Snaps from A Road Trip: Nashville, Tennessee

Last July, we had a chance to visit the city of Nashville. Nashville, situated near Cumberland River, used to be called Fort Nashborough named after the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Nash. It was founded by an Englishman, James Robertson, who lead a group of pioneers settling in the area in 1779. The Mississippian used to to call the area their home, while other Native American tribes like the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee also lived and used to hunt there. Fort Nashborough was part of North Carolina but then became part of Tennessee and became its capital in 1843. We didn’t have any special reservation towards Nashville. What we know about it is when someone mentions Nashville, we’d think about country music. We were curious about Nashville and thought that it’d be a perfect place to visit during summer break. We didn’t go to a lot of places due to limited time but two Nashville famous streets: 12th Avenue South and Lower Broadway, but we had pleasant time and certainly in awe of Nashville. I can tell that Nashville loves boots, cowboy boots, that is. There were boot shops we visited on Lower Broadway because my younger daughter really wanted to have a pair. They were plenty of beautiful boots, but they cost a lot that we had to think and rethink about spending hundreds of dollars for them. We also came by a candy shop where they made fresh pralines and gave out samples. Yum! Nashville is all about live music and we certainly heard and saw a lot on Lower Broadway. In fact, we bumped into a street musician who made up lyrics as he sang when we passed by about “a pretty girl in a yellow dress with a nice hair”. His song made my daughter blushed because she was the girl in a yellow dress. It was surely a memorable visit in Nashville and we can’t wait to come back here again to explore more of Nashville and of course, Tennessee. Until then, Music City. 

 

The statue of Bill Monroe who established foundation to the birth of Bluegrass in December 1943.
So many beautiful boots to choose if you can afford them. The lowest price were around $200.
We bumped into this street musician who sang a country song and as we passed by him, he sang a made up lyric for my daughter.
Boots made out of snake skins and leather decorated with metal accessories.
Freshly made caramel apples.
Watching the candy shop worker making pralines and then giving out some samples.
One among the many wonderful murals found at 12South.
Mural inside a cafe in Nashville.
This vintage VW bus was a flower truck I saw at the 12South. It was parking in front of a clothing store that uses an old gas station as their shop.
This flower truck was charming and adorable.
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Snaps from A Road Trip: A Visit to Bison Ranch

Bison is the iconic mammal that have been living in North America for thousands of years. It becomes the symbol of U.S. Department of Interior whose missions, one of them, is to protect bison from extinction with the help of its organization, the National Park Service. Bison is a majestic animal and my son completely loves them. They have given him inspirations that he expresses towards his artworks. My son goes to a high school that emphasizes arts education and he takes visual art program. Some of his works featuring bison. One of my son’s biggest wishes is to see bison in the real life and up-close. That chance came when we visited Tennessee in July. My son found out there’s a bison ranch in the city of Cookeville situated in the Upper Cumberland Region in Tennessee. And we thought,”Wow! A bison ranch in Tennessee?!” Long ago bison lived by the millions at the Great Plains and most of North America but due to overhunting during the expansion of the settlement in America by European settlers in the 19th century, they almost extinct. Merely hundreds left before the United States Government established a program to save bison through conservation. The program has helped increasing the bison population and spreading them throughout the United States in the federal, Native American and private owned lands. By the way, the European settlers called bison as “buffalo”, although they’re not the same. If you ever known a song called “Home on the Range”, it mentions ‘oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam’ which means bison. 

The bison ranch we visited in Cookeville, Tennessee, is called the Lazy G. Ranch. The gate was opened when we arrived and walked into their driveway. Right away, we were astonished by the sights on either right and left sides of the driveway. Dozens of bison grazing freely under the blue sky. My son was beyond thrilled! He wanted to see the bison closer but he knew we had to keep our distance so not to startle the herd. We certainly didn’t want to cause a stampede especially with the warning that bison is unpredictable. From afar, we saw the bison wallowing or rolling on the ground and covering themselves with dust. They did that to take care of the insect bites, to mark a territory or simply to play. It was very interesting to see their behavior inside the herd. We couldn’t tell which bison was male (bull) or female (cow) just by their appearances because they all looked similar. Both bull and cow have thick coat of long dark hair on their massive heads, legs, necks and the front part of their bodies. They also have a pair of short, sharply pointed and hollow horns. What distinguished the cows from the bulls at the ranch were the babies that were always next or near their mothers. 

