Birthday Weekend

We made it to cold and snowy Colorado on Thursday and started celebrating Addy's ninth birthday on Friday.

Technically we should have waited until today, her actual birthday, but that beanbag chair was just too darn big to wrap - or to hide. And besides, what's the fun in waiting?? We also made our traditional "grandparents are here!!" run to Build-A-Bear, this time adding a dragon to Addy's personal zoo.
Today was party with the friends at a local trampoline place, followed by more presents, crafting with mom, and dinner at Qdoba, at Addy's request. Tomorrow there just might be another present arriving, courtesy of Amazon's 2-day shipping.
Happy birthday weekend, Addison!



While the boys got up early to go fishing at Lake Casitas -

Leia and I slept in, then drove through McDonald's for breakfast in our pj's - which Leia thought was hilarious. Once Leanne arrived, the girls did a bit of face painting - 
Leanne knew exactly what she wanted 
and got right down to business,

while Leia perused her options, 
before opting to have grandma do the painting for her. (Note: I'm not planning to quit my day job . . . .)

Meanwhile, the boys were catching . . . . nothing but sun. Such a hard life.
Leanne helped me pin a new shawl (for an upcoming class)
before drowning it with the spray bottle - her favorite part of the process. 

And the boys?
A rain squall caught them in the middle of the lake and they looked like drowned rats by the time they made it to shore. (There was only one rain poncho and the "he who brings it, wears it" rule was applied.) They swear they had a good time, but personally? I'll take indoor fun with the little girls over "fishing" every time!


Father-Daughter Dance

Leia came over after school last Friday, and we primped and polished and got her all ready for her second annual father-daughter dance.
Doesn't she look great? And waaaaaaay too grown up???
But not so grown up that she didn't beg daddy for ice cream during their dinner date.
Who could say "no" to that face??


Project Car

Hubby bought a '69 Jaguar many years ago, drove it until it developed engine trouble, then parked it on the side of our house, intending to fix it up as his "retirement project."

Remodeling the house has become his real retirement project, so when the neighbor's fence contractor said "how much?", hubby sold it without a backwards glance.
Then began the ordeal of getting it out of the yard and onto a tow truck. The only way out was through the garage, which is also hubby's workshop. Two days of moving wood and tools and tile and accumulated stuff out - a lot of it straight into a dumpster - and voila, the Jag is on its way to its new home.
Leanne, who probably never even noticed the Jag before today, watched the hour-long tow truck saga with me from a safe distance and kept saying, "I'm going to miss that old car."
Sorry, Leanne, but you're the only one. Have a happy new life, Mr. Jaguar!



We started the day in Nashville, rushing around trying to see EVERYTHING, and ended it many hours later, after being stuck behind a shoulder-to-shoulder drunk driver on the freeway; she was too unpredictable to try and pass, so we stayed well back and waited her out. It made for a late arrival at our hotel, but at least she didn't hit us anybody.

First stop was Antique Archaeology.
Hubby and I are fans of American Pickers and wanted to see their Nashville store. It was full of very expensive things from Mike and Frank's picks, many of which we recognized from the show. We also got to eavesdrop on a guy negotiating a purchase and the manager calling (Mike? Danielle?) to get the ok.
Then it was over to the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the one in Greece, built as part of the 1897 TN Centennial Exposition.
We got to walk alllllll the way around the outside before we finally found the poorly marked entrance. The building was interesting, the art collection was ok.
The best part was finding a new-to-us artist we both really like. Morgan Herrin works in reclaimed wood. Check out his reclining knight at that link. Wonderful!
Hubby was curious about all the Shoney's we'd seen throughout the South, so we stopped there for lunch.
Anybody else remember how gooooooood their ice cream fudge cake is??? Boy, did that bring back yummy memories.
We almost passed up going to the Grand Ole Opry; neither of us is much of a country music fan. But we had extra time since the Lane Motor Museum was closed today, so we signed up for the backstage tour.
It was fun seeing the artist's entrance -
the soundstage where Hee Haw and Nashville are/were filmed, currently being used as a holding area for Christmas decorations -
the star dressing rooms and the auditorium seating.
My favorite part?
The plaques listing all the Opry members, from Minnie Pearl (loved her!) to Blake Shelton.

After that, the plan was to drive through to Chattanooga and spend the night there before heading to the airport in Atlanta tomorrow.
But the drive was boring . . .
and I just happened to Google covered bridges . . .
which led us out into beautiful Tennessee horse country, to this little queenpost bridge outside Lynchburg. Long drive but a fun end to the trip.

Unless something crazy happens on tomorrow's 2-hour drive to Atlanta, this ends our Asheville adventure. I'm sad that now I'll have to put my revived Southern accent away. At least until our next trip south.


Plantations and Homesteads

Today's theme is ladybugs. This guy greeted us outside our hotel in Knoxville.

The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home outside Nashville, was swarming with them. They were in my shirt pocket, my hair, everywhere.
It wasn't until we got to Belle Meade Plantation, in the heart of Nashville, that we discovered these are Japanese beetles, not ladybugs. And they bite. Glad we didn't p*ss them off.
Hermitage: No photos were allowed inside either house. Interesting fact - the wallpaper is original to the house and has been there for 187 years.

The Hermitage has been open to the public since 1889, making it one of the oldest historic sites in the U.S.
The two holly trees in front of the Hermitage are the oldest in Tennessee.

The Ladies Auxiliary transplanted a tree from each of General Jackson's battlegrounds to line the paths of the Hermitage. Love that.

Belle Meade: the original Harding-Jackson family made their money in thoroughbred horses.
The original plantation was over 5000 acres and included its own limestone quarry. Except for the current 33 acre historical site, that land is now the town of Belle Meade.
A dragon arm rest In the carriage house.

The smokehouse; the farm slaughtered 200 pigs twice a year to supply the plantation with meat.