Friday, May 10, 2013

Trip to the NRA Annual Meeting 2013

We have been gone for twelve days, gone to Nashville, Memphis, Houston (for the NRA Annual Meeting), and Pensacola. In that time we got to see friends and family, some celebrities and a lot of new places.

Unfortunately we had not been able to complete the installation of the new water pipe to the house before we left. Although the pipe was actually installed, the inspection had not been done nor had the trench been backfilled. We could only hope that the work would be done by the time we got home. It is not. We have some major rehab to do to the front yard. It seems that the backfill wasn't done for several days after we left and that we had a pretty big rain storm which caused a lot of subsidence of the backfilled dirt and the old sod was killed. So, more topsoil has to be brought in, the old sod removed, seeding and so forth. Great fun. Now, back to the trip...

Our first stop was the Opryland Resort in Nashville. Neither of us had stayed there before. It has rather elaborate indoor gardens and water features and the the room was pretty nice albeit a very long walk from the car. There are a number of restaurants but you must be aware that, other than fast food and pizza, they do not open until 5:00 PM which is when the hamburger (very good) and pizza place closes. You can take a "cruise" around Delta Island, for a fee of course.

Cannon in front of the marker for Nathan Bedford Forrest's last speech (Thomas R Machnitzki)
We next spent two nights with our friends in Munford. I got to see the site of Nathan Bedford Forrest's last speech at the Tipton County Museum and to shoot at the Top Brass shooting range. Nana got to go shopping with her good, long time friend, Criss W______. She also had a great time playing roulette at the Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis where we met some of the W______'s friends, MaryJo and Jim C_______ and ate a prime-rib dinner.

We made a two day drive of the trip from Memphis to Houston stopping in Marshall, Texas at the Hampton Inn for the night. We took I-40 west to I-440 to I-30 south to US 59 and followed US 59 (the I-69 corridor) to Houston where we stayed at the Magnolia Hotel at 1100 Texas Avenue. The hotel was wonderful. They provide milk and cookies at night and breakfast in morning and both were excellent as were all the staff.

The NRA Annual Meeting was the primary purpose of the trip and we had a great time. On Thursday we registered, shot an AirForce precharged air rifle, and got to see, and be in, the audience of the Glenn Beck show. That was pretty interesting. It has been quite a while since I've been at a TV show taping.

On Friday we went through about half of the exhibits and the went to the Leadership Forum. Apparently we were on Fox News with Shepard Smith because Nana's brother texted me during the concert to say he'd just seen us.

Nana and me applauding Glenn Beck
Every year now, the NRA puts on an "NRA Country" concert that supports the Folds of Honor charity. This year the performers were Kevin Fowler and The Eli Young Band. Kevin Fowler was some good, hard-chargin' honky tonk get down and feel good music. His band was good, even the "roadie" was entertaining. A GREAT opener that failed because of the 30+ minutes needed to get The Eli Young Band on stage. Unfortunately the sound engineer confused good music with loud music. Sound levels were so high that one couldn't understand the words of any of the three songs we sat through. Perhaps if we knew any of the songs (or of the band) we might have enjoyed it more. We left early.

Saturday I made an early return to the floor to see the half of the exhibits we'd missed on Friday. At about noon I went back to the hotel and Nana and I walked down the street to Kobeque Grill. The food is sort of a hybrid version of Korean and modern American cuisine. I had the spicy pork rice bowl. The spicy pork and the rice were good but I'm NOT a fan of raw broccoli, cabbage and carrots. Yes I still like Kimchi but this wasn't Kimchi. It was still a good meal. This was the night of the Stand and Fight Rally. People were lining up at 4:30 and so did Nana and I. Once we got in and got our seats at about 5:30 it was only a little while before Guitarchestra (founded by Tulsa musician Jerry West) started to play. Then we had the main show. Although Glenn had said Ted Nugent would be there he was not. A relatively abbreviated affair, we moved from the Pledge of Allegiance to the National Anthem to Larry Potterfield to Frank Caliendo (who was absolutely hilarious!) and finally to Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck's speech was excellent but ran a bit long. As the old saying goes the mind can only absorb as long as the rear end can endure. Hard seats nearly put an end to our ability to absorb the many good points in Glenn's speech.

Transportation around Houston was a bit dodgy for us. Fortunately the Magnolia provided excellent shuttle service. Unfortunately, the NRA has fallen down on this aspect of the Annual Meeting, especially as compared to Pittsburgh and Charlotte. I would have liked to have gotten reservations at the Hilton or the Four Seasons which would have been but a very short walk to the George R. Brown Convention Center but that was not to be. We'll try to improve on that for next year. I think they should have the hotel discounts set up for the following year so that one can make reservations a full year in advance. I could use the planning time and a chance to get a better room in a better location.

We left Sunday morning for Atmore, Alabama to see your great Aunt S__ and Uncle M_____ as well as your Uncle in Cantonment, Florida. All were well. We had some good meals and conversations and then headed for home.

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