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.





Monday, December 21, 2015

A November to Remember


Thursday, 11/5 - We saw the new James Bond film Spectre in IMAX  tonight with our friend, Wayne.  The film was very good and it was another great job by Daniel Craig.  It's hard to believe this was his last time in the role he seemed to be born to play.
Saturday, 11/7 - We finally got to try out Biscuit Love in The Gulch in downtown Nashville today with our friend, Wayne.  The lines are always long here, but it was worth the wait because it was pretty darn good, even for a $9 biscuit.

Saturday, 11/14 - I played designated driver tonight for Ashlee and our friend, Bethany who attended a crazy drag-queen show in downtown Nashville.

Afterwards we played UNO and had a couple brews at The Beer Pale in north west Nashville.



Tuesday, 11/17 - We attended another Preds game tonight that was a big 3-2 win over Anaheim.  It was a wild night with fights galore and even  a broken  stick got caught  in the net!

Friday, 11/20 - We flew to NYC today with our friends, Mike and Wayne.  We rented an apartment in a great location and our friend, Rachel (as well as Mike's new love interest!), joined us from Toronto.  We started the trip right with some good pizza delivered from Vezzo's around the corner.  

That evening we strolled just a few blocks to see Duke vs. VCU at Madison Square Garden.  This was our first time in The Garden and we were very impressed with the venue.  Our beloved Dukies got the win over VCU and our seats were pretty nice (and cheap!).  After the game we strolled over to Times Square and stopped in the giant Toys-R-Us store to ogle the wonders.   
We checked out the Spyglass Roof-top Bar in the Archer Hotel.  The night was clear and the views were great but  the bar was a bit lacking (what? no ginger beer for Moscow Mules?). 

We checked out some amazing Christmas lights and windows at Lord and Taylor's and Macy's to finish off the night. 

Saturday, 11/21 - We all had a great take-out breakfast from Penelope's just around the corner (sweet potato biscuits! yum!).  First on the agenda today for all of us was a visit to the nearby Saturday Night Llive Exhibition which was great.

We even got to sit on the Wayne's World couch!
Live and "in the flesh" !
After SNL, it was "A Day of Broadway"  for Ashlee and me with a matinee performance of Fool for Love with Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda AND then an evening performance of China Doll with Al Pacino.   Granted, this weren't our favorite Broadway experiences, but they were memorable.

We also finally saw The Naked Cowboy in person (photo above).  And we finally ate at a Shake Shack (the original one) near Times Square.




Sunday, 11/22 - Ashlee's dear friend and co-worker, Eileen, recently broke her leg in a nasty fall at her home near Philadelphia, so Ashlee decided to take the opportunity of being nearby to rent a car and visit her today as I attended another Duke game at MSG vs. Wisconsin.   Ashlee's visit and drive went well and Duke won again.

We caught this beautiful sunset walking back from the car rental place to meet the others for dinner back near the apartment.  No matter how many times we've been to NYC there is always something beautiful and different here.  Later that night we saw the so-so comedy film "The Night Before" but at least it was in a sweet all-recliner theater.
Monday 11/23 - We packed up and headed out this morning with me bound for home for a few days of work while Ashlee headed straight for The Gulf with a week's rental of a house near the beach in Destin, Florida, with her family.

Wednesday, 11/25 through Sunday, 11/29 - I drove down to Destin, Florida late today to meet up with Ashlee and her family for Thanksgiving.  This is our third year in the row to spend Turkey Day on the beach and we are really enjoying it.

Ashlee found another great house to rent in the beautiful Destiny East Subdivision.  It's in a great location with just a quick walk or golf-cart ride to the beautiful white beach here in Destin.  
The weather was perfect during our stay with some of the warmest temperatures we've ever encountered here in November.
This beach life suits us very well!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Call of Fall (aka A Fun October)

Friday, October 2 - We saw the The Walk tonight in IMAX and it was simply amazing.  I hear Oscar nomination buzz! 

Wednesday, October 7 - We caught a good set by Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds tonight (another free show thanks to tickets won of NowPlayingNashville.com) at The High Watt in downtown Nashville. We had a tasty  dinner  before at The Slider House.  They also had a great opening band from Asheville called Holy Ghost Tent Revival.
CROWDtoberfest!

