I’m back with more vacation pictures! Last week I posted all of the pictures from our nice camera and I thought I would just add our cell phone pictures at the bottom. But even after trying to narrow down the pictures to just my favorites, I decided it would be better to just do the phone pictures in a separate post. So here we are! If you missed last week, make sure to go back and scroll through all of those pictures (CLICK HERE!).
We took Peyton to the zoo for the first time over July 4th weekend. We went to 1st service at church and headed straight to the zoo right after. The weather was perfect – warm but not miserably hot and cloudy but not rain clouds threatening us constantly. We saw the penguins and bison before we stopped at the picnic area for lunch. Although Peyton was more interested in seeing everything around her than she was her chicken. And then we wandered around to all the different exhibits. Most of the big animals were sleeping so Peyton didn’t know what the heck we were pointing at when we told her “Look Peyton! Do you see the xyz [that’s just sitting there and blending into it’s surroundings]?!” She loved pointing at all the animals that were awake and active. The bison weren’t active but I think they were big enough that she could see them and she kept moo-ing at them! She now knows what sound a cow makes (mmmmmm!) and a horse (na ha ha ha). The seal and sea lions were active and we arrived at their exhibit right as a show was starting. Forest took Peyton up closer to the glass to watch but after a few minutes Peyton was over it, started crying and they made their way back to me. Peyton was asleep in the car before we got out of the parking garage so I think it’s safe to say she had a really good time!
Two weekends ago we had friends visiting from IN. It was a visit that I had been looking forward to because it would be our first time meeting little Aiden! He’s 8 months old and pretty solid (I think he weighs as much if not more than Peyton who is 4 months older) but he has the absolute best smile, the quietest voice and the sweetest giggle. And we were asked at least two different times if Peyton and Aiden were twins. Adorable!
So on Friday we spent the day in Philly. We did lunch at Campo’s for pretty amazing Philly cheesesteaks (and it’s just a few blocks from the Liberty Bell!) and took some pictures in front of Independence Hall. We saw the Liberty Bell up close, walked by Independence Hall and found a shaded spot on the lawn next to the Liberty Bell. Peyton and Aiden spent some time out of the strollers stretching their legs and hugging trees.
I’ve already posted about the 3 days we spent in Nashville (here and here) so I’m back to share the last of our week vacation. We spent the end of the week in Louisville, KY for the Louisville Slugger factory and museum and then made our way to the Cincinnati, OH area to visit the Creation Museum.
DAY 4: We left Nashville in the morning and drove 3.5 hours up to Louisville, KY with the only destination being the Louisville Slugger Museum and Bat Factory. We got there easily enough, ate a quick lunch and got started on the Museum. We took at tour of the factory first – no pictures allowed, something about trade secrets… blah blah – but we loved it. We learned about how they used to make bats by hand and it took 30 minutes for someone who had mastered the art and now they can make something like 15 identical bats for a professional player in 7 minutes. There are so many different sizes, weights, paints, stains, burnings, and engravings available and we got to hold several different models. We also picked up some of their trash as a souvenir. It wasn’t actually trash, just the left over spindles on the bats that are cut off at the very end of the process. The Museum itself was interesting to walk through as well. Forest got to hold one of Derek Jeter’s bats (much to the jealousy of his sister) and there were several displays with interesting facts about how bats have changed over the years. We, of course, couldn’t leave without stopping by the gift shop and ordering custom made bats. Forest couldn’t resist getting one with his own signature and it looks pretty cool so I don’t blame him. And I got one engraved with “Johnson Family 2015”. We’ve added both, along with the cutest little ‘baby’s first bat’, to the growing collection we have in the basement. Now we just need to get a rack that holds more than one bat! We left Louisville and drove the 2 extra hours to just-outside-of-Cincinnati so we could spend the next day at the Creation Museum.
DAY 5: We got to The Creation Museum as they were opening in the morning and spent nearly the whole day there. The tickets you purchase are good for 2 days at the museum. We only had 1 day available and that was good enough to see everything inside. We missed out on seeing the gardens, the zip line and the petting zoo but it was raining and cold, the zip lines weren’t open yet, and it wasn’t spring so we didn’t feel like we missed anything. I don’t have any pictures from inside the museum and the only reason I have is that I was too intrigued to read all of the plaques and displays. We saw 2 different planetarium shows (tickets cost extra for those but they were totally worth it). We spent hours checking out fossils and other displays and even more hours walking through the 7 C’s of History (Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation) where we got to see the Garden of Eden, Noah and a life-size portion of the Ark, details about the flood, and so much more. It was really cool to walk through the museum and see history come to life. I would absolutely recommend going if you can!
