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.
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:
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:
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.
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.) 😛
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.
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.