Thursday, October 8 - Tonight we got stuffed for a good cause at the Taste of Wilson County with our friend, Joy. Proceeds from tickets sales went to help United Way efforts in the area.



Saturday, October 10 -  We stopped by a very crowded Oktoberfest in the Nashville neighborhood of Germantown today and had a brat and a few brewskis to celebrate the day.

We then walked over to the new awesome, new Ascend Amphitheater in downtown Nashville with several friends to catch a show by the always-great, Grace Potter. It was Lake Street Dive opening for her just like they did when we saw her (and The Nocturnals) headline at Red Rocks in Colorado last year.  It was another great show and we were in the pit and very close to the stage as the short video below will attest:
video



Sunday, October 11 -  Today we saw the great film, The Martian in 3D with our friend, Wayne.
Thursday, October 15 - We drove down to Chattanooga today to catch Brett Dennen with our friend, Lavonda at a great new little venue there called called The Revelry Room which is replacing over beloved Track 29 near the Choo-Choo.   Brett was under the weather a bit, but still great.

After the show we had food and drinks on the upstairs outdoor patio of the site of our first date over 25 years ago, The Pickle Barrel!!  Some things (and places) never change!
Friday, October 16 - Before heading back to Nashville we had lunch at Main Street Meats with Ashlee's mom, Evelyn.  It was delicious.  Best hamburger we've had in a while!

Sunday, October 18 - More of The Year of Seeing Living Legends Live (The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Carter, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson) continued tonight as we saw Don Henley perform at The Ryman.  Our friend, Bethany, is a huge fan and upgraded our seats to the 3rd Row!  Thanks so much, Bethany! Speaking of Bethany, we had a housewarming the day before for her that was a lot of fun.  Being the old curmudgeon that he is, Uncle Don, didn't allow pictures during his show so I snapped these cool old radios he had hanging above the stage before it started.  The show was good and you forget just how many solo hits this man has had away from The Eagles.  The self-proclaimed queen of sad songs, Shawn Colvin, opened the show.
Tuesday, October 20 - We attended Nashville Predators Opening Night of the 2015/16 Season  (at least for us).  We decided to buy a 20-game Passport this season along with Wayne, Danny and Brenda, mostly so we could get access to the upcoming All-Star Game being held in Nashville this season.  It was an  OT/shootout win  of  5-4 over Tampa Bay and our seats behind Pekka Rinne in the defend-twice goal are excellent. Yes, it's early, but they are already in first place!!
Saturday, October 24 - We headed down to Atlanta for the weekend and our first stop was the Carter Presidential Center and Library.  We've been to Atlanta countless times, but never stopped here.  It was prevalent to stop here this time since we got to briefly meet President Carter at a book signing in Nashville earlier this year.  Our friend, Rex, met us and we spent a good hour inside this fascinating place.  President Carter truly is a great man.  We had a few drinks and snacks afterwards at nice nearby place called Barcelona in a cool little neighborhood called Inman Park. We took a quick jaunt afterwards on the new Beltline, a walking/biking/skating path that will eventually encircle all of  Atlanta.  Next it was off to a light dinner and some great live jazz music at Venkman's, a trendy new restaurant inside a historic soda pop factory building.
Sunday, October 25 - We got up this morning and headed over to the new College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta.  This place opened in 2014 and it is terrific with tons of interactive displays and activities.  As you walk in they have every helmet from the 768 college teams in the U.S. displayed on a huge wall.  What a fun place and definitely worth another visit.
The # 1 reason we came to Atlanta this particular weekend was to FINALLY get our Indy-Car Ride in.  We've been trying for two years to do this in Kentucky but bad weather and sickness had prevented us from making our scheduled rides there.  Our last chance with the expiring Groupon we bought was this year and when no 2015 scheduled dates in Kentucky worked for us we choose to take the ride at the beautiful and huge Atlanta Motor Speedway.  It was worth the wait!!  We each did 3 laps in a ride-along at 170 MPH!!  That's faster (and smoother) than the NASCAR ride we did in Nashville a couple years ago.  We highly recommend this.
Saturday, October 31 - We hosted a fun Halloween Party tonight at our house with a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) theme.   The tequila was flowin' (maybe a little too much for me) as were the good times with several guests in attendance and most in excellent make-up and costume per the theme.  Congrats to Ashlee on planning this fun and festive soiree.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Making "The Pilgrimage" to good music

Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015  

This weekend we attended the first-ever Pilgrimage Music and Arts Festival over in nearby Franklin, TN.  We opted for VIP Access at the festival along with several friends (Wayne, Mike, Danny and Brenda) who went with us including some of our new out-of-town Galapagos-trip companions: Joe, L.A., and Rachel.  It was a great time and hopefully the start of a great new fall tradition here in middle Tennessee.

