Hanging Out in Nash-Vegas

I’ve never agreed to go meet someone in person who I had only met on the internet….

…until this past weekend. (And I guess any time I’ve ever bought anything off of Craigslist. I forgot about Craigslist. But that’s not quite the same.)

Rach over at This Italian Family has been my pen pal, of sorts, ever since I spent a year in China. If you ever read the comments at the bottom of my posts, she’s my most frequent commenter (according to my WordPress annual report). 🙂 We’ve been keeping up with each others’ blogs, sending emails back and forth, and even sharing prayer requests with each other for the last few years now. So, now that we’re both residing in the same great state of Tennessee, it just made sense to meet her in person!

Since we live on opposite ends of the state (Knoxville to Memphis is about a six-hour drive), we decided to meet in the middle, in Nashville.

Me with Rach! This is her picture, actually, taken on her super fancy camera.

Me with Rach! This is her picture, actually, taken on her super fancy camera.

For those of you who follow Rach’s blog who are wondering…she is just as sweet in person as she is on the page. She is the REAL DEAL.

We hit up several Nashville landmarks during the course of the day. Rach has been to Nashville a bunch already, so she was all, “I’ll do whatever you want to do!” So we did. 🙂

We started out the day at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Jake got a chance to play at the splash pad (I did not take pictures, because I have about a million pictures of Jake playing in different splash pads, and all splash pads look pretty much the same). Another feature that drew me to the park was a giant state map that was large enough to walk on:

The biggest map I've ever seen

The biggest map I’ve ever seen! (Bottom Left): Justin is “walking in Memphis,” (Bottom Right): I found Knoxville!

After that, Rach somehow read my mind and said, “Did you say you wanted to go to a bookstore in Nashville?” And I didn’t say the words out loud, no…but I definitely DID want to go to a bookstore (when do I not?). So we headed to BookMan BookWoman, a new/used bookstore hybrid located in a trendy little neighborhood with food trucks and local crafters/merchants hanging out on the sidewalks. Its storefront has reportedly been filmed as a backdrop for the TV show Nashville (which I, unfortunately, fell out of touch with after season one). But I was mostly interested in what was on the inside:

BOOKS!!! (Top Left): All I can think of when I look at this picture is,

BOOKS!!! (Top Left): All I can think of when I look at this picture is, “Why isn’t he wearing shoes??” (Bottom Left): The outside of the store looks pretty uniform, but the BookMan/BookWoman sides of the store look VERY different on the inside. (Right): Me posing in a natural, “Sure, I always sit in corners and read leather-bound volumes that perfectly compliment my outfit!” 🙂

After that we grabbed some lunch, where we had a close encounter with a pedal-powered bicycle bar on the way to our restaurant (not pictured here…this is a family blog, after all). Then we headed to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage (a large country plantation about 20 minutes outside the center of Nashville) for a tour. Rach only told me AFTER we bought our tickets that her parents are huge history buffs and dragged her to endless history museums during her childhood years, reading every placard and quizzing her on historical trivia at the end of each tour. So then I felt really bad for dragging her to one more history museum. But admittedly, I am not the greatest student when it comes to museums. I do not read every placard, and I am mostly just drawn to the pretty pictures.

(Top Left): I grew weary of the endless yapping of my audio tour guide (in fact, the museum staff looked aghast when they offered me the audio device and I said,

(Top Left): I grew weary of the endless yapping of my audio tour guide (in fact, the museum staff looked aghast when they offered me the audio device and I said, “Do I have to?” so I handed mine off to Jake, and he was happy to listen to the tour on my behalf. (Right): Justin looks THRILLED to have just paid $36 so we could come have a look at Andrew Jackson’s old stuff. (Bottom left): See below.

The house was, by far, my favorite part of the tour. I love looking through houses. (Side note: Rach and I both openly admitted to each other that we’ve gone to Sunday-afternoon open-houses with absolutely no intention of purchasing a home. We just wanted to have a look around. ;-)) The downer was how stuffy the tour guides were. It was all, “Don’t take pictures! Don’t touch the wallpaper!” etc. At one point, Rach asked if the wood floors (peeking out on each side of the grey carpet runner) were original, and the museum guy was all like, “Yes! DON’T step on them! Stay on the carpet at all times!”

