"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, February 27, 2017

We LOVE Columbus, Ohio!!

We took a great long-weekend trip up to Columbus, Ohio, a city neither of us had been to before, and it turned out to be one of our favorite short trips ever.  

Saturday, February 18 -  We hopped on a short 45-minute Southwest flight today to Columbus, Ohio, to meet our friends, Chris and Tarryn, who drove down from Fort Wayne, Indiana, were they moved to a few years back.  We chose to meet in Columbus to catch our beloved Nashville Predators take the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night, and since Monday was a holiday, it worked out nicely as an easy 3-day weekend trip.

We met up at a really nice two-bedroom apartment complex in downtown Columbus that we rented for the weekend through Airbnb.com.    They are known as the Wonder Bread Lofts because the cool living spaces are carved out of an old Wonder Bread bakery plant.  It is quite a unique place and the location was perfect with shorts walks to great places to eat, drink and be merry.

The view out of our bedroom window.  And, yes, the sign lights up at night.
Our first order of business after getting settled in was to take a quick stroll over to "Short North" a few streets over for some drinks and some late lunch/early dinner.  This busy area of bars and restaurants up and down North High Street is one of the city's busiest areas.  We stopped at the Arch City Tavern where the food was top-notch.

After dinner, we headed back to the apartment to change and then grabbed a cheap Uber ride over to the Fort Hayes High School Theater to catch a production of "Vox on the Rocks" by the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus.  This organization has been around an impressive 27 years and the talented group they have this season has to be ranked right up there as one of the best.  For $20 each we got Broadway-worthy entertainment (that would have cost a lot more there) as the group performed two-hours worth of TV-show theme songs and other tunes from shows over the history of television.

After the show our Uber driving taking us back to the apartment said we were near the "Who Farted" Brewery.  Huh, what?  Come again?  Well, actually it's the hilariously-named Hoof Hearted Brewery (pun DEFINITELY intended).  They are obviously clever folks and their beer is top-notch but we have two suggestions for them:
1.  Nix the booming night-club music.  People like to sit and talk at craft breweries.
2.  Take the cod off the menu....shoooo-weeeee!!

Sunday, February 19 - Since the hockey game wasn't until 6 PM, we had the full day to explore Columbus.  The weather was outstanding and unseasonably warm so being outside was definitely on our agenda.  We started with a quick walk to breakfast at the Fox in the Snow Cafe which had unbelievably good pastries and maybe the best egg sandwich we've ever had.  It was so good, we went back again on Monday.  We split a blueberry tart (in the back of the picture) and an egg and bacon sandwich on Sunday.  Then went with a cinnamon roll (foreground) and another egg and bacon sandwich on Monday.
Needless to say, we missed this place greatly on Tuesday....

After breakfast we needed a walk, so we drove up to the northwestern edge of of town to check out Hayden Falls Park, a beautiful little gorge where Hayden Run Creek drops 35 feet as it flows into the (muddy this weekend) Scioto River that flows through the heart of Columbus.

We continued our walking after going back downtown and walking some of the Scioto Mile, a river-walk in the heart of downtown Columbus.  This town has done a great job of creating some really nice outdoor recreation areas for its residents...and tourists!
Deer, Columbus - Thanks for the great times.  Love, Rob and Ashlee
After our afternoon strolls and a quick stop to check out The Horseshoe, Ohio State's massive football stadium, we parked back at the apartment and got our Predators gear on and then headed back over to Short North and bar-hopped a little southward toward Nationwide Arena where the Bluejackets play.  We settled on dinner at Barley's Brewing Company where the beer was good and the food was better.  I had the pierogies (when the in the north, right?) and sausage plate which was outstanding.

We got to the arena just in time to get a good local craft beer and find our seats about 10 rows behind the Preds shoot-twice goal.  Well done on the ticket acquirement, Chris!!  The place is great and it was packed, but I have to admit it's nothing like the roar at home in the lower bowl at Bridgestone Arena.  You Columbus fans have  got some work to do to become the 7th Man!  The game was a beauty with our boys squeaking out a 4-3 victory despite playing and losing a little less than 24 hours earlier in Minnesota and with our back-up goalie, Saros, in the net.  We really needed those points as well as we hang on to the top wildcard spot in the Western Division with a month or so of games left to play.

After the game we ambled back home back up Short North with a stop Le Chocoholique sweets shop for a couple of buckeyes, a local chocolate treat.  We spent the rest of the evening just hanging out in our neat apartment.  Below is the "court-yard" outside our door which is part of the old Wonder Bread factory with the roof removed.

Monday, February 20 - After the second great breakfast at The Fox in the Snow Cafe, Chris and Tarryn headed out since they had a long drive and some things to take care of back home.  Ashlee and I were on our own for most of the day since we didn't have to be back at the airport until 3 PM, so we did a little more exploring of this great town.   We wondered around downtown checking out the state capitol building, the historic Brewery District and the utterly charming German Village neighborhood.  Columbus has done a great job of preserving a lot of their diverse history and it really has paid off into creating quite a wonderful town to visit.