We started the day seeing Neko Case who we have missed a couple different times at Bonnaroo.  She was great and her soulful voice is just as good live.  The set-up  of the four main stages was great and the layout of this new festival was very good.  Sound engineering was solid and you could tell musicians like Better Than Ezra's Kevin Griffin (a local resident and festival founder) put a lot of thought into this event.
"Even on a cloudy day"  as lead singer Matthew Shultz (crowd "walking" here) says in the Cage the Elephant's song, "Shake Me Down."  These guys from Bowling Green put on the best show of the day in our opinion.  Amazing energy!
Sheryl Crow was spot-on in her afternoon performance.  Our VIP access gave us a great viewing area near the stage for the show.  One of the cool aspects of this festival is that so many great artists (like Crow) live in this area, so it's something they are happy to perform at and proud to be a part of in their own backyard.
This quick shot of Weezer performing in the pouring rain in the early evening does no justice to the cool vibe flowing here despite the inclement weather.  The rain stopped after their set and we saw Wilco close out the great first day.
  The VIP treatment gave us great food by Nick and Jim's BBQ; top-shelf liquor, quality beer and wine throughout the festival;  some cool swag including nice T-shirts and  a festival poster; flush-able toilets (always worth extra!); a nice lounge area and very close access to a couple of the main stages.  Despite some iffy weather it was a great first day! - Pic by Ashlee
Day 2 started with better weather and a late morning set by the one and only Big Sam's Funky Nation (video clip below).  There's not a coffee in the world that will give you this much of a jump-start in the morning!
video


The outfit-coordinated and excellent young band, John and Jacob, who now make their home in Nashville, put on a solid set next.  This kids are going somewhere I tell ya!
I swear the band, Dawes, gets better every time I see them.  What a great group.
When there was a late addition to the already-amazing line-up of Steven Tyler, we didn't give it  much hurrah.  He recently cut a solo country album in Nashville (and has moved here), so his 30-minute set seemed like something worth missing if it was just going to be him trying to screech out some of his new country tunes.  Good thing we stopped by!  It was easily the set of the day and it was only 30 freaking minutes! He did TONS of old Aerosmith tunes and a great cover of "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin.  What can I say...the dude sings like a lady! [rim-shot] Here's a quick clip from his great set...
video

The amazing St. Paul and the Broken Bones drew a big crowd at the Harpeth River stage as the sun was setting.
I call this one "Twilight and Willie."  Our year of see living legends (The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Carter, Dolly Parton) continued with the Red-Headed Stranger taking the stage to close out the festival.  Seeing Willie Nelson this close was amazing.
Man, what an outstanding festival!  There is already talk of a Year Two and we hope to be there and hope it retains the great line-up, easy access and cool vibe of Year One.  Well done, Pilgrimage Festival, well done!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Norway? No Way!! Yes, Way!! And Denmark and a Little Bit of Finland Too!!

Sept. 4-15, 2015  - We took another jaunt to Europe recently and got three more countries checked off the list including Norway (which we've wanted to see for a long time), Copenhagen, Denmark, and even a little bit of northern Finland.  This was easily one of our best trips and one that will be hard to forget.


FT. LAUDERDALE:

Friday, Sept. 4 - We took an early flight down to Ft. Lauderdale on Southwest and had most of the day to hang out in in South Florida before our overnight flight to Oslo, Norway.

The weather was perfect in South Florida and  after lunch at one our favorite area delis, Too Jays, we hung out at the beach for a while and soaked up some of the last truly warm weather we would feel for several days.
We cruised up the coast and took a gander at the beautiful Hillsboro Lighthouse.
After the air wasn't working properly in our otherwise sweet VW Beetle convertible, we traded it back in for this beautiful Volvo XC-60, a smaller version of an SUV we have been looking at buying.  This made for a great test-drive.  We missed the convertible right up until a huge thunderstorm hit in the late afternoon and we made  mad dash for an early dinner at a local Beni Hana which was delicious.
Our overnight direct flight to Europe was on the new Norwegian Shuttle (for only $500 per person RT!). The plane was a sweet new Dreamliner and we had emergency row seats for more leg-room and a pretty good sleep going over.

