Food, Fun, Family, Friends & Fur
Not necessarily in that order. But where I will continue and regularly talk about all that goes on in the life of Mr Mom, my humorous stories about my husband, family and travels to the serious topics of my work and passions to the getting old part of my life, and what that means for an old queen like myself.
On the eve of Christmas day, time again for reflection. As I stood waiting for some gifts to be monogrammed, a voice brought me back to reality. “Russell”, you don’t know me but I know you, I am a foster parent and see your face all over. I thought to myself its been awhile since I have seen a family poster of us “the foster family”, never the less felt a little like a rock star… local celebrity ..ok then someone she might ask directions from.
We exchanged pleasantries, while my mind tried to figure out who she was and if I had possibly met her before or even supported her family at some point. Old age and the billion other things let this go pretty quick as what did it matter, she was a foster parent.
She quickly, as most foster parents do, started to tell me about her family, how many, who was coming and who was going back home and what the ministry was doing well and what they were not. This is very common when running into them, as this is their lives, they purpose and sometimes they just need an outlet and then they are off again.
This time was different though, as it took me to that place where my pride of foster parents and what they do takes over. The tears began to well up as she talked with the utmost pride and biggest smile while doing so.
I know the news often talks about what’s wrong with the system, not only here in BC but all over Canada. I know that we always hear when there is some God awful tragedy involving a foster parent or their family. Seldom do we ever get to talk about all the good foster parents do.
Now when I talk about foster parents, I want to also include those grand parents that take on their grandchildren, the teacher who has jumped in to take in a child from her school, the sister who trying to keep her family together takes in her brothers kids because he has fallen to addiction.
As an only child for 30 years, and now a brother to a 24 year old, I feel so blessed to have family. I can never imagine not having the amazing family that I have.
Many people have said to me over the many years, “I don’t know how you raise someone else’s child. I will admit that at times it is not easy. At times it is downright rough. What I can then say is once you are over those feelings it is the most amazing thing you can do.
I feel there is a reason that everyone comes into our lives, including the small ones, I can tell you that I have learned so much more from our kids than ever giving back to them. Throughout the holidays, our family tries to give back in a variety of ways, trying to teach our kids that no matter how bad you think it is it could be worse.
Care givers are the kindest hearted people I know. They give usually until they can give no more. Today listening to this foster parent all that kept running through my mind was, she could be talking to me about her Christmas list, her new coat, her own kids, her recent holiday. No, she was talking about how sad and happy her foster child was returning to their family. How she would miss them, how her days up to today have been filled getting ready for the holidays to give this child a great Christmas before they would leave.
She spoke highly of the family and had said she had wished she could do more for them. When I asked her what she was doing for her Christmas Dinner, she said that she had invited the child’s family to share with her own family.
Most of us open our doors to those that may not have a place to go, most of us continue the spirit of Christmas, without the religious meaning attached to it.
So as 2018 comes to a close, I am hopeful for a brighter and better and more loving 2019.
So today….. I want to wish the many new friends that we have met along the way this year, the many old friends that are loyal to a fault the best of holiday season. From our family to yours, we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas.
To all the caretakers of the world, never stop loving and never stop doing what you do.
Travel sometime is like sex. There is a lot of anticipation, build up before. Then there is the long awaited ride so to speak, then there is the calm, the cigarette moment where you all bask in where you went and how you enjoyed it.
Then all life comes back to normal when you realize that the cigarettes are bad for you and cost you a lot of money. You are exhausted from your activity and at our age takes us days to recuperate.
That is where we are right now after our holidays, feeling rode hard and put away wet. Life has to return to the crazy hectic pace that we are used to. Kids, commitments, and marriage and work….uggggghhhh
The wonderful thing about now rather a couple years ago is that all the kids are in school again…. A break mentally and physically from the constant on with kids.
So what to do while smoking the cigarette………
October 1st marks Foster Parent appreciation Month and I am so honored to still be a foster parent as we approach our last adoption.
I am equally excited not to be apart of the provincial association, for this reason; it is great to enjoy the time and appreciate what we have. The association continues on and changes are inevitable, but foster parents continue to do amazing jobs in challenging times.
The recent AGM in Nelson, brought together as always a group of foster parents, wanting to make change, move forward and network. Although away with work and play combined, I missed the people and the opportunity to talk to people that “get it”, that understand what it is we do.
There is a bigger need than ever for our children in the community, as addictions continue to tear our families apart. Stress in families continues to play into what our teens are dealing with and how they are trying to cope, not just being a teen, but all the things that go with that. Add to that the stress parents may have around jobs and money, never mind if they have addictions as well.
Sometimes I think it would be so easy to throw in the towel and run and hide. Then I think of my kids and all they have endured and the challenges they have over come, the ones they are still working on and of course the ones we may never know about that they are dealing with on their own.
