Friday, March 29, 2013

Highlights of our trip to Nashville

Any time Greg & I make the trip from Portland to Nashville (typically only once or twice a year), it can be a bit of a challenge to see all of our family & friends in the week that we're there. For Greg it's easier: his parents live in Old Hickory; everyone else has moved out of state. But in order for him to not burn too many vacation days, he usually only takes a day or two off, which means he works remotely during the day but on Portland time (so from 10am-7pm CST). That somewhat limits his ability to enjoy the trip & have time to visit with everyone.

While my grandmother lives in Hermitage, conveniently close to the airport and to Greg's parents' house, the rest of my family is one hour north of Nashville (my mom, step-dad, sister & two nephews in Springfield/Orlinda) or one hour south of Nashville (my dad & step-mom in Franklin). Due to their work schedules as well as which days my nephews will be at home (versus with their dad), visiting with them can take some coordinating and usually involves an overnight stay.
There was a dusting of snow on the ground when we arrived in Orlinda.
That's exactly what happened on our recent trip, as I mentioned in my previous blog post. As soon as we landed in Nashville on Saturday, we borrowed a car from Greg's parents and made the drive to Orlinda. We spent the evening catching up with the Campbell's & Corbin's and spent the night at my mom's house. On Sunday, we went to my sister's house to see the goats & cats, then returned to my mom's house for some quality time with both families.
Hanging out with the goats on the Campbell farm
I spent the week before the trip making a book about our life in Portland for my 12-year-old nephew, Grant. I wrote the copy, edited the photos (I used only photos that I had taken, no stock images) and had the book printed at my local Walgreens the night before we left. I didn't have time to make a second, different book for my six-year-old nephew, Bryce, so I had gone to Powell's earlier in the week and bought him a copy of Larry Gets Lost in Portland. I gave the kids their books on Sunday and Greg & I sat down to read with each of them. They both seemed to like their gifts but ultimately Bryce decided he would rather I make him a personalized book about farming so I ended up returning Larry Gets Lost with the promise that I would make him a book sometime before his birthday in August.
Bryce reads to Greg
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at my mom's house. Greg rode the Berg in laps on the wrap-around porch and we kept the kids entertained for several hours playing Uno and Farmopoly. After dinner it was time to drive back to Nashville, where I stayed at my grandmother's house and Greg went to his parents' house.
Greg rides the Berg
Monday & Tuesday were pretty quiet. I had made plans to visit with friends, but those fell through. Thanks to Greg's mom, I was able to get a free visitor pass to the YMCA so I could go to the pool for aquatic therapy and use the exercise bikes and other gym equipment for my hip rehab. My grandmother & I made a few trips to the grocery store to stock up on food for the week and, of course, I had to go to Mount Juliet Beer Company to pick up some craft beer! I also spent some of my spare time going through the storage containers in my grandmother's garage to hunt for things I wanted to bring back to Portland.
A few hand-selected craft beers from Mount Juliet Beer Company
I didn't see Greg again until Wednesday night, when I met him & his parents at Palmas Verdes for dinner. Unfortunately, Greg had come down with a sinus infection and was not feeling very well so we didn't do anything else and he was forced to cancel his plans to get together with some friends the following evening. I, however, had big plans for Thursday. I had spent the first part of the week plotting out some fun activities for my 82-year-old grandmother & I to do together. I specifically wanted to focus on things she wouldn't normally get out & do on her own. I called our outing "Playing Tourist in Your Own Hometown."
Hogwash soap at Puckett's Grocery
Our first stop of the day was Thistle Farms. I found out about this wonderful organization when Greg's mother sent me a bottle of their shower gel for Christmas. I really loved the natural ingredients and smell of the Tuscan Earth scent. I checked out their website and discovered you can actually visit their sales & manufacturing facility on Charlotte Pike in Nashville. My grandmother was also familiar with their work but had not been able to locate any of their products (they're typically sold at gift shops and specialty stores). We dropped by right after they opened on Thursday morning. As we had not prearranged a tour, we browsed the small shop area and purchased some scented candles and other products. All for a good cause!
Browsing in Antique Archaeology
Our second stop was also based on a tip from Greg's mom. She had mentioned at dinner the previous night a TV show she watches called American Pickers. One of the hosts, Mike Wolfe, owns a shop near downtown Nashville called Antique Archaeology. While I have never seen the show, I was intrigued by the shop's location in the old Marathon Motor Works building. Unexpectedly, when we got out of the car in the parking lot, I immediately noticed the smell of roasted malt. I had already researched the latest breweries that have opened since we moved, and I had not found one in this area. But it wasn't a brewery; it's Corsair Artisan Distillery! Sadly, while you can take a tour (with tastings!) of the distillery, or even drink a beer in their taproom, they wouldn't be open until much later that afternoon and I already had plans for us for the rest of the day. We did enjoy browsing the antiques shop (although I'd be more inclined to call it a junk shop!) and I especially enjoyed poking around the refurbished car factory. Hint: If you ever go there yourself, be sure to cross the street to the unmarked red brick building and check out the free exhibit of some of the old Marathon vehicles.
