George for the Holidays Locator map

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Day 1
Bats, Blunderbusses, and Bourbon

Day 2
Rain, Riders, and Rope

Day 3
At Nashville's Mercy

Day 4
A Cotton Tale

Day 5
Merry Christmas

Day 6
Back to Cincy

December 26, 2011 (day 6)
I drove by Opryland then followed the Jackson Highway north to where I left it on Thursday. From there, expressways brought me home.

After bringing record snowfalls to Oklahoma and Texas in 2009 and the first Christmas snow since 1969 to Chattanooga in 2010, I was relieved to complete this trip without a blizzard hitting Nashville. The streak is broken.

December 25, 2011 (day 5)
I took a look at the Occupy Nashville crowd then checked out Christmas on Broadway.

December 24, 2011 (day 4)
I ducked over the Alabama line for a wonderful visit with long time friends.

December 23, 2011 (day 3)
No real rain today but plenty of clouds and a few sprinkles. I toured the Jack Daniel's distillery and visited downtown Lynchburg before heading to Nashville for a show at the Mercy Lounge.

December 22, 2011 (day 2)
It rained pretty much all day but I did cover that missing stretch of Dixie Highway then walked to my room after watching team roping practice. Never did that before.

December 21, 2011 (day 1)
I visited a couple of museums and a really cool store in Louisville then headed on to Bardstown.

Prelude 2 - December 2, 2011
Once the destination was selected, other details lined up with amazing ease. I've driven several segments of the Dixie Highway over the years but my record keeping has been pretty shoddy. In conjunction with last summer's drive to the northern terminus, I took something of an inventory. Using the 1923 Dixie Highway Association map available on Robert Droz's site and elsewhere, I put together a graphic scoreboard. That's it on the right with the parts I've driven marked in green. Click for a larger view. There's an open stretch in Tennessee with Nashville sitting right in the middle of it. Considering the number of times I've been to Nashville, it's something of a surprise. I've driven from both Russelville and Shelbyville to Nashville but each of those drives followed US-41A and not the Dixie. I have driven US-41 between Chattanooga and Nashville and the portion between Murfreesboro and Nashville is almost but not quite the Dixie Highway. I probably could have colored in that portion with a clear conscious but will wait until I've done it a bit more properly.

For reasons that should become clear later, I'm starting this trip in Louisville, Kentucky, on the Jackson Highway. I'll move to the Dixie Highway near Horse Cave where the Dixie and Jackson come within four miles of each other. Some may recall a group of American Road Magazine Forum members traveling bits of these two old auto trails back in 2007. I'll then follow the DH all the way to Shelbyville before returning to Nashville for the show.

Prelude 1 - November 30, 2011
I've long intended to go somewhere for Christmas but nothing had yet struck my fancy. I'd been thinking of it halfheartedly for a month and more seriously in the days since Thanksgiving. I really enjoyed last year's Christmas on the Delta Queen in Chattanooga and that became sort of a fall back destination. In fact, I visited the Queen's website multiple times and, had they been offering a sweet deal like last winter, I'd have probably booked it and that would be that. They weren't so I remained undecided.

Today things clicked. I've spent two Thanksgivings in Nashville but never a Christmas. It was on my mind so I took a look to see what was happening there. I hit the Ryman's website first and saw it would be open and hosting the Grand Ol' Opry as it does each winter but the shows for Christmas weekend were expensive and unexciting. I next visited the Bluebird's website and was reminded that it closes for a week each Christmas. Then I thought of the Long Players and stopped by the Mercy Lounge site just in case. Bingo.

The Long Players are a group of musicians who excel in reproducing classic LPs (a.k.a. long playing records) song for song and note for note -- live. I saw them in 2006 when they did Van Morrison's Moondance, their sixteenth album tribute. On December 23 they will be performing George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, their fifty-second album tribute. Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of Harrison's death. He's been in the news a bit and in some personal conversations. I don't think I could have invented a better event to organize my Christmas escape around than the Long Players doing All Things Must Pass two days before the holiday.

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