celebrations, family

Whirlwind Weekend

My youngest daughter joined a college club lacrosse team. One of the fun parts of this is travel. First up: an away play day in Nashville that just so happened to be my birthday weekend. That was an easy sell!

It was harder to find a traveling companion. Close family and favorite travel buddies couldn’t make it for one reason or another. I was kinda pouty until just a few days before, when the daughter I was going to watch figured out she could stay with me. We traveled to Nashville separately, but after her games we were able to spend the rest of the weekend together.

It was a whirlwind weekend of packed with fun. I had most of it mapped out before we met up. I started with morning coffee at Dutch Brothers, a perennial fave. Longtime readers know that I love to visit local coffee shops on my travels, but Dutch would be an exception. It’s a national chain, yes, but there isn’t one anywhere near my hometown. I can’t resist their positive energy or their soft top!

Then I found my way to one of the Five Daughters Bakery locations, which happened to be tucked in to a cute local marketplace. Most of the shops were closed at that early hour, but there were still some fun murals and photo opps. A handful of their hundred-layer doughnuts and I was off to the next destination.

After that, a super quick visit to Cheekwood to catch a glimpse of their fall pumpkin festival displays. I was the first one through the gates that morning, and more than likely the first to leave in time to make the start of the lacrosse games. Still, it was soothing and smile-inducing to see the beautiful plants and festive surroundings. I’m sure I could have spent a whole day there, but even just that small sliver of time made me feel lighter and carefree as I welcomed my favorite season of the year.

After lacrosse, we made a quick visit to a Nashville food hall with a close family friend. It had live music and a wide variety of local eateries – something to please everyone. Then we spent Saturday night on a “touristy” thing by visiting the Grand Old Opry. Pretty classic Nashville, but my daughter had never been. It was a great variety show, even if we hadn’t really heard of any of the acts. Wonderful entertainment. (An evening at the Bluebird Cafe is still on my Nashville wish list! Didn’t get tickets this time but I’ll keep trying.)

After the show, we drove about an hour to Cookeville. This brought us close to the next morning’s adventure, a kayak to Burgess Falls. The paddle was low key and not too technical, but it was pretty long. The scenery was pretty and then it was a short hike to the falls since the river waters recede a bit in the autumn months. The bottom of the falls are only reachable by kayak or hike, which made the view all the more sweet.

Time with my youngest becomes more precious each year as she moves through college. Long car rides leave time for us to chat and catch up. We talked this time about how, as time goes on, we’ve learned that we would rather have fewer things and more experiences together.

Just like my older daughter, I can hear that her dreams will take her to live in faraway places in the coming years. This makes these experiences and memories all the more sweet. Time and attention (and shared adventures!) are the best gifts we can give one another.

author moments

In the Dark

It was pitch black. Nothing to see around you. The darkness of the early morning hours was compliments of blackout curtains. The room was quiet. Not a creature was stirring.

Then out of nowhere.

It happened.

The significant sound erupted.

Ah-choo! For the sneaky sneeze that snuck up on her. The bark of a cough that almost spun off the sneeze in harmony and then the more foul sound of….

A cross between a loud fart and and a shriek of a sound created when she realized she did that in the quiet room where sounds seem to echo without hesitation.

Tears of laughter begin. Oh the humility. She was beside herself. The sneeze. The cough. The fart. All sounds together. At once. She had to face the others in the room. Tears of laughter. Tears of humility. They continue for some time. What may have been nothing became something. Because she couldn’t contain herself. 

How does one explain the bodily function of a cough plus a fart plus a sneeze? Snartough is the name I made up. She snarttoughed this morning causing havoc in the quiet room. Was this a first? Will it happen again? How would you handle a situation like this?

There were no lingering smells. There were no upset faces. It happened so fast. It was just a few crazy moments in time. Three bodily functions that may never raise an eyebrow in isolation but together they caused chaos and embarrassment.

Just a random post to capture a real life experience of recent days. 

adventure

Paddle N Float

Went on a family adventure to kayak the Broad River outside Athens, Georgia. It was a great balance between paddle and float with a few surprises along the way.

The start might be my favorite part. You get your kayak and slide down a hillside covered in a tarp to the bank of the river. Such a fun way to start an adventure. I could do that every day. It’s also fun to watch others come down the hill. The shrieks. The smiles. The giggles. The no hands and so on.

On to the launch of the kayaks. Easier for some than others but a little feeling of relief when you don’t dump out fo the kayak. Off we go. Paddle. Float. Lay back in the saddle and float with your head to the sky. Paddle. Float some more. Four hours of excitement, nature, and peace. Just you to move your kayak at your pace. Unless somebody towed you.

From the fish jumping nearby to the many turtles you see sunbathing, you are immersed in nature. You can stare at the swirls in the water one minute and move past a rock or even a log in the next minute. Shallow water to deep water. Sand banks, small beach like banks, and cool rocks to have a snack on.

Then there are the rapids. Some big. Some small. They are trickier to manage In some areas compared to others. Some big sections have audiences watching to see if you take a spill. And yes my kiddo did. Pure shock for her but hilarious to witness. Nobody was hurt which is also good.

Then you can get stuck on a rock covered in moss. Slick is an understatement. You use all your muscles to unwedge your kayak. It’s exhausting. And normally rapids follow that you just paddle hard through. We had a great experience, but exhausting.