Cars were manufactured here in 1914!
As it was now almost 11AM, it was time to go to an Indian restaurant for lunch. I love Indian food, but my grandmother doesn't usually try ethnic cuisine unless she's with someone that can help guide her through the menu. In this case, it was easy, because Tamarind Indian Bistro offers a lunch buffet which is a great way to sample a variety of dishes and figure out what you like & don't like. While it's always tempting to stuff yourself at a buffet, we exercised great moderation, knowing that we would be on our feet for the next few hours and wouldn't want to feel weighed down by too much food.
Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville
After a brief stop at the Nashville Visitors Center in the Bridgestone Arena to pick up some maps & brochures, we continued on to our next scheduled stop, the Tennessee State Capitol. I had called earlier in the week to inquire about taking a free tour, and was told to come at either 1 or 2PM to avoid the crowds of school children who would be on the morning tours. One of the mandates of my surgeon & physical therapist was that if I was going to be walking very much, I needed to use my crutches. As an hour-long tour of the capitol building definitely qualifies as being on your feet for an extended period of time, I dutifully used the crutches. Besides, it helped me stay on pace with my grandmother and be more aware of when she might be getting fatigued, too.
My grandmother inside the TN State Capitol
Since the last time I was in the capitol building was probably during elementary school, it was nice to see the recently refurbished interior and re-learn some of the history of the building, which was completed in 1859. While the House of Representatives had been in session that morning, they had adjourned for the afternoon so we were able to see all the main offices, including the Governor's office, as well as the Senate & House Chambers. While we did not have the time or energy, I would suggest visiting the free Tennessee State Museum, located one block from the capitol, if you're so inclined.
Legislative Plaza
After our tour, we enjoyed a walk across Legislative Plaza before repositioning the car for our next stops, the Nashville Public Library and The Arcade. I had hoped to find metered street parking somewhere on Fourth or Fifth Avenues, but construction had overtaken many of the spots and all others in the vicinity were occupied. Thus the library was my fall-back parking destination, as you can park in their garage for the first ninety minutes for free. It's just a few short blocks walk to The Arcade, which had been added to our list primarily because of The Peanut Shop, open since 1927. I bought several bags of roasted peanuts-in-the-shell for the Campbell's (special order from my mom), and another bag of peanuts plus one bag of dark chocolate-covered walnuts for myself. We returned to the library to get our parking ticket validated and went upstairs to the third floor to view the beautiful hammered copper panels by Gregory Ridley in the Grand Reading Room.
A Nashville institution
Our final stop of the day was one I had particularly been looking forward to: Fat Bottom Brewing. Opened in 2012 by the son of former Governor Phil Bredesen, the brewery is housed in the old Fluffo Mattress building in East Nashville. While my grandmother is not a big drinker, she was totally game to sample the four house beers currently on tap. It helps that I got them free with the Scoutmob app on my iPhone! I didn't particularly love any of the beers but I felt they were true to style and well made. After a friendly chat with our server about the abundance of great craft beer in Portland, I was also given a free sample of the limited edition Belgian Blonde (maxed out at 6.2% ABV by TN law). My thirst for good beer satiated, I even managed to use my iPhone to navigate our way home using back roads and thereby avoiding rush hour traffic on the interstate!
They named a beer after my grandmother! (Well, maybe not, but her name is Betty!)
After our most excellent adventure on the previous day, Friday was a good day to rest. I did go to the YMCA again for more hip rehab but otherwise spent the day reading, looking at old pictures and finalizing our weekend plans. Although Greg was still quite miserable from his head & chest cold, we did meet up with our friend, Eric Speich (best man at our wedding) & his wife, Jennifer. They have moved to a new house in the year we've been gone and are now expecting twins in August! We also got to visit with Eric's parents, Garry & Peggy. Sadly, while I was writing this blog post, we learned that Peggy passed away this evening (March 29th). It was not unexpected as she had been quite ill for the past few years and had gotten much worse in the past few months. Still, it is sad news, and I am very thankful that we got to spend that time with her, give her our love and say goodbye. Greg ended up losing his voice completely while we were out with the Speich's, so we called it a night fairly early.
My sister, Emily, & I excited about our new computer (late 1970's)
I think I'll end this recap here and write about the remaining two days of our visit in my next post. It's hard to keep the momentum going with a heavy heart.
Greg & I with Eric & Jennifer Speich (who got married in 2012) on our wedding day: July 29, 2011

The link to all of my photos from this trip is embedded in this post's title.

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