DISCLAIMER

"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, February 27, 2011

Preda-Oscars

We were invited to a Nashville Predators hockey game today by our friends, John and Monique. We met them at their new condo in Lennox Village and then took one car downtown to grab some lunch before the game. We opted for Big River Grille which is just a couple blocks from the Bridgestone Arena where the Predators would be taking on the Columbus Bluejackets at 2 PM. It was an important game for the Predators who are trying to climb back in the hunt for the playoffs with about 20 games left to play despite several key injuries.
It was "HCA Family Day" and we really appreciate Monique (to Ashlee's left in photo above)including us in her "family" of four tickets. The seats were excellent. The were in the lower-bowl about 10 rows off the ice. After a scoreless first period, we made plans to meet our friends, Chris and Tarryn (foreground in photo above), in the concourse during the intermission. They are season-package holders with seats in the upper level. There were several seats open next to us during the first period of the game, so we told them to come sit with us since they weren't being used. No one ever claimed the seats and the six of us had a large time cheering on the Preds as they battled the next two periods to a 1-1 tie, then a 2-2 tie and then a thrilling 3-2 regulation win with just 1:35 remaining!! After the game we were headed over to Brentwood for the annual Oscars Party hosted by our friends, the Edmondsons. We checked with Brenda, the hostess, to see if John and Monique could tag along. As we figured, Brenda had prepared a huge amount of food and was happy to have a couple more mouths to feed. We had a great evening chowing down on delicious grub all with Oscar-inspired titles like "True Grits" while watching the festivities and playing Oscars Bingo and answering trivia questions during the commercials. Most of our picks for Oscar winners were correct although we both thought "127 Hours" should have won "Best Picture" over "The King's Speech." Thanks again to the Edmondsons for including us in the last few of their annual tradition now 18 years and counting!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Getting Up with a tasty burger and getting down with The Dirty Guv'nahs

We left immediately after work today and checked in to the Hotel Indigo on West End. This was another Travelocity.com Top Secret Hotels bargain for $60 a night. The boutique hotel is quite lovely and our stylish room was huge with a very comfy king-sized bed.
After chilling in the room for an hour or so, we headed over to the happening and hip little area in Nashville known as "12th Avenue South" for our Meet-Up group dinner at Burger Up!. Our friends, and veteran members of the group, John and Monique were there, along with second-timers to the group, Bill and Jacqui, plus two other new couples to make an even ten. The rather small place was super-crowded for a Friday night and we were glad we had made arrangements for our large group before we arrived. They were able to get us a table together right on time and we had a wonderful dinner of gourmet burgers. After dinner, we set out to catch a new favorite regional band of ours, The Dirty Guv'nahs, with their first headlining show at The Mercy Lounge. Opening was a band called, Ponderosa, who were OK, but not much to write home about in terms of energy or stage presence. That all changed when The Guv'nahs took the stage around 10 PM. This young band from Knoxville is chock full of energy and no one has more of it than lead singer, James Trimble, (photo below) who came into the crowd twice where we were standing center stage...once on foot and once flying through the air in an unexpected stage dive. Good thing he's a small fella and we were able to catch him! Later in the show Ashlee even "caught" his sweaty vest as well, although not really by choice! The crowd swelled as the show continued and was officially sold out by the time the boys encored with a tremendous cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' "American Girl" along with members of Ponderosa. Thanks to our friend, Ryan, and his friend, Curtis, for joining us during the show. We had a peaceful and restful sleep back at the hotel and woke up late Saturday morning in time to check out and have lunch at Bosco's Restaurant and Brewery before returning home.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grace Be With Us

