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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At the 9/11 Memorial

Some loved ones left flowers and some left miniature flags. People flock, read the names that were carved on the long dark bronze blocks and pay their respect. But no matter how many people visit and congregate around the twin giant pools that used to be where World Trade Center buildings or twin towers were, it always feel somber and subdued there. The first time I came to the site of Ground Zero was 6 years after the 9/11 tragedy happened. My parents were visiting from Indonesia and we took them there. There’s still nothing interesting to see but covered wire fences. There were a lot of works happening behind them. The sound from the heavy machineries, the banging of metals and the buzzing from the construction workers all mixed as proof that life still goes on. I felt humble being at the Ground Zero, because a couple years before 2001 I was there staring at the two towers with astonishment of the tallest buildings in the country. My husband and I passed by the area where World Trade Center was for several times when we headed towards Brooklyn. I would open the car window and look at WTC buildings enthusiastically while we passed the lower Manhattan. Who would’ve known that one day those magnificent buildings would be gone.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up on our bed with our oldest daughter who was 2 years old and our baby girl who was 4 months old. They were still asleep soundly and peacefully without any care in the world. I turned on the TV and watched the morning show on NBC, the Today Show. It was sometime after 8AM suddenly Katie Couric, one of the presenters on the show, announced a distressing news: an airplane has crashed into one of the twin towers. I was stunned. But I thought maybe it was an accident until I saw from the live feed another plane flew directly towards the other tower. What has happened? Then, in minutes everything crumbled and fell. Katie Couric was heard crying on air and I had trouble believing what I had saw. My eyes welled up, tears ran down because I imagined the chaos that ensued. I held my daughters closer and I could feel something in the atmosphere was brewing, fear. 

It has been 18 years since the most despicable tragedy I’ve ever witnessed, happened. I can still feel the uneasy feeling when September 11th is approaching. The site where Ground Zero was, now a sprawling park with memorial for the fallen and a museum to commemorate the lost. In November 2017, I took a group of high school students from Indonesia and their teacher to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. It was the first time I visited the place and I became rather emotional especially when I read the names of the people who perished during the tragedy. My fingers sometime ran through the carved letters on the bronze blocks while I listened to the sound of the man-made waterfall, said to be the greatest in United States. In April this year, I visited the plaza again and that time I was escorting an old friend and his colleagues who were curious about the 9/11 Memorial. They were astounded and again, I somehow lost with emotion when I read a name, a woman’s, with additional statement “and her unborn child”. 

(To all who perished and the first responders, may you rest in peace).

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.

Snaps from A Road Trip: Sandwich & Plymouth

The towns of Sandwich and Plymouth in Massachusetts are among the oldest towns in United States. They situated in the area in Massachusetts which is a cape in the southeastern part of the state called Cape Cod. Cape Cod is famous for its beaches and quaint New England style towns. Town of Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod being settled in 1637. While Plymouth was the first permanent settlement of the European who came to the New World (America) and became the Plymouth Colony. I visited these two towns in summer and although I didn’t explore much, I managed to visit several places and snapped some wonderful and interesting scenes on my cellphone. The SNAPS FROM A ROAD TRIP is the newest theme I want to develop on this blog that consists the pictures I took with my cellphone camera. Please, enjoy!

 

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Women’s March NYC, A Day to Remember

Saturday, January 21st, was a special day for my oldest daughter. On that day, she had an audition in New York City with a music college that she applied for. We, my self and her sister, accompanied her to NYC. We took a train from our town and departed about 8:30AM. When we got on the train, a lot of seats were already occupied. That Saturday also marked a very important day for a lot of people, most of all the women, who live in United States, because that’s the day the Women’s March(es) were held all over the country. Many women, young and old, from many different background and race got on our train to go to New York City to participate with the Women’s March NYC. Some women who boarded the train later a long the way to New York brought along signs and posters. Between them were also some men who were as enthusiast as the women. Our train car felt very energized by the present of these people who chatted and became acquaintances for they shared the same thoughts and opinions relating to the new president. The atmosphere was really invigorating.

We reached our destination, Grand Central Terminal, around 10:30AM. After we went to the restroom on the lowest floor at the station, we went up to the main floor which is where the main lobby is and were surprised to see so many people who would participate in the Women’s March NYC flocking there. Some were children, mostly girls, who were beaming proudly putting on a show of their posters and signs for anyone who wanted to read them. It was fascinating! Of all the times I’ve been to Grand Central, that was the first time that that I felt the place was full of energy. My daughters and I passed by several people who were getting ready for the march. A woman with pink hair sat near one of the pillars while holding on to a poster, while on the other side two young women busy preparing their posters, writing some words with capital letters. Some women wore pink knitted hats that shaped like kitty’s ears. The hats became the symbol of the Women’s March movement. We then continued our journey to the building on West 54th Street where my eldest would have her audition. While we were walking from Grand Central towards the audition studio, we passed by several streets that were being cordoned for the march. New York City was getting ready for one heck of a celebration.