OSLO


Saturday, Sept. 5 - Our first glimpse of Norway was out of the over-sized Dreamliner plane windows.  Weather was just about perfect during our whole trip.  We feel very fortunate for that.
Since we were pretty rested from the flight, we immediately headed out from our nice hotel in downtown Oslo and took a short walk to the beautiful Norwegian Royal Palace and grounds.  Afterwards we found a microbrewery nearby called Amundsen Bryggeri and Spiseri.  The beer was pretty good as was the food. 
We ended our first day in Norway with a walk around the beautiful Oslo Harbor and 13th-century-built Akershus Fortress


We retired back to the very nice Hotel Bristol and got ready for our "Norway in a Nutshell" tour beginning tomorrow. It's a 4-night self-guided train, boat and bus jaunt from Oslo to the southwestern coast of Norway.  The tour company arranged all the tickets and accommodations (including tonight's hotel room) for a reasonable price and all we had to do was be on time for departures.    Before turning in we had a couple of fun Norwegian-inspired cocktails at the lovely hotel bar served in a very cool silver and a wooden cups.

 It took some getting used to the crazy Norwegian  kroner conversion rate (184 of anything seems like a lot for a cheeseburger!!), but once you got used to it we figured out we were getting a pretty good exchange rate.  Historically, the U.S. dollar hasn't been strong here and Norway could be a pricey travel destination for Americans.


FLAM

Sunday, September 6 - It was Train-to-Flam Day for us and we got lucky that the train station is right next door to the beautiful, modern Oslo Opera House and we had a few minutes to look around it before our train departed.
The train ride was outstanding.  Huge comfortable seats with large windows for viewing.  This was a standard running train that was never very full and we had the option to move around for views from each side. There was free wi-fi aboard and a nice diner car with snacks and good beer and wine choices.  The scenery, of course, was outstanding!  We definitely want and need to add more train travel to our future European trips.
As we climbed in elevation, the landscape changed dramatically as we got above the tree-line and into tundra with a good amount of snow still hanging around.
With about an hour left in our journey we switched trains in Myrdal and boarded the world-famous Flam Line Railway.  This steep little jaunt drops over 2,800 feet through an amazingly beautiful valley to the tiny fjord town of Flam.  This was maybe one of the most impressive rides in our lives.  Below is a video of  the one and only stop on the way down at the awe-inspiring Kjosfossen Waterfall (738 ft.). Note the singing amid the roar of the falls and the Huldra dancing there.

video


Flam is a beautiful little town and we wished we had more than one night here.  Our hotel room at the Flam Resort was very nice and we had a great view of the harbor and surrounding fjord.   We found yet another great microbrewery a short walk from our hotel and had some really good beer there.  Dinner was included in the hotel package and we dined with another amazing view in front of us.  
BERGEN


Monday, September 7 - After a bit of a scare of a cancelled morning boat (they rounded us up another one), we left Flam on schedule and cruised through the incredibly beautiful Aurlandfjord.   Little villages like Undredal (above) dotted the massive fjord with quaint homes that seemed out of a fairy tale.

 There were so many waterfalls in the fjord that they almost become routine...almost.
Even the bus ride after the amazing train and boat excursions was great with a run up this crazy road called Stalheimskleiva (photo right, obviously not mine) with 13 hairpins curves and flanked by two giant waterfalls! Yep, we went down it in a large touring bus.  Helluva driver!  We got to Bergen in the early afternoon and the Scandic Neptun Hotel was nice albeit a little weird (photo left: this odd scene of a man protecting children from pissing angels with an umbrella was on our shower door?), but it was in a great location close to the busy and beautiful harbor.