Among the bison at Lazy G. Ranch were a couple of white bisons. They were truly unique and extraordinary. We were fascinated by them having to see white bison for the first time. Native American considers white bison as sacred and very important spiritually. When a white baby bison was born, the Native American tribes will come to the ranch or park where the baby is to pray and ask for its lock of hair to keep for ritual purposes. Bison grunts to communicate to each other. We heard plenty of grunts when we were at the ranch. The owner of the Lazy G. Ranch, Eddie Gaw, wants to conserve bison because he was thinking of the future if this iconic American animal completely wiped out. We think his effort to set aside about 150 acres land to breed bison is brilliant. Beside bison, we also saw four horses who were enjoying the day. They were beautiful and looked tame. After sometime, we needed to go to different place on our journey so we bid the bison and horses goodbye. I took pictures of my son and younger daughter posing with a statue of bison that was placed in front of the Lazy G. Ranch. Our visit to the ranch was among the highlights of our trip to Tennessee. 

D. Yustisia

Bison at Lazy G. Ranch
Fascinated by the sight of bison grazing freely.
Can you spot the white bison in the herd?
Amazed by the bison.
The remarkable Lazy G. Ranch in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Snaps from A Road Trip: Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering

I was looking outside my window two days ago and saw the moon that looked so round and bright. There were colored rings surrounding the full moon. As I was amazed by the view, it reminded me that we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing which happened on July 20th, 1969. Three of the main people who went to the moon were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. On July 21st, Neil Armstrong became the first man who stepped on the moon. He studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University and graduated with Bachelor of Science in 1955. Two years ago while we were doing college visit to several colleges in the Midwest, we visited Purdue. One of the building that we encountered was the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, The building is the center of many engineering programs at Purdue, such as the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, School of Materials Engineering, the Minority Engineering Program, Women in Engineering Program etc.

In front of this magnificent building is the bronze statue of young Neil Armstrong when he studied at Purdue sitting on a stone podium looking thoughtful. Not far from the statue is Armstrong’s famous quote when he landed on the moon etched on the concrete floor:

“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

There are several boot prints placed on the lawn copying the steps that Neil Armstrong made on the moon. My son had some fun time leaping from one boot print to another making those “giant leap for mankind” at Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. Those boot prints are really, really big.

When I went inside Neil Armstrong Engineering Hall, I was in awe. At the further part of its spacious lobby hanged the replica of Apollo 1, the command module. Apollo 1 was the first manned mission of United States Apollo Program that destined to send the first men to the moon. An electrical fire consumed the space module and killed all the three crews inside: Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Robert B. Chaffee and Ed White. Both Grissom and Chaffee graduated from Purdue University, like Armstrong.

For a mere man or woman like me, the moon is an inspiration, an object to be amazed of and a destination to send our wishes or hang our hopes. But to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the moon was a place they could visit making the dream that for a long time has been a man’s biggest idea came true. There’s some pride in me having visited Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering and learned more about this wonderful earth hero, the first man on the moon.

Travel Journal: Spring at Smith College Botanic Garden

There’s one botanic garden that I’ve been meaning to visit for sometime. Smith College Botanic Garden is part of Smith College, a liberal arts college for women located in Northampton in Western Massachusetts. Now that spring is here, visiting this garden seems to be the perfect way to enjoy the season. The botanic garden is situated inside Smith College campus. This college was founded in 1871 through the endowment from Sophia Smith who wanted to use her inheritance to give better education for women and that of equal to what men receive. Smith College Botanic Garden was established in 1895 to provide teaching, public education, scientific research and also the beauty of the place. There are glass houses in the garden built in 1895 and they’re fascinating and I will talk about them in another post specifically. These glass houses is what attracted me to visit the garden.

