Mom and Dad visit Music City!

Hooray! After a month of getting used to this new place, I was ready to show off Nashville to my parents! They drove down 9 hours from Michigan on the first Friday in May. The weekend was packed with eating, and exploring. Here are the highlights!

Saturday May 3rd

The next morning we head out for a busy day of exploring the city. At Yeast Nashville my biscuit breakfast sandwich was tasty and large.

Then, we went to check out the downtown Farm Market. It was right next to the Bicentennial Mall; at one end is the capital and it’s made to mimic the National Mall in DC. There were towers with bells at the other end, quite the carillon!

After we were done learning about Tennessee’s history (16th state in the Union!) and headed down to see Warner Park, where I’ll be holding camp this summer!

Mom and I, enjoying the Little Harpeth River.

We had a lovely little wander, then headed to Harding Academy to meet Jessie & Ron’s friend Barrett at the art show. Barrett spends a LOT of time outdoors, waiting for wildlife to photograph. He captures some really stunning photos and even won a National Geographic contest for this photo of a Grizzly, charging after salmon in a stream.

Dad was feeling nappish after that, so Mom & I dropped him off at home and went to split a salad at Calypso Cafe and take a brisk walk in Shelby Bottoms Park, my favorite spot to run with the Indigo Buntings.

Hours later, we roust Dad and head to 5 Points Pizza to grab a few slices to go. Dad gets pepperoni and we get prosciutto and basil. YUM!!! We eat it on a bus stop bench and head off to explore downtown Nashville.

We park on the north side of the river and take the pedestrian bridge across because it has the best views. This is Dad’s cool abstract-reflection-of-the-bridge photo.

Reflection Bridge

There were about 9 different groups of red-carpet-ready teens getting their prom photos on the bridge. Here’s the prom pix of Mom and Me!

mom and A on bridge

Dad found a rooftop wedding to photograph.

Rooftop Wedding

I spotted a horse-drawn carriage!

Finally, across the Cumberland River and into town! We stop to admire the fountains.

And explore Broadway- with all the Honky Tonk bars. But of course, we’re only there for ice cream.

Broadway

After grabbing ice cream, staring at all the gaggles of ladies in cowboy hats and walking past the buskers – we got sleepy and hiked back over the bridge.

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Sunday, May 4th

In stereotypical ‘Adrienne’ style, we spent Saturday running all over town and Sunday we were tuckered out!  So, we were going to try to take it a bit easier…

So, we went to church at the cute little Episcopal church in my neighborhood, then met up with Laura and Won at the Gerst Haus for lunch. Oops, no photos. Then, we went to meet the cousins, Rachelle and Steve Sipkovsky at Radnor Lake!

Cousin Sips

We hiked around the lake, spotting big turtles with Brayden, Bryce, Brenden and Ellie.  We were careful to follow ALL the POSTED RULES… no running on the trails, no dogs, do not sit on the scopes.  Lots of rules.

Silly Rules

It was a lovely little gem of a lake – nothing remarkable by Michigan standards, but since there aren’t any natural lakes around here, it’s pretty unique. In fact, this lake was created to supply steam engines with water as they passed through Nashville, an overland transportation hub.

Turtles

We hiked until 5pm, then Mom and I were hungry, so we headed to Calypso Cafe! Mom and I got salads (again! SO good!) and dad? Well, he got a warm mint brownie with whipped cream. He loved it.

We were tuckered out and headed home, where we spent 45 minutes watching YouTube videos like this one about the “Flippy, floppy spider of the Sea” (aka. Octopus). Do yourself a favor and watch it.

Monday, May 5th

Mom and Dad head out early, and stop by Louisville to see Father Roger and Andrew. They got home pretty late, but it was worth it! They’re making plans to come back for another visit this summer when we go to Mammoth Caves! BYE MOM! BYE DAD! I LOVE YOU!!!

Mom in the Van

 

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Remember when I used to write blog posts?


The last time I wrote a blog post, it was about our trip to Slovakia… we flew back into D.C. the day the gov’t shut down… October 2013.  Since then, I haven’t been overly inspired to do much more than post photos to FaceBook.  Lame, I know.  Here’s my attempt to get you all updated before I start posting about Nashville and how slowly people walk there (I’ve been warned!)

