2019 Spring Break College Tour

I had a wonderful time touring colleges with my wife and our high school daughter Rebecca over spring break.  She claims she’s “so ready for college,” but I’m not sure mom and dad are.  She’s only a junior for goodness sake.  Since Becca has a preference for a college that is located in the eastern or southern part of the US, i.e. far away from home, we headed toward the South to check off a couple that are high on her list.  Along the way, we did some great sightseeing too!

First up was Nashville, Tennessee, home to Vanderbilt University.  My introduction to Nashville wasn’t too positive, as I couldn’t figure out how to get into the hotel parking lot with the swarming millions of people walking around.  Is Nashville this crazy popular?!  It was insane.  I made a comment that it was almost like Las Vegas, and later on, my sister made a comment on Facebook referring to Nashville as “Nashvegas.”  I’m not a fan of crazy crowded and loud places, but as we got settled in I got more comfortable.  Here are some photos from our tour of Nashville:


We took a walk on the walking bridge over the Cumberland River.


Panoramic photo of our hotel in Nashville. The Nashville Predators play hockey in the building on the left.


The Country Music Hall of Fame was a block from our hotel, so we went there and they pitched a group package of tours, including the hall, as well as Studio B where Elvis and many greats recorded their hits and a historic letterpress print shop that produced many of the great concert posters from the early country music days in Nashville.  I was amazed at how much I knew about country music, even though I don’t like it much.  After seeing some of the sights and listening to some of the live music going on, I realized maybe I don’t hate it as much as I thought.  


Standing next to the piano that many of the great country stars used on their recordings in Studio B.  The studio is pretty much the same as it was in the 1950’s when Elvis was recording there.  


We took a tour of the Ryman Auditorium, home to the Grand Ole Opry back in the early days of Country Music.  The whole time there I was thinking about my father who loved this stuff.  


Next up on the agenda was our first college visit, Vanderbilt University.  We learned a little about the Commodore and the history of the school.  Beautiful campus.  This school is high on Becca’s list.


I had a desire to go to the American Pickers shop, Antique Archeology to see some cool stuff.  My favorite was this Evel Knievel jacket that Evel had worn.  Ol’ Evel and I share a birthday, and he was an idol of mine as a kid.  No Mike or Frankie sightings.


Our trip to Nashville coincided with my sister-in-law Wendy and her family and we all took in a live music show starring some great young women singer-songwriters.  They were very talented.  I found the girl in the middle to stand out somewhat from the others, but they were all good.  They would take turns singing and tell a little about the song and how they came to write it.  The girl on the far left added some percussion to each of the songs and did a great job.  We were shocked to hear that she was only 14 years old.  She was just as professional as the others.



I’m glad I took the time to tour the Johnny Cash exhibit.  The one artist that my father really liked was The Man in Black.  He had one 8-track tape, Live at San Quentin, and played it in the car over and over again.  That 8-track was on display at the museum.  I know his copy has to be around somewhere, I took it to college and my roommate Dave and I listened to it occasionally. 




Not far from Nashville was a place called the Hermitage, home to President Andrew Jackson.  I was surprised at how much I didn’t know about Jackson, for instance, he detested the US Bank at the time and ironically his picture appears on our $20, which he probably would be ticked off about.  He’s buried at the Hermitage in the garden, next to his wife with his stone labeled as General Andrew Jackson.  He apparently was more proud of his army legacy than his presidency.


After an awesome stay in Nashville, we got in the car and headed to Columbia, South Carolina.  We broke the trip up with an overnight stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and did some hiking and some sightseeing of this very touristy area.


Pancakes are Becca’s favorite, and these set a new standard! This was a place called Crockett’s in Gatlinburg.


After loading up on pancakes, we went for a hike on some nearby hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Lots of beautiful things to see on this hike, especially this waterfall.

After the hike, we drove the rest of the way to Columbia to tour the campus of U of SC.  I was expecting the campus to be a boring tour of buildings, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It’s a very nice campus situated in downtown Columbia, next to the Statehouse.


South Carolina Statehouse.  I like how the flowers pop in this picture and the flags poke out at the top.  The exterior walls bear some stars that indicate where General Sherman’s artillery shells had hit the statehouse during the Civil War.  


Becca and Cocky.  She liked U of SC.


After spending a night in Lexington, Kentucky, we pushed toward home and stopped in West Lafayette, Indiana to see Purdue University.  Big school and quite different than the previous two schools we just toured.  


So glad we had the opportunity to take some time to see some really cool things and expose Becca to some college campuses.  This was a fun vacation.