Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tennessee - Kentucky - Tennessee (part two)

So...a little time has passed since my last entry. The second leg of my business trip was very good. The storm last Thursday night was insane. The whole sky was lighting up, thunder shaking the hotel and sheets of rain coming down. Tornado advisories were in effect and I was thinking I might end up getting evacuated. Thank goodness I didn't. The CMA Music Festival concert that was going on at LP Field was evacuated due to the lightning storms that were coming through. We sure don't get weather like that at home.

Friday morning I headed up to Bowling Green, KY to do my "work related deal" and that went very well. Got to have lunch at Cracker Barrel (here). I love me some Cracker Barrel, yes I do. Many years ago I was first introduced to Cracker Barrel, a chain of "Old Country Stores". From Wikipedia, "As of May 2009, the company, founded and based in Lebanon, Tennessee, was operating 582 full service locations located in 41 states in the United States. In 2008, Cracker Barrel was ranked as the top "family dining" chain for the 18th consecutive year in Restaurants & Institutions magazine "Choice in Chains" annual consumer survey". Cracker Barrel serves traditional Southern comfort food. The retail store carries mainly nostalgic merchandise, collectibles, old time toys, classic candies, scented candles, and items used in making Cracker Barrel entrees. My favorite menu item (non-breakfast - although the breakfasts rock) is their Grilled Chicken Tenderloins dinner with Country Green Beans, Hashbrown Casserole and Corn Muffins. The closest Cracker Barrel is in Utah (not close) so when I am in a place that has one I got to get me some Cracker Barrel. On a family vacation two years ago I drove my family to the nearest Cracker Barrel (an hour one way) about four or five times. OK, I am obsessed!

When I completed my work related tasks I headed over to Gallatin, TN to visit my friend, Jeff Preston. Jeff is a phenomenal artist (see his work to the left or click here - he has been inducted into the Society of Illustrators, by the way) and an all around incredible guy. He was the owner/operator and visionary of Terror on the Square (here) a haunt that (in my opinion) should still be operating. We spent HOURS talking. He shared a special bottle of wine (Preston of Dry Creek here) which I initially thought was something he labelled for himself, turns out it is a wine from Healdsburg, CA - NORCAL, baby. We grabbed some dinner at Larriviere's On The Square (here) and talked some more. We covered quite a bit of ground - got caught up on what we've both been up to, art, Halloween, workout routines, art, Halloween, wine, art...OK, you get the picture. He showed me around his beautiful home (he's got a HUGE deck) and he also showed me some of his original pieces. I was in awe. Being in the presence of such an artist is amazing to me. His vision and artistry is just superb. I ended up leaving his place at 3:00 am - drove back to Nashville, slept for a little less than 3 hours and then got up to fly home.

The flight home was eventful, but quite frankly I am not interested in writing anymore about this trip. The trip was a good one on both a business and personal level. Folks like Jeff make me realize how years can pass, but a good friend is always a good friend. I wish I could collect all of my friends, the wonderful folks from all around the country, and put them somewhere close so I could see them all more often.

Mark Harvey

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