashville at noon on November 13. Todd’s sister, who lives in South Carolina, has a son (daughter-in-law and grandson) who live in Nashville. She suggested that since we also have a son (and daughter-in-law) who live in Nashville, we should meet up for the game. It sounded like a great idea, so the plan became a reality last weekend. 

Todd and I started our drive on Thursday night, after he finished work. Leaving Waukesha around 7:00 p.m. is a good time to depart, since most of Chicago’s traffic (this time around O’Hare airport) is much thinner than it would be earlier in the evening. Todd and I talked for a while, and then put on some music. When we are on road trips, it’s always fun for us to listen to our favorite oldies but goodies – REO, Styx, Journey, Jim Croce, Bob Seeger… I bet you can tell we grew up in the 1970’s, can’t you? We stopped at a Holiday Inn Express, about four hours from home, and spent the night.  

The next morning, after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road. Our GPS said we only had five hours to our Nashville destination, but since we did have to make a stop for gas, we arrived a bit later. Tony and Lesleigh were home, and seemed excited to welcome us. They helped us carry our belongings up to their apartment and got us settled in for the weekend. Since we weren’t meeting up with Todd’s family until 7:00, we began our own little ‘happy hour’ right there in the kids’ living room. Cheese, crackers… Okay, a little bit of wine may have been involved, but hey! It was Friday, and most definitely 5:00 somewhere, am I right??? 

Todd’s nephew is the manager of a very nice restaurant in Nashville, and that’s where we all met up. It was fun to see him, his wife, and little boy, as well as Todd’s sister. The last time we were all together was for a funeral, so it felt better-than-right to be celebrating life with them this time. He generously supplied us with appetizers, which were to die for, as we each ordered dinner and taste-tested our favorite beverages. After we ate, he led us to a large entertainment space, and said we could join the audience for a country music show that was already in progress. The whole evening turned out to be lovely. 

On Saturday morning we walked to the Farmer’s Market, located just a couple of blocks from the apartment. It’s an interesting place to visit, with everything from crafts to fruits/vegetables/meats, to plants… you name it! Later in the day, we made our way downtown, and enjoyed the music in the establishments along Broadway, Nashville’s main drag. We ran into some people that Todd knows from work, who were also in town for the Packers game. Let’s just say that it didn’t seem to matter where we went, there were a LOT of people wearing Packers’ colors - green and gold!

The Packer Fan Event - Saturday night
Tony and Lesleigh acted as great tour guides. They always have several suggestions of things to do and places to see. One idea they had was to eat dinner at a place called, “Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint.” When we arrived, the line to get into the place was snaking out of the doors, and ran almost to the edge of the restaurant. Lesleigh explained that you place your order and then go find a table. It only took about 20 minutes for us to be seated, which wasn’t too bad. The food was delicious! Pulled pork (or "hog," as the menu stated), brisket, sausages, baked beans, slaw, mac & cheese, fries – just loads of choices. Oh, and of course we toasted each other with a cold draft brew, which we all enjoyed. By the time we left, the line extended for at least two blocks. “Whew, I’m glad we came in when we did!” I said.  

Lesleigh had heard of a Green Bay Packer fan event, which was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. We had passed the place earlier, and there had been quite a long line! Since it was already after 6:00, we figured we’d just drop by and see if we could still get in, which seemed unlikely. We’d just arrived, and were the last people in line, when a woman began moving through the line on my left. I backed up, unsure of what she was doing. Turned out, she was leading the President/CEO of the Packers (Mark Murphy) and asking fans if they’d like to meet him, get pictures with him, get his autograph, etc. Lesleigh got so excited! We were the first people he spoke with, and he posed long enough for us to get a nice photo with him. We’d only been in line for like 30 seconds – not bad! We did end up getting in to the building, but the festivities were almost over. Still, it was a blast to catch some of that high Packer energy. 
The Memmel Fam meets Mark Murphy
(my purse is under my jacket - dang, that looks silly - oh well)

To end the evening, we dropped by a place that was jam packed with people. We shoved (and excused) ourselves all the way to the very back where there were a few square feet of standing room. The band was a lot of fun and played everything from “Country Roads” by John Denver, to “Friends in Low Places,” by Garth Brooks, and “I’m Proud to be an American,” Lee Greenwood. People were singing and shouting, dancing around, drinking… H*ck, it had been awhile since I’d had that kind of ‘night out on the town.’  Too fun!!!   

On Sunday morning, we left the apartment about 9:30. Lesleigh had heard of a Packers tailgate event to be held at a restaurant, kitty corner from Nissan stadium. Since the kids live only about a mile from there, we saved the irritation of driving, and decided to walk. The sky was bright blue and the sun was shining bright – a perfect day for football! As we came down the street, you could see all of the green and gold-clad fans milling about, already eating brats and drinking beer. Mmmm Hmmm… yup, you guessed it! We definitely joined ‘em!  
I admit, the game turned out to be pretty brutal for the Pack. The Titans scored on their first possession, and never gave up the lead. But you know what? I tried to just concentrate on the day itself – my surroundings, the weather, and most importantly, the awesome peeps I was with. Overall, awesome!!! 

After the game the kids led us back into town across a pedestrian bridge, which gave us a beautiful view of the river and of the city. We were able to stop along the way; talk, point, ask them questions, and take some pictures. By walking instead of driving, we got so many new and different views of the town our son and his wife now call home.  (See picture of Nashville, above)

One more stop at a watering hole for some older-school country music (tastes of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson) and perhaps another cocktail or two. Then we hoofed it back to the kids’ apartment and ordered up some pizza and wings. It had been a couple of super busy days, and it felt good to kick back on the couch, share some good food, and de-brief about all we’d heard, seen, and experienced. 


On Monday morning, Todd and I hugged and kissed the kids, and hit the road by 8:45 a.m. We stopped a few times, but generally drove the 9.5 hours straight through. About an hour before the end of our trip, we turned east onto our journey’s last leg. There, right in front of us, was the ‘super moon.’ At first it was hidden by cloud cover, but slowly the clouds dissipated and the bright moon guided us home. Can you think of a more perfect end to a perfect trip? 

Well… on second thought, maybe just one. Todd stopped at KFC and we each got some chicken, mashed potatoes, and slaw, to bring home.  

We did a lot last weekend in a short amount of time… but sometimes, (certainly this time) that’s the best way to go!!!  

Till we meet again, dear readers… J   

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of two books:  “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference,” and “Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff.”  Both are available as Kindle downloads, as well as paperback versions. For more information, visit her website at