Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Nashville Adventure...The Exciting Conclusion

One would think that a vacation that starts off with being mistaken for Jon Acuff and getting to meet Dave Ramsey and watch him tape his radio show, would be the ultimate vacation and nothing further would be as satisfying. But that is just what part II of my Nashville adventure had in mind. A few years ago during our debt fighting days my wife and I chose to scale down annual travel plans and stuck to regional and staycation destinations. In doing so we came across and used it as an opportunity to open our home to travelers and bring international culture to our doorstep.

Through Couchsurfing we have made several friends and have had the great fortune of being able to get to know some amazing people and travelers. But one French couple, making their way on a year-long world trip, stood out the most to us among all of our Couchsurfers. It was surprising how fast we got to know one another, as if we were all childhood friends. So when we found out that our favorite French couple were making their way back to the States, my wife and I bumped up our Nashville trip from the Fall to the Summer, and I am so happy that we did.

We pretty much picked up right where we had left off a few years ago. And I must say, it is incredible to click and connect with another couple as well as we do. We took in the sights and sounds of downtown Nashville, checked out the Parthenon and all the while were able to catch up on life and everything in between. Truth be told it wasn’t really Nashville that was amazing (although I do like it better than Charlotte and Charleston), as much as it was being able to spend quality time with my wife and great friends.

We didn’t feel the need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars bar hopping and trying to force an “Epic” night to happen. Instead we went the flow and thoroughly enjoyed on another’s company. And this is another huge reason why this recent vacation meant so much to me. Usually when on holiday my wife or I jam pack the itinerary with “To Do” items and by the end of our vacation we are in need of another break. But this time I came prepared with a list of “options” for things to do in and around Nashville, remained flexible and went with the flow. And this self-professed nerd loved every second of it.

I have to give a shameless plug here, mostly because it was well earned. While in Nashville we opted to stay South of the city in Brentwood at a Candlewood Suites location. And man did these guys earn my praise. Accommodations were pristine and at an awesome nightly rate of $68. Plus our room came with a full kitchen and the facility had laundry on site with free washers and dryers and an honor system pantry that included fresh fruit, coffee, laundry soap and snacks. The only down side was that the location does not have a pool, but since we didn’t spend a great deal of time at our hotel we really didn’t miss having access to one. Which leads me to:

Anderson Road Public Beach

Having grown up in Southern California and gone to college in Hawaii, it takes a lot for a beach to bowl me over with astonishment. But that’s exactly what Anderson Beach did to me while I was in Nashville. The stretch of beach itself did not go for miles, the boundary set for swimmers to travel wasn’t very long and the water itself did not run deep. So how did this place bowl me over with amazement? It did it with an unparalleled level of diversity that I had not seen before in my life, in a place I did not expect it to be. Stretched across the Anderson Road Public Beach were families grilling, kids playing in and out of the lake and a ton of people crowded around a short strip of Nashville beach. And this crowd ranged from Hispanic to Kenyan to Sudanese to Indian to various Middle Eastern and Caucasian ethnicities.

I grew up in a predominately Mexican suburb of Los Angeles and on paper lived amongst diversity in Honolulu and New York. But this setting struck me in a different way. The vast crowd of people did not segregate themselves by the zip codes they lived in, nor cluster in pockets with similar skin tones. On a late Sunday afternoon in Nashville I felt harmony as I sat in the lake immersed in the surrounding of families enjoying a day at the beach and not caring about the color of each other’s skin.

Now it’s true that I don’t know much about this particular neighborhood. Whether the lake occupants that day were from the immediate area or if they came from the greater Nashville area to flock to this specific small stretch of beach. But I do know that I enjoyed being in the midst of this harmony and that I wish more places in my corner of Chicago had communal places that mirrored the display of peaceful diversity that I witnessed.

It was a beautiful sight and a great experience to walk away with from Nashville. I got to meet Dave Ramsey, catch up with some awesome friends and witness a harmony among people that I thought only existed in heaven. All in all, I would say this was a very successful and happy vacation!

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