The one time a tree fell on the van I was driving and other Nashville fun

Last week, I went to Nashville with seven of my colleagues for a conference. We all rode together in a 15-passenger van which I had the (ahem) honor of driving about half of the trip to Nashville and back.

Nashville is about a 9 hour drive for us, so we left at 7 Sunday morning in order to make it in time for the 5:15 keynote presentation at our conference. During the first leg of the trip, I finished reading a book and chatted with a friend. I drove leg two and that's where all the fun started.

 When we got to Augusta, it was time for me to drive. Not too long after we got back on the Interstate, we had a tree - a real tree - fall on our lovely van. We were in the stretch between Augusta and Atlanta that was hit really hard during the ice and snow storms we had this past winter. It was very windy and pine straw and a huge branch were flying through the air and all of a sudden, we heard a boom. We all turned (well, I looked in the rear view mirror) and there was an entire tree stretched all the way across our lane and into the next lane. The "boom" we heard was the tree!

After a few other eventful things like a pileup in Atlanta and a trailer flipping over in front of us in the middle of the Interstate, we made it to Nashville about 4:45 which gave us just enough time to freshen up and catch the shuttle to the Music City Center.

The keynote speaker Sunday night was the Honorable Margaret Spellings who is the longest serving staff member of the George W. Bush administration. She was an excellent speaker! After the keynote, we headed into a welcome reception and talked with some of the vendors before going back to the hotel and getting ready for a real dinner.  It was late and we were all clearly exhausted, so we opted to go across the street to a little brewery. I had ribs and they were delicious!

I was up early Monday. It's almost like my body is programed to wake up at 6, so when I woke up, it was only 5 AM. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I walked down to the hotel gym for a run and weight training session. I grabbed a waffle for breakfast and ate it while I got ready. After chatting with Kevin for a few minutes (I hate being away from my husband!), I met a few of the girls to catch the shuttle and make it to our first session.

Many of the sessions I went to were interesting, especially Monday's keynote with Cameron Evans, the CTO of Microsoft, but I was thankful that a few of us finished up a little earlier than we thought we would at lunch. Because of this, we walked down to Broadway and had lunch and went in a few stores. We didn't have much time at all to do touristy things (literally, 1.5 hours during the lunch break), but we made sure to get a picture at the Ryman. During a break that afternoon, one of the girls and I walked across to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

We made it back to the hotel a little before 6 Monday night. A friend and I had tickets to see the Rockettes at the Grand Ole Opry, so we set out to do that. By the time we made it there, it was 7, so we didn't really have time for shopping, sightseeing, or a good dinner. We grabbed something to eat at Moe's in the mall and by the time we picked up our tickets, walked in the gift shop (I had to get a few things for my guys!), and got some popcorn, they were turing off the lights for the show to begin.

The Rockettes were great! I saw them with my mom when I was younger and they were just as good now as they were then.

When we made it back to the hotel, I talked with Kevin while I was getting everything packed for the next day. We wanted to load everything on the van so we'd be ready to leave as soon as the conference was over.

The next morning, I was up at 5 again, but read some before I got up. I decided not to try to squeeze in a run that morning. By 7 am, the van was loaded and we were on the shuttle to the conference. I was so tired and felt like I needed an IV of coffee! We grabbed some Dunkin Donuts and a few hours later, shuttled back to the hotel to pick up the van and were off.

On the way home, I started reading Wild. It's really good so far. I ended up driving the second and last leg of our trip. We stopped at Chickfila (I felt at home!) in Dalton, Georgia, at 2:30 for lunch, and when we left I drove us home. I made it home to my sweet husband about 10 that night.

While it was a good and packed trip, I missed my family so much! I really don't like being away from them!

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