So as we move through foster parent appreciation month, and into Adoption Month (November) think about not only those foster parents, but those kids that have so much going on and that are in care.
Think maybe about what you can do, what role can you play in helping with our kids in BC. The simplest things can make a difference, the simplest of words can often change a life. Make it happen…
Our Morning started are 3:30 AM Seriously !!!!! Who Books this shit!!! Oh yeah the love of my life… are you kidding me, not showing much love here. Not to mention there is a five hour layover, ok great people watching time, but really??? I might sleep through the people watching.
Having to drop the rental, and then head to the airport so early, makes me think its going to be a very long day… turns out to be longer than one originally thought/
So we get to airport plenty of time ahhhh … Board the plane on time 6 AM all looking good. Start to taxing out to the runway…and we are off…nope mechanical issues…….ok so back to gate. Deplane… ok then. The wait begins, 7:00 oh brother not looking good.
Good morning ladies and gentleman it looks like we need to fly in a computer part and we wont be leaving Memphis for a few hours oh my…..someone shoot me please!
I hate life without a plan B, so off to the airline counter, can we get on a different flight? To somewhere? Anywhere? Yep its now 8:00 AM they can get us onto another flight to Minneapolis, well not so bad!!
Then from there, Winnipeg, then home to Vancouver arriving at the same time as we would have anyways…. Perfect a little milk runish but all is good.
What someone did not tell us is that our luggage would not make the flight, it infact would be having a solo holiday in LA, then Seattle and finally home.
Travel is apart of the memories , and half the fun. Racing for a flight, walking 100 miles to get across the airport for a connecting flight. Realizing you forgot to pack your pants all of them. These are the things we tried to instill in our son, when anxiety and panic set in. Sure we as adults get upset, and frustrated that things aren’t going well and maybe we take it out on each other, but it is what will eventually be laughed at and appreciated as part of the experience.
Sometimes those trips, where we mix business with pleasure are harder cause you are torn, not sometimes doing either well.
This was a great trip where business and pleasure played together well.. next trip….. I think Florida Jessica’s 21st Birthday (supposed to be Vegas trip) and our Granddaughter’s graduation present… so excited.
Up at 7:30 we skipped breakfast so that we could get ready and be at the Titanic exhibit and of course be the first in the line ups…..
When you pull up you see the front half of the ship, the entrance looking a bit like a boarding office. It is here you receive your card, telling you which passenger you were on the ship, I was a third-class passenger, Michael worked for the owner and Darrell was a crew member.
If you know anything about our family what you might remember is that Michael is hooked, obsessed, passionate consumed…. One or all, about anything Titanic. So as we start to walk through he is giving us all the information, ….who needs handsets…
I was amazed at some the artifacts and hadn’t realized that so many salvages have been done, and many artifacts have been recovered. From dishes to chairs to personal items of those passengers that were rescued or found.
The grand staircase although, absolutely amazing, not so big after all. In its day I am sure it would have been grand and spectacular. To the third class, it would have been something never seen before or even dreamed of.
The replicas of the staterooms were awesome, and beautiful, each filled with many artifacts. Many the survivors specifically women, went on to great things. Professors, high end designers, philanthropists, authors to name a few.
Two things brought this disaster home for me, made it more of a reality than that of a story that could have possibly just written for our entertainment.
The first was the staircase with he locked gate, that began to fill a staircase. Behind the locked gate I stared as a third-class passenger, realizing I would have been behind that gate and locked in, possibly to my doom.
The second, was when you walked out on to the bridge and you left inside the bridge and they had the temperature ice cold, and then the invited you to test the water, which would have been the temperature of the water that fatal night, it was freezing, you were reminded how quickly you would have froze.
In two hours, it was over, from impact to being swallowed by the water. There are recorded interviews, from three of the woman survivors done years back. I chose not to listen, not wanting to be brought to that place.
Just recently while going through my grandmother’s things to put into one of the cookbooks, I ran across a letter where it speaks about the anniversary of the titanic and how it had been written about in the papers. I thought it was neat that even in her time, they were talking about something we continue to talk about today.
Leaving the titanic there is a wall where you can find out if indeed you died on the voyage, and alas I had died while Darrell and Michael had survived, the best part is further on down you find out what the survivors had done.
It was a great exhibit, and Michael says this one is better than the one at home, because it is that actual ship replica. There are several exhibits all over, Branson, Vegas, Richmond and Newfoundland, or so Michael tell me.
Either way if you get a chance you should check them out. Great piece of history, presented very well.
Leaving the Titanic, and at that moment not having sunk, we decided it was time for lunch. We also entertained(no pun) what we were going to do for dinner one last dinner in Pigeon Forge.
