Archive for July, 2008

番外(二): Nashville

We did not arrive in Nashville as soon as we planned due to some side factors; the plan of visiting the famous country music hall was thus canceled. After check-in at the lodging site, we went to Nashville downtown for a look. As the AT&T building with other tall buildings became visible, it indicated we were minutes away from Nashville Downtown.

Although Nashville is similar to Milwaukee in population, but Nashville Downtown seems much smaller. 7 blocks east to west and 5 roads from north to south are enough to cover most of the point of interests in the downtown. Anywhere beyond that box looked desolate. However within that area, it was vivid.

I like Nashville Downtown, at least from a visitor point of view. It’s small but it contains everything. You can see modern tall buildings from behind while a row of 2 stories buildings from the 19th-century buildings are right next to you. You can also find gorgeous church architectures and big concert venues. Broadway is the road that divides north and south downtown streets and also home to many local entertainment businesses. At the end of east end of Broadway is Cumberland River. A City with water is always attractive because water usually brings in ferry, dock, and bridges, and Nashville has them all. At the other bank of the river is the stadium LP field, the home of NFL team Tennessee Titans. We also stepped in one of the country music bar, listening to them singing live. Show was of good quality while entrance was free and drinks remained cheap, what a deal. Although I couldn’t follow the song they sang as the crowd could, but I could feel the atmosphere, the spirit.

Since Nashville is the capital of Tennessee, the capitol building is also in the downtown. Unfortunately when we had a chance to go over there, it was already dark and we missed the turn.


番外(一): Mammoth Cave National Park

Sunday morning we departed from Nashville and headed for Mammoth Cave National Park, where the longest known cave system in the world is located. 1 hour and 30 minutes drive was smooth and pleasant; we had no problem finding out the site. The word mammoth has two meanings. If used as an adjective, it means gigantic while used as a noun refers to an elephantlike mammal. Not until this visit I had realized the cave had nothing to do with the elephant but it was named for its enormous size. We arrived at the visitor center about 40 minutes prior to the tour, so we got a little bit of time walking around the gift shop and do whatever to get ready for the tour. We were glad we made advanced reservation. All the tickets for the tour were sold out even though it was a Sunday.

We signed up for Grand Avenue Tour. Although Grand Avenue Tour is described as difficult in physical demand, it wasn’t that bad at all. We basically walked underground for 4 miles over 4 and 1/2 hours time span. There were uphills, downhills, zigs and zags throughout the way, but we got to stop and gather as a group every 20 minutes to listen to ranger’s presentation and to catch our breath. The surrounding got quite different along the way. For example, after we descended down numerous steps from the entrance into the cave system, we entered a huge passage with gypsum lined walls (Cleveland Avenue), but as we went on, the surrounding turned into narrow, twisting passages (Boone Avenue). In the 2nd half of the tour we had to go up and down over 3 hills before we got to see those pretty dripstone formations near the end of the tour. Also we got to have lunch in an underground cafeteria called Snowball room; we regretted we did not bring our own lunch. The lunch boxes they sold there were $7.5 each with limited choices.

4 hours tour elapsed quickly, but it was a great fun. Not only we’ve seen a beautiful, natural underworld, and also received a high quality presentation from the ranger about natural and cultural history of the cave.

The tour we took was the 2nd longest in both time and distance, and thus the 2nd most expensive tour among those they offer. The reason we did not sign up for the longest tour, Wild Cave Tour, was because capacity was extremely limited in each tour and we were not able to find enough available tickets on the date we went. This is something I definitely want to try if I ever go back to the cave. From what I’ve heard, that is a real challenge for which lots of climbing and crawling involved.