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Archive for the 'Vacation Time' Category

A Much Needed Vacation

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Destin, FL - View from our balcony

Recently, Baret and I were invited on a week-long vacation to Destin, Florida with his longtime and dearest friends, Ben and Jenn.

It was special for many reasons.  Mainly, living over an hour away from each other, we do not get to spend as much time with them as either of us would like.  This is especially painful for Baret; who feels he is missing out on seeing his godson - their oldest child, Elijah - growing up.  Baret is an important part of their lives and sometimes I feel like the big, bad girlfriend who came in and moved him away to the Big City - keeping him away from his loved ones back home in the small town he grew up in.

Such, naturally, was never my intention.  Yet the harried pace of day-to-day life does keep us away much more than either he or I are happy about - or are proud of.  We have the best of intentions for making more of an effort, but there always seems to be something going on - in our personal lives, with my medical condition, dealing with my family, or concerning work - that keeps us away.

I, personally, have always regretted that we were not closer to them; they are obviously wonderful people and I know how much they mean to Baret.

The three of them graduated high school together; where Ben and Jen were small town, high school sweethearts.  Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I find that so very neat.  Even after all these years - even more impressively - is how obvious it is that they are still very much in love and enamoured of one another.  That after nine years of marriage and two kids, their love is still as strong (or stronger) than ever.  In this crazy world, with so many distractions, aggravations, and the daily nuances of life, it is a testament to the idea of "true love" that they are still going strong.

In addition to going to high school together, Baret was also the Best Man in their May 2000 wedding and the godfather of their firstborn child and son.  When Baret and I get married in the next few years, Ben will be the Best Man and if we ever have a child, Ben will be it's godfather.

And so, with all of this in mind, it was especially poignant when they asked us to accompany them on their annual vacation; this year in sunny Destin, Florida.

We are currently enjoying ourselves in a beautiful, penthouse condo on the harbor.  It's four bedrooms, two master (one of which is ours!) with a bathroom nearly as big as my whole upstairs back home.  We spent yesterday at a water park - Big Kahuna - where Ben and Jen had reserved us all our own cabana (replete with cabana boy - Simeon - who brought us drinks, food, and alcohol as needed).  I rode the slides (my first time!) and had so much fun (even though the bottoms of my feet are so burnt they are breaking out in blisters).

We will be here for another week, so I'll have more to write about next time.  For now, I am off to put my bathing suit on so we can all go down to the pool and hot tub.  Tomorrow - if the weather permits - we are taking the boat out to Crab Island.

This, my friends, is a vacation!  (See the pics I've taken so far - mostly of the amazing condo we're staying in and the view of the harbor from it - on the Destin 2009 set over at my Flickr).

A review of Nashville: New Years in Nashville

Monday, January 5th, 2009

A dear friend moved to Nashville around a year and a half ago to attend Belmont University, where he is working on his masters degree in Music. After a trip home for the Christmas holiday, we – myself, my fiancé, and a friend – followed him back to Nashville to spend the week of New Year’s.

It was my first time ever visiting Nashville and I was absolutely charmed with the city, which my fiancé and I decided looked – downtown – like a bright, clean, nice-smelling New Orleans’s French Quarter.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, my friend took us to a purple-bricked building that titled itself World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge on Broadway. Wall-to-wall, nearly floor to ceiling, was stacked with yellowing and cracked framed photographs of all the faces that had graced Tootsies’s little stage. From insanely famous to only known to a few, there had to be literally thousands of star-studded boots that had tapped to a tune on those wooden stage floorboards!

There was a live band playing, with (sexy) singer and guitarist Jake Maurer. Onstage as well was a pretty blonde fiddler; as good as she was cute – the devil likely would’ve met his match against this girl!. Jake’s MySpace page lists a fiddler bandmate as Kari Nelson – hopefully we’ll see more of her in the future. In all honesty, we were packed nearly like sardines in that little bar, but everyone was having a wonderful time and the music was just top-notch.

It eventually got too crowded, so we moved next door to a larger yet less-packed bar called The Second Fiddle. This place had the largest, most interesting collection of old radio receivers I have ever seen. The walls were lined with shelves holding these relics of the original always-available music. I honestly didn’t even know that many types of old and antique radios existed!

We had a great time there before heading home to enjoy a private party at home to ring in the new year.

On our last day in Nashville, our friend took us to The Red Door Saloon, where we stayed until dark and I got to experience “real life” shuffleboard (to date, I’d only ever played it on the Wii). The bar had a great atmosphere, friendly patrons, and a very hip look overall.

I’d recommend visiting all of the few places we dropped in on during our stay in Nashville. Though most of our time was spent at home, catching up with old friends, I hope to return to Nashville next year and see some more of its sites and attractions.

The city, overall, is simply lovely; there is just no other way to describe it. It is clean, well laid-out, and most of the buildings fit a similar architectural-style; giving it all a very attractive and pleasantly uniform appearance. Vanderbilt University is nestled neatly within the city, its charming, collegiate facade not at all contrasting with the more modern structures in its vicinity.

Everything is just so carefully done to flatter its neighbors and enhance the overall beauty of the city. Coming from the dirty, random claptrap that is most Louisiana cities, it was a pleasant surprise. In fact, when driving by a two-story home near Vanderbilt – obviously housing some college students – it seemed so shockingly out of place to see dozens of beer bottles strewn along the front porch and tossed carelessly about the yard that we all reflected on just how incongruous it seemed in the otherwise tidy city.

I will definitely be returning to Nashville someday, and with plans to see and do more. Our time there was very special – made even moreso by our dear friend and host, who took special pains to make sure we at least saw the important hotspots and experienced some of Nashville’s lesser-known treats (such as Gigi’s Cupcakes and Cinco de Mayo, our friend’s favorite Mexican eatery).

I would recommend a trip to Nashville to anyone. The hilly countryside, the charming city, and the chance of bumping into a celebrity in little, downtown honkytonks will make a memorable trip for anyone.