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After the audition ended around 1:30PM, as I promised my daughters, we walked towards the lower 50’s street to see the march. But then a chance arose when we saw the street in front of us wasn’t closed and so we blended in with the crowd that already started the march. It seemed my daughters and I started around West 52nd Street and walked towards West 54th Street. People in the march were in a very jaunty mood. They yelled and shouted but not in an angry manner, even though they spoke of disappointment, fear and sadness about the country’s predicament. People were very engaged to one another, saying ‘hi’ and getting acquainted. It was beautiful to be in the crowd.

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When we reached the last post (around West 54th Street), the march organizers asked us to disperse and go on our way to the street they showed us to go. So along with some people who stopped marching, we walked to the end of the street and had to walk further because a lot of streets were closed. By the time we got into the 49th Street, we met more people who were still marching. To get to the other side, we had to blend in again with the crowd and made way to cross the street. It was more like a celebration happening rather than a demonstration. It’s a democracy celebration for sure! On and on even after several hours have passed, even after my my daughters and I had a late lunch, when we walked to Grand Central to go home, we still met more people who were still marching. It was 5PM when we stopped by the New York Public Library and saw people gathering on the sidewalk next the building, looking at the signs and posters that some people brought for the march that were laid down just like an art exhibition. We walked through another crowd of people and amazed by the amount of people who participated in the Women’s March NYC. It was surreal! We certainly had a wonderful time in New York that day and had an experience and memories that we can share and cherish for a long time.

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Point of Interest:Lighthouse Point Park Carousel

There’s something about a carousel that you can always love. The carousel at New Haven Lighthouse Point Park is like that, you’re going to love it as soon as you see it. The carousel was built in 1916 by the Murphy Brothers in their workshop in Savin Rock, West Haven. It is one of the unique and charming American folk art still exists. It used to be an outdoor carousel, but then when after years of effected by the sea water and weather, the carousel became deteriorating. In the 1980’s, the mayor of New Haven set up a community action organization to take care of the carousel. After it was cleaned, repaired and restored, the carousel was placed in the pavilion near the lighthouse. It is now among the National Register of Historic Places. There is a small fee of 50 cents to ride the carousel. The music they play when the carousel moves is lovely and sweet to your ears.

The music is played on an organ made by Stinson Organ Company. A mini organ with a miniature of George Washington holding a baton can be seen as part of the carousel  decorations. There are also paintings of beach scenery, mermaid, sail boat, lighthouse and some nature scenery in New Haven adorned the top part of the carousel. There are 72 figures on the carousel that are placed on 20 arrays on a 60-foot platform (about 18 meters high). Each horse is different. It has different color, character and details that make each of the horse unique. It also named and the name is posted on top of each horse. When you look up, you can see the name of the horse you ride. Maybe you ride Thunder, White Lightning, Ocean Light, Wild Heart, Jumpin Jack or Bella Vista. Public can rent the pavilion and also the carousel for private party, such as a wedding or prom. I would love to attend a party here at night, when the carousel lights glimmer while the whimsical music from the carousel plays and the sound of the ocean is heard outside the building. What a marvelous night it seems!

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Point of Interest: Five Mile Point Lighthouse

My state, Connecticut, is located in the east coast of United States and the Atlantic Ocean part that stretches along the southern part of the state, is known as Long Island Sound. Being located near the ocean, Connecticut has several lighthouses and one of them stands in the city of New Haven. I have visited this lighthouse which is called Five Mile Point Light, many times but mostly when the weather wasn’t as lovely as the last time I came there. Two weeks ago I came to the Light House Park because of religious reason. It was Eid-ul Adha and the prayer was held in a field there. A couple hundreds of people showed up to pray together. After the prayer, I walked about the park especially near the lighthouse. The scenery was marvelous!

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The Five Mile Point Lighthouse is called that way due to its location, which is about 5 miles (8km) from the center of the city of New Haven. It has octagonal shape that becomes a trademark of Connecticut’s lighthouses. This lighthouse is the 2nd lighthouse built in New Haven. The first lighthouse was called Morris Point established during the Colonial period. In 1847, the Five Mile Point Lighthouse opened replacing Morris Point that thought to be too far north on the shore. The Five Mile Point was made of sandstone from the nearby town of East Haven, while its interior was lined with bricks made in New Haven. This lighthouse stands 97 feet (29,5 meters) above the sea level. Inside the lighthouse there’s circular staircase with 74 steps made of granite leading up to the lantern.

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The Five Mile Point Lighthouse operated until 1877. There’s another lighthouse that was built closer to Long Island Sound replacing it that’s still active until today. If you see the 3rd and 5th pictures, you can see far away a minuscule object which is the Southwest Ledge Lighthouse. This lighthouse stands on the reef at the opening of New Haven harbor. New Haven Lighthouse Park is a beautiful place to visit. The park has nature trail, bird watching station, small water park – wonderful entertainment for children especially in summer. It also has an indoor antique carousel. The carousel is so beautiful. Each of the carousel horses has different feature that I will write about them next time. Meanwhile, if you happen to pass by New Haven or visiting Connecticut, come and see the Five Point Mile Lighthouse at New Haven Lighthouse Park.

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