We decided for entertainment we would go see Dolly’s Stampede, a animal lovers event. We stopped at the other Dolly’s Dinner Theater to get tickets. Now off to find lunch.
Wood Grill caught our eye and by our I mean Darrell’s, the word “buffet” is in his search engine. This is a massive building, it has to seat 500 I am sure. The buffet starts with salads and all the way on the other end is the dessert.
Ok so what can you really say about buffets….cold…tasteless.. nope not here. Our waitress Linda was a riot. The food was hot and tasty. We ate each of our two rounds totally clean. Honorable mention goes to their fish, broccoli casserole, fried rice… and of course the blackberry cobbler, oh yeah man too good.
We rolled out there, over stuffed and in pain, telling ourselves we did our best to follow the servers instructions, that before we left the buffet must be empty. Back to our cabin, to rest up for our next feed, we had bought tickets to Dolly Parton’s Stampede and would be stuffing ourselves yet again.
Earlier in the week Darrell had asked me “if I needed fed”, sounding like I was a horse waiting for grain or a cow waiting for grass, now I know what he meant, (wanting to make sure I was eating properly because of my diabetes) but with all we were eating it seemed a little more hurtful than I’m sure he meant.
We arrived at the Dolly Stampede building, for the pre-show, here they would take the customary touristy picture, send you into a holding lounge where you were to buy non-alcoholic drinks in fancy glasses, to take home as a memory of the show.
They even enticed you with popcorn with the drink, (now you know I must have been full to not want popcorn, its my kryptonite). The pre-show tri was funny, and very talented and had perfected their show to a smooth, extremely enjoyable hour. They had all worked with Dolly in some form or another, from playing her band, to working on her albums to producing one or two.
At about 8:15 we headed into the arena, to enjoy the show and a meal. Our waiter Steve was hilarious, the show was well done. The cast was extremely talented, both on and off the horses. The show took us back in time, where buffalo roamed.
Square dancing done on horse back, the wagon circle and the ball were among some of the highlights. There were many, the costumes well done with many lighting up, like the ballgowns of the women. A tribute to the USA where they were all dressed in white and red, which all lite up, the host sported the additional blue. Very well done.
Dinner was equally enjoyable, starting off with a creamed soup, simple ingredients, but huge on taste,(you can buy it in a package in their store), Cornish hen, slice pork tenderloin, ½ baked potato glazed with garlic butter, and corn on the cob all had amazing flavor which one might have thought would be lacking. Wanting to try the bbq sauce calling my name, only intensified the chicken’s flavor, not needed but certainly appreciated. Homemade it was thick and dark with strong pepper flavors with a molasses body, so good. Finishing off this great meal was a hot out of the oven, apple turnover…… the only missing was soft server over top, which I can assure you we did not need.
We had a sleep in today, up at 7:30 shit, shave and shampoo as my father used to say and off to breakfast. Now the best thing about Staybridge Suites if you have a family the size of ours, is the rooms are economically priced to begin with, then you get a decent free breakfast.
Usually there are eggs, meat, potatoes, waffles, fruit, yogurt, danishes, muffins, cereals (hot and cold), juices, bagels and toast, and I haven’t listed everything. So not bad if you consider with our whole crew that would be at least a 150.00 breakfast bill. Now with just us three, it still is a great start to our day especially the coffee.
It has been at least ten years since we have visited Graceland, we had mom with us and our son Dylan(who he referred to Elvis as the dead guy, he was 5 ish), the first time around.
What once was a very cramped exhibit of the life of a King, is now world class place to remember the King. There are many other things to look at here at the Graceland, where once stood a gift shop across from the actual mansion, is now home to an entire complex. The planes are still in the same spot and still close to the new buildings
Several large buildings now house all the artifacts that were once held at the mansion racquet ball court, in the back of the mansion. The racquet ball has been restored to its full glory. Many of the artifacts that were once house in the second story of the Mansion now have made their way down.
So there are gift shops in all of the buildings, well duh! There is a building dedicated to Sun records, and a large portion dedicated to the man responsible for finding Elvis, Sam Philips. You walk through offices of Sun Records and it original office furniture. You can also see in another building, all or a vast majority of the Kings many outfits.
In another portion of the complex, the museum pays tribute to those who thought of Elvis as a mentor, or someone they wanted to be like. The like of Dolly Parton, Kiss, Bruce Springstein and the list goes on.
Stage A takes us through his movie career, were tributes to Elvis while he worked through his movie contracts. Movies played while displaying many of the costumes he or co-stars had worn. Further along, was a tribute to Elvis while he was in the army, where he met and fell in love with Pricilla.
Car and big boy toys portion, from his Jeep to Lisa Marie’s toy peddle carts filled a room. Tractors, motor bikes to his extensive car collection. A whole building that now displays how things are stored in the artifact room and how they are registered.