One that I did take from the hairpin road.  Yeah, a postcard around every turn.
Our "Norway in a Nutshell" tour officially ended in Bergen, but we added an extra day here because it looked like such a nice place.  We nailed it.  Easily one of our favorite cities in Norway so far.  Upon arrival, we headed immediately for the Bergen Funicular (incline railway) for an incredible 1,000' ride up Floyen Mountain for tremendous  views of the harbor and peninsula that make up a large part of the city.
After a great dinner at a little place called  Ruccola that we just stumbled upon, we took in the sunset in the harbor.  These historic wharf warehouses known as The Brygge are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tuesday, September 8 - We had all day in Bergen to explore and the best way we found to do that was with a Segway tour.  This was our first time doing such a tour and after a bit of practice on these delicate yet powerful machines, we got pretty good at it...that is until Ashlee (as our English guide put it) "took a tumble" when one of her wheels hooked on something and down she went...yes, it was in a crowded little park with lots of witnesses.  Ashlee popped up with only a couple of scrapes and bruises, but none more than her ego.    Despite the "tumble" we had a ball on our private (no one else but us booked that day) tour and it was the perfect way to explore the tiny streets and hilly surroundings of the city.

COPENHAGEN


Wednesday, September 9 - A very early, but short, flight from Bergen to Copenhagen, Denmark, this morning revealed a great sunrise from the plane window.  When we landed we were able to mark yet another country off the "Need to Visit" list.


Our hotel in Copenhagen literally sat on The Grand Canal of the city.  This unique floating barge hotel allowed us a waterfront view from our room (middle one, bottom floor) and great city views from the open lounge on the roof.
A word of advice: Always at least glance through the airline magazine on your way to somewhere.  I mean, how else do you find out there are giant swan-shaped paddle-boats to rent in downtown Copenhagen??  Yep, this the first thing we did when we got to this beautiful city and it was a hoot (and a must after the summer of "Swan Life" we had enjoyed with the giant swan inflatable Ashlee bought).  More great weather made this little jaunt on Peblinge Lake a lot of fun.  More great advice:  Uber rules!  Uber rides were quick and inexpensive in this modern city and the best way to move around in our opinion.
We moved on to the historic Carlsberg Brewery next for a tour, some lunch and, of course, some beer.  It was an interesting tour and the Carlsberg story has plenty of drama.  The beer was outstanding as well.
We finished the day with an unplanned event that we stumbled upon near our floating hotel.  You can actually rent these little electric picnic boats for you and up to seven of your friends for like $20 an hour.   What a great idea!  We should so start this in the U.S.!!  Ashlee and I both took turns at the helm and it was a little daunting with all the traffic in The Grand Canal, but we did just fine, although we opted to eat the delicious sushi dinner we brought with us until after the boat ride and  on the much gentler rocking rooftop lounge of the hotel.
Thursday, Sept. 10 - We had a city tour scheduled for today, but it got cancelled with the tour company's driver never showed...ahh, Copenhagen!   We decided to our own city tour with the use of our feet and Uber.  The result was a pretty darn good day.

We Uber-ed over to Amalienborg, the Royal Palace and winter home of the Danish Royal Family, and arrived just in time to see the changing of the guard ceremony. in the huge courtyard surrounded by the four huge mansions.
A short walk got us in line for a canal boat ride.  This was great and filled with great scenery.  Plus, it was a bit more relaxing than yesterday when we had to do the driving.  You go under several very low bridges on the tour which kind of cool and scary at the same time.   
We went by the Royal Yacht on our canal boat ride which is a real beauty.
We went by the beautiful, vintage Art Deco building, The Standard, on our boat tour and decided to walk over to it afterwards for lunch.  It now consists of actually three different restaurants inside and we had a tasty meal of traditional Danish cuisine at Almanak.  After lunch we strolled back to the Nyhavn (Old Harbor) where we had started our boat tour and had churros and ice cream while sitting on the canal and it was incredible.