FALL 2013- WINTER 2014 UPDATE

This Fall was split between applying for Event Planner jobs, teaching swim lessons at the YMCA and helping my dad build a house.  (In the photo I am DRYING a house, but I did get real handy with an impact driver and did some actual work!)

Adrienne Dries the Wall

 

Then Cory came home for a wedding, the beginning of November and helped us out at the house.

November Cory

Then it got insanely SNOWY and FREEZING!  Dad and I had some very leisurely mornings, making eggs and watching Kelly & Michael on TV while the wind chill hovered around -18.  (Dad went through a lot of Hot Hands this winter…)  In late November, Mom and I went Silver Bells in the City- in Lansing. Freezing, but a fun time!

Silver Bells

When it was warm enough to breathe outside (without your nose hairs freezing) Mom and I would take walks and have adventures.  THEN, just before Christmas, we had a crazy storm that knocked out our power for 3 days.  I slept over at Uncle Pete & Aunt Kathy’s.  They had a FULL house and threatened to go to a hotel.  Family Rocks!

Icy Tree

 

We managed to cut a tree and put it up for Christmas.  It was decorated with 30+ year old salt dough ornaments that were G’ma Smith’s.  So adorable.  I miss her.  Merry Christmas!

Saltdough ornaments

 

Then we headed back to Pete & Kathy’s for Christmas Day.  It’s always nice to hang out with the Smith crew.

Mom, Emma Betty Jane Christmas

What a bunch of cuties!  Above: Betty Jane, Emma and Mom.  Below: Uncle Petey & Callie, getting along just fine.

Pete and CallieI rang in the New Year with the best bunch of college roomies a girl could as for!  1234 White Street may have been  such a generic name that they refused to deliver pizza to us, but we know how to have FUN!  So happy to have spent the evening with this crew!  Also, Cards Against Humanity?  You should buy it.  Tentacles.  That is all.

White Street NYE

In January Mom, Dad and I drove out to Colorado to spend a week with my siblings.  It DUMPED down snow on our ski day at Beaver Creek and the powder was almost to our knees.  It snowed all day and the hill was so empty that we could ski RIGHT back on the lift, no wait at all.  The NEXT day, there was a snow day and everyone flocked to the slopes.  People were waiting 1.5 hours IN LINE for the LIFT!  You could see the lines at the Vail lifts from satellite images.

Vail Daily

Then, 4 of us spent 2 hours shoveling 2-3 feet of snow off of Cory & Maria’s roof.  You do the math.  Epic snow.

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Jessie and I, doing a dance in our matching Patagonia jackets.  We’re so spoiled!

Sister PatagucchiSipFamily Christmas

It was also Dad’s birthday before we left for Colorado, then it was Mom’s birthday when we got back!  There was much celebrating!

mom and dad celebrate

Let’s just skip February… and now it’s MARCH!  My Aussie friend from YMCA Camp Jewell is doing a tour of the USA with his friends and invites me to meet them in Chicago for St. Paddy’s Day!  What fun!

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Troy & I, waiting for my favorite Irish Band, One of the Girls, to go on!

Chicago River Green

Chicago sure knows how to do a solid dye job!

Adrienne & TroyTroy wore that Kermit head all day.  Seriously, for about 14 hours.  Drunks LOVE Kermit!  (We have no idea who these girls are, but we will claim Sebastian- in the sunglasses.  Surprisingly, he’s not drunk- he’s just Argentinian!)

And we’re all caught up to present day!  Here is my motto for 2014…

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It seems to have worked, I’m moving to Nashville, as we speak and developing/running a nature day camp in a 3,000 acre city park!  Should be an interesting summer!

 

 

Meeting G’ma Sip’s Cousins

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

We woke up in Klato and Elena made us omelets + liquor for breakfast, toured a neighbor’s garden and had mushroom soup (made by Michael’s mother, Hana).   Mushroom Soup

Every time we left a relative’s house, we got presents- usually it included alcohol!  (See below: my bell + apron!)