We stopped at the Rockmill Tavern in the Brewery District for a quick appetizer of burrata cheese drizzled with caramelized onion vinegar, oil verde, honey roasted Munich malt and Maldon sea salt along with a couple of flights of their own outstanding Belgium-styled craft beers.
We walked off our cheese and beer back over in the German Village at historic Schiller Park which is ringed by amazing old homes of exquisite beauty.  The weather cooperated once again with lovely temps for a mid-February day.
Our last stop before the airport was a doozy.  We visited the local and historic (Est. 1898) Krema Nut Company and had some awesome gourmet Krema Peanut Butter sandwiches there made with their own product, of course.  I had The Buckeye that included Nutella and Ashlee had a the PB Nana with bananas and honey.  They were so good and filling that we couldn't even finish them (even with the crusts cut off!).

We had a tremendous visit to Columbus and hope to come back soon.  We would love explore the town more in warmer months and maybe around Christmas in the quaint German Village.  Thanks again, C-Town, for a great trip!

Feb-DO-ary 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017 - Our national spirit was pumped up once again as we traveled down to Chattanooga today to see the U.S. Men's National Team in Chattanooga vs. Jamaica in a friendly soccer match.  We arrived just about game time at Finley Stadium and the place was packed despite some pretty  frigid temps. We had great  mid-field seats (photo below) along with our friend, Chris, and his son, Ethan, who plays soccer and is going to a camp this summer at Duke (can you be jealous of 10-year-old?).  The game was tight and thrilling with the boys in red, white and blue squeezing out a 1-0 win.  Their first win under their new coach, Bruce Arena.

The impressive crowd was announced at nearly 18,000 - a near sell-out for a game that didn't mean anything really and with temps in the mid-30's.  Nice job, Chattanooga!

(EDITOR'S NOTE:  This two teams met up again later in the year in late July for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Championship with the U.S. squeaking out another close victory by a 2-1 margin!)

Saturday, February 4 - We got up fairly early for a weekend day for breakfast today in Chattanooga at the new Maple Street Biscuit Company - a regional chain with this being its first location outside of Florida.  The biscuits are over-the-top and delicious.  Above is my order of The Farmer - fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and house-made apple butter.  It was amazing!  We had to take a long walk afterwards down the hill from Ashlee's mom's house across the Walnut Street Bridge and back to work off some of the calories.  Luckily the weather was mild for early February.

Tuesday, 2/7 - We continued our Oscars research tonight with a viewing of Lion at our nearby Providence Theaters.  It is a fantastic film and Dev Patel certainly does deserve an the hardware for his supporting-actor performance.  We had dinner before at the always-tasty Red Robin.

Saturday, 2/11 - We had tickets to see one of our favorite young bands out there, Safetysuit, at The Cannery tonight.  They put on a whale of a show with an almost full house and the biggest crowd they had ever played before in Nashville they said.  We caught a couple songs from the opener, Royal Teeth, who were pretty good too.  We had a great dinner at Suzy Wong's House of Yum beforehand.

Tuesday, 2/14 - We decided that instead of dropping a C-note for a fancy dinner in Nashville on Valentine's Day (sorry, Rolf and Daughters) that we would spend some of that said-money on another addition to our pool.  Say hello to Mr. Narwhal!  Yes, we have a giant-pool-float addiction!  We admit it!

I also stayed local with a couple of other gifts for Ashlee including chocolate-covered strawberries from Lana's Drizzled Desserts over in Mt. Juliet, and some beautiful orange and yellow tulips from Henderson's Flower Shop here in Lebanon.   Ashlee, in return, got me a cool  ice-cream cake that looked like a giant Sweetheart candy (which I love) from our local Baskin-Robbins. Dinner consisted of one of our go-to staples:  party pizzas!!  Now that's a Valentine's worth remembering!

Friday, 2/17 - We headed to Nashville tonight to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones at The Ryman for their second of two SOLD OUT shows.  The opener was Ruby Amanfu and she was pretty good.  We had dinner before at the amazing Monell's at The Manor.  St. Paul and the boys from Bama were outstanding including a very unique "under the rug" rendition of "Broken Bones and Pocket Change" (photo below).

Saturday, 2/18 - Monday 2/20:  We had a great long-weekend trip to Columbus, Ohio.  So great, in fact, that it gets it's own separate page (see next blog entry).

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017, hoping for the best...and...go!