There are several eateries now, named after his parents, “Vernon’s Smokehouse”, “Gladys’ Diner” and a candy shop, named “Minnie Mae’s Sweets” after his Grandmother. There is shopping for the kids, where an entire shop has been set aside for kids and all their whims and wishes.
The one true love of his life, Lisa Marie, is honored throughout the monument to the King, from an entire section on her successes to plane with her name on it.
The new Presley Guest house, a new hotel is just minutes down the street where you can catch a shuttle to it all.
The Main draw, I am sure, is still the Mansion where you still get a sense of who he was, where he felt the most at home. He lived and died there. His mother and father got to see his success on these grounds and in the rooms of Graceland.
The resting place, (which lies in the backyard of the Mansion) of Gladys, Vernon, Minnie Mae and Elvis is calming, haunting and a reminder of the Man the Music and a King.
In doing a bit of google research, it reads the Lisa Marie is owner of Graceland, and all its items, while selling 85% of the Graceland holdings for 100 million that included Elvis Presley’s name and images. In 2017 the estate was making 55 million dollars per year according to Forbes.
Left a very happy person today…. Want to bring my mom back….soon
“The Pig”, a Memphis favorite for the past few years, since 2002, was our next stop. Located on famed Beale Street, in downtown Memphis, it has gained a reputation for great BBQ. Over the years it has won several awards for its food.
Walking in you get a funky smell that hits you, one of age and Bbq mixed. When we entered the joint, it was empty but one. This was at about 2:30 in the afternoon and I am assuming there was going to be a dinner rush.
We ordered a platter for 3 to 5 with assorted BBQ. Chicken Legs, thighs, pork, ribs, fries, onion rings, beans and potato salad. 49.95 . It was bar none the best BBQ we have had since being in Tennessee. Emily our server who was tall and statuesque was very friendly. She was on top of her game and we hold her totally responsible for us taking home both types of pie.
Mark the manager came over to introduce himself to us and we chatted about many things Memphis. From the rising crime in Memphis to night life on Beale. He too recommended the two pies, so maybe we hold him responsible for my rising sugar levels and my ever expanding waistline.
The place is a definite go-to. We took little meat home and our two pies. Now normally we would have taken pictures of the pies of which we speak, however they really didn’t make it in the door of the hotel, before they were devoured. The pecan….to die for and the Peanut Butter, apparently made with cream cheese oh so good.
Today we visited a king. Elvis Presley.
Like a good Willie Nelson song, on the Road again we are up at 5:30 AM to get to Memphis at a decent time. About a 6.5 hour drive without old man bladder issues, add those stops in, who knows 8 hours.
We decided to forego breakfast, to have a semi comfortable drive, a much needed cleanse after binge eating for the last week. That’s the problem with traveling with us, it seem we think there will never be another day to eat and we stuff our selves silly. We must learn balance.
Two days before flight time, we better figure out how we, and by we I MEAN WE, figure out to have nice empty systems for the flight home. So most likely the first thing that we will look for once hitting Memphis will be to look for food….sigh..
The drive from Pigeon Forge to Memphis was a little stressful as it was raining like cats and dogs in some places, No really you could hear them meowing and barking. In two places we saw what happens when people do not adjust their speed for the conditions, in accidents. Another instant, where the driver of a big rig was either falling asleep at the wheel, on something or preoccupied with something, as his rig was going from one line to the other.
Scary stuff here, when everyone drives like a mad man, and all on their phones. Darrell is a great driver but of course its not his driving I worry about, well ok it is too, that’s just my control issues….
Seven hours later we touched down in Memphis and I mean by car..OMG I would loved to have gotten out and kissed the ground but it was still raining cats and dogs, scared I might get bit. If my underwear could talk, oh that’s right I don’t wear any, well then that’s good, but I am sure I left a streak or two on the rental seat. Just sayin…..
We were lucky enough to be able to check in to our favorite, travel with kids, hotel, Staybridge Suites. Unfortunately, this one is set up for the old fogies, not that we aren’t that, but with the hospital so close we assume lots of old peoples stay here. Well the shower hand rails might have something to do with and the shower chair…another tell tale.
Unfortunately, Muffin aka Michael not impressed that he has to sleep on a pullout, which usually we are used to a two bedroom at the stay bridge. LOL we took him out to lunch at Logan’s Road House, where our server Ariel, yep just like the mermaid (her words not mine) was wonderful and friendly.
The food meh!!! Not great but not bad. My salad the lettuce was old, and Darrell Caesar, although great flavor had way way too much dressing on it. Their buns, for which they say they are famous are toooooo die for. I don’t think there could be any more melted butter on them, really! Nice atmosphere, you get to throw peanut shells on the floor, so how can you go wrong.
