Mental note: It is a bad idea to decide to post more often during the holidays. Do not do that next year. :D
Hello to my numerous, bountiful readers! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Welcome to 2007! Soon you will see a few changes to Bucket, namely the archiving of some of my older blogs, a "Best Of" section, and perhaps even a new interview or two. But we'll see. I hope everyone has recovered from the Xmas festivities, and if you haven't, that you do so soon. :)
And now I present to you photos from Nashville, Tennessee! Specifically, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, land of many terrariums! From their website: "Under majestic, climate-controlled glass atriums, you'll be surrounded by nine acres of lush indoor gardens, winding rivers and pathways, and sparkling waterfalls where you can unwind, explore, shop, dine, and be entertained to your heart's content. Highlights include a 44-foot waterfall, laser-light and fountain shows, and tours aboard our Delta Flatboats—right inside the hotel."
Yes, you read that right, NINE ACRES of indoor greenhouse madness. It takes a full 15 minutes to walk from one end of the hotel to the other at a brisk pace. There are about 10 different restaurants, 20 stores, a spa, a river, steamboat rides, waterfalls, statues... it's like fucking Disney land in greenhouse form. And it was all decorated for Xmas. But more on that later.
I went to Nashville not for pleasure (shockingly, because you know how much I enjoy the country and western music), but in fact for work. Yes, Uncle Heinemann paid for this entire trip, which was so I could attend—excuse me—slave away for long hours behind a register, the National Council of Teachers of English yearly conference (NCTE). This is one of the biggest conferences that Heinemann exhibits at, and though the days were long and my feet were very tired, I really did enjoy myself there.
Here is my pride and joy, the Professional Development part of the Heinemann booth. Our booth is one of the largest at NCTE, and by far the most comfortable. It's an oasis of bookstore-like, soothing atmosphere amongst a land of gawdy, advertising-covered tables. They're hard to see, but I designed every single one of the signs in this section of the booth (autographed copies available upon request :D ). I worked the register in the booth for all three days, with only a total of 45 minutes off during the entire time the conference hall was open. But it's great to interact with customers and do something different for a change.
Back to the hotel though. Did I mention that at no point during my walk from my hotel room to the conference center did I step outside and breathe fresh air? Did I mention that the only sunlight I saw for four days was through the glass of these terrariums? There are five terrariums in all, each modeled after a different theme. One is called Cascades, which has multiple waterfalls. Another is called Delta, which is supposed to look like New Orleans (pre-Katrina, I assume. Okay that was low, I apologize). Then there was the Garden Conservatory (really nice landscaping) and Magnolia (flowers I guess, I wasn't quite sure of the theme of that one). I stayed in Magnolia, but I had a lovely view of the interior of the Delta atrium. The interior of the Delta atrium, where, I might add, there is a restaurant with "outdoor" seating (read: there is a building within the atrium, outside of which there is a patio with chairs, even though all of this is still contained within the atrium), where they had live music until fucking TWO IN THE MORNING every night I was there. But I digress.
Right, the decorations. Here you can see the height of the place. I took this from the second floor landing on my way to the convention hall. That wreath is about ten feet in diameter, and the Xmas tree is at least 50 feet tall. I shit you not.
I took this at night on the second evening I was there, when I had a chance just to wander around the hotel. For two hours. It took two hours to really take my time and see everything IN A FUCKING HOTEL. I even took video just so you could get an idea what the place is like, because pictures do not do it justice. If it hasn't started playing automatically, give it a minute or two, it's pretty amazing.
This is the interior of Cascades, so that noise is mainly from the waterfalls (and what I'm assuming is the turbines powering them).
This is in the Delta atrium at night, where the restaurant with the live band is. You can kind of see the New Orleans thing. The Xmas decor here included various animals in Xmas garb hanging from hot-air balloons and flying around. I'm not at all sure what that has to do with Xmas, but I'm sure they have some sort of tie-in with the birth of Jesus. :D Since, you know, panda bears and giraffes are so prominent in Israel.
Me and two of my coworkers did get a chance to venture into the outside world (fresh air! Huzzah!) for one night. We had spent a long, eight-hour day working at the booth. Dusty and I manned the two cash registers and Eric was one of the six or so Heinemann people helping answer customers' questions and find the books they need. After that, we immediately went to a cocktail and hors d'oeurves (sp?) party thrown by Heinemann for our authors. There was an open bar there. I had two scotches. I don't drink that often. I was rocked. :D And though we were told to mingle with the authors, to make sure not to only talk to other Heinemann people, I pretty much ignored that and had a fabulous time getting shitty with the sales staff. :D By the end of the night I had spoken to (or stood next to) 12 authors. And Chad decided that since he had talked to one author himself, and then had talked to me, he therefore had spoken to 13 authors. Go Chad, go! :D
So we're all drunk and went back to our respective hotel rooms to call our significant others, and then Dusty, Eric, and I met up in the lobby (without getting lost on the way, go us!) and took a cab to downtown Nashville! Yee haw! :D
Dusty wanted to get her boyfriend a T-shirt from a famous Nashville guitar supplier, so we popped into a couple of shops to look for that. The first store was pretty awesome. It contained thousands of tchotchkes, which were organized into aisles by theme. The first aisle I ventured down had a frog and lilly pad them. Another was all about Elvis. But the third aisle was my favorite: confederate flags. Bloodhounds with confederate flags. Bald eagles with confederate flags. "God Bless America" signs with confederate flags. Oh yes, we were in Tennessee, there was no doubt about that. :D I really wanted to take pictures in that store, but something in the back of my mind told me not to. Maybe it was the predominence of the guns and confederate flag figurines... :D
The next store we went into was playing Johnny Cash, which I love, so that made me happy, but we were unable to find a T-shirt from the guitar place for Adam. So onward we marched in the chilly Nashville weather (which was much colder than New England when we left), until we found an okay-looking bar and settled in for "dinner" courtesy... yes you guessed it, UNCLE HEINEMANN! Woohoo! :D
Much Glen Levitt and dirty martinis were consumed while we listened to a gentleman sing country-western versions of '80s classics such as "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Boys of Summer". It was awesome. Dusty and Eric commented on how cool it was that they were out on a Saturday night in downtown Nashville. I commented on how cool it was that I was out on a Saturday night. Anywhere. :D
After the bar, we had a so-so actual meal (thank you Uncle Heinemann), served to us by a waiter from Hawaii who claimed to have used to own his own restaraunt and gave Dusty her meal for free. He was a little sketchy.
All in all, Nashville was okay. I didn't have to endure endless hours of Garth Brooks, I got paid to drink scotch, and I managed to pick up some cute things for my family (moonshine jelly for Dad, Jack Daniels truffles for Randy). I'm not sure I'd go back there again though if it wasn't on business. But if you're ever driving through, that hotel is something else, that's for sure. :)
Next blog: various holiday-related happenings! Woohoo! :)