"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.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just hanging out in Nash-Vegas...

Sunday, September 18, 2011: We attended the 2011 season home-opener for the Tennessee Titans vs. the Baltimore Ravens with our friends, Gary and Cary.  Much thanks to our good friend, Wayne, for letting us use his season tickets since he was out of town. The Titans won in an exciting upset, 26-13.  Half-time included a stirring tribute in memory of 9/11 (photo above).  Before the game we had a delicious brunch at Mad Donna's over in East Nashville.  We all rode over to the game from E. Nashville in Cary's sweet, new Mini convertible.  After the game we walked across the Cumberland River to downtown and had an early dinner at Big River Brewing while we waited on traffic to clear out after the game.

Thursday, September 22, 2011:  We attended our second 2011 Live on the Green concert tonight downtown  with Nashville natives,  Moon Taxi, opening the show.  We now see why they won a Battle of the Bands competition here in Nashville a couple of years ago.  They were very impressive.  Next up was one of our regional favorites, The Dirty Guv'nahs, from Knoxville, who we have seen several times.  They put in a powerful hour-long set and although we did not opt for the VIP area this time, we were very close to the stage with a great view.  The mild evening temps were perfect.  See the video below for a half-minute of the outdoor rock-n-roll bliss or the much better done You Tube link below for the whole song.  We ate dinner off a couple of the popular food trucks parked nearby  that serve the Nashville area.  Ashlee chose a great sandwich and tots from The Grilled Cheeserie (photo above, left) while I had a yummy cheeseburger and sweet potato fries from Hoss Loaded Burgers.  On our way home, we got a cool view of the Titans Stadium at LP Field all lit up for Code Blue Week.  Go Titans, beat Denver!  (Editor's Note:  Which they did, 17-14!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Headin' Due South to Key West

Saturday, September 10, 2011:  We took our almost-yearly pilgrimage to The Conch Republic this past weekend to celebrate Ashlee and her twin sister, Paige's birthdays.  This is one of their favorite places to visit, so it  seemed a natural choice.  We found extremely affordable airfare out of Nashville on Delta and after an annoying two-hour delay in Atlanta due to plane maintenance (man, we always seem to have problems with all domestic airlines except Southwest) we were able to join Paige, and her husband, Andy, who had flown directly from Atlanta earlier in the day, at the great rental house on Center Street in Old Town Key West that we stayed in last year for the first time (see September 2010 blog).

Sunday, September 11, 2011:  One of the biggest draws of Key West for us is the amazing food available all over Old Town.  We walked a few blocks from our rental house over to Simonton Street this morning and had a great brunch (Key West pink shrimp and bacon omelet for me!) at Sarabeth's.  We were lucky to get this opportunity since they were closing the next day for a month during the off-season. This off-shoot of a well-known NYC-based restaurant is housed in a beautiful old building that used to be synagogue.  Well, the praising and the "Amens" continue to this day.

Key West just has a style and feel of its own.  They don't take themselves to seriously down here and don't expect you to either while you are visiting.

According to Andy, a real boat-geek, Key West is one of two "Boating Meccas" in the world.  The other being Cannes, France.  That's pretty easy to see from the mass of beautiful boats in the harbour.

Everywhere you look here in Key West is a postcard.

We chose a new place for dinner tonight based on a friend's recommendation (thanks, John) and some research Paige had done.  The restaurant is called Latitudes and it's on the west side of  Sunset Key, a man-made island just a 10-minute boat ride from the Key West Harbour.  While the island is mostly a private residential neighborhood that includes a Westin Resort and is covered in fancy houses and cottages for rent, visitors are welcome to explore the island, and the restaurant is available to anyone willing to plunk down a good chunk of money for some amazing food (above: Ashlee's  yellowtail snapper with coconut risotto) and a jaw-dropping view of the sunset (see below).

Dinner with a view from Sunset Key (aptly-named).  End of the day, September 11, 2011:  I dedicate this beautiful picture of serenity to those who lost their lives 10 years ago today.

Monday, September 12, 2011:  Happy Birthday Ashlee and Paige!!  With a bit of ominous weather creeping about The Keys this morning and early afternoon, we weren't quite sure we were going to be able to get in our 3-PM scheduled boat tour and snorkel that we had booked.  While we have had plenty of boat rides and snorkeling opportunities in Key West over the years, this experience offered by Sunset Watersports was something different.  We actually got to drive the boats!  Pictured above is our boat, # 10, a two-seater mini-speedboat with a 30 HP outboard engine.  We are following our guide and there are four other boats behind us including one driven by Paige and Andy.  What a hoot!  See the short video at the bottom of the page to get an idea of the speed we were going at times.

Our first stop on our boat tour was about 15 miles out of Key West on a large sandbar that was only knee deep.  It was kind of cool to "stand" out in the middle of the ocean.

