Monday, May 10, 2010

Runnin' in Nashville

Note: This post will have very little to do with running, mostly my observations from being in the air and on the ground in Nashville, Tn  May 2-5, 2010

Last Sunday I hopped on an airplane for Nashville for a conference/trade show. Sitting at LAX, I checked the weather in Nashville and it showed thunderstorms for Sunday afternoon, no big deal, I packed a rain jacket. Fast forward to 3.5 hours into the flight...the pilot comes on and says the Nashville airport is closed due to severe weather and that we would be circling for a while. After circling the area for an hour, the pilot came back on and said that because of our fuel situation, we will either be diverted or make an attempt at landing. Five minutes later, he came on and told the flight attendants that he wanted them in their seats and strapped within 2 minutes. He told everyone it was going to be a bumpy ride down. He pointed the nose of the airplane down and we started our descent from 39,000 feet. The plane was shaking and bouncing, I have never seen an entire airplane full of people go completely silent. It was the roughest flight I have ever been on but once we broke through the clouds, I realized this was not just a thunderstorm, but something bigger. On our approach, we could see neighborhoods flooded, and cars were sitting in flooded parking lots. Once on the ground we sat on the tarmac waiting for a gate and only then did I realize how hard it was raining. Once in the terminal, I got my bag and called a friend who was diverted to Louisville and still on the ground there. As I looked up at the board for their flight number...they canceled every flight in and out of Nashville.

Once I got to the hotel and got checked in, I had a couple of hours to do some sight seeing. The rain had pretty much stopped, so I grabbed my cameras and headed out. I walked down Broadway and got all the way to Riverfront Park, I walked up 2nd Ave to the Wildhorse Saloon and back up Broadway until I got to the Ryman Auditorium. The strange thing was that nothing was open. I figured it was 5 o'clock on Sunday night and most places were either closed Sundays or closed early. I headed to one of the two "honky tonk" bars that were open and had a beer. You know that saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"? I had to drink Bud Light, that's all I saw people drinking and quite frankly, it was so busy in there the bartenders didnt have time to go through the list of available beers.

The next morning I headed out for my run at 5:45am. I headed east on Commerce to 2nd Ave, turned south and headed to Broadway. When I got to Broadway, they had the road blocked at 2nd Ave and there were a bunch of local news crews there. I then realized that the Cumberland River overflowed and had come through Riverfront Park, past 1st Ave and almost to 2nd Ave.

We started the day with a keynote speech by Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series. He was very inspirational and motivational. We then spent the rest of the day in meetings with various vendors. The one thing that kept coming up was that we found it strange to be conducting business in the middle of a natural disaster. Most felt our time would have been better served by helping those in need. Monday night brought the awards dinner and yet another round of cruising the bars on Broadway. We met some locals (Alex and Gauge) and we hung out with them for a few hours and we had a great time getting to know them.

The next morning I ventured out early again for a run. I headed down the same route except this time when I got to 2nd Ave there was police tape across the street, so like any good tourist, I just crossed under it. Just as I was ducking under, a rather large City of Nashville police officer stepped out of his car and asked what I was doing. Ooops...he turned me around and sent me off in the other direction. I wound my way back to Broadway and today, they had it blocked off at 3rd Ave. I ran up 3rd for a while and found the parking lot where the national news trucks were set up. As I rounded the corner I saw this section of downtown flooded, it was unbelievable.

That evening we were supposed to have a private concert at the Wildhorse Saloon with Gretchen Wilson, but since it was flooded, she agreed to bring the band, a PA system, and lights to the Renaissance hotel ballroom. At 8pm she came out rockin' and put on a great show. About half way though, John Rich (Big and Rich) came out and did 3 songs. She is one rockin' "Redneck Woman"!

After the show, we made one last trip through the honky tonks and called it a night. I flew out early the next morning and from the air you could really see how much flooding occurred. This was my first visit to Nashville and from what I saw of the city, I really liked it. I will be back.

You can see all of the pictures I shot in Nashville here.

This is probably the best video I have seen that sums up the Nashville Floods...


PRC said...

Wow, what a trip! Thanks for sharing Bob.

Glenn Jones said...

Wow. That's pretty serious when downtown is under water. Too bad you didn't get a chance to see the Grand Ol' Opry. I'm not a huge Country music fan, but I *really* enjoyed the Opry when I saw it (Porter Waggonner was the emcee in his Nudie suit).

I love Nashville! Too bad my wife has some say in where we live....

merider (M.E.-rider) said...

Hey, Bob - you were in my neck of the woods. I grew up in Clarksville (where my parents still live) and know/love Nashville. I'm so saddened by the recent floods. But the southern folks got grit coming out their ears - they'll rebound.
Great blog. :-)