After the four hours you climb out at a marked bank and load your kayak onto a bus with a kayak carrier. You sit for the 6 or so miles back with wet strangers all chatting about their day on the river.

Unplug. Connect in nature. Enjoy the sunshine. Maybe listen to a little music on your float while catching a few rays. Today was a little sunshine and a little cloud cover. A perfect mix for a day outside.

Time to dry off and conquer something else later in the day. What adventure can you tackle within an hour of your home? Go get to adventuring.

adventure, family

College Is Fast Approaching

9 weeks on the road this summer. From Florida to New York and everything in between. Then for giggles clear across the country to Oregon. Sometimes the same route more than once but with different stops along the way.

Travel by plane. Travel by car. Travel by train. Travel by RV. We utilized Uber. We took advantage of Turo. We took many unconventional paths. We lived so much through our experiences. Turo and Uber were our app-worthy summer accomplishments. We even had some time to use bikes. So many memories. So many hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Good company.

Great experiences.

Countless fun.

So many photos.

It wasn’t always easy, but it was always workable with a positive attitude and a lot of flexibility. Work. Play. Recover. A delicate balancing act for some. A day in the life for me. I will never get to hit rewind on these months I just lived. Knowing that made me forge ahead to cram as much into the calendar as as humanly and financially possible.

Sometimes I had to plan and then re-plan. Things didn’t always go smoothly. I lived. I learned. I outlasted. Summer 2022 is in the rear view. So many college campuses were scouted out. Many highs. Many lows. Some visits at the surface level while others more in-depth. The process is real. The decisions are hard. The challenge is ahead.

My youngest will choose soon. Where to go. What she wants to be as an adult. I will become less needed. I will be an empty nester. A title I don’t really care for but yet one I will look forward to at the same time. As I earn that new title I will embark on new journeys and adventures. Maybe not criss-crossing the county in a summer but maybe exploring cities I’ve never been or getting back into putting stamps on my passport.

I’m adjusting to what’s ahead while enjoying what’s in front of me. Years become months. Those months turn into weeks. Before you know it, days are in front of us. Don’t waste the minutes. Value them. Cherish them. Enjoy them. I know I am.

As my mom always says: live life to the fullest. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

For now I wait for the day to come that she decides where she heads off to beyond her days of high school. Close by? A neighboring state? Across the country? Another country?

adventure

Pacific Northwest Take One

There was a thought of heading west. The conclusion was no. We shall wait a few months. The conversation arose again just before just before the 21- and 14- day advanced flight deadlines would pass. The hemming and hawing began. Yes. No. Maybe. No. For sure no.

Fast forward to a random conversation on a trip with friends. You know I really should go. I didn’t think I needed to go, but I now know it’s time to go. I didn’t hesitate. I just booked the trip. No looking back. Five days to prep. Lots of schedules to adjust. Appointments to reschedule.  Favors to call in. Just to do something spectacular. An opportunity that won’t pop up again. Off we went to hit the Pacific Northwest on a whim.

We grabbed a friend for a travel buddy. Freshened up the contents of the suitcases. Scurried onto to the airport. Smiles galore. A notebook full of fun adventures to squeeze in while in the grand state of Oregon. So much exploring on the horizon.

Took in some beautiful river scenery while biking in Eugene, Oregon. Through this experience we learned it’s faster to move around town by bike because you avoid all the one-way roads. The biking options, trails and city-friendly atmosphere is amazing. I thought I enjoyed the Pinellas Trail in Florida however this was even better. If you head out west, definitely take a stop in track town. So many paths to choose. So much to see.

My flight landed in Portland, Oregon where I had a chance to eat a quick bite at Cartopia. An interesting little pod of food providers in the city. Interesting setting. Food was good. Just an overall fun and quirky experience to fit into the trip. The down side of Portland was all the homeless. From tent camps to tents on the sidewalk. There just seemed to be the largest concentration of homelessness I’ve ever witnessed. Sad to see and think about the stories of how each became a street dweller. I will never know however I was curious. I should mention the drive from Portland to Eugene is less than noteworthy. Boring would be the word that seems to describe it best.

The photo above is a glimpse of my AirBnb. A cute 2 bed/2 bath unit set in a residential area. Close to the river. Close to the bike paths. Close to the college: just close to all things relevant for my stay. The vibe was amazing. The history of where the neat pieces inside came from added to its appeal. A cool door from an old barn. Reclaimed wood. Doors that were once windows.

There were even a few extra touches that I didn’t expect. The book on local trails by a teacher at the university. The picture book about the history of roadie life in make shift campers. Just a few oddities to add flavor to the overall experience.

Conveyor belt sushi was fun in town. The patisserie offered a sweet treat one afternoon. An eclectic sandwich shop filled our bellies on bike day. Oddly enough no good steak places were in this town. Without steak we opted for a boat-to-table seafood market restaurant. Definitely a staple in the area as it was always crowded and the food was good. We even went twice!

I can’t cram all of my experiences into one post but I will leave this as where my Pacific Northwest adventures began. If I’m feeling fancy I will write again on my coastal experiences that are on the horizon. And will that I will leave you with an amazing sunset photo from my travels.