The New, Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee

Day 994

     When we were previously in Nashville, Tennessee, we attended the Grand Ole Opry at The Ryman Theater. Today we attended the Grand Ole Opry at it’s current location, The Grand Ole Opry House, about 12 miles from Nashville center. The new facility saw it’s first show on Saturday, March 16, 1974, and was built to accommodate a larger audience, from 2,000 seats at the Ryman to 4,000 seats here. 

     The show is hosted by Eddie Stubbs, born November 25, 1961 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. For 24 years Stubbs has been the announcer for WSM radio and The Grand Ole Opry.

     Today’s performers included Raiders in the Sky

     Jeannie Seely

     and Ricky Skaggs

     Prior to the show, we toured the backstage of the Grand Ole Opry House. We saw the dressing rooms of the stars of the Opry.

     Just the other day Dolly Parton sat here:

     Got that picture in your head?

     To carry on the tradition of the show’s run at the Ryman, a six-foot circle of oak was cut from the corner of the Ryman’s stage and inlaid into center stage at the new venue. Artists on stage stand on the circle as they performed.

     It is the dream of all the hopefuls in Nashville to “make it to the circle”.

Nashville, Tennessee, Again

Day 990

     It has been a year since our trip to Alaska and the Arctic Circle. This year, part of our group are touring the Canadian Maritimes. The rest, since we are from all over the country, decided to meet for a reunion in a central place, and we chose Nashville, Tennessee. We did a lot when we were here before, see days 217, 218, 219220, 221222, and Day 223.

     One of the great things about Nashville, there are entertainers, mostly singers, everywhere. Even the campground we are staying has nightly free entertainment. After we set up the Sphinx, we walked to the outside pavilion and watch “Pork” sing. This guy could really handle a guitar. 

Technical Stuff: Calera, Alabama to Nashville, TN: 232.1 miles

4 hours 38 minutes

9.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Calera, Alabama

Day 988

     The city of Calera, Alabama, was incorporated in 1887, and named after the Spanish word for “quarry” for all of the limestone deposits located in the area.

     We are here because it is halfway between Pensacola, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee, our next destination. We are staying at the City’s campground, which is on a small lake. 

Technical Stuff: Pensacola, Florida to Calera, Alabama: 233.0 miles

5 hours 3 minutes

10.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.60

Pensacola Lighthouse, Florida

Day 985

     I haven’t blogged about lighthouses in a while. The Pensacola Lighthouse was built in 1859, and is located on the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.

     At 191 feet we climbed 177 steps to get to the top.

     Tidbit of Information: Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place? The Pensacola Lighthouse was zapped in 1874 and then struck again the following year. Nature took another swipe at the lighthouse on August 31, 1886, when a rare earthquake shook the tower.

     The top of the tower offers stunning views of Pensacola Pass (where Pensacola Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico).

The Blue Angels, Pensacola, Florida

Day 984

     What comes to mind when you say “Pensacola, Florida”? The Blue Angels flight exhibition team of course.

     We went to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola to watch the Blue Angels.

     At the end of World War II, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, had a vision to create a flight exhibition team in order to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale. Nimitz ordered the establishment of the Navy Flight Exhibition Team on April 24, 1946.

     The team of top pilots performed its first flight demonstration on June 15, 1946. The team was introduced as the “Blue Angels” at the Omaha, Nebraska air show in July of the same year.

     The first of 26 Blue Angel pilot fatalities occurred 106 days after their first demonstration, on September 29, 1946, when Pilot Lt. j.g. Ross Robinson failed to recover from a dive while performing a maneuver at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida.

     The Angels use the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, which has been their plane of choice since 1986. Each plane costs 21 million dollars. 

Pensacola, Florida, Reunion

Day 981

     We are back in Pensacola, Florida (see Day 819), for Barbara’s family reunion. We drove the Sphinx here and just parked it in the driveway, as we joined 21 other people in this beach house that sleeps 30.

     This is a view of the Sphinx you haven’t seen before

     A walk over the dunes to the Gulf of Mexico, and into the Gulf we went. 

     Water nice and warm.

Technical Stuff: Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Fl.: 85.8 miles

3 hours 52 minutes

9.6 MPG

Diesel $2.60

Dauphin Island, Alabama

Day 974

     We drove to the barrier island off the coast of Alabama. The south side of the island faces the Gulf of Mexico, and the north side, Mobile Bay.

     Madoc Gwynedd, born 1150 in Dolwyddelan Castle, Conwy County Borough in North Wales, was a Welsh navigator who came to this Island in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus’s voyage in 1492. He was a Welsh prince escaping the conflicts in his home country. (This obviously debunks the theory that people thought the world was flat.)

     In 1519, the explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, born 1494 in Spain, was the first documented European to visit, staying only long enough to map the island.

     The French arrived on January 31, 1699, when the explorer Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d’Iberville, one of the founders of French Louisiana, arrived at Mobile Bay and anchored here on his way to explore the mouth of the Mississippi River. D’Iberville named the island “Massacre Island” because of a large pile of human skeletons he discovered here. The gruesome site turned out to be a simple indian burial mound which had been broken open by a hurricane, not a massacre site. 

     The island’s name was changed in 1712 (probably because it dampened tourism) to Dauphin, in honor of the eldest son of the King of France, who was the Dauphin of France (dauphin was the title given to the heir apparent to the throne of France). The city was incorporated in 1988.

      The island is a thin strip of land, 17 miles long, by a few feet to a mile and a half wide, which explains their thin houses.

     The main attraction of the island is Fort Gaines. I wanted to visit the fort as it is across the bay from Fort Monroe, which I blogged about on Day 322.

     Construction of Fort Gaines was begun in 1853. Congress named the fortification for General Edmund Pendleton Gaines who had died in 1849. While still a young officer, Gaines received national recognition when he led the detachment which captured former Vice-President Aaron Burr, who had been accused of participating in a conspiracy to commit treason. Burr was found not guilty. (So, how many of you were thinking Benedict Arnold, when I am saying Aaron Burr?) Burr shot his political rival, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel on July 12, 1804, ending his political career, not to mention Hamilton’s.

     During the Civil War, Mobile Bay was a strategic location because it controlled the junction of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

     The primary contribution of the Confederate Army to the defense of Mobile Bay were three forts. Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines at the entrance to the bay. In addition, they set up Fort Powell, which no longer is in existence. 

     The Battle of Mobile Bay took place on August 5, 1864. The Union fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, attacked the Confederate fleet and the three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay, which had been heavily mined by the Confederates (mines at that time were known as torpedoes). Rear Farragut is noted for his exclamation: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

     If you have been following my Civil War Battles on these posts, then you know the Civil War actually ended in Alabama (and for those not following, you probably thought it ended in Virginia). See Day 324.

Technical Stuff: Convent, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama: 207.7 miles

4 hours 55 minutes

10.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.80