This last week of my life has been crazier than it has ever been before! But, it has been so sweet in ways that I never imagined.
Last week, I went to Nashville. Prior to, my mom told me that she had won a radio contest. She wasn’t sure which one, but I went with it, because it was getting me to Music City, and that was really all that mattered. I missed a day of classes and we spent most of the day traveling and keeping ourselves entertained on the plane. Finally, around 11:30 that night, we had arrived in my favorite city in the world. We made it to our hotel, settled in for the night and ate a Goo Goo Cluster…Because YUM!
The next day, which was Thursday, we tried to get an earlier start. I could see the sun shining through the windows and my heart was filled with glee. I always wonder if the city will live up to the hype that I’ve created in my mind. Will this trip be as magical as the last? Is it really as great as I remember? It always is, if not better. So, we had some hot tea and got ready, then headed out.
We certainly covered a lot of ground. We went to the Country Music Hall of Fame, first thing, and spent a couple hours there. It had been awhile since we’d last visited, so there were new exhibits to check out – The Taylor Swift Education Center, Alan Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Miranda Lambert’s Backstage Pass, and one last glance at the Bakersfield Sound section, before it goes away in December. My mom and I also had way too much fun in the new ACM Experience center. There were interactive games to earn badges; trivia and even recording your own song in an imitation of Taylor Swift’s bus. It was the most fun I’d had in awhile; We were laughing SO much.
When we finished at the Hall of Fame, we started wandering around downtown. We went in a couple stores, like The Opry Shop, where I found the perfect bracelet, then we met up for lunch with one of my friends who lives there. We met at Demo’s and had a great time chatting and catching up. When we finished lunch, we went next door to a tour agency to figure out what to do next. Most of the tours that we were interested in taking, like the Nashville show tour (locations that have been used on the show) had already gone out for the day. I was really hoping to do that one, but oh well. Maybe next time. We ended up going into The Ryman for a few minutes; glancing at the shop, using the restroom, then decided to take Lyft over to the Opry!
The car dropped us off in front of the Opry Plaza, one of my favorite places in the world, and suddenly I felt at home. We wandered around for a few minutes, then decided to take the tour again. I never get tired of seeing some of the most monumental and sacred places in one of the greatest cities. It seems that every tour is different, depending on your guide. It was also a different time of year and less busy than CMA Fest. There was a total of five people on our tour, which was perfect. We watched the introduction video hosted by Blake Shelton, then got started. Our tour guide took his time talking with us and answering any questions we had. We also walked down the hallway of dressing rooms without a million people being packed in. As we made our way through the family room, he started telling us about the show and the lineup, as well as becoming an Opry member. He then said rumor had been going around that someone would be getting inducted the next night. Guesses? Little Big Town (which it was later reveled that they are going to be inducted in about a month). Then, it was time for our last stop…The Opry stage! It was a bit different, because they were actually setting up for a special dinner that night, but we still took our pictures and imagined the roar of the crowd.
After the tour, we walked through the Opry garden again, then decided to have dinner at the Opry Mills. We had thought about going to Claim Jumper, but I saw Moe’s and was so excited! It was so tasty. Mom and I had some heart-to-heart chit chat, then decided to walk around for awhile. We walked the entire mall (including candle stores, which are my favorite – So many great festive fall scents), and I was totally pooped out and needed some Sweet CeCe’s – So tasty! Also, pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve only gotten one flavor.
I still wasn’t ready to go back to the hotel just yet, even though it was getting later. I figured, we were only there for a couple of days, might as well make the most of it. So, we decided to go to the Opryland Hotel. We walked all over, stumbling upon a water show that was like the Bellagio in Las Vegas with lights and music, getting lost in the jungle-like environment and trying to find our way out. After about an hour of wandering around, not really sure of where we were going, we had Lyft give us a ride back to the hotel.
I was so tired out, but felt we’d had a great, full day! We tried to turn in earlier for the night, and I fell asleep so happy and full of life, not wanting to wake up to our last day in the city.
The next morning, I could already tell I was in a weird funk. I was a little annoyed and just didn’t want to go home – It’s always like that on the last day.
We got another early start, got ready rather quickly, then walked across the street to Union Station (where Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts have filmed videos). It’s also just a gorgeous building with a lot of history. It was fun to take pictures and soak in the beautiful scene of Nashville all around us.
We went back to the hotel and decided to have breakfast. They had a lot to choose from, but I just wasn’t feeling much like eating. I grabbed a few simple things and mom and I talked…Then, we headed up to the hotel room to gather our stuff together. I was sad and moody, not wanting to leave and we weren’t really sure of what we had time for. Then, mid-morning, we had to meet up with a lady from the radio station. We met with a lady named Jen, ordered coffee, then found a table on the second floor. Jen just wanted to take some notes about us and our trip so she could do a blog for the radio station contest, so we talked about some of the things we’d done, told her our favorite artists, then she switched things over to me wanting to be a journalist/moving to Nashville. She mentioned that she had a connection at Country Weekly and asked if I would want to take a tour of the place. That sounded great, so we headed out.