And that wraps up our vacation! We drove back to Indiana after the Creation Museum, spent the next day visiting grandparents and hanging out with our families, packed everything in the Traverse (all of our souvenirs, Indie and all that we took with her, our luggage AND as much of the baby shower gifts that we could fit), and headed back to NJ Sunday morning. It was a whirlwind of a week but we loved it!
Until next time — Cindy Johnson
I wrote about Days 1 & 2 here if you’d like to read about what we did.
DAY 3: Our Grand Ole Opry tour was in the morning. We were there early (as always) so we took our time exploring the outside of the building. The tour itself was really cool. They have a studio in the back where Howdy Doody and scenes from the tv show Nashville have been recorded. We got to look into a lot of the dressing rooms and each one had its own theme so it was cool to peek into as many as we could. We got to hang out in the ‘living room’ where artists, their bands, and their families can hang out until the show starts. We walked on stage and had our picture taken inside the circle (taken from the stage of Ryman Auditorium when this building was built – there’s a lot of history that’s stood on that circle).
One of the things I wanted to see while in Nashville was Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage – his 1,000 acre homestead where he lived after his presidency. We got to walk through a museum that mapped out Andrew Jackson’s life, we toured the home itself (although we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside…), we walked around the gardens and grounds, and we got to see the burial place of the former president and his wife. Even though this was something I was excited to see because of the history, I just wasn’t impressed during our visit. I’m not sure if it was the weather since it was a little gloomy and chilly or if
we I just had higher expectations.
Another item on our list for Nashville was to see a replica of The Parthenon in Centennial Park. When we went, the park was undergoing major construction. It was muddy and difficult to find parking. We got there about 15 minutes before The Parthenon closed so we didn’t pay to go inside. We walked around the outside of the building and took a lot of pictures. It really is amazing how big the pillars are and how large the whole building is. Overall, it was cool to see but I had much higher expectations for the park as a whole (I had imagined seeing the Parthenon and then strolling around the park but we weren’t able to do that – I assume it will be beautiful when the construction is done though).
We also made sure to stop by The Goo Goo Shop. We passed it every time we walked from our hotel so we couldn’t leave Nashville without stopping to see what it was all about. According to the website, a Goo Goo is “the world’s first ever combination candy bar.” We bought two each of the ‘original’ flavors and then one specialty Goo Goo – we saw dark chocolate and coconut so we had to. All of the specialty candy bars are made on premises and they give out samples for the batch they’re making that day – yummy!
We ended our last day in Nashville with live music at a no-cover-charge bar.
WHERE WE STAYED: Holiday Inn Express – directly across the street from The Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.
WHERE TO EAT:
Funny story – Forest got a side of coleslaw with every dinner. It didn’t matter if he ordered ribs, a BBQ sandwich or just a club sandwich and fries (at the Hard Rock Café), he had a side of coleslaw. And in case you’re wondering, not all coleslaw is made the same. The best coleslaw we tried was at BB Kings.
- BB Kings
- Wild Horse Saloon
- Hard Rock Café (nothing special but it’s a Hard Rock in a new city so why not?)
WHAT TO DO:
I made a list of things I wanted to see/do while we were in Nashville (here) and we were able to do most of them. Here are the things we would recommend you see & do on your trip:
- Live music. Make sure you go to more than one bar – there are seriously so many. There are even a few that don’t have a cover charge!
- Country Music Hall of Fame.
- Tour of Historic Studio B. This is one of the coolest things we did. The only way to tour the studio is through the Hall of Fame – make sure you buy the admission to the HoF that includes the tour for the studio.
- Line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon. They have line dancing lessons so you can learn each step and then do the whole dance to a song. But they also have a live band playing and the instructor spends this time out on the floor so you can just follow her lead and line dance the night away. It was seriously so much fun.
- Tour the Grand Ole Opry.
- See The Parthenon. We did and the building was cool but if you can’t squeeze it into your schedule, or if the park is still under construction, don’t feel like you missed out on anything.