Elena's kitchen

On our way out of town, we stopped in Nedanovce (a tiny town a few miles away from Klato) to plan a visit for the following week with another set of relatives.

Zdenka

(Zdenka & Marie: The sisters are 80 & 85 year old cousins of his mother!)  It was a pretty old-timey way to set up appointments.  They sure were surprised to see us!

Hana’s summer cottage is in Neda Nofsa and she took us over to the cemetery to visit dead relatives.

CemeteryLovas Grave IMG_0794

We headed back to our Slovak ‘home base’- NITRA- It’s a mid-sized college town where dad is friends with a Lutheran priest called Pastor Ivan.  We settled in at the Penzion Vila Aria and made plans to drive across the country the next day.  Luckily, in Slovakia it will only take us 4-5 hours.  🙂

PenzionAria

September 23

In the morning, a tiny, hummingbird of a woman, Anka, made us omelets for breakfast and forced me to take a pile of salami for the road.  She didn’t speak any English, but she was very concerned that I might go hungry.  This often happened to me in Slovakia… I guess I just have that look about me. ; )

ANKE at the Aira

Before we begin our cross-country trip we pop over set up a visit with “Young Jan” who also lives in Nitra.  Dad knew where Jan lived, so we stopped over- but no one was home.  We called Jan’s cell phone and he answered but the connection was bad… until he stepped out onto the front porch!  HEY!!!!

After setting up a visit for the 30th, we start our journey to Poprad, at the foothills of the Tatra Mountains.

tatras

Slepacia, Slivovecia and wood-fired pork knee! Oh my!

Klato

We arrive at Alena's house just before noon and lunch smells fantastic!

Arrival

Meals are long and boozy when we are hosted by our Slovakian relatives. Every course begins with a shot of local liqueur called Slivovica, served in a fancy cut glass. Whoa! Mom & I play along- knocking back our shots and shouting, “Nastrovia!!!” Dad has learned that he can opt out of most celebratory drinking with a single word, “Chauffeur”, since the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.0%. Slovakians take drunk driving very seriously… probably because they take their drinking very seriously!

Nastrovia

*Upon closer review of this photo- this is breakfast. Omelets and shots = Yowza!

The first course is always Slepacia. Homemade, delicious chicken soup with delicate handmade noodle (if you're lucky). Alena had ordered focaccia with bacon from the bakery and I had to pace myself- everything was so delicious but there was more to follow.

Then, the pork knee arrived at the table, wood fired and full of flavor. (Did we have veggies?) There is a little plate of cut veggies & pickles- just like at G'mas house.

 

We sat for a while after dinner- Michael in the center of multiple conversations- and then dessert arrives on the table. Kolache! Dad's favorite kind of Slovak cake is a roll with walnut paste inside. There is also a poppy seed version that is very popular. G'ma Sip used to make both varieties. Two & 1/2 hours after lunch began & its time for a walk… Or a nap. We opt for the guided tour of Klato.

In such a small village, the principal attracts attention wherever she goes. We stop to talk to kids & parents as we head up the hill to the cemetery.Alena and her students

One of the older women we pass offers us handfuls of walnuts that she has collected.Walnuts

In the cemetery, we visit Alena's mother's grave, Stephania who passed away 3 months ago and clear the leaves off her grave and light a candle for her. In Slovakia, everyone takes care of their own family's grave – one family was there doing some landscaping with white quartz rocks.

Stephania

The town of Klato is so small that they do not have a church- the chapel in the cemetery holds services on Saturdays, when the priest from the next-town-over is available.

Klato chapel

We stopped in side to ogle the paintings on the ceiling and making sure our number wasn't up…

Now serving

Jesus is now serving number 888.

After leaving the cemetery, we make the logical next stop… the VINOTEKA!!!

On Tap

Slovakians grows lots of grapes and many of them make their own wine. This guy built a bar in his basement and it's awesome! He is also a metalsmith and really went all-out decorating the bar in a manly fashion.