On my way toward the garden, to my delight, I saw several saucer magnolia trees in bloom. The sound of trickling fountain from a nearby pond with a beautiful female bronze statue was heard mixing with the sound of the birds. On the side of the pathway toward the glass houses lay a beautiful rock garden. This first rock garden in North America was established in 1897 copying the rock garden at the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew in London. I stayed there for the longest time admiring the lay out of the garden that resembles the environments of high altitude area and the tundra. Some of the plants have small and succulent leaves to conserve water, rather large flowers to attract pollinators, or roots that go deeper into the underground stream. Some have short life cycle adapting to the drought season. It is a remarkable beauty to see some of the plants nestled between the rocks. It’s sort of beauty and the beast inspired.

Being in any garden, for that matter in Smith College Botanic Garden was a wonderful experience for me. Not only because I needed to take a break from the busy sometime mundane days, but also to learn about the garden. I always love learning about botany, you see. After admiring the Rock Garden, I went to the glass houses and astonished by the collections of plants being cared there. A lot of them are tropical plants and they thrive beautifully. I know some of the tropical plants having seen and planted them in my mother’s yard. She would’ve loved to come to the glass houses and probably would be amused seeing her plants are growing in a four-season country. When one of the gardener informed me that the garden would be closed at 4PM, I then headed to the garden office. I met a nice lady there who told me about another garden on the other side of campus and I’d love to visit it in June when the roses are in bloom because they have rose arches there. I ended my visit with sitting on a bench near the perennial border just relaxing even though the wind became pretty strong and chilly, waiting until the time for me to go to meet my daughter to see her orchestra concert in nextdoor city. 

The saucer magnolia trees in bloom.
The glass houses at Smith College Botanic Garden.
Smith College Botanic Garden was set up in 1895.
The statue with writing: In Memory of A Beautiful Life, was dedicated in 1911 to remember Mary Tomelson Lanning. It is the work of Jean Gautherin.
The Lyman Conservatory at Smith College Botanic Garden.
Spiraea Thunbergii – Spirea flowers.
Smith College Botanic Garden arboretum has magnificent tree collection.
Fritillaria Meleagris – Checkered Lily flower.
The Rock Garden at Smith College Botanical Garden is copying the one at the Royal Botanic Garden in London.
The Rock Garden was created in 1897 and is one of the oldest in United States.
Creeping Phlox
The Rock Garden at Smith College Botanic Garden.
Penstemon Hirsutus – the beard-tongue flowers.
Smith College Botanic Garden consists of the Rock Garden and Lyman Conservatory.

Travel Journal: Historic Old Salem, North Carolina

Old and historic places are my favorite kind of places to visit. It is one among many interesting places that I’d love to see up close. During our short visit in North Carolina in February , we stopped by a wonderful historic place called OLD SALEM. The historic town of Salem was established in 1766 by Moravians – one among the oldest Protestant denominations – who originated from the Czech Republic. Old Salem boasted a remarkable architecture and attention to details that are still exist today. Three-quarters of the buildings in the old town are the original constructions. Salem used to be the center of the administrative, professional, craft, trader and spiritual activities which in present day is immaculate and simply wonderful. Rows of old houses and shops line up the main street. Several houses are available to rent. Can you imagine living in an old and historic house like the one on the 1st photo? That house is called the Fourth House which is the oldest home that still stands in Salem. The German style house was built in 1768 using timber and bricks and has 3 rooms which is known as the “Flurküchenhaus” plan. The first tenants who lived in the Fourth House were a saddle maker and his wife who rented it from the church.

The other point of interest in Old Salem that we visited was the Winkler Bakery. It wasn’t hard to entice anyone to come to the shop where the aroma of fresh baked goods wafting in the air. Visitors were greeted by the pieces of sugar cake that were waiting on a table at the dining area. A lady who wore an 1800’s-styled clothing, served the cake while a man who also wore similar clothing style prepared another batch from the wood-fired oven that’s part of the bakery. The aroma was so heavenly! My kids and I couldn’t stop getting one more piece of the cake and there was no rule of how many you were allowed to get. So it’s all fair. There were several choices of breads and other baked goods sold at the bakery including the sugar cake. Although the flavor of the bread they sold wasn’t as good as the one they baked in the 200-year-old wooden-fired oven. The charred part of the top part of the bread was a distinct flavor and gave the uniqueness. It’s true, the modern oven can’t beat that of an antique one. 