Back to the Stay Bridges Suites we go where Gramps has to take a nap from the ride from hell he put us through and Michael had to continue to fight internet. So ahhh finally some time to get some work caught up.
A nice nap and off to eat again… this time we went to Garibaldis Pizza in Germantown, look how the hell do I know if there is an Italian town…. I’m just visiting. The girl at the front desk, recommended this place to us, and we heard her wrong and went to the one that was takeout only. Off we went in the other direction the one that had sit down.
Great Pizza, service meh!! Not so much . but would definitely go again for the pizza. Ok back to bed cause we had a very early morning, even before the chickens. Now that was a whole different story leaving the cabin in those wee hours, I am posting a picture of the GPS map of the road in and out of the cabin. The axe murders could have certainly caught us in the pitch blackness heading out.
With Darrell’s foggy windows, and the bears waiting under every tree to make their attack, chainsaw murders would have had a field day… thank goodness we made it out alive
Tonight a good nights sleep, and tomorrow off to see Elvis. Who knows what shenanigans we will get into tomorrow.
Apparently Michael wanting to take his diva nightly bath went to fill his tub with water only to discover we had none. OMG, now we cant even be clean for our untimely, axe murdered, bear eaten death. He found out soon enough that it had been turned off. He filled it up and took his diva bath, making him all clean and fresh as a daisy for Yogi.
Well we all had a great sleep, it was so peaceful, crickets and not a chainsaw in sight. It was so great to have my first cup of coffee on the porch. The cabin is absolutely quaint and cozy, located in Bears Paw, (area where there are a cluster of cabins) ours actually named “bears paw”. Our cabin is two bedrooms, that has a huge entertainment room up stairs to include pool table.
In that area there is also a Murphy bed, and two couches so I do not know, the house would probably sleep about 10 ish. There is a jet tub off the main bedroom downstairs and a hot tub on the porch.
A full size dining table seating 6 and a full size kitchen. The living room has leather couches and a beautiful wood burning fireplaceThere are five satellite tv’s in the house, so you can see we are roughing it, no internet…..poor Michael, what ever will he do…. lol
For the most part Darrell seems to find these gems for all our adventures. A light breakfast of yogurt and toast and we are off to play at one of my personal favorites theme park, Miss Dolly Parton at Dollywood, ahhhhhh work and play gotta love it..
So Big spender Darrell pays premium parking so we get to park right next to the entrance, what a thinker. If you have never been to Dollywood this is really a place you have to come, especially if you have small kids, So much has been added since we were last here about 10/11 years ago ish.
They now have cabins on top of a mountain with great views, they have splash mountain, they have the hotel with shuttles running to Dollywood, and of course they have a couple dinner/theatre shows.
The park itself was slightly established when Dolly Parton originally bought it but she has added onto it a quite a bit since purchasing. There is a top secret phase about to open in 2019, according to the staff even they are not allowed to know what is happening.
If you take the big old “Cinderella”, steam engine it will take you behind the new project which is really a few shells of building and empty cleared land. This steam engine takes you on a 5 mile journey, spitting coal smoke every inch of the way. When we arrived at the park we thought the place was on fire, but nope it was just Cinderella chugging her way up the mountain. This was our final ride of the day before we went shopping on our way out of the park. This is where we met Tim the engineer, smoky, greasy and a big ole boy. Getting ready for the final run of the day, he agreed quickly to photo with ole Mr Mom. He was a gentle giant for sure.
Our first ride was the Rampage. A water ride on tubes, large ones held 6 of us, that went up and down a river, making sure it got each and everyone of wet before we disembarked. Idea? Ziplocs for your phones at least.
On the car ride we met Tim he was super funny, and was they person that we chatted to while waiting to board a second time, as the first time we had to be walked back as a car had died on the track and protocol means you have to clear everyone.
Through our conversation we learned that Dollywood employs about 3500 staff. We learned about, or as much as he could share about the new expansion coming in 2019. He told us that about 35 family members work for Dollywood, but who knows.
Now let me tell you this park is not for the faint of heart as it is literally built on the side of a mountain, so for those that don’t like walking this probably is not for you, further if you can’t walk up inclines this is not the park for you(you can rent scooters).
There are only a handful of rides, but rollercoasters are three of them. There is a “tower” of doom, not sure of the name but you do drop 70 stories in a very short time. There is zip lining as well in the park.
But all this walking is great for those more adventurous or like us those that have a blinding purpose. We were going to consume all foods foreign to us past the Dolly gates, we failed.
Our first attempt was lunch where we had pulled pork fries… sweet mercy, Darrell and I shared them, they were oh !!!!!! so good, seasoned fries topped with cheese sauce and bbq pulled pork, with a dolup….gadolup of sour cream… I could feel my heart losing another year in the process.
