Monday, December 24, 2012

Fun In Music City USA

Bryant Grove Trail - Long Hunter State Park, Mt. Juliet, TN
December 22, 2012

Greetings from Nashville, Tennessee or technically, Mt. Juliet, TN, a few miles east of Nashville.  We made our way west on Friday morning very nearly getting blown off the Cumberland Plateau as our part of the blizzard which hit the midwest and northeast came through.  We received rain and some of the strongest winds I've ever experienced.  Driving was not easy - being outside was downright painful.  But what a difference a day can make.  By Saturday, brilliant sunshine and moderate temperatures had returned making for a perfect day for a middle Tennessee hike.  But I'm getting way ahead of myself...............

We make an effort to spend a few days in the Nashville area each Christmas holiday because there are a few things we love to see and do.  But our primary reason this year is that my sister, who lives in a small town 30 miles east of Nashville, is hosting my family Christmas.  Normally, everyone comes to our house on Christmas Day, but her family is growing and she expressed a desire to have her own family together on Christmas Day rather than having to travel as they'd always done.  I certainly understand, respect and fully support this, so after making sure our parents were comfortable getting to middle Tennessee, we proceeded with the new plan.  We will gather at her home later this morning, exchange gifts, eat a delicious meal, then Bill and I will head back in time to participate in the Christmas Eve service at our church.  

We traditionally visit Opryland Hotel during the holidays as the Christmas displays throughout this gigantic facility are simply amazing.  It takes at least an hour simply to walk through the three sections of the hotel.  We look forward to it every year.  

This year, a Google Search of "Christmas lights in Nashville" brought some ideas for things we'd never done before and the first thing on the agenda turned out to be a real winner.  I have always loved Nativity Scenes and during our early years of travel abroad, I began collecting handcrafted nativity sets from the countries we visited.  For reasons to complicated for this post, I abandoned that idea a long time ago, but truly cherish the 20 or so scenes that I have from around the world.  And I've certainly never lost the appreciation for viewing Nativity settings from various cultures.  It simply fascinates me.  So to stumble upon the Night of The Child exhibit featuring more than 100 Nativity sets from 30 different cultures had me practically shivering in anticipation. And it most certainly did NOT disappoint.  Housed in the Upper Room Chapel and Museum in downtown Nashville, the exhibit runs through the end of January.  Although a $4.00 donation is requested, the box is discreetly placed (in fact, I had to go back to the desk and ask where to place my donation) and you are in no way coerced to donate.  

Here are a few pictures although as you well know, I am not a photographer and most of these pictures were taken through glass.  They are not of high quality, but I wanted you to have some idea how special this was.  If you have any interest in viewing handcrafted Nativity Sets from many different cultures and are anywhere in the vicinity of Nashville, TN, put this on your to-do list.  


We settled in at our very favorite cabin, Uncle Pete's at Rockhaven Farms,  We've stayed here so many times, it seems like home, yet we never grow tired of being in this lovely place.  Plus, it is close to Long Hunter State Park where we planned to hike on Saturday and Sunday.  

Saturday dawned as clear and calm as Friday had been brutally cold and blustery.  We headed out to hike the Bryant Grove Trail in Long Hunter State Park.  Tennessee has a terrific state park system most of which have miles of well-marked and perfectly maintained trails.  I had hiked this particular trail on my very first hike with now good friends, Gene and Judi and wanted Bill to enjoy it with me.  I'll let a few pictures take the place of words...................

After experiencing the pure luxury of the cabin's whirlpool tub (which I do not have at home), steaks grilled by chef Bill, and our traditional holiday viewing of The Polar Express, we called it a night anticipating another great hike on Sunday.

Sunday's weather called for mostly cloudy skies with rain moving in by early afternoon, so we got an earlier start.  Our trail today was the Volunteer Day Loop, a trail that was new to both of us.  This trail turned out to be our favorite of the two that we did.  Trails in middle Tennessee are so different from those in the Smokies primarily because they are flat and much smoother.  They are truly a pleasure to walk and even a clumsy soul like me can look up from time to time without stopping simply because the trail is so smooth it isn't likely you'll trip over a rock or a root.  Benches were placed at strategic points all along this trail and the solitude was wonderful.  We talked about some important things going on in our lives, some upcoming decisions that need to be made and our much anticipated trip to Florida coming up, but mostly we hiked in silence left to our own individual thoughts.  It was wonderful.  Enjoy these pictures from the Volunteer Day Loop.

 This rock garden along the trail was absolutely beautiful. 

This one just kind of summed it all up.  How peaceful does this look?  Who knows what I was thinking about?  I could have sat there for hours!

Trailheads in the Smokies where I most often hike, are usually far from any towns, so it felt quite odd to be sitting in Red Lobster less than ten minutes after finishing this trail.  I enjoyed one of their seasonal specials, Tilapia with Roasted Vegetables, that was delicious!  We made it back to the cabin just as the rain arrived and spent a quiet afternoon together gearing up for today's very hectic schedule.

I want to wish each of you the very best Christmas Day.  Your friendship is important to me and I treasure each one of your kind comments.  You've stuck with me through good times, bad times, quiet times and times when I did little but whine about any and everything!  I count all of you as friends!  Let's walk together into 2013 anticipating another year of cultivating healthy habits and deepening friendships!

Merry Christmas!


  1. I live in Lebanon, right next door to Mt. Juliet. Never knew that Long Hunter had a great trail. I have to try it out! And also the Nativity exhibit. Grew up in Nashville and didn't know about that either!

  2. I enjoyed my virtual hike with you through those mountains. Merry Christmas, Sharon. Michele

  3. Merry Christmas ! Looking forward to 2013 and the great pictures. Safe travels. Karen P

  4. What beautiful scenery! Merry Christmas to you and Bill!

  5. Ooh, I think we just might have to visit those nice flat smooth trails on my next visit!!

    Love the scenery you showed, and LOVE that nativity display. What a lovely thing to visit right before Christmas.

    Merry Christmas Sharon!

  6. I have thought the same thing about how close natural areas are to developed areas around here. It is one of the things I appreciate the most about this area.

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us Sharon. As always I enjoyed it. Sometimes when we hike we chat and talk about future plans and other times we hike in silence just enjoying having our own thoughts and taking in the scenery.

    Enjoy your family time and safe travels to you!

  8. Merry Christmas (and safe travels) to you and Bill!

    And thank you for the tips on middle-TN trails to hike!

  9. Looks like a couple of beautiful hikes. Enjoy Christmas with your family!

  10. Merry Christmas Sharon. Would love to visit Opryland and that part of TN someday.

  11. Merry Christmas, and HUGS!!!!!!

  12. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too!

  13. Sounds like you all had a great time in Nashville... Opryland Hotel is AWESOME for sure --especially at Christmas...

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  14. I so enjoyed that virtual walk Sharon. It's hot downunder right now so that felt like a refreshing, cooling change. Lovely to have found your blog. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  15. We went to Opryland in early December and it was amazing!! Too bad we weren't there at the same time!

  16. Sounds like a wonderful time, Sharon! I would so love to see the Nativity exhibit. One of my most cherished possessions is my creche. I had always wanted one and the way I got this one, was a small miracle. I really should tell the story of it sometime on my blog. I love all the ones in your pictures---is one of them an origami nativity?

    A blessed and happy New Year to you!