"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, April 26, 2013

A Visit to the "51st State"

April 20, 2013 - We flew out this morning for a long weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico to celebrate my birthday.    

We chose this trip thanks to a new route offered by Southwest Airlines and a great opening sale ($110 each way!) celebrating their first destination out of the Lower 48 states .

Our flight down connected in Tampa and the plane from Tampa to San Juan was one of Southwest's new 800 series and this particular one we were on looked (and smelled) brand new.  And it was amazingly only about half full.
The flight to Puerto Rico was beautiful as we passed over The Bahamas with tremendous views.

We stayed near the airport at The San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel, a swanky, art-deco boutique hotel right on the beach that we got a great deal on booking "blind" through Hotwire.com.  We capped off the day of travel with a moonlight stroll on the soft sand beach in front of our hotel followed by some room service and champagne.  Not a bad way to spend a birthday.
Sunday, April 21, 2013 - We got up early this morning to go on a hiking tour of the El Yunque Rainforest followed by a sunset food and walking tour back in Old San Juan.

The only U.S. National Forest that just so happens to be a rainforest also, El Yunque is beautiful and very close to San Juan.
A little over a half mile from the main road down the Big Tree Trail is beautiful La Mina Falls.

Our first of four stops in the Old San Juan Food Tour was on of our favorites.  This traditional Puerto Rican dish is called mofongo and was served at Café' la Princesa .  Under that dome of mashed plantain on the left was yummy grilled flank steak.  The beans and rice on the right were super-flavorful.
With the walking tour starting at 5 PM, we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the harbor during it.  We have been to San Juan just once before for less than a day as a cruise stop.  We did a car tour of Old San Juan and while it was enjoyable, it was nowhere near as in-depth as a tour on foot with our wonderful guide, Hiriam.
As night falls on Old San Juan, the beautiful walled city takes on another great personality.
Monday, April 21, 2013 - We spent most of the day today on the beach, but we did find our way back to Old San Juan again for another cool tour and some more great food.

Good mornin', Puerto Rico!  Enjoying an early morning mimosa up at the roof-top pool of the hotel.

They call it a "Shandy" - light beer (in this case the locally-brewed Medalla Light) and Sprite (or in this case Diet 7-up).  A light, refreshing blend that is a perfect beach drink.  Thanks to our hotel for introducing this drink to us at breakfast so we could modify it slightly and take a few to the beach rather quickly thanks to a Wal-Greens being within walking distance to us for all the ingredients as well as a cheap cooler.
The beach in front of the hotel is beautiful and not very crowded.  Those white legs definitely need that sunscreen!
We spent the late afternoon on a tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory which is free (and they give you two free sample drinks in the open air bar pictured above!!) It's located across the harbor from Old San Juan via a 50 cent ferry ride.  We got back to Old San Juan afterwards for a yummy light dinner of appetizers at The Parrot Club (we loved the black bean croquetas ).  After dinner we went and  found La Taberna Lúpulo (The Hop Tavern), a great craft beer hall with an impressive selection (thanks for the suggestion, Hiriam!).   We ended the evening in Old San Juan with ginger mojitos at the bar inside El Conventa Hotel (yep, the beautiful building used to be a convent and yep these drinks were another Hiriam suggestion).  We sipped these delicious libations outside watching Old San Juan just pass us by on the cobblestone streets on a lovely Caribbean evening.  What a great day!
Tuesday, April 22, 2013 - Another morning walk on the beach before heading to the airport to say goodbye to this beautiful island.  We will definitely return probably well before it actually does become a state which it so should be!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Month or So of Outs and Abouts

The past month has been chock-full of fun activities for us:

Thursday,  March 28th - We attended a Preds game and had lots of fun with our friend, Wayne, and his co-worker and friend, Devin, despite the 7-4 drubbing we took from the Phoenix Coyotes.  We had another yummy dinner again in The Suite Spot on some fancy (but fair priced) concessions.  We had great lower bowl seats. 