We had watched a video before we left on what we were going to tackle. Next on the agenda, pulled cinnamon sugar bread…… om om om om om goooooodnessss. We will be trying to replicate when we get back home.
The last stop on our food frenzie and the coma train was the candy store. Here we narrowed down a very large list of fudge to six pieces, I can’t tell you how hard this was to do… I chose three and wanted to steal Darrell’s three choices.. walk away…walk away..
Now to hit the gift shop and finalize what we needed, and here I scored Raspberry Pecan Butter, I mean really, seriously just the name sounds good, I also picked up some sweet potato butter, can’t wait to get them home. I threw in a honey, pecan butter for good measure.
Now the decision for food, what should we eat….are you kidding me. We ended up picking us some pre done vegetables and making a shrimp scallop stirfry… ahhh keeping regular…
Tomorrow off to what started this whole trip… The titanic exhibit …. I have a sinking feeling about this ……
The six am wake up call was early but we wanted to get on the road as it was a long driving day. We would fore go a sit down breakfast and make a gas junk food stop to fill our bellies.
A local gas station would entertain our appetites and suppress my deepest yearning to eat the ass off a bear. So we decide quick hand sandwich, pork chop. What the ingredient sticker should have said was Chopped Pork, cause it resembled nothing of a porkchop. Now having said that it was mighty good, with a little mayo…it needed some lettuce but it did the trick.
Tried to educate on some of USA marvels in the candy department, such as the watchamacallit chocolate bar and payday chocolate bar…. And he would have nothing of it. Instead opting for his starburst mini’s and a pop..BORING!
Darrell was driving so best take a nap to preserve the peace and my sanity…….
Off to build the ark….
I gathered my peeps two by two, ok so there were three of us. And I can tell you it would take a whole lot more of us to build the ark. I can tell you God had better supply a few cranes if he’s asking me to build one(there is a section in the ark that explains how they would have built such a massive structure with so few people)
Whether you believe in the Bible or not, whether you believe in God or not, after visiting the Ark located in Williamstown, Kentucky Disney once said, “build it and they will come”, and the people who constructed this replica, must have envisioned the same.
If nothing but a great story, it has lasted over now thousands of years. To see anyone take on recreating a major piece of that story and bringing it to live is nothing short of a marvel.
The Replica, based on the information in the Bible and of course creative license has produced an exhibit nothing under amazing.
Whether or not you believe in God, you will appreciate the shear magnitude of this project.
The Ark’s measurements were based on the cubit, and there are several types of cubits, so you look that up, why should I do your work for you. But suffice to say it is about 20.4 inches (measurement that they ended up using), which converted is a structure that is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet tall.
Actually re-enactment shows several prototypes and all but the ark’s version would have potentially sank. Many exhibits explain ventilation, water supply and waste removal. There are 3d depictions of how the family lived aboard with the many animals so said approximately 6700.
Luckily for us we did not have to experience the smells, conditions or sounds of the Ark of the day. The modern day replica comes complete with water stops, washrooms, gift shops, photos stops along the way.
The outer grounds have as small petting zoo, a market, zip lining and a full size restaurant capable of holding 1500 guest. A four drive from Nashville or six ish from Memphis it is one of those things that is a g reat once see.
The Ark is also connected to the creation Museum 45 minutes north of the Ark. The visit, the only real stop in Kentucky was worth every dollar and the 8 hour drive from Nashville and back to Pigeon Forge.
So a four drive takes us to our Smokey Mountain Cabin. Oooooooooh my. Have ya’ll (my Tennessee accent) watched any horror shows, you know the ones where someone comes out with a chain saw swinging it wildly, foam out of their mouth.
The sun was just going down, casting a eerie feeling as we drove further up into the mountains. The road from town was like a moving snake, twisty and turny, as we got further up the mountain the road become narrower and narrower. The trees began to almost take over the roads.
Now we did not bring food, who knew that 11 short miles could put us in a place of starving to death and having to eat each other if we got snowed in. What about the Bears or cougars, having a young son with us, helped as we would just feed him to them as we made our escape. Hell in the event of being snowed in, we could eat Michaels ass. Listen I am not a fat man, without my priority not being food, come now.
All those movies as a kid that I stupidly watched and now as an adult do not watch, started playing through my mind. The cast of characters all wearing overalls, missing their teeth and having no hair on one side of their head…. Ok its not Darrell, now stop everyone…..
When we finally arrive to the cabin, there we were at the door punching in our “supposed” door code into the key lock. Time and time again we tried, out comes the travel binder to check our code, nope we had it right.