We took a half-day off from work today to check out a noon-time in-store acoustic performance by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at Grimey’s New & Preloved Music in Nashville. GP&N are one of our favorite bands to see live right now and this 3-song set was a great primer for tonight’s sold out show that we had tickets to at The Cannery. There were quite a swell of people inside the small store which takes up the ground floor of a large converted 3-story house. We were only able to get glimpses of the band over the heads of others, but the acoustics were very good. Afterwards we were starving for some lunch and decided to track down The Grilled Cheeserie, a Nashville-based sandwich truck that specializes in gourmet grilled cheese delights. Thanks to their Facebook page we learned that they were over in the Berry Hill neighborhood nearby. Despite some drizzling rain there was quite a line of people waiting to place orders when we arrived. Service was fast and efficient, however, and we got our wheat bread sandwiches fairly quickly (Ashlee’s added bacon to hers and Rob added shaved ham). They were delicious. Despite having some good dessert options, we decided to fore go them and head over to The Cupcake Connection on the other side of downtown in the Germantown neighborhood instead. This place gets rave reviews (and long lines) and we were hoping the rainy Thursday afternoon would give us a chance to check it out without too much waiting. There was a line, but it wasn’t too long and we were able to snag a half-dozen delectable cupcakes of assorted flavors including key lime and coconut-creme. We each had one to start with and saved the rest for later.
Besides the rain and fog we were currently dealing with in Nashville (photo above), there were predictions of heavier rain and possible flooding and severe thunderstorms for later in the evening, and we thought it might be best to grab a room downtown for the night after the concert let out late, instead of trying to drive home. Thanks to Travelocity.com’s Top Secret Hotels option, we were able to snag a 3-star hotel near the venue for only $38. It turned out to be The Comfort Inn on Demonbreun Street. We checked in that afternoon and found the room to be decent and definitely worth the price. Still dodging rain and with some time to kill before dinner and the show, we headed over to The Flying Saucer and had a couple of beers out on their couch-filled foyer. Not a bad way to spend a rainy Thursday afternoon. Around dinner time we made plans with our friends, Gary and Cary, to meet at Taco Mamacita for dinner. We recently ate at the one in Chattanooga and found it to be wonderfully fresh Mexican fare at reasonable prices. The Nashville location was an equal match with good food and a nice setting in the Edgehill Village near Vanderbilt.Their outdoor patio will be a great place to hang out some evening when the weather warms up. Our friend, Sharon, joined us for a drink before we left and was also going with us to the GP&N show. We three took a cab from the hotel over to the show's venue nearby.
We got to the The Cannery early to stake our general-admission claim of standing- room area for the sold-out show. We ran into one of Ashlee old Bunko participants, Beth, and her husband, Mike, who were about to experience their first GP&N show. We were also able to track down Ashlee’s junior-prom date and friend, Dennis, and his wife, Kristie , who had driven up from Chattanooga to catch the show. Our friend, Ryan, had tickets as well and when his date plans fell through he offered the extra ticket up and our friend, Nate, snatched it up. So, we had quite a little group gathered when the opening band, Jonathon Tyler & the Northern Lights, took the stage. We saw these guys last year at Bonnaroo and really like their stripped-down Texas blues-rock. They were a perfect opener for GP&N. Miss Potter and the band took the stage around 10 PM and wowed the huge crowd for the next two hours with an amazing amount of energy. They played most of their fan-favorite originals plus a few amazing covers from My Morning Jacket and a smoking rendition of Heart’s “Crazy on You.” The rain was pouring down after the show and we were certainly glad for the short ride in Nate's van back to the hotel. We set the alarm early and we able to get back in time for work on Friday morning.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shorts Weather in February

In preparation for our upcoming attendance of the annual Oscars party hosted by our friends, the Edmondsons, we attended a showing of this year's nominated short films (both live action and animated) today at The Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. Joining us for the live action line-up were the Edmondsons, Danny and Brenda. There are five nominees, all under 30 minutes and from all over the world. We liked them all with our favorites being "Wish 143" from England and "God of Love" from the U.S. If either win, we will be happy. After a ten-minute interval, the animated shorts were cued up next. Our friend, Carolyn, also joined us for this round. Again, there are five nominees from around the world all under 20 minutes, plus they showed two more "Highly Commended" honorable mentions. We enjoyed all of them as well with again our favorites torn between two of the entries, "Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage" from France and "Day & Night" from the U.S. and the geniuses at Pixar. Everyone in the group enjoyed the collection of films and we all hope this will be an ongoing event at Belcourt each year before the Oscars. Afterwards, we all walked up Belcourt Avenue a block or so and wandered into Belcourt Taps & Tapas for dinner, a small plate restaurant (tapas) with a good amount of draught beer (taps). Despite the bad luck of a couple of taps being empty, we were in luck to arrive just in time for their "Trivia Night." We had quite a collection of "lint brains" among us and did great placing second out of several teams (only two points out of first) and winning $30 in gift certificates. The food was good too, so we will definitely be back, give certificates or not.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Hearts, Blue Devils and Green Shamrocks

