My family left Raleigh early Saturday morning to pick up my 12-year old son from Scout camp up near Mt Airy, NC. We headed southwest down the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Virginia/North Carolina border almost to Asheville, stopping at Linwood Caverns for a quick tour on the way. We had to detour off I-40 three different times due to road construction and heavy traffic slowdowns, and had to detour off the Blue Ridge Parkway once due to construction. We battled heavy blasts of rain that swept eastward as well, but we finally reached Nashville at about 8:15 Saturday night, 14 hours after leaving home! It was easy to find our way downtown, and one of the first things we saw was the large revolving guitar showcasing the local Hard Rock Cafe. A few blocks later we found the Hilton Suites hotel, a 9-story square-ish hotel similar to an Embassy Suites layout, with the rooms lining the outside and a huge atrium opening up to the top floors. A large sweeping staircase commands the main lobby area, with eating areas to each side and the main desk off to the side. Beautiful dark polished wood blended well with the sparkling marble stonework. We checked in easily and also noted the tickets for the free breakfast buffet and happy hour each day, and went to the room. Our luggage (and my desktop computer, which I was biting nails over as the bellhop carefully handled the 17-inch monitor and tower) made it safely to the room and we soon set up and unpacked. We were able to wander around a bit, walked over to the Renaissance Hotel (headquarters for the convention) a couple of blocks away, and got registered (this year for the first time you can type your name and chapter/chorus info into a bank of computer screens and within seconds a laser printer prints out your name badge just the way you like it! Just pick up a plastic badge holder and you're all set...much better and faster than previously! Plus, the printout included coupons good for discounts at Harmony Marketplace, as well as free chances to bid on Harmony Foundation auction items (with the hope that you'll purchase additional tickets at the booth!). Harmony Marketplace was all set up with tons of merchandise, and many other companies had booths set up and manned, selling barbershop related services, recordings, and the like. The convention staff is friendly and very helpful, and everything seems to be ready to go. In the coming days we would take a few side trips to the Opryland Hotel, the Hermitage (home of President Andrew Jackson), the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and other local attractions. Nashville is a great place to take the family, and a great place for barbershop music! It's gonna be a blast!
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