While our country starts a new year and a scary new chapter with a person in charge who we wouldn't trust to back out of the driveway, we are pressing on with our normal foray of searching out fun activities wherever we can find them, but never forgetting that we are Americans and we deserve a country that treats all individuals the same:

Saturday, January 7 - It never got above freezing today, so it was a good day to check out the newly remodeled Belcourt Theater in Nashville for an artsy double-feature.  We saw two excellent films.  First up was Manchester by the Sea which just got Casey Affleck a Best Actor Golden Globe (and probably the Oscar) and then Jackie with a stunning performance by Natalie Portman.  In between films we had a tasty dinner across the street at Jackson's and a few drinks at Cabana.

Sunday, January 16 - We attended a great show tonight with Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of the British rock band, Keane, at The City Winery in downtown Nashville.  Tom's soaring vocals rocked the place with songs from his new solo album plus several Keane tunes.  We had a tasty dinner while we were there and met a nice father/daughter couple sitting next to us.  Before the show, we stopped at Nashville's newest craft brewery, New Heights, nearby on 5th Avenue.
Friday, January 20, 2017 - After work today, we flew to Washington, D.C. to meet up with our friend, Dianna, who flew in from Austin.   Our plane was packed with folks going to the Women's March on Washington. We rented a car and drove up to nearby Jefferson, Maryland, to meet our friends, Starling and John, at their house to plan for our group's participation tomorrow in the march.   Ashlee, Dianna and Starling grew up together in SW Georgia and we all had a great night of laughter and stories from their childhoods with some great local pizza and some adult beverages.  The signs we created were very quite funny as well as poignant.

Saturday, January 21, 2017 - We drove a little south this morning to get on the DC Metro and rode it in with tons of other folks to The National Mall to join the Women's March on Washington.

At 10 AM the rally started on Independence Avenue and the place was already packed.  This was as close as we could get to the stage even though we arrived an hour before it began.  There was a long and impressive list of speakers and performers including Charlie Brotman who kicked things off (he's the veteran inaugural announcer who was snubbed from yesterday's laughable ceremony); actress, America Ferrara (on screen in photo above); feminist icon Gloria Steinem; Muriel Bowser, the mayor of DC; film director, Michael Moore; actress Ashley Judd; CNN host, Van Jones; singer Alicia Keyes; comedienne Amy Schumer and the one and only Madonna.  The program went well beyond the 3 hours it was scheduled for and we soon found out that the rally and march had gotten much bigger than we or the organizers thought it would.
What was expected to be a turnout of 250,000 swelled to well over a half-millon people and what was supposed to be a march turned into basically an all-day occupation of a large chunk of our capital.  It was crowded, cold and a bit nerve-wracking but such an honor to have been part of this historic day. - the largest protest in U.S. history.  All day through the thick crowd we never heard a harsh word or sharp tone in anyone's voice as people squeezed by you or you squeezed by other people.  It truly was a memorable and moving experience.    (photo courtesy of a screen grab of a video posted by TWITTER.COM|BY SWAH-REY).  This is Independence Avenue looking east toward The Capitol with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the left.  We were about half-way down the length of the museum.
We did it!!  Tired and hungry, our group of ten somehow stayed together for the entire day.  The rain held off and the temps were cold, but manageable.  Thanks to Dianna for this great pic of us with Starling and John back on The Mall after "escaping" the crowds still packing Independence Avenue.  We crowded back on to the Metro and headed north for some dinner all together and then an early turn in for all of our tired bodies.  We the people...we the people!!
Sunday, January 22, 2017 - We met Starling and John this morning for a great breakfast in Frederick, Maryland, at the Silver Diner.  Afterwards with most of a day to kill before our flights back home, Ashlee, Dianna and I decided to take a quick tour of nearby Baltimore.  
The rain held off most of the day allowing us a nice stroll around Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Our favorite stop in Baltimore was the Westminster Presbyterian Church Cemetery where author/poet Edgar Allan Poe was laid to rest (twice).  This beautiful historic cemetery is somehow still very peaceful despite being right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown.  We split a late lunch (and some adult beverages) at two different places in the hip little Highlandtown neighborhood.  First up was the Snake Hill bar where I had some interesting albeit tasty rattlesnake/rabbit sausage and then we moved on to Lee's Pint and Shell for some seafood since we were in a harbor-town.  The crab cakes and fish tacos were tremendous!  
We got home later than expected due to a plane delay out of BWI (and a lucky switch to a different flight - nice job, Ashlee!), but we had a great experience that we will definitely never forget and has probably changed us more profoundly than we will ever really know.

Thursday, February 26,  2017 - We continued support of strong women and equality for all with a viewing of Best Picture nominee, Hidden Figures, tonight.  We really loved it and it is our early front-runner pick for Best Picture.  Beforehand we had a really tasty meal at our local Fulin's Asian Cuisine in Mt. Juliet.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - Thanks to our new local, independent Roxy Theaters improving their  screen projections and having a $5-movie-night on Tuesdays, we continued our Oscars research tonight by checking out La La Land with it's whopping 14 nominations.  It was a great throwback tale with singing and dancing and lots of romancing that we thoroughly enjoyed.  We won't be surprised if it takes home Best Picture.