Tuesday, April 27, 2010

At home during Nashville

We are SO grateful that my parents were able to come out and watch the kids while we went away for our anniversary. They played their little hearts out!

They broke a few of the rules, like... climbing in Emmett's crib
playing on the nice sofas

eating lots of candy - check out Az's green teeth!
{when we got back, Azure told me she wished I was Nana. When I asked her why, she said "Because she lets us eat LOTS of candy!"

and playing in Emmett's jumper.
But, really. What's a week with the grandparents if you don't break a few rules, right?

They also had LOTS of adventures.
They went to Mr. Biggs
where they played dress-up

dug in the sand,

and explored the caves.

They did chalk drawings
And played games
Sequence was a favorite, of course!
They went to the park.

And to the movies

They posed with Spiderman before seeing Alvin & the Chipmunks Squeakwal

And ate lots, and lots of icecream!

They also made bubbles in the snow, went swimming at the Monument YMCA, played at McDonalds, ate bread bowls at Panera, and dids lots of other fun things. I'm sure my kids didn't miss us one bit! They were way too busy having the time of their lives with Nana & Bapa.
Thank you guys for taking such good care of our chitlins while we were away! They still talk about their fabulous time with you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

I think I'm in Love...

With Nashville that is. Dan stole my heart 12 years ago, married me 10 years ago {amazing but true - we dated for two whole years}, and took me on a trip that melted my heart all over again, for our 10th Anniversary. I have so many fabulous things to say about Nashville, and Dan too, of course...but, let me begin at the beginning...

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 2:30pm, but due to Frontier overselling the flight, we got bumped to the 7:00pm flight. If we had had our kids with us - I would have been panicking! But, with just the two of us, the 4.5 hour delay really wasn't bad. Dan ate up some time negotiating compensation for our troubles {and came away a winner}, we rented a movie, and we had smoothies with my parents! We flew them in from UT to take care of our kids while we were away, and initially, weren't going to see them at all with the way our flights worked out...but we were able to spend some time with them in the airport and go over a few last minute instructions. Not that they needed them {they raised 7 of their own kids, 2 nephews and a niece}, but it was great to see them, and it made me feel quite confident that they would have a great time with our crew. Me and Dan with Bapa & Nana Hunt

As we were making our way to the Hotel Indigo at MIDNIGHT,

we passed through Downtown Nashville which was still very much alive. We checked in, decided we could use a bite to eat, shook off the travel tiredness, and went out for a night on the town. Yep, you heard me right, we left our hotel to check out the scene starting at midnight. I know, I know, we are party animals. We found ourselves eating pulled pork sandwiches and listening to an incredible band at 1:30 in the morning. We quickly learned that everyone in Nashville is amazingly talented. You could pluck any one of the dozens of unkown live performers we heard on our trip from the bar stage, and with the right connections, make them the next big thing. It was awesome.

We were also in awe of all of the INCREDIBLE food. I said goodbye to my diet and hello to biscuits and gravy, hushpuppies, fried green tomatoes, corn fritters {so good!}, ribs and lots and lots of pulled pork.

at 417 Union for breakfast

mmm.... breakfast is my all time favorite meal

After the 417, we headed on a tour of the famous Studio B - where Elvis recorded most of his songs. Lots of country stars recorded there too - but it was kind of Elvis' baby.

outside Studio B

Dan tickling Dolly

Dan testing out the super high tech equipment

Me at the producer's stand

The tour brought us back to The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum

where we saw things like this Pistol car

and Elvis' Gold Cadillac Limo - which gets it's sheen from crushed diamonds. It's even equipped with an automatic record player and TV - way ahead of it's time.

and lots of other Country Music memoribilia, including the enormous wall of Gold & Platinum records.

After the museum, we hit the local Steak & Shake. I had a delicous Butterfinger shake --- mmm. I hadn't had an ice cream shake in soooo long. Heaven. Pure Heaven.

After the Steak & Shake, we headed over to The Hermitage - President Andrew Jackson's homestead.The exterior is under construction as you can see... but everything surrounding it, and on the inside was just so simply beautiful. The rolling green hills, the lush property, the grand old trees, flowering bushes by the score...plantation styling, and gorgeous furniture.

We pretty much decided that we want to live here.

Can't you see us strolling around acres of green beauty, and then coming back and propping our feet up on this railing that overlooks it all?

Dan in front of Pres. Jackson's garden tomb.

After visiting his home, we drove back to Opryland, and boarded the General Jackson Showboat for a dinner cruise & show.

