WARNING: Very long post! Be sure to click the pictures for the best view. Ok, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I’ll get right to it.
Last Friday we left on our “big trip” (as Henry calls it). We drove from Colorado to Kentucky, down to Nashville, Tennessee, and finally to Huntsville, Alabama. What a trip! We were able to see so much family and had a great time!
On Friday we drove through Colorado and Kansas, caravan-ing with my mom and grandpa. We stayed overnight in Missouri, and then in the morning drove through St. Louis, as well as Illinois, and Indiana on the way to Louisville. We made it to the Bluegrass State a little after lunch time and went straight to visit my great-aunt DeeDee, who was recovering from having her leg amputated. She was in good spirits when we got there and I think she enjoyed seeing my boys and meeting Rick, as well as seeing my mom and giving my grandpa a hard time (as usual).
We only had one day in Louisville (it was a last minute addition to our trip due to my aunt’s leg), so we wanted to take advantage of the time. My mom’s aunts and uncles sure helped with that! My great-aunt Mary Janice organized a family cookout at the home of my mom’s cousin, Debbie. It was so great! I got to visit with all my second cousins and their families (some even drove in from Ohio!) as well as see my great-uncle Joe and aunt Mary! We talked farmer’s markets and family, and my aunt Mary-Janice showed me her greenhouse in Debbie’s backyard (I was so jealous!). Unfortunately I only took two pictures in Kentucky and both were of Rick and Emmett. I hope my mom took some more she can share with me when she gets home!
We stayed the night with my uncle Dan and aunt Mary Janice in Louisville (and had fun with the fact that Dan was a Great-Great uncle to Henry and Emmett). They were lovely hosts and had fresh bagels with three kinds of cream cheese for us in the morning before Rick and I and the boys hit the road. My mom and grandpa stayed in Louisville for another week and a half, while we drove down to Nashville.
We arrived in Music City a little before lunch time on Sunday and after dropping our things at my aunt and uncle’s home, we headed over to my cousin Kelly’s for a Memorial Day cookout. We met her friends, and my cousin Michelle came up from Alabama with her husband Mike for the afternoon as well. Maggie, my cousin’s daughter played with Emmett, and we all enjoyed the food. Aunt Marsha made peanut butter cookies and two kinds of brownies, Michelle made buffalo-chicken dip and Kelly had a spread of honey-chipotle ribs, spring-veggie potato salad, and a bunch of other yummy salads and side dishes I don’t remember the names of.
After the sun set, Henry had a blast chasing lightening bugs in the back yard. We got a short video – it was so fun to watch him. He LOVES bugs and these were a special treat!
On Monday, Kelly had the day off and she and Maggie took us around town to see some of the sights in Nashville. Our first stop was Bicentennial Mall, which is a park where you can read through the history of Tennessee along a marble walkway. Here’s where we confirmed that Tennessee was dubbed the Volunteer State back in the war of 1812 (not the Civil War, like I thought).
The river fountains at the front end of the mall were all turned off due to the flooding, but Henry got a picture near the huge flag poles there. We had a fun time chatting as we strolled along, learning Tennessee history, and got a few good shots where the mall ends at an amphitheater that offers a great view of the capital building in Nashville.
Next to the mall is the Nashville farmer’s market. We looked around at all the stalls and ended up with some strawberries and some peaches that were from South Carolina. They we delicious, and we split a whole basket with Kelly and Maggie.
After the farmer’s market, we headed to Centennial Park. This was a great big urban park with places to eat and a lake and lots of things to see. In the middle of the park is a replica of the Parthenon. We walked all around the outside and went into the lobby to cool off. They charge to tour the inside, but there really wasn’t much to the interior except a giant golden statue of Athena, so we looked at the picture on the brochure and called it good.
We headed to lunch at a little barbecue shack called Hog Heaven. We had spicy BBQ pulled pork with pickles, a cornbread pancake, baked beans, turnip greens and sweet tea. And we heard a motorcycle pull up playing ice-cream-man music. We all wondered where he was keeping the ice cream, until the real ice cream truck came around the corner.
After lunch, we walked to the other side of the park to look at the train engine that is parked there. On the way, we had to stop for snow cones. It was Henry’s first one – and BLUE!
After we were done playing at the park, we headed back to Uncle Stu and Aunt Marsha’s (or Aunt Marsh, as Henry liked to say). My aunt made ham and these amazing baked beans (they were so good). And she had more cookies for us, oatmeal-cranberry. Yum!
We finished the night by playing cards. We had coffee and Sock-It-To-Me cake. De-lic-ious. We played a card game they taught us a few years back called Hand and Foot. Maggie and Stu; Marsha and Rick; versus Kelly and me. I don’t remember who won, but it was a great time. And my uncle told jokes with funny accents.
In the morning, Rick made pancakes, and my uncle and I headed to the airport to pick up my other uncle, Terry (er, that’s Teke to me). We decided that after he got back to the house, we’d all head to the Nashville zoo. We all grabbed a ham sandwich before we left and hit the road.
The zoo in Nashville is beautiful and we had a fun time. We ate ice cream cones and saw all the animals. I got lots of pictures of everyone looking at the exhibits. Henry loved all the snakes and frogs and lizards and bugs in the tropical pavilion (I don’t know what it was called – the one in Denver is called Tropical Discovery??). There were also fish and giant turtles, as well as bats and things. Maggie carried Emmett the whole time and he loved it.
In the outdoor exhibits we saw blue macaws and monkeys, alligators and tigers… all the fun zoo animals. Emmett LOVED the alligators, and we got a video of him enjoying them. It even sounds like he’s trying to say “alligator.”
Those zoo photos document the last time my uncle Stu got to wear his blue hat. He let Henry put it on back at the house, and Henry seemed to steak his claim. He only removed it when he slept, and then, only because we made him. My uncle autographed it, and gave it to Henry to keep before we left.
My aunt roasted a turkey for dinner on Tuesday night, with all the fixin’s (and baked us more cookies!), and Kelly ate with us as soon as she got off of work. I made a peach tart with the peaches from the farmers market for dessert, and after we ate, we all played my aunt and uncle’s Nintendo Wii. I’ve mentioned before how, as my BFF’s little sister, JoAnn, says, “Wii: It Brings the Family Together.” And again, I have confirmation that this is true! Seriously, Nintendo needs to make it their slogan or something. Seven of us, from ages 13 to 73 played 100 pin bowling, wake-boarding and Frisbee. And my uncle Teke, who is 66 by the way, beat us all at bowling, and it was his first time. I only wish I had gotten pictures.
This is turning out to be a VERY long post, so you will have to wait until tomorrow to hear about the second half of the week!