We made it to Country Weekly and met the Editor-In-Chief, who showed us a couple of the studios they broadcast radio shows out of, like Nash Nights Live and America’s Morning Show with Blair Garner, Chuck Wicks and Terri Clark. She then opened the door that led to Kix Brooks’ office. I noticed there was a film crew, and as we walked inside, they told us to hurry, because they were going to be in the middle of something soon. Jen asked if I wanted to take my picture in Kix’s chair, so I was trying to hurry as quickly as possible. But, then all of a sudden the door opens. I thought it might be Kix Brooks or something, which would’ve been cool. What actually happened was WAY BETTER.
I see this tall, handsome guy who looks an awful lot like Charles Kelley. WAIT A MINUTE….THAT IS CHARLES KELLEY. AND HILLARY SCOTT. AND DAVE HAYWOOD. THAT’S LADY ANTEBELLUM. They’re walking towards me. Then, Charles says my name. HOW DOES HE KNOW THAT??? The three of them start walking towards me and say that I’m a journalism major, who loves country music and they know how hard I’ve been working, because my mom nominated me for all of this. They know I want to move to Nashville someday, and they want to help me out. They told me I was going to be interviewing on the red carpet for Nicholas Sparks’ new movie, “The Best of Me,” and that I will write an article which will be published in Country Weekly. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that. And that’s not all… Dave then handed me a Macbook Air and Charles handed me a laptop bag that held a notebook, pens and a recorder. Because a journalist has to have all of the right tools. I was so stunned.
They really took their time talking with my mom and I. They asked what we’d been doing in Nashville and my mom mentioned the Opry, which was the perfect setup for my next comment. I told them I wish we could be at the Opry for their performance in a couple weeks, and Charles was like, “Well, let’s do a little something” and asked what I wanted to hear! Since they had just been talking about the movie, and I’ve been DYING to see that/kept listening to their song on the plane, I asked if they wouldn’t mind doing that one. Dave used one of the guitars that Kix had in the office, then Charles started trying to think of how it went, and Hillary helped him out, while Dave tuned the guitar. I just couldn’t believe that my favorite group was sitting just a few inches away from me and they’re singing to me. I couldn’t believe any of it was actually happening. They sang a verse and a chorus, then hung out for a few more minutes. Hillary asked if I had any questions for them, and I do – I’ve made lists over the years, but obviously was not expecting any of this at all, so I didn’t come prepared. She told me that she still gets nervous when she’s talking to people that she really admires, like seeing Bonnie Raitt at The Grammy’s. She said it took her about 10 times before she could finally muster up the courage to talk with her. I told her that’s how I feel about asking questions sometimes – I really want to, but I fear sets in and I’m like ‘mmm. I don’t know.’ They were all so sweet and supportive with everything. Hillary started telling us how they were contacted for the song in the movie, but Charles told her to save some of that for the carpet on Tuesday! Charles and Dave kept joking that I needed to get personal on the carpet, so I was definitely trying to come up with something.
Then it was time to take some photos. Charles told me to come next to him, then in another photo, Hillary was like, “I want to be next to her.” I seriously felt like the younger sister of the group, they way they were all so loving and seemed to be looking out for me. We also took pictures in front of the movie poster, of course! Charles told me that me and Dave should re-enact the poster. I just laughed and said that was okay, so the two guys proceeded to do it. That was pretty awesome! A few minutes later, Hillary’s husband and daughter came in. Eisele went straight to Hillary, naturally, but kept looking at me. I said hi, then asked if she would give me a high five and she did. It was seriously one of the sweetest moments of my life – I’m pretty sure my heart melted right there. My mom and I both were admiring her a few minutes later, and pretty soon they had to go.
I talked with the editor for a few minutes and a couple other people that helped with the surprise, then we headed out. To our surprise, Lady A was just sitting in the front room at Country Weekly. We said goodbye and that we’d see them again in just a few days, then headed out. I was in a daze. I didn’t care what we did or where we went from there. Everything I could ever wanted had basically just happened. How do you go from there? Well, we ended up going to the Pinewood Social, which is a bowling alley/rec center that just opened in the city not too long ago. However, when we got there, I wasn’t hungry and didn’t really want to bowl. So, my mom and I grabbed a seat and ordered iced tea! We were talking and freaking out about life, then I called my dad to fill him in on everything.
After that, we sat and people watched, and even saw Eric Close, who plays Teddy on “Nashville,” which was really exciting! We hung out there for awhile, then decided to walk to the Country Music Hall of Fame to catch the shuttle back to our hotel. Here we are walking down the streets with a computer and other stuff in our hands, like this happens to us every day. Totally random, but we made it in one piece! Nashville really is a safe town.
We caught the shuttle back to the hotel, got our stuff, then it was time to take the shuttle to the airport. We made it in plenty of time, went through the gate, ate at the Noshville Deli inside the airport, bought the new Nashville Lifestyle magazine, then settled in for a bit. Before we knew it, we were back on a plane flying back to California. I was pinching myself the entire way home, wondering if everything had really just happened. SO WEIRD and so incredible!
It was easily the greatest two-day trip ever! I can’t thank Lady Antebellum enough, but I am so going to try. They are some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and I will NEVER forget their generosity.
Sunday afternoon, when the video was released, everything changed. Suddenly, articles were being written about me, there were comments about me on Facebook and so many friends and family were texting, tweeting and posting congrats to me! It was so surreal. I was even on the news!!!!!