The weather cooperated with us during our tour and skies opened up with some amazing cloud formations.

Not a bad self-portrait if I do say so myself.  Ashlee is usually better at these than I am, but I proud to say that I snapped this one during our tour while Captain Ashlee did the driving.
The birthday girls after dinner at the always-delicious Mangia Mangia.  Our absolute favorite restaurant in Key West is Blue Heaven and that was our destination tonight for the girls' birthday dinner until we sadly found out they were closed for a month during this off-season.  We were surprised (and delighted) that the tiny Mangia Mangia Restaurant was open and it made a wonderful substitute.  Their fresh seafood pasta dishes are out of this world.

Key West displays beauty and character in all sorts of nooks and crannies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2001:  Sadly, our last day of our too-brief trip to Key West was upon us.  We did have most of the day to spend here before our 6 PM flight back home began, so we soaked up more pool time at our great rental house and finished off a few craft beers we had left in the fridge.
Even though our favorite restaurant, Blue Heaven, was closed for the off-season while we were here in Key West, we did manage to grab a late lunch/early dinner before our flight at it's new sister-restaurant, Salute! on the Beach.  This quaint Caribbean-style cafe sits right on Higgs Beach with nice views.  Ashlee and I split a large pork tenderloin sandwich that was delicious.  It was a nice place to soak up a few last rays and vibes of this special area before heading back to the real world.  Thanks again, Key West, we hope to see you again very soon!

Live on the Green 2011

The 6-week downtown Nashville concert series, Live on the Green,  hosted by local independent radio station, Lightning 100, began this week with an interesting line-up of local singer/song-writers.  The headliner, K.S. Rhoads, was to be accompanied by The Nashville Symphony and that made it worth it to us to grab some VIP tickets to get up close to check out the show.
The event takes place in the innovative Public Square Park where grass has been planted on top of a multilevel underground parking garage (aka "The Green") in front of the Metro Courthouse.

First up was Nashville native, Will Hoge.  We have been wanting to see him for a long time and have heard his live shows are worth a look.  This was an accurate report as he and his band put on a lively guitar-driven show.

While originally slated not to come on until 9 PM, the headlining show was forced to start at 7:30 due to cooler-than-expected outdoor  temperatures.  Evidently, the symphony cannot play at temperatures below 65 degrees (something to do with the woodwind performance I suppose).  We had not seen K.S. Rhoads before, but like Will Hoge, had heard good things about him and his live shows.  He's definitely a very interesting and cool cat, that's for sure.  His music reminds you of Coldplay in some ways while still with its own uniqueness.  His songs are symphonic in nature and teaming up with The Nashville Symphony seemed logical and came off very nicely.   Rhoads and the symphony also added in a few cover songs in their set including the quite-unexpected, "Teenage Dream" by  Katie Perry.  It was fun to see the casually-dressed symphony members cracking smiles while playing this bubble-gum pop diddy.   We really enjoyed the show as did our friend, Eileen, who was in town from Philadelphia  for a business conference.  We also got delicious all-we-could-eat food and four adult beverages with our VIP tickets.  With the temps lower than usual for late summer, it was a very pleasant evening and well worth attending.

We will be back to Live on the Green  in a few weeks hopefully to catch one of our favorite regional bands, The Dirty Guv'nahs, as they open for headliner, Robert Randolph & the Family Band; and in Week 5 for one of our favorite performers, Brett Dennen, who we are also cruising with in a couple of weeks.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Worth Mentioning...

We attended the Wilson County Fair on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.  While we are not the biggest fans of this huge yearly hometown extravaganza, but the realitively cool temps, free entry,  smaller crowds on a weeknight evening and the promise of yummy food on a stick ( a corndog for Ashlee and chicken for me) swayed us to go.  We had an OK time, but realized  pretty quick that we really hadn't missed much in the ten years or so since we last attended the fair.

We attended Grassy Knoll Movie Night in East Nashville on Sunday, August 28, 2011.  The were showing Princess Bride, which I still think is a bit over-rated as a cult classic.  But the temps were mild and it was a beautiful evening for an outdoor movie showing with our friends, Nate and Ginny.  We had some good beer from Nashville's newest craft brewer,  Jackalope Brewing, and some great pizza slices from the Pizzabuds food truck.

We also attended Vanderbilt's first football game of the 2011 season at home vs. Elon University out of North Carolina on Saturday evening, September 3rd.  We had dinner at Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers near the stadium before the game with our friend, Emily, and her parents.  Thanks to Em's dad for snagging the free tickets for us.  They were good seats just a few rows from the field in the Elon section (Em's dad is friends with one of the Elon coaches).  It was a  sweaty, steamy night but at least the rainy, stormy weather around the region held off.  The game was good with Vanderbilt pulling away in the second half for an impressive first win for the Commodores' new coach, James Franklin.