OMG we are locked out there are chainsaw killers in “dem der hills”, “the hills have eyes”, you choose, I was thinking we were all going to be killed. They would find pieces of our arms still attached to the key lock frantically trying to get the code right. My head found on Darrell’s shoulder, my mouth wide open, screaming at him for putting us here with “Billy Bob” and his other chains saw killing family, beheaded mid scream.
Finally the smart one of the group, went to the front door again, opened the screen door and found another coded entry lock, pressed in the code and voila we were saved. Who knew we could love this kid more.
Once inside, we started to read all the literature they left for us. One of the things it mentioned several times was the fact that we were now in “Bear” country. Oh great we have now escaped, the axe murderers, only to be eaten by Yogi. We told Michael it was nice having him as our son, but if a bear come we are tossing him as get away bate.
Off to dinner. You will note that I am not writing about this place…..Disgusting “China 1” should not be in business, that’s our opinion, just bad.
Back to our cabin in the woods for what might be a long night of watch….
Our fourth day on this adventure started out later than usual, all of us catching up on our beauty rest, some of us more than others(me). IHOP, not usually my quick and easy go to, get the day started kinda restaurant, but we spotted this one on the way to our Hermitage tour.
Ok so in fairness to this IHOP, its open 24 hours, not that it should make a great difference, but it does.
So the server was a nice enough person, personality too boot and she called us “baby”, which I absolutely love. Or any of those southern terms of endearment, Honey, sweet heart, baby , sugar , well you get the idea.
The biggest challenge here was the salt, wet! And we saw people opening them up to get salt with their fingers to include me.. asked about it, suggesting putting rice in, and was met with, “they have talked to corporate who nixed the salt idea”. Which is a big health concern for me. Anyways the other thing is that they are still using a pailed, fruit salad instead of fresh fruit. Gross and oh so 70’s
The Hermitage location was clean enough, but I think that it looks worn and dated, and if not it just some bad décor choices. I would eat here again, but this is definitely middle of the road.
On to our adventure of the day, this one had us all huffing and puffing like a hooker in heat, it was so damned hot out. Having said that it was so worth the trip.
About a half hour outside of Nashville downtown core, the Andrew Jackson Hermitage sits, (seventh President of the United States). Once over 2400 acres, this magnificent Manson is meticulously revamped and restored and maintained.
The tour can be taken with audio sets or just one your own. There are stops all over the property, some talk about President Jackson , others about his wife Rachelle and then there are kid friendly versions.
Once you get to the drive way of the Mansion shaped like a guitar, long before Nashville was known for its country music. It was designed to slow the decent to the main doors and keep the dust down from the carriages and arriving horses.
The wall paper in the main room is original to the home and is close to 180 years old. More of the same was found by the charity now running the home that is made by the same company that made the wall paper in the main entry. The company that made the paper now out of business and the wooden stencils that were used to make the paper long since destroyed in the war in Paris where they originated.
A fire in 1834 destroyed a large portion of the house, but when rebuilding they added on to it and moved the kitchen outside, possibly to not tempt fate twice.
The property has the original wooden home, with a slaves home near by. Other slave cabins have long since fallen, but have left the stone frame of the floor, now filled in with gravel to mark its existence.
Once the Mansion was built the large wooden home would be used for the slaves of the farm, once totalling up to 150.
The garden on the property is basic but beautifully designed and houses the tomb to both Rachelle, the wife of President Jackson. Along side this tomb lies one of the slaves, Uncle Alfred that had been born into slavery on the property and lived his entire life on the property.
The property fell hard times when the one and only heir fell into hard times. The state took over the home in 1897 and turned it into a museum and allowed the heir and his family to continue to live on the top floor while opening the lower floor to the public.
The property has a large cabin, (event building) in the lower part of the property that is used for events. Any part of the property would amazing for an event, the mansion in the background.
There is a lot of history and it has been captured and maintained with such accuracy. If ever in the Nashville area this is on the must see list.
The next stop on our daily adventure was a trip to, state capitol. This building was filled with such history and beauty, I know all these old government buildings are. We went on a walking tour, which allowed us all sorts of freedom, questionably too much, like the senate chamber, the chamber of representative, and office of the secretary of state and the treasurer and even the Governors offices.. It was crazy to think about it… maybe it was because nothing was sitting, just seemed really open.
The marble in this place was like amazing and everywhere, so beautiful.
I needed water and a sit down so we took a quick stroll downtown and this let us to Baam Burger, at 223 4th ave North. Now this place was quite large. But empty, 3 o’clock, could have been?? Don’t know, Now their menu looked great, but we just wanted a snack because we were eating later. So water and ice cream.
Soft serve, chocolate and vanilla….OMG some of the best soft serve, so creamy. They had a list of about 30 shakes you could order as well. I would have loved to give this burger joint a try…maybe next time.