- Stroll down Music Row. There actually isn’t too much to see. It’s in the middle of a residential area so all of the studios are just houses. The only thing that makes them stand out are the signs in the lawn (whether it’s the name of the recording studio or a banner congratulating an artist or song writer) and occasionally a group of people hanging out on the porch. We definitely think we saw the next up-and-coming country star on one of the porches. It was a really nice day so we enjoyed the walk through music row.
- Buy some Goo Goo’s.
- Tour Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. We did and I enjoyed it, because of all the history, but it wasn’t anything super special. Maybe it was the time of the year and the weather that day (it was chilly and overcast while we were there) but you can’t take pictures inside the house, every room is blocked off for preservation purposes (although you can look inside each room through the thick Plexiglas), and the grounds aren’t as impressive as I imagined 1,000 acres would be. If you have the time, the weather cooperates and you’re a history buff – do it.
We left Nashville the next morning and headed for Louisville, KY for a stop at the Louisville Slugger factory and museum. I’ll be back with a post about our next 2 days of vacation (Louisville Slugger museum & Creation Museum).
Until next time — Cindy
*all images are original to A View from the Shore
At the beginning of March (I have no idea how it’s been over a month since our trip) Forest and I went on one last getaway before our baby girl arrives. We knew we’d be in Indiana for a baby shower at some point so we planned accordingly – we spent a weekend in Indiana with family and the rest of the week on a fun road trip. We had 3 destinations in mind: Nashville, TN | Louisville, KY | The Creation Museum just outside of Cincinnati, OH.
DAY 1: We drove 6-ish hours from our hometown in Indiana to Nashville, TN, arriving right around lunch time on Monday afternoon. The first thing noticed was a peculiar building in the Nashville skyline (it’s actually an AT&T building) that has an uncanny resemblance to Batman.
We spent the rest of the day walking around the downtown area of Nashville. We saw the Ryman Auditorium (where the Grand Ole Opry originally started & where they still do shows in the winter) and explored the main street that is lined with bars and restaurants with their doors open and live country music. We had dinner at the BB Kings Restaurant and stayed awhile after we were done eating to listen to the live blues music.
DAY 2: We spent most of our day in The Country Music Hall of Fame. We arrived soon after they opened at 10 am and only got through half of the HoF before our Studio B tour was scheduled. We grabbed a quick lunch in the lobby of the HoF building and got in line for the bus ride to the historic Studio B where many great songs were recorded by famous musicians, including Dolly Parton and Elvis. I got to sit at the piano that was Elvis’ favorite in the studio to record his songs. Our tour guide through the studio was knowledgeable and had a lot of great stories to tell about the artists that recorded there as well as stories & landmarks to see throughout downtown Nashville. When we got back to the Hall of Fame, we finished exploring all of the exhibits and browsed through the gift shops before we left.
We thought it would be fun to take a walk down Music Row since we had some time to kill after the Hall of Fame. There actually wasn’t much to see – Music Row is in a residential neighborhood and the recording studios just look like houses. The only thing that made them stand out from the family homes were the signs and banners in the front yard. We did pass by one studio that had a group of guys with guitars sitting on the front porch.
We wanted to do a tour of the Grand Ole Opry so we drove the 20 minutes from our hotel only to find out there weren’t any spots available for the rest of the day. We booked tickets for the next morning and headed back to our hotel. Picking a place for dinner was always difficult – there seemed to be so many fun restaurants near us that we just couldn’t pick which one. Forest chose the Wild Horse Saloon for a combination dinner & line dancing. The food was good but the line dancing and live music was the best part.
This is where I think I’ll stop for now. Our 3rd day in Nashville was packed full and there are so many pictures. I’ll be back with Day 3 in Nashville, our day at the Louisville Slugger Museum, and a recap of our trip.
Until next time — Cindy
*all images are original to A View from the Shore
Forest and I are planning a trip to Nashville in a couple months. One final vacation, just the two of us, before Baby J’s arrival. I’ve been on a mission to find fun things to do in Nashville (even if I’ll be 6-7 months pregnant) and I’m so, so, so excited. Neither of us has been to Nashville so I’m really looking forward to exploring a new city together!
Some of the things on my list so far:
1.Country Music Hall of Fame
2.Grand Ole Opry
3.The Parthenon in Centennial Park
4.Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
7.Civil War sites & museums
10.Cumberland Caverns (we’ll see about this, I’m not sure how much is involved)
Until next time – Cindy