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The owner really wanted to put up this sweet chandelier and then his wife pointed out that tipsy patrons may try to swing on it. So, he re-installed it to support up to 250 lbs. In the photo, Veronica + Michael are giving it 'the ultimate test'. It seems to be holding up!

Burchiok

Did you notice the pitcher of cloudy 'wine' in the photo of all the taps on the wall? No? Well, it may have been your introduction to BURCIAK- its midway between grape juice and wine. A lot of the sugar hasn't fermented into alcohol yet, so it's sweet yet gives you a buzz. And since we had WALKED there, Dad's usual excuse did not apply. This photo cracks me up!

The tour of Klato wasn't over, next we head over to Alena's school to check out the Agricultural Fair! We'll save that excitement for next time!

 

Sloooovakia! Leaving the fast-paced life behind.

September 19th, Thursday

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(Photo by Mom)

When we last left the story, we had escaped the frantic pace of Prague and we were cruising the back-country lanes of Slovakia. We arrived in Martin in the late afternoon and got settled at the St. Martin Hotel. Their aren’t really ‘hotels’ in Slovakia… we stay in places that are more like a cross between a motel and a Bed & Breakfast.

There were always comforters with duvet covers, folded sideways on the beds. Quaint and adorable.

We hopped back in the car and headed off to find Dad’s favorite spot for dinner, the Chopper Club. (Yup, it’s a Harley restaurant!)

CHopper Club

Dad has eaten there 3 times and always orders the Flintstone Platter; a sizzling slab of rock with a chunk of meat cooking on top!

With full tummies, we headed back to the pension and off to bed. The first day in Slovakia was a SUCCESS!

September 20th, Friday

After an (almost) uneventful breakfast (Dad’s ‘French Toast’ was covered in salty sheep cheese!) we hit the road. Heading to Banska Bystrica to cruise the pedestrian walkway and explore the gorgeous downtown.

Banksa BystriccaIMG_0587

There were clarinet-playing buskers serenading us with Stevie Wonder songs, a HUGE rock fountain and a whole slew of lovely saints, carved out of marble.

Virgin Mary

(Hmmm… taking a second look at this next one, I think her dress is telling me that she’s no saint!)

Banksa B

We strolled through the cemetery and then went in search of lunch. We found a lunch special at a cute little restaurant in the lower level of an alley but had a bit of trouble with the menu.

When the waiter came over we just pointed to the #1 and hoped for the best. Dad may look a bit skeptical, but we ended up ordering a 2nd plate! (It turned out to be fried PORK NECK with boiled potatoes & cabbage. YUM!)

Slovak lunch

After lunch we headed out of town and headed to Hronsek, to see a 300 year old wooden church. Slovakia is famous for their wooden churches, many with onion domes. Their interesting designs stem from a 1681 set of restrictive laws that were placed on the building of Protestant churches.

What kind of church would you build if it had to be built with the following restrictions:

  1. No metal nails may be used
  2. Construction must be completed in 365 days.
  3. Church may not have a steeple/ bell tower.
  4. The front door may not be directly on the street.

PFFT!  That sounds difficult!

Hronsek Wooden Church

The Hronsek church is what they came up with in 1726. I’m pretty shocked that an uncoordinated altar boy didn’t accidentally burn it down, considering they must have held candle-lit services for many of those years.

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Next, we head to Nitra- Dad’s favorite Slovakian town! We stay Friday night at the Pension Zorboska.

Slovak Window
Slovak Window

This window at our Pension has many ‘Slovak’ details:

  1. Lace curtains. (Every house in every Slovak village has lace curtains. Seriously. Every. Single. One!)
  2.  Geraniums in the window box!
  3. No screens! Plus, cool windows that can be opened from one side or tilted in from the top so the blinds can still be drawn.

We walked into downtown Nitra for dinner. On the way we passed a new art installation honoring Cyril & Methodious – Slovakia’s patron saints who brought Christianity and written language to the Slavic people.

Even half-way around the world, Mom & Dad show their Spartan Pride!

We keep walking through town, til we get to one of Dad’s favorite parts of Nitra- the ‘Nameste’- or central square. It’s got a fancy fountain with color-changing lights!