"Must go faster!!"
We took in another game on Tuesday, April 9th  vs. the St. Louis Blues which ended in another frustrating 1-0 loss.  At least the food (buffalo mac-n-cheese and citrus Buffalo wings) was good again in The Suite Spot and our seats were excellent in the 200 level.

Saturday March 30th - We headed over to 3rd and  Lindsley for a night of music straight out of East Tennessee.  Our old regional favorite singer/songwriter, Scott Miller, was acoustic with female fiddle player, Rayna Gellert. We hadn't seen Scott in a while and it was good to see/hear him again although we can't wait for another plugged-in show with his great band, The Commonwealth.  The Black Lillies, a solid alt-bluegrass band out of Knoxville, were the headliners and they were definitely plugged in and sounding great.   Although not listed as "sold out" technically, the place was packed to the gills. We used a Groupon and took a chance on dinner beforehand at Sushi Train over in West Nashville  (photo below) and it was actually very good.  So good, in fact, we bought a couple more of those Groupons!
All aboard the Sushi Train!!

Friday, April 5th - We caught opening night of Jurassic Park 3D IMAX at Opry Mills.  This re-release of this classic film was great, and the 3D and IMAX conversions were excellent! 

Friday, April 12th - One of our favorite bands, Alpha Rev, opened tonight for Ben Rector at The Cannery.  It was a SOLD OUT show.  Due to an early morning commitment we only stayed for a couple Rector songs but he sounds pretty good.  Leaving when we did gave us the chance to meet Alpha Rev, lead singer, Casey McPherson, again, out at the merch table and we even let him sell us a T-shirt.   On the star-watching front we saw, Clare Bowen, in the crowd at the show.  She's the actress who plays "mumbling Scarlett" on the show Nashville.  She's our least favorite character in the series, but it was kind of cool to see her in town taking in the sights and sounds of Music City.

Multi-talented singer, songwriter, guitarist, band founder and leader and, yes, merch table vendor, Casey McPherson, gives Ashlee the soft sell on a sweet Alpha Rev T-shirt

Not exactly the message
you want to see from the guy you've
got tickets to see sing that night.
photo courtesy of Jack's Mannequin
 Facebook page
Wednesday, April 17th - It was another SOLD OUT venue for us as we attended the performance of Jack's Mannequin front-man, Andrew McMahon, at 3rd and Lindsley.  Andy might be out on his own moniker now, but he is still belting out the great songs of JM that put him on the map and doing so tonight despite battling a strained voice issue (you could only tell it a couple times however during his performance).  3rd and Lindsley is the most exasperating Nashville venue in our opinion since you never know how much standing room there is going to be at each performance, so we went very early to stake out a couple decent seats and grabbed some dinner beforehand there that was actually pretty good.
The always-amazing Andrew McMahon

We also had to sit through two ho-hum openers (an annoying trend in live music these days - I mean, thanks for the bargain of seeing three performers for one ticket price, but it's a week night and we need to get home at a decent hour for work the next day, and besides that, some of these opening folks ain't all that good). But holding out for Andy was worth it because his energy on stage quickly made it one of the best shows we've seen at 3rd and Lindsley.

Photo courtesy of The Nashville Film Festival Facebook page

Thursday, April 18th - We kept the SOLD OUT trend going by attending the Opening Night Feature of The 2013 Nashville Film Festival (NAFF).  It was a film called Mud starring Matthew McConahey and Reese Witherspoon.  It was excellent from start to finish with great acting turned in by several folks. Unfortunately there was no star-power in the room for the showing as there has been in previous years for opening night of NAFF(even the film's director, Jeff Nichols, only Skyped in for a quick welcome message - photo above - from Austin due to an apparent family emergency), but it was still a fun evening with a huge crowd of patrons as this festival celebrates its 44th year.

Friday, April 19th - It was back to the Opry Mills IMAX tonight to catch opening night of the Tom Cruise sci-fi epic, Oblivion.  It is an excellent film with a great story that really keeps you guessing plus solid acting by the entire case and some out-of-this-world (literally) special effects.  Seeing it on the IMAX screen really does make a film an "event" instead of just "going to see a movie."