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eXtra Miles

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Here we are with only three days left of the A to Z Challenge—three days of more things to see and do in Nashville for our anniversary trip this summer.

If we want to drive an eXtra 35-40 miles past Nashville to Castalian Springs, we can see the Wynnewood State Historic Site, which includes the largest existing log structure in Tennessee.

The main building was built in 1828 by A. R. Wynne, William Cage, and Stephen Roberts to serve as a stagecoach inn for travelers between Nashville and Knoxville. In 1834, Wynne purchased his partners’ shares in the property and moved into the inn with his family. He and is wife raised fourteen kids at Wynnewood. He resided there until his death in 1893.

A grouping of six log buildings including the main structure and five dependencies was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was declared a National Historic Landmark later that year.

The main building is 110 feet long and 22 feet wide.

During the 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak, Wynnewood took a direct hit from a tornado and suffered major damage to much of the second story, roof, and trees on the property.

It re-opened to the public on July 4, 2012 after a four-year, $4 million restoration project. The restoration brought a more historically accurate look to Wynnewood and allowed for more of the property to be open to the public than was open before the tornado.

When the stagecoach line moved farther south, Wynnewood was turned into a mineral springs resort. The Wynnewood family entertained and housed many famous people in this home. They were close personal friends with President Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Sam Houston.  By the 1840s Wynne had built a row of cottages on the lawn east of the inn and set up a race course at the bottom near Lick Creek. Most guests were attracted by the medicinal qualities of the mineral waters, but Andrew Jackson, a frequent visitor, was attracted by the race course. He usually brought a favorite thoroughbred to run against one of Wynne’s horses.

They even had an incognito visit by the infamous outlaw Jesse James. The bed he slept in, along with some other original furnishings and artifacts, was added to the Wynnewood collection in 2013. These items were graciously donated by Susan Wynne, the granddaughter of George Wynne.

Wynnewood is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

I wouldn’t mind driving the eXtra miles to see this.

Willie and Wildhorse

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The Willie Nelson & Friends Museum & General Store has been a Nashville tradition for over thirty years and is now the oldest continuously operated country music artist Museum and souvenir shop in Nashville. It features Nashville’s largest souvenir shop and a showcase museum dedicated to traditional country music legends, and one of the world’s largest collections of personal items from Willie Nelson and his many friends including Patsy Cline, Porter Wagoner, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Mel Tillis, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Barbara Mandrell, Conway Twitty, Norma Jean, Ronnie Milsap, and many others.

I’ve never been a big Willie Nelson fan, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this museum. It is “dedicated to honoring the pioneers that made Country Music what it is today.” It not only has an extensive collection of memorabilia for a variety of country music stars, but also has a 5,000-square-foot gift shop and even sells cowboy hats.

The world-famous Wildhorse Saloon is on historic 2nd Avenue in downtown Nashville. The family friendly, 66,000-square-foot venue is filled with three floors of action-packed fun including live entertainment, Southern cuisine, line dancing and much more.

It just so happens that the Wildhorse is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this summer, too. Since they opened in the same year Tim and I got married, I think we should definitely go there on our anniversary trip. On June 19th the Wildhorse Saloon’s 20th Anniversary Event will include a concert featuring three country music groups that got their start on the Wildhorse stage: Lonestar, Trick Pony, and Ricochet.

Even when there are no events scheduled, there is always a house band playing live music. They even offer line-dance lessons. The Wildhorse Saloon’s restaurant is the winner of multiple awards from both regional and national competitions. They are known for their Southern barbecue, juicy steaks, and famous fried pickles.

If I have to choose between Willie and Wildhorse . . . well . . . Sorry, Willie.

V is for Vineyard

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I’m not really a wine drinker, as I have yet to find a wine I like the taste of. However, I think vineyards are beautiful. I was surprised to find that there are a few vineyards in Middle Tennessee. I guess I thought all wine came from Italy or California. That’s kind of crazy considering my own brother got married in a winery in Lubbock, Texas. It’s easy to reason that wineries are everywhere, but the word vineyard conjures images of Tuscany or Napa Valley—for me, anyway.

Can you tell that wine hasn’t been an area of much interest in my life? Most, if not all, of my knowledge of vineyards probably comes from A Walk in the Clouds starring Keanu Reeves. That movie makes me want to move to Italy and dance on grapes with my bare feet.

Who cares that I don’t care for wine? I love that movie. I love the Old World culture and the close-knit family, even though their way of life might seem archaic to some. The Italian family is so convincing I forgot that the movie is actually set in California, not Italy. The whole movie might represent romantic notions that aren’t real, but that’s what I think of when I think of vineyards. I get downright dreamy—and I don’t typically do dreamy.

Oh well, back to the present. The closest vineyard to Nashville is Arrington Vineyards, which is just a few miles south of Franklin. Owned by country music artist Kix Brooks, winemaker Kip Summers, and entrepreneur John Russell, Arrington Vineyards has become “Nashville’s Wine Country.”

In 2009 they established their exclusive “Kix’s Wine Club,” which ships wine to thousands of members in 35 states. The vineyard’s wines have also been featured in restaurants in New York City, New Orleans, and Nashville.

Visitors to the winery are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch or dinner to enjoy along with their award-winning wines and the beautifully scenic 75 acres. You can picnic on the grass with your own blanket or lawn chairs, but they also have an outdoor bistro and picnic tables available. There are no restaurants in Arrington or at the winery. They do sell gourmet chocolates, cheese, crackers, and sausage. I’m going to have to get some gourmet chocolate. It just seems right since that’s what Keanu’s character in the movie sold for a living.

There is also a little place nearby that will deliver a picnic meal in a cooler to you at Arrington vineyards if you let them know when you’ll be arriving. You can order from a small selection in advance, ranging from a small Tuscan picnic to a gourmet celebration package that even includes fresh flowers. That’s easy. Then all you have to do is leave the cooler and any included dinnerware at the vineyard for them to pick up.

They sell wine by the bottle at Arrington and have wine tastings every day of the week.  The wine tastings take place inside in the wine tasting room and are on a first-come, first-served basis. It isn’t unusual to have a wait time for the tasting room. It is currently free to participate in the wine tasting, but that will reportedly change soon.

They have what they call “Music in the Vines” every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These are free live music events featuring different styles of jazz in their tented winery courtyard where you can view the beautiful sunsets while tasting their wines.

You can book private events at the Arrington Vineyards, but not on Saturdays or Sundays. One of the events you can book is a hot air balloon ride. Imagine the view from a hot air balloon. Imagine the anxiety of being in a hot air balloon. Maybe the view would make up for it. 🙂

This is one of the more potentially romantic venues I’ve found in my cyber-exploration of the Nashville area. Since it will be an anniversary trip, I vote yes. Note to Tim: I promise not to dance on the grapes.

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