"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

From Vandyville to Rippavilla

Saturday, October 25, 2008 If you look up the definition of a perfect fall day in the dictionary, you will see a picture of yesterday as the weather was crisp and clear for the football game between Vandy and Duke in Nashville that we attended as well as the corn maze we conquered late last night at the Rippavilla Plantation in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Our allegiance was kind of torn at the game as we are both huge Duke basketball fans, but hoped that Vandy could continue their promising season and hopefully get a bowl berth with their sixth win. Throw in the fact that David Cutcliffe (of UT football coaching notoriety) is now the head coach at Duke increased the struggle of who to pull for. The game got off to a somewhat slow pace as the only score was a touchdown late in the second quarter by Duke. Unfortunately, the slow pace of the first half was not due to spectacular defense on either side but instead a series of mistakes and pretty poor play. The second half was much more lively and better executed as Vandy got on the board with a beautiful long touchdown strike and Duke pulled ahead again with a field goal. Late in the game Vandy got a chance to tie but missed a makeable field goal and the chance to win a sixth game will have to wait another week. Congrats to Duke and Coach Cutcliffe on a 4-3 record so far this season and their own chance at a possible bowl game invitation. Our seats were great and right on the 50-yard line on the visitor's side as promised by the ticket broker we bought them from. We will certainly use these guys again (VIPTICKETS.COM). Other highlights of the game were the food, the walk through the beautiful old neighborhoods that surround Vandy and Vandyville itself - a pregame tailgating party area that had a large turnout on such a beautiful day. After the game we headed toward Murfreesboro and stopped in the locally famous sports bar/restaurant, Toot's, to compare the taste of what we heard were "great fried pickles." Unfortunately, we beg to differ. We still give the nod to WOW Wingery in Mt. Juliet as the best. We did have a great little pumpkin-spiced beer on draught for dirt cheap prices. A few draughts later our friend, Emily, met us and we loaded up and headed down Hwy. 840 to Spring Hill to test our orienteering skills on the corn maze at Rippavilla Plantation. I guess you could say we had an a-MAZE-ing time. The maze was about an acre and consisted of 23 "check points" with a solar system theme. We found about half of them without the aide of a map, but gave up wondering (and wandering) around and resorted to the map to finish our quest. The night was brisk and clear but they were out of hot chocolate when we got done which was a bit of a bummer, but a Starbuck's in nearby Franklin did the trick without too much waiting. This was our first visit to the Rippavilla Plantation and we were really impressed. They have a lot of events going on there throughout the calendar year, so we hope to visit there again sometime in the near future.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Simply GORGE-ous

Saturday, October 18, 2008 - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Despite the leaves not being close to peaking on the third weekend of October as we had hoped, the weather was perfect today for a boat ride up the Tennessee River from downtown Chattanooga aboard the Tennessee Aquarium's new River Gorge Explorer. This futuristic-looking catamaran that was designed especially for use on the Tennessee River is an amazing piece of machinery and the ride on it was worth the price of admission as much as the beautiful views it provided.
At full speed this comfortable 70-person vessel can go up to 50 miles an hour and skims along the surface with just 8-inches of the hull in the water. It's such a smooth ride that you don't realize how fast you are going and the real thrill comes when the boat comes to amazingly-quick stops for wake zones and such. The four big Caterpillar experimental engines are shut off at the same time and the craft comes crashing back into the water with a huge plume of spray going from bow to stern (gotta see this from land sometime).
The weather was perfect with an almost cloudless sky and slightly cool temperatures allowing us to remain in the top observation deck throughout the entire slow cruise through the Tennessee River Gorge with majestic views of Signal Moutain's Point Park, Prentice Cooper State Forest on Suck Creek Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Moccasin Bend, Williams Island and scores of other locations. The trip before us today had spotted some bald eagles but we were not as fortunate although several great blue herons were visible. This is definitely a trip worth taking again to hopefully catch some fall color and more wildlife. The River Gorge Explorer is another terrific addition to the Tennessee Aquarium family that has played such a vital role in the revitalization of downtown Chattanooga.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Germantown Invasion

Saturday, October 11, 2008 - Germantown neighborhood of Nashville
We met up with a small portion of the Nashville Wine Enthusiasts Group again this weekend at the annual Germantown Street Festival (it's in "German"town and it's held in "October" but they don't call it an "Octoberfest" -- must be copyright thing, or maybe an individuality thing). We bee-lined for the beer tent once we got there (our enthusiasm also leans toward beer if the setting is right!) and got our first mug of Boulevard brew which went down great in the above-normal heat and humidity of an otherwise beautiful afternoon near downtown Nashville.
The Germantown neighborhood consists of about 18 city blocks of historic homes in various stages of restoration. There are also local businesses sprinkled throughout giving it a very small-town feel despite the skyscrapers of downtown Nashville looming to the south. This was our first time at the free festival and we were very impressed. Tons of food, beverages (beer) and entertainment stages filled the streets of this family-friendly festival. Our second beer stop was for some authentic Octoberfest German brew, Paulaner, served up in collectable glass mugs. As we sat in the shade enjoying our beer and the company, Ashlee and another member of the group went off into the crowd to find the source of a reuben sandwich they saw someone eating. It took a while, but they returned triumphantly with delicious reubens served on marble rye bread and German chocolate cake for dessert. The wonderful German-themed afternoon concluded with a visit to the iconic downtown Nashville restaurant, The Gerst House, for...you guessed it - more beer and more German food (just appetizers for us - those reubens were filling!!).