Jake, by the way, broke every rule. He immediately began reaching to stroke the intricate wallpaper patterns on the walls, almost as soon as we stepped through the door. At one point, he began reaching to stroke a man’s hair (who was listening intently to the tour guide and didn’t notice), and as I swung Jake out of the way so he wouldn’t make contact, I stepped off the carpet and onto the wooden floor. About halfway through the tour, my arm was getting tired from carrying Jake (no strollers allowed inside), so I thought we might sit on the stairs for a few minutes. When I set him down, Jake began climbing the stairs with a speed I’ve never seen before. Climbing Andrew Jackson’s stairs like he owned the place. When the tour guide asked, “Any questions?” I heard a 12-year old boy in the group call out, “Do we get to go up there next?” pointing to me and my trespassing son, already on the second-floor landing of the stairs. Thanks, kid. Way to be discreet! So I figured, why not break the final rule (pictured bottom left) and photograph one of the rooms? (Rach was totally egging me on to do it, by the way.) 😛

Our attempt at a family photo on Andrew Jackson's porch. This generally just turns into ten minutes of,

Our attempt at a family photo on Andrew Jackson’s porch. This generally just turns into ten minutes of, “Look at the camera, Jakey! Look up here!” (which explains why Justin and I are both awkwardly pointing.)

We were sweltering by the time we left the Hermitage. I mean, completely drenched in sweat. I hope Rach knows that I don’t always smell that bad. We definitely wanted something indoors, so we headed to the Gaylord Opryland Resort. It was just as beautiful as the last time I visited back in December of 2013, except even more so, because of air conditioning.

I kept thinking of Jurassic World while we were on our boat ride. I mean, doesn't it look like a Triceratops could come creeping out of the bushes at any moment?

I kept thinking of Jurassic World while we were on our boat ride. I mean, doesn’t it look like a Triceratops could come creeping out of the bushes at any moment?

The Opryland Hotel has a unique way of bringing the outdoors in. You kind of forget that you’re inside of a climate-controlled building and not out in the jungle somewhere. I kept wondering how they could afford to run such a place….until I looked up how much it costs to book a room. :-O

All in all, it was a lovely day! One that felt more like reuniting with an old friend than meeting someone for the first time.

If Jake approves of her, she must be alright. ;-)

If Jake approves of her, she must be alright. 😉

Categories: Friendship, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Hanging Out in Nash-Vegas

  1. Pingback: Meeting Rachel and her family! |

  2. So first of all I just now realized that I never linked to your blog in my post! I can’t believe that! That is now fixed! 🙂

    I love that shot of Justin “walking in Memphis”! Clever!

    Oh girl, I didn’t mind going to the Hermitage at all! I really enjoyed it. I rolled my eyes when my parents stopped at every graveyard we had a relative buried in, but other than that – I really enjoyed growing up going to historical sites. I liked going with you guys because we managed to not spend the entire day in the museum part. 😉 Plantation homes were a favorite of mine because they were always so big and beautiful. So really no worries. 🙂 And trust me, I was wishing I had brought my deodorant along after we left the Hermitage, haha! 😉

    Oh my goodness, how did I miss Jake reaching for the guys’ hair during the tour?! That’s hilarious! Also, when he took off up the stairs, I was having trouble keeping myself from giggling. Jake is just such an adventurer!

    I so loved getting to hang out with you guys on Saturday! I look forward to the next time! 🙂

    • I’m glad you didn’t mind the Hermitage! And thankfully, I think EVERYONE missed Jake reaching for that random guy. When I did my awkward step-off-the-carpet/falling-into-the-wall, I looked around to see if anyone noticed, and everyone seemed to be tuned in to the tour guide and oblivious to me, haha! It was so fun to hang out with you, Rach! We will definitely need to visit Memphis sometime!

  3. You guys had so much fun!! That bookstore looks amazing. Jake obviously had a great time and Rach is legit awesome if he has Jake’s stamp of approval. 🙂

    • Amy, if we didn’t have a bunch of other things on our agenda, I could have spent HOURS in that bookstore. I noticed on our way out that I really didn’t step into the BookWoman section much at all…just because the BookMan side tunneled so far back and turned into a labyrinth/cave of books! If I were a local, I would be there a LOT!

      And yes, Rach is pretty legit. 😉

  4. Aunt Heidi

    Rachel this is so cool. She sounds so much like you and sounds like you guys had a great day. By the way, I love is cemeteries too even when I don’t know anyone there. (Dead I mean). When we first moved to Georgia and we lived in that hunting trailer out in the middle of no where, we passed one to get to it. I talked the fam into stopping one day and walked around reading all the headstones. The “fam” was my kids and step kids so that was a fete! I loved it. We are coming up October 9-13. Try to keep some time open. Maybe we can go to an old cemetery. 😀

    • Thanks Aunt Heidi! We will definitely clear our weekend so that we can see you when you come up!

      On Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 11:47 AM, the new normal. wrote:


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