Home we go to rest up for Dinner, send pictures home and have an early cocktail to get in the zone LOL
Had the best time ever with our good friend of over 30 years, Darcy West. He come by and took us out to dinner, which were supposed to buy, cheeky bugger. We went to a place called Martins Bar-B-Que Joint, it was so awesome. So the table had chicken fingers and fries, which were great, nicely flavored. We had the Ribs and I had a BBQ pork sandwich with slaw and a side of broccoli salad. There was so much flavor in my dish.
It was filled with 30 something people, well besides us and had a great party atmosphere. You could imagine what it might be like on a weekend.
He then took us for a drive, a small tour, looking at some the big ole houses costing a big ole amount and we went down Music Row which was exciting. Even got to see Starstruck Entertainment, that my little Reba and her ex husband owned. Just a surreal moment, when you see something that you have heard about your entire life, just like that of the Grand Ole Opry, Had such a great night.
Talked about old times, and after knowing each other 30 years, and not seeing each other in many many years, we picked up off where we had left off. I am glad he made the time for us, tonight.
Off to Kentucky first thing in the AM.
Third day seems to slowed the humorous event that we have had…..
This morning started out well… we went to pick up our tickets to the Belle Meade Mansion. Darrell met a hottie and almost never made it back to the car, to which he always then says oh you would have liked him. Oh don’t call me to come in and look or anything.
We wanted to eat at the Gaylord (appropriate name really….think about it…think …There you got it…we are gay) Oh boy! But an executive decision was made to head to Cracker Barrell, my favorite easy peasy, always consistent restaurant to eat at in the states.
I love all the knick knacks they have in their stores, always mostly local stuff of the region or city. We were seated right away by someone we thought did not like her job. A handful of wrapped silverware and menus were dropped on our table with a non friendly, “there you go”.
Things went quickly up hill from here, when our server Roberta come bouncing up to the table. Now this wonderful piece of woman, chocolate, that’s fine chocolate to you all, came up to the table with attitude galore, spunk and this radiant personality. I mean she exuded charm and grace and love and all those good things. What I love about the states most (being from the hospitality industry) is the style in which service people chat with you.
Well hello baby, how ya’ll doing. My god to be called baby at this point of my life is like winning the lottery, to boot by the sweetest young woman ever. Rebecca, our goddess treated like kings and when we left she gave us big hugs all around.
Our breakfast did not disappoint
Me and Michael had the hashbrown casserole, I ordered a side of beignets, as good as you will get in New Orleans. Sugary, caramelly and cakey donutty…..so good… all diet of course Darrell had the standard breakfast that gave him a little bit of everything. Ham, biscuits and gravy, grits, eggs and toast… he was eating light
We left there with our tummies full, off to the Grand ole Opry, where Michael had his first public experience. (a little OCD, he never uses public facilities, but if you are going to use them, the Grand ole Opry is the place to go). There are only two gender neutral washrooms, until you actually get into the auditorium so you may want to plan to stop at the mall adjacent first.
There is such history here, and you feel so honored to be standing in the space that so many people have graced. Legends and Icons alike. The Grand ole Opry, has been around forever, my grandmother used to listen too and then years later watch on television.
To see the artists that I grew up on was one of those moments that I will remember always. The pictures, the stories ( the flood and rebuild being one of them) many firsts done right there at the Grand ole Opry.
After our Opry stage debut, we headed over to the party at the mall, to see some of our favorite stars. Tim McGraw, must say…buns of steel, Justin Timberlake, and of course my favorite Reba. Lots going on at the party but everybody seemed to hang by themselves or small groups. Got to play the piano with some guys, and sing like a Rockstar, over all a great day.
From there we went on to The Belle Meade Mansion, where got to tour a Plantation, which as we were told not really a plantation but a stud farm for racing horses. The families were apart of the home for over 100 years before falling on hard times, where the property eventually ended up in the state and turned into a historical site.
This was an amazing home, most of its artifacts were original and slowly they are acquiring more and more of them. The last living heir who had no invested interest, except to lived off the proceeds of the failing plantation, now has three sons. All of whom are doing well but never had anything to directly do with the Plantation.
After the tour we stopped for some wine from their on site winery, which of course I bought a bottle to take home.
The grounds of the home are amazing, if ever in Nashville this is a must see. Tomorrow we are off to see the Hermitage home of president Andrew Jackson, just out side of Nashville. This too looks interesting will let you know how that one goes.
Dinner out was at the Burger Republic, cool joint, we ate out side it was so warm. We had basic stuff like Burgers and a Chicken Salad. The Burgers like everything in the USA food wise were huge, one with tator tots the other with garlic fries.
The deep fried pickles and peppers were great as well. This was a thumbs up place to eat and our waitress, Madi was great. Had to take the picture with my phone (broken) and so her pic isn’t that clear, but she was a wonderful person.
day four tomorrow.....