We sat with a couple from Boston, Greg, and his wife, who were so much fun to talk with. They have traveled the world, and had lots of stories. We noticed that we were generally the youngest people at every attraction we went to. It seems that people visit Nashville after they've gone everywhere else they think would be interesting. So, the average tourist age has got to be around 74, but we loved it all!!! The history, the music, the good home cookin', the time together with just the two of us, it was awesome!


Several people told us that it wouldn't be a trip to Tennessee without visiting the Loveless Cafe. Most of our trip revolved around food, so of course, we were all for it. We were fortunate enough to stop in there on our way to Memphis. It looks unassuming enough, but I assure you, this place had the best food, hands down, of all the places we dined at.

Melt in your mouth biscuits, the best sausage gravy, smoked pork for breakfast, and a side of their famous fried chicken just because.

Here I am looking a wee bit chunkier after strolling out of the cafe. I think we ordered half of the Loveless menu, and ate all but a few biscuits that we took for the road.

We headed down south to Memphis to check out Graceland
Which, surprisingly, was a little disappointing. It was, like most things we saw in Memphis, run down and unkempt. But, we can check that box off of our bucket list. {ha!}

Inside Graceland - you can't help but get a little Elvis fever.

This room now dedicated to preserving Elvis' gold & platinum records along with his sassy white jumpsuits was actually a raquetball court when Elvis was alive.

Here we are with the "Lisa Marie" jet.
I'm pretty sure Dan was wishing he was in Hawaii at this point of the tour...

We hit the Memphis Downtown scene later that night, and after a stop in the park to hear some local blues cruners {who were amazing, by the way} headed to BB King's Blues Club.

The food, was of course, amazing. Dan says these are the BEST ribs he has EVER eaten. Fall off the bone good. Again, we ordered lots, and lots, of delicious food. Mmm. I couldn't get enough!

The music was pretty good too. I actually got Dan to dance with me for one song, in front of the whole crowd. {there were about six other couples dancing too} He told me it must really be true love... awww... isn't he sweet?

I really do love this guy

The next morning, we visited the Blue Plate Cafe...biscuits and gravy, pancakes, omelets, grits, fruit...the works. I will admit, their gravy didn't even come close to the Loveless...but it was still sooo yummy.

We braved the Tornado scare {it ended up passing us over, and landing in Mississipi instead - killing 10 people} so we could get back to Nashville in time to see Ray Stevens perform.

If you don't remember who Ray Stevens is, go ask your dad. He sings all the comedic country songs like, The Streak, Mississipi Squirrel Revival, It's Me Again Margaret, but also some beautiful ballads including Everything is Beautiful. I grew up listening to him and watching his videos...and I was amazed that he's still out and about performing. He was actually really great live. Impressive, really. And the best part, our tour guide from the Studio B on Thursday got us in free. She saw us standing in line to buy tickets, asked us what we were doing back at the Hall of Fame. When we told her we had just come to see Ray, she said, "Oh, but you have to buy tickets again." I replied "I know! Unless, we know someone who works here who's willing to sneak us in to the show for free..." And she said "Yeah, come with me." She pulled us out of line, and off we went. It never hurts to ask! Saved us $40!

We got to meet Ray after the show, and he signed some c.d.'s for us. Really nice guy.

Dan tried the catfish at Caney Fork Fish Camp, and wasn't too impressed. My salmon was quite tasty, and the corn fritters - oh baby - I would definitely go back for those!
And then, for the grand finale of our trip...we made it over to
The Grand Ole Opry.

We saw Loretta Lynn - pictured here, along with about 12 other performers, including Joe Diffey, Point of Grace, Jaron {he sings the new I Pray for You song}, and lots of old timers. It was great. I love old school country - and that's what Nashville is all about.

We sat in the hottub {no pics there!!!}, went to church {can you believe there are only 4 wards and 1 spanish branch in all of Nashville?}, and then went to an estate's open house down the road from the church building. I could definitely settle in to that 8500 sq. feet of luxury and 2.5 manicured acres. Just gorgeous.
We hopped on our plane, and made it back to find our children asleep, and safe, and worn out from their vacation with Nana and Bapa. A post about their exciting week will follow shortly.
Thanks Nana & Bapa for making this trip possible!
We had such a fabulous time! It's always a great thing, when you can spend some time away from the day in - day out stresses of life, and remember why you fell in love in the first place.
Happy Anniversary Babycakes!