We continued our walk after lunch over to the beautiful Rosenborg Castle and Gardens.  Once the summer home of the royal family when built back in the early 1600's, it is now an excellent museum.  We've been to many of these type of structures, but I have to say this one had the most access I have seen with most every room open for viewing and many antiquities available for close inspection and even touching.  
One of the biggest attractions inside Rosenborg Castle are the actual  collection of Crown Jewels of the Royal Family.
Our next stop after another short walk was The Rundetarn (Round Tower), a 17th-century twelve-story observatory with a helical corridor that served originally as an equestrian staircase all the way to the top.  Very unique and a fun climb!
The 360-degree views  of Copenhagen at the top of The Rundetarn are outstanding.
We ended the day's tour with a stop at the flagship store for Lego, proudly made in Denmark since 1949.  The store was very cool with huge Lego creations throughout it like this dragon coming in and out of the walls.
We reserved our evening to do just one spectacular thing:  see the famous Tivoli Gardens at night. It's the second oldest amusement park in the world and sits right smack-dab in the middle of the city. Our favorite ride was the Rutschebanen which is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world (1914), but the hot-air balloon themed Ferris wheel was pretty great too.
Remember that great view we had from our hotel on the canal?  Yeah, well this was our view the last night of our stay in Copenhagen.  This drilling rig had been easing its way across the canal since we arrived and souring the view somewhat along with some major construction across the canal which was a bit disappointing, but this was absolutely insane!  We quickly and loudly complained to management who graciously gave us our room for free tonight even though this technically wasn't their fault and claimed they weren't even given notice of it going to happen from the city (evidently a standard practice here in the quickly growing city).  We made the best of it and enjoyed the roof-top views that night and rested assured that we knew we were leaving in the morning anyway.  And we didn't need to set an alarm since the drilling started precisely at 7 AM the next morning!  So long, Copenhagen, it's been...memorable.
TROMSO

Friday, September 11:  Now THIS is much better!  This was the lovely harbor view from our hotel room when we got back to Norway today in the city of Tromso.  That's the Arctic Cathedral there in the distance.  That's right, "arctic."  We are now above the Arctic Circle for the first time in our travels.  Pretty "cool", huh?  Not only did our very affordable  Clarion Hotel With have a great location on the harbor with lovely views, but it also provided us free breakfast, free dinner (really good dinners!) and...brace yourselves...an all you can eat waffle-bar at 3 pm every afternoon!!  What's not to love!!

Our first look at Tromso and the surrounding area was not what we were expecting given the fact that it lies above the Arctic Circle.  The lush green canopy and aqua-blue water looked more like a Caribbean island than a frozen wasteland.
Attention Audi Advertising Department:  Contact me if you want to use this picture in your next ad campaign.  Yep, our first rental car and first driving experience in Europe was a sweet Audi sedan and some fairly quiet roads around Tromso.  
We rented the car for one main purpose, to get out of town and hopefully see The Northern Lights.   We had success that first night and not too far out of Tromso. These pictures here are very, very weak representations of the experience which has to be seen in person to believe.  It is truly one of the most awe-inspiring experiences we have had in our travels and we feel very fortunate to have seen them in person since it was technically a little "early" in the year to see them and the weather cooperated beautifully for us.  We were fortunate to see more on our second and last night here, but not as many and for not as long.  Again, we are thankful for everything we were granted.
Saturday September 12:  Happy Birthday, Ashlee!!  We woke up to a thick fog in the Tromso Harbor but after it burned off we had a perfect day for a road trip even farther north.  The scenery was jaw-dropping the entire day.
No need to buy postcards here.  There is one around every turn in the road if you have a camera.
We just stumbled upon this magnificent waterfall up near the border with  Finland.  No sign, no name.  Just a great place to pull over and enjoy this beautiful area.
So, yes, we crossed into Finland with no real fanfare.  There isn't even a border stop.  Just a small sign that says you are in another country completely!  Kinda cool.  We saw a few reindeer from a distance as we drove along, but then this happened (video below).  

   video

Now THAT was a welcome to Finland!

Sunday, September 13:  We had almost another full day in Tromso today before we flew back to Oslo late.  We toured around town with visit to the very neat aquarium building, Polaria, which resembles ice floes pushed up on land.   We did a little shopping, enjoyed a few local beers and bid farewell to this beautiful area.  We would love to come back someday.
OSLO - FT. LAUDERDALE - HOME

Monday, Sept. 14 - We took an afternoon flight back to Ft. Lauderdale in the same seats we flew there in (albeit this time with seemed a dozen crying babies and their parents using the space in front of us a soothing station!).  We had a late arrival back into Ft. Lauderdale and had to spend the night since we couldn't get a flight back to Nashville today.
Tuesday, Sept. 15 - We had an early flight back to Nashville via Southwest again and we were back at work by noon.
The amazing ice caps of Greenland came into view on our flight back.  
Man, what a trip!  Almost perfect weather throughout despite it being the "rainy season"  - catching the Northern Lights on two different nights before they "officially begin" - an unexpected road trip to Finland and a more unexpected close encounter with a huge reindeer!  Again, we consider ourselves very fortunate indeed and can't wait for our next travel adventure!