Keith Urban is a Big Deal

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true

From “The Wizard of OZ” written by EY Harburg and Harold Arlen

When Dorothy clicked her heels together in Kansas and ended up in OZ she began an adventure beyond her dreams. Who would have thought that some 50 years later a country boy born in Whangarei, New Zealand and raised in Caboolture, Queensland, in another OZ, would travel around the world and become a star in the country music capital of the world not far away from Dorothy’s home state.. Urban has since been elected in 2012 as a member of the Grand Ol’ Opry no less. We are in Nashville, Tennessee and his poster is every where. Alongside Dolly, Johnny Cash, Reba McIntyre , Charlie Pride, Kenny R and Elvis. Yes Keith is a big deal here. No mention of Nicole though but then she couldn’t sing (or play guitar) as far as I know.

We had planned a road trip that would take us some 1180 miles east to Nashville and over 17 hours of driving. It would take us through seven states and the music capitals of the USA, We started out along the Interstate 70 and drove many other highways and a few backroads. Driving in the USA is easy. The interstate highway system is very good and the speed limit often hits 80 miles per hour (128kmph) so we bowled along chewing up distance quickly. Three hours from Boulder we were in Kansas. Kansas is very FLAT and lets be honest – not the most exciting drive. Miles of cornfields on either side interspersed with wind farms. By wind farms I mean hundreds of wind turbines within sight of the road. The first windfarm came to Kansas in 2001 and by all accounts has been an economic boon to rural Kansas. Our first stop was Hays which is a country town established around a small university catering to producing nurses and hotel management graduates. We were told about one third of the campus is overseas students. A sign of the times. We arrived on Hays Dayz weekend – a festival celebrating the town’s pioneering history. Hays would be an unremarkable town except for the fact that it was once known as Fort Hays and was one of a series of defendable forts on the front line of the Indian wars. For you film buffs you may know that it was the place from which Lieutenant John J. Dunbar left to begin his adventures with the Lakota Indians. You will know Dunbar better as Kevin Costner and the movie as “Dances with Wolves” although the movie itself was shot in South Dakota. You wouldn’t really know this just by visiting Hays. This was our first encounter with mid-western and southern folk and to say they are “wary” would be an understatement. It takes a while and some patience to chip through the ice but once done the locals are friendly and happy to chat (softly). Though not much is given away to strangers. The Kiwi accent gets a lot of comment and remarkably, I think, most people seem to know NZ and Australia.

More driving and we spent the next night in Columbia, Missouri (don’t bother) after an afternoon in downtown Kansas City. KC has a great free tram system, and we rode this for a while before exploring the old train station and the city centre. Kansas City is in fact partly in the state of Kansas and partly in the state of Missouri with the state line pretty much running along the Missouri River which can be somewhat confusing. Certainly, it was for President Dumbo Trump when he famously congratulated the state of Kansas for the KC Chiefs 2020 Superbowl win against the 49ers. The Chiefs, as everyone knows, are from Missouri.

Downtown Kansas City and the railway station

Our stay in Missouri was a fleeting one as we quickly crossed another state line into Illinois then another into Kentucky. We were headed for Kentucky Lake which is partly in Kentucky and partly in Tennessee. This route took us through St Louis Ms, and across (our first sighting) the Mississippi River. You could probably fit 100 Manawatu Rivers across the Mississippi. Certainly, it was a magnificent sight with steamers and barges wandering slowly north and south along its muddy waterway. Kentucky Lake is the second largest waterway by surface area in the USA and was created in 1944 when the Kentucky Dam was built along the Tennessee River. We had a lovely night in a cabin on the lake’s bank and even a swim in its waters.

Which Springfield do the Simpsons live in? There are a number of Springfields in the USA and the show’s creator, Matt Groening, apparently called the location Springfield to create the belief that it was “our” Springfield. We passed by Springfield, Missouri and then nearby Shelbyville. So I reckon I know where the Simpsons really do live. Continuing the TV theme we also passed nearby to the Ozark Lakes. There was fierce debate as I wanted to pop in and see Marty and Wendy Byrde but the others wanted to keep on trucking.

More importantly, tomorrow is Nashville.

4 thoughts on “Keith Urban is a Big Deal

  1. We take it you are no longer a flat baritone after all this music history.!

    Great blog really enjoyed reading this. As an aside Indie and Marley ask me to sing “the rainbow song” every night when they are staying – perhaps I fare better with them than Nicole Kidman with you 😅

    Sent from my iPad



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