Our hunger forced us to move on… until Dad found an Italian restaurant and we had a great dinner. Yum- lasagna and arugula pizza! Dad also drank three glasses of ‘apéritif’… which Mom described as ‘cough syrup with bubbles’. Blech.

Full & happy we walk Back to the Zoborska to bed down for the night!

Mid-Summer Night Reflection

Ahhh! The days have been sweltering, but the nights are cool & breezy. Driving home from yoga class @ 9:15pm, I noticed that it was mostly dark out! The sunshine hours are receding towards fall and I recalled that I was half-way through my summer in Portland! In 5 short weeks, Doug & Eric will be arriving by plane to drive me back to Michigan where I will spend the week zipping around the state, hugging people. THEN I'll be on a plane to Amsterdam! THAT is a whole other post…

 

This post is a Recap of Summer 2013!

May 16th= Birthday!

May 17th= Belated Birthday present from Luke & Susie! (Michael arrives!) Lots of parties and good-byes, chalk drawing with B, then Dad & I road-trip to Colorado!

 

May 24-27th = COLORADO SIBLING EXTRAVAGANZA!!

 

2 more days driving with Dadoo, “Shields UP!” (he says this when we go thru tunnels & we think its hilarious)

JUNE is full of fun touristy times ~ first via bike-map with dad, then with Erica! Zip-lines, brunch, REI garage sale, eating at food trucks, white water rafting, Saturday Market/kidnapping/Voodoo donut, Pride Week Bingo AND a road trip to Vancouver BC, up the most beautiful highway in the world, to Squamish! On the way home, I start Adrienne Lee Photography. We see Old Crow Medicine Show @ the Zoo. Then, Erica starts her residency at the pediatric ER & I dog-sit in Sellwood where a pen gets eaten and poo turns blue.

JULY! The most important week of July was covered in the last post; Crater Lake road trip! And then a weekend in Seattle with Becca! Also, I have been going to yoga twice a week and working HARD to learn how to set up my website for my photo business. Which is good, since I got laid off from my nannying job. :/ Now that I've got a decent looking website ( http://www.adrienneleephoto.com) I'm going to do a few photo shoots with friends in the area and add a blog feature to my website. Everything's slowing coming together!

 

It’s all about who ya know!

I realized that finding a job in Portland would be difficult. I did lots of web searches and made some phone calls and got some leads from friends. (Thank you!) When I arrived I had TWO interviews! Yes! The day after we arrived I went downtown to the MAC, Mulnomah Athletic Club to interview for a swim instructor/guard position.

The staff were super friendly and the members didn’t look too fancy- but then I learned that the club is the ‘Largest Athletic Club in the world’! With 500 employees and 22,000 members- it takes up 2 full city blocks and since it backs up to the Timbers stadium, you can watch professional soccer matches from the back balcony. Nice. The interview went great but they only need 4 hrs of swim instruction a week and since it’s a 30 min drive + annoying city parking I didn’t think I’d be able to make that work. 😦 Strike 1.IMG_8878

The next day we headed back out to the Columbia River Gorge and crossed the Bridge of the Gods to Washington state. My next interview was at the brand new ZIP LINE course at the Skamania Lodge.IMG_8910 The view from the lodge.

Dad and I rolled in and we got to join the tour going out- 8 cables through the trees. None were notably high or fast but it was fun to cruise around in the forest and along the golf course.

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The guy who runs the course is looking to open one at every lodge in the company, 30 in total, and was looking for someone to help him run those in the future. Possibly the very distant future. Strike 2.

The Skamania course was only 3 weeks old and the owners of the other lodges are looking for increased traffic before they sign on. School lets out soon, so maybe there will be some need for another zip tour guide, but I doubt the pay will balance the 55 minute drive. Anyhow- dad and I had a fun time with Wilson and Bobby zipping around the trees. (Special thanks to DeAnna who works for the company who built the course and trained all the happy tour guides.)

Erica is being awesome & found me a house/dog sitting job AND babysitting for a family she knows.  The lesson here… tell everyone you know what you need and then let it all work out!  Yay!