Feb. 11th, 2011
We took a great little long-weekend trip down to South Florida that we nicknamed the "Suck It, Winter, Tour" because we were just tired of the cold winter temps and were looking forward to some sunshine and warmth. We got a great flight deal on AirTran out of Atlanta despite having to drive a bit further than we really wanted. So as to not have to get up really early, or feel rushed before the flight and to gain a few more Hilton points, we drove down to a bit north of Atlanta on Friday night after work and stayed at a nice Doubletree Hotel that we got a great rate on.
Feb. 12th - We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale around noon and arrived just after 2 PM. We got a sweet deal on an even sweeter Mustang convertible (photo above) which we immediately dropped the top on despite some cloudy skies and a smattering of rain drops. We drove south about a half hour to Miami Beach where we had two nights booked at the very cool art-deco Hotel Astor. The restored boutique hotel (originally built in 1936) is a historic site in the area (there was a history tour on a stop in front of the hotel when we checked in). Our room, 211, was in a word...interesting. Access to the door to the room was actually in the stairwell?? At least they had a little sign indicating it to lost patrons. The room itself was very large and lovely. (photos above)
The hotel was just a couple blocks off the beach and by sunset the cloudiness had dissipated and we were treated to a beautiful sunset (photo above). We grabbed dinner at Waxy Conner's Irish Pub a few blocks from the hotel which only seemed appropriate since we had tickets to see Flogging Molly, an Irish folk rock band, in concert later that evening at the Fillmore Theatre a few blocks further on. The theatre was a beautiful facility with good sight lines and acoustics. It was a general admission show with plenty of standing room in front of the stage as well a large amount of seating further back. We got there in time to hear the last song of the first opening band, Drowning Men, who sounded pretty good. Next up was Moneybrother. This band can best be described as a Swedish Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Singing their own songs in English with a heavy Swedish accent was about the only difference. (maybe they should call the band, Bruce Svensteen, instead?).
Flogging Molly came on about 10 PM and we had heard their shows can get a little crazy with beer-swilling Irish (and wannabe Irish) fans becoming excessively rowdy. We intentionally stayed back from the stage a good ways to avoid this possible activity, but unfortunately it found us right into the first song as these slam-dancing idiots started in immediately. This nonsense got old quick and Ashlee even wound up throwing a half a beer in one's face which neither angered nor deterred him. With no security in sight to stop the stupidity, we retreated to the seating area to avoid the mayhem. The band was excellent and the crowd (for the most part) was joyous and in control for most of the night. Feb. 13th - We slept in peacefully and then spent the early afternoon at the beach a couple of blocks away. On the way to the beach we stopped and had a great lunch at The Clevelander, an open-air sports bar attached to a hotel of the same name. The beach was perfect with a light breeze and low humidity. The ocean was a bit cool when you first made contact with it, but it slowly became tolerable. After getting back to the hotel and showering, we dropped the top on the convertible again and headed south a few miles toward the Miami suburb of Coral Gables where the University of Miami is located. We had tickets to see our favorite basketball team (and defending national champs), the 5th-ranked Duke Blue Devils, play in the first ACC game we have seen them play in live. We have seen them play (pre-blog) several times on their home court in Durham and in larger venues in Charlotte and Greensboro vs. out-of-conference opponents, but this was a first.
We had a little time before the 6:45 tip-off, so we had a light dinner and a few microbrews at the Titanic Brewing & Restaurant next to the campus. We went for the beer (more on those is Rob's beer blog) and wound up loving the food as well. The University of Miami has a beautiful campus and the Bank United Center where the basketball teams play is a nice, new, yet still small, intimate venue. We had good seats about 20 rows off the court behind the Duke bench. It was a great game with the improving Hurricanes staying in the game until the end when the Blue Devils were able to pull away by the final score of 81-71. The drive back with the top down on a gorgeous night was just a bit cool, but with the heater blasting it was fine. We were early to bed after the sun and the busy day in South Florida had drained us.
Feb. 14th - Happy Valentine's Day! We got up a little earlier this morning, said goodbye to Miami Beach and the lovely Hotel Astor, dropped the top on the Mustang (of course!) and headed north. About an hour later we stopped in the quaint little town of Lake Worth and found the Havana Hideout for an early lunch. This little slice of the Caribbean had a great Cuban-influenced menu and has been featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. After an appetizer of warm tortilla chips and delicious homemade salsa, we both ordered the "What Guy Had" Platter (that's Guy Fieri, the host of the show). It included one fish taco, a small pressed Cuban sandwich and a helping of pionono (ground beef and spices layer between sauteed plantains). It was all delicious!
After lunch we headed on north another half hour and made it to the seaside Hilton in Singer Island. We have stayed here before and really enjoyed it ( see previous blog - July 2009). We immediately headed for the beach and enjoyed a few more hours of low-humidity sunshine, gentle beach breezes and even a bit warmer ocean water. Afterwards we showered and headed for an early dinner at our favorite restaurant, Capt. Charlie's Reef Grille a few more minutes north in the town of Juno Beach. We got a table immediately which was fortunate because by the time we were done with our excellent fresh seafood meal, there was a line out the door as usual. We grabbed a bottle of champagne on the way home and finished the evening on our balcony listening to the waves crash on the beach below. What a great way to spend a Monday, let alone Valentine's Day. Feb. 15th - We awoke to the sunrise on the beach which was bittersweet because even though it was beautiful, it also marked the start of the day that we knew we were going back home. We reluctantly dropped off the beautiful Mustang convertible and flew back to Atlanta from the West Palm Beach airport near our hotel. The drive back to Nashville was uneventful with a stop in Chattanooga to see Ashlee's mom, sister and our niece, the lovely Ella.
A great little trip with some excellent red, green and blue memories.