Back in the car, we did something unusual -- we started to head north. We took I- 24 and started our way toward Nashville.
Was there a factory in Nashville on our Made-In-USA factory roadtrip?
Marj is big country music fan, and more specifically, she needed to buy a pair of cowboy boots.
And I needed a place to stop for lunch.
After a couple hours of driving, we found Nashville, and a parking spot in downtown. We got out and started walking.
The streets were packed with traffic and pedestrians and I realized that I had completely misjudged things. Looking around we realized that we must have hit Nashville on a day when the Stanley Cup championship was in town.
I was sure that tonight’s game was going to be in Pittsburg. But as we approached to Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators, I could see the media tents being set up, the beer trucks pulling into position and the lines of fans starting to wrap from the entrance to the open square across the street.
Every where we looked we saw swarms of people in yellow and black hockey jerseys. Some had big foam fingers. Some were carrying yellow towels. They were everywhere and, with every passing minute, there were more of them.
Marj looked up the game time on her cellphone, so we’d know exactly when we should be ‘getting out of Dodge.’ She looked up at me and said, “you’re not going to believe it, but tonight’s game is in Pittsburg.”
We stood there to take it all in.
All these Nashville fans were gathering outside the Arena, to be together while the game was going on in Pittsburg.
Marj and I have been loyal New England fans since, well, forever. We’re die-hard fans for the Boston Bruins, the Red Sox and the Patriots.
But we’ve never seen anything like this.
To say that Nashville loves their Predators doesn’t come close to describing the emotional energy that is going through this town.
If only there was a way to bottle some of this and bring it back to New England. Now that would be worth the trip!
We head up the block, turn right and find ourselves on Broadway.
For country music fans, Broadway is Nashville’s ‘Main Street’.
It’s bigger than I imagined. And it’s busier, too.
It feels like every other storefront is a bar. And true to Nashville’s roots, every bar is featuring a live band. The bars are packed and the sidewalks are packed, too.
And it’s just one o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon.
Marj looks into the big open window to each bar we pass, certain she is about to see Kenny Chesney or Luke Bryan.
Remembering our priorities, we start looking for boot stores. Turns out that storefronts that aren’t bars are boot stores. So we walk into two or three of these and look around.
We finally settle on a shop. It seems to have lots of selection, friendly help and pretty good prices. What more could you ask?
Note to future self: a selection of 300 pairs of boots means 300 pairs of boots to consider.
Eventually, we find just the right pair and leave the store still talking to each other.
Having completed our mission, we decided to celebrate with lunch.
Lucky for us there was a sign over the sidewalk with an animated pig and some neon lights.
So we walked through the door and found ourselves in Jack’s Bar-B-Que. If you’re ok with grabbing your own table and going through cafeteria-style, then Jack’s is right for you.
Today, I’m more hungry than picky, and heck, I’m in Nashville! so this worked for me. My ribs were good, and that’s got to count for something.
As we head back to the car we pass the still-growing crowds preparing for tonight's big hockey game.
It makes me smile. I realize that our country still has what it takes to rally around what we find in our heart. I feel that we can still come together on rooting for what's important to us -- America's manufacturers and American workers. If there is a worthy team that everybody could champion it is 'Team USA'.
So, all told, we’re in Nashville for about two hours. We don’t think we’ve seen anyone famous.
But we got our boots and barbecue. So that’s good. (And we later found out that Luke Bryan showed up after we left town).
Off we go. Our next stop on our Made-In-America road trip is Louisville, Kentucky. It would nice to be there before dark.