We opted to merely walked about this old town and not going on specific tour visiting each of the main historical interest. The town is a live museum where to get into several buildings you need a ticket for it. But we didn’t buy any ticket due to the time constraint and the vast area of the town that we thought it would need an all day to spend. Visitors are free to roam around the peaceful neighborhood, though would be unable to go inside the ticketed buildings. My kids and I also went to the souvenir shops there that were among the small shops that lined up the main street. The weather wasn’t the prettiest and it’s still winter. It was pretty bleak that day. We thought of coming back here again maybe during summer or fall to be able to enjoy the garden and the outdoor activities set up there for the visitors. It must be lovely when the flowers are blooming and the gardens are thriving. There are lots of places that I would love to see in Old Salem. I hope one day I get to visit this fascinating place again for longer time.

D. Justisia

THE FOURTH HOUSE – built in 1768, the oldest building in Salem.
EDWARD BELO HOUSE – built in 1849, owned by a cabinetmaker, Edward Belo, in Greek Revival style. The building was Belo’s house, shop and place to do other businesses.
HISTORIC OLD SALEM – Main street
Statues of a lion and two dogs in front of Edward Belo’s house.
Enjoying some sugar cake at the C. WINKLER BAKERY, that was built in 1800 and altered in 1818.
The lady who served some sugar cakes to the visitors.
The dining area at C. Winkler Bakery.
Sugar cake from C. Winkler Bakery is made by following the original more than 200-year-old recipe. The burnt part on the cake was the best part as a result of having baked in a wood-fired oven.
The Doctor’s House – 1802, includes the doctor’s home, clinic and apothecary shop.
Miksch Garden and House – 1771
The Boys School
Market-Fire Engine House – 1803 on Salem Square.
Coffee Pot, made in 1858, becomes the icon of Historic Old Salem. It was made to promote the Mickey Brothers’ tinsmithing business.

Travel Journal: The Charm of Washington Irving’s Sunnyside Home

In this part of Tarrytown, you won’t find the Headless Horseman mentioned in Washington Irving’s story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In this part of Washington Irving’s story is his Sunnyside home and what an exquisite home it is. I took the kids on one weekend to this small cottage that garnered the artsy-touch of Washington Irving. The house is nestled behind some wooden area behind the gift shop. We were welcomed at the gift shop with the rest of the visitors to buy the ticket admission. Then at a certain time, a tour guide wearing a hoop skirt in small purple flowers motif and a knitted hair cap with two long purple bows, greeted us and took us to Sunnyside. Along the path that we walked through, we passed a huge tree that is more than 300 years old. It guards the surrounding like an ancient grandfather. The short distance that we took was filled with the guide’s stories and informations, not to mention, the twittering of the birds.

sunnyside-tree

sunnyside-collage1

sunnyside-collage

The house that Washington Irving called home used to be a farmhouse owned by a Dutch-American man, that he bought in 1835. When we came upon the house, I was stunned. Sunnyside is not as sunny as I thought it would, perhaps it’s because of the  wisteria vines that draped the house that Washington Irving himself chose to plant. When we came, the wisteria has already bloomed, so what we saw was more like overgrowth rather than something beautiful. The entangled, crisscrossing vines, toppled on top of another, give  the house an added flair of an antique building. The influences of Dutch-Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival and Scottish Gothic, was proof of how deeply Washington Irving understood about the architecture of Sunnyside. The guide took us inside the house and we went into room by room, including Washington Irving’s study where he acknowledged as the Father of American Literature. Sunnyside is a quaint house with a beautiful view of the Hudson River, that one time noted Charles Dickens as its guest.  Each corner of the house possesses its unique story just like the master of the house, the great Washington Irving.

sunnyside9

sunnyside10

sunnyside2

sunnyside13

sunnyside3

sunnyside15

sunnyside12