That's what happens when you take a work trip and don't spend any time plotting ways to set yourself up for a personal encounter with a country music star. We did go to the Grand Ole Opry, though, which was like stepping back in time.
In a good way, but man was it wholesome. My friend Jodie accompanied me and I bored her silly with stories of my brother-in-law Jim Bradbury whose 8-track tape collection would have been right at home with us on the church pews.
Bill Anderson and Jim Ed Brown hosted half-hours of the Opry, along with a cowboy band that I'm sure were middle-aged when the Opry operated downtown. One of them even yodeled! Oh! And the Hee Haw Honeys sang back-up for a couple of numbers. My parents would have loved it. I'd heard of The Grascals from my friends Jim, Deb and Kevin on WFMS, and they were great! Restless Heart (Why Does it Have to Be Wrong or Right) played too. I'd set out with a goal to make Jodie and Diana (my co-workers/friends) into country music fans. I'm not sure I succeeded but I'm sure I didn't damage my plan, either. It would have helped to have had a current top 40 singer at the Opry, though...
We went downtown one night to the Wildhorse Saloon and the band did a great job covering a ton of the current top 40 hits, along with some of their own songs. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't gawking along the way, looking for that chance glimpse of Miranda Lambert or Eric Church or Tim McGraw. It's possible that they'd need gas or groceries on a Thursday night, right?
But like I said, it was a work trip and the work end of things went just fine. Back home, Alison taught Uncle Jeph a few new tricks. Card tricks, that is. I don't think I want to be around when she's teaching him any other sort of tricks, or vice versa.
Jeff, Lynda and Amer were all at their own conference down in Southern Indiana and somehow I've yet to hear any stories of late night drinks, dancing or other revelry that could get anyone in trouble. I'm sure that will change.
When he got home, Jeff convinced Ali to try Yat's, a Cajun fast-food place within walking distance. When she was smaller, she didn't like it at all. But to Jeff's delight, she's a convert. Yat's is across the street from another Jeff-Ali favorite: Fat Dan's Deli. Fabulous places for them when I'm out of commission. It's not that I don't like the food. It's that if you're stuck at the stoplight at that intersection and the top is down on your car, you'll gain 5 pounds just breathing.
As I've alluded to earlier, I've been a little off track diet-wise for the past couple of months. The work trip didn't help, though all three of us worked out every day. The hotel was one of those elaborate designs with waterfalls and rain forests -- so much of that in Tennessee, right? -- and so ginormous that we all routinely got lost just going to the bathroom.
It wasn't just us -- everyone at the conference talked about their wanderings. The staff couldn't even keep things straight. A concessionaire over at the Opry confessed that she'd worked at the hotel for two years and never once figured it out.
It's a good thing there was decent signage or we'd never have escaped the United Methodist conference down the way. Between the gym, which had the "you will sweat" setting up to 11, and all the "where the hell am I now" walking, though we may have worked off a bit of the beer and cocktail party treats.
When I got back home, I told Jeff I was cutting out alcohol for a while and embarking on a strict watermelon and zero-point soup diet. But then I found him making simple syrup and decided I could have a little one if he was making one already. Upon delivery and my agreement that he'd done well, he walked away saying, "It might be a double."
Jeff and I did hit the Fall Creek Trail this morning on the bikes, and I'd eaten well within my Weight Watcher limits all day. We spent the afternoon watching Ali cheer on the Christ the King Tigers 8th grade football team. Sadly, they lost with three seconds to go. But like my diet plans, it's early. Plenty of time to recover.
And it was a gorgeous fall day. So go team, I say. Whatever team you're on.