Stuck in Kentucky

Last week Josh and I made a semi impromptu trip down to Nashville.  We heard, a little last-minute, that he was to receive a Performance Award for How Sweet the Sound at SESAC’s annual award ceremony so we moved things around and made a trip!

I came down with a wicked stomach bug on Friday, we were due to hit the road Monday morning.  I was trapped in bed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Monday morning I somehow felt just well enough to commit to a 10 hour trip to Nashville.  Mind you, I was far from comfortable, the combo of baby belly and flu was unpleasant to say the least, but I did the trip cheerfully.  Then we hit the ice tundra from Narnia in southern Kentucky.  Turns out they had been hit with an icy snow storm.  Ice first, then snow.  I recalled a visual of semi folded around a light pole along the side of the road mere miles behind us.  I guess I should have seen that as an omen of bad road conditions because we were suddenly confined to one lane creeping along with a band of semis at 20 mph.  Granted this “good” lane was more than speckled with black ice and rough snow mole holes but our car felt plenty secure at 40 mph.  However, if we wanted to pass anyone we had to pull up onto a 3 inch thick shoulder of ice that was the other “lane.”  Twenty miles per hour was painful in the “good” lane, but it turns out that even that speed was too much to hope to pass when traveling on a shelf of glare ice.  After 10 miles and 45 minutes of this we decided to jump ship in hopes that the morning would behold clear highways.  We pulled off for a Super 8.  I entered the establishment with my bags in tow while Josh parked the car and requested a room.  The woman simply replied that they were all filled up and so was the whole town of hotels and the next couple of towns down along the highway too.  Our next hope was at least two exits further down the treacherous and obnoxiously slow-going road.

We took a stab at patiently braving the slow going road, hoping eventually the traffic would relent or the left lane would have received some treatment.  I kept glancing at my GPS.  I saw angry red dots lining our road for about 100 miles.  With some of those dots behind us I realized those dots signified the start and end points of such road conditions. That also meant our road conditions weren’t expected to improve until we reached Tennessee, another 90 miles away.  At this revelation we decided to take a stab at another hotel.  This time we called first.  The only place I could find was a Super 7.  That’s right, a Super 7.  I’ve never heard of it either.  The lady said they had one room left.  When we reached the town we saw our hotel prospect.  It was definitely the place to stay to get mugged or murdered. Then we spotted a Super 8 across the street.  I walked in, unloaded this time, and asked if they had vacancy.  She replied she had one room so $90.09 later we had a crappy room for the night and we couldn’t have been happier about it!  As she charged my card I asked about the roads.  Turns out the storm happened not that day at all but the previous day.  So then I was compelled to ask about the roads.  She stated that Kentucky doesn’t employ state plows.

The next morning we woke early and hit the road again.  The roads were in the same condition we left them in but at least we now had daylight on our side again.

We patiently traversed the roads, occasionally passing someone when we had a patch of less threatening left lane.  We saw a sign “Welcome to Tennessee.”  If you were to draw a line from the sign across the highway that is the spot when the roads suddenly were completely devoid of a trace of snow or ice.

Thank you Tennessee.  Kentucky, not impressed.

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Nashville Road Trip to the KLOVE Fan Awards

A couple of weeks ago Josh, my mom, and I all piled in her car and headed to Tennessee.  Our strategy was to spend one night in Gatlinburg, just for fun, then we would spend the rest of our time in Nashville.  We went with a few purposes, but ultimately went at this point in time for the K-LOVE Fan Awards (Fan Awards blog post coming soon).

We arrived in Gatlinburg late Monday evening, but not before trolling through Dollywood to get there.  The place struck me immediately as a deep south version of a cross between Vegas and the Wisconsin Dells – kitschy amusement and theme parks strewn with neon lights, themed music, and colorful imagery.  It struck me eerily as the large yellow moon peeked just over the mountains in the background of the vacation destination chaos – we actually discussed if the moon was real or if it was a part of one of the venues.

When we arrived at our hotel we hit the sheets right after gobbling up the hospitality gift of warm cookies and slept solidly until around 10 the next morning.  We lazily packed up then hit the streets for downtown Gatlinburg.

Downtown Gatlinburg was was an odd hodge podge of unlikely combinations; there were mostly plump white folk wandering the streets infested with major chains, while the unique, local joints took to the side streets with their handmade concoctions, free tastings, and live folk music.  At first I couldn’t even see past the obnoxious corporate establishments but before long we wandered into quaint stores, ma and pa coffee shops, and various alcohol centers brewing their product out for the world to see and offering live folk music at their store front.  The day was an utter joy and when we finally drank our fill we loaded the car again and left for Nashville.

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In Nashville our goals were to explore the neighborhoods Josh frequents, meet the people he now calls “friend” within the music business, and scope out East Nashville for potential living quarters.

For day trips and meals we frequented the favorites spots Josh has stumbled on since signing with Fair Trade Services; we ate at delicious, local restaurants, drank coffee at specialty shops, moseyed around various neighborhoods, and explored towns.  My favorite spots were CREMA (latte pictured below) and downtown Franklin.

I was most excited about meeting the folks Josh had been already telling me stories about for several months.  At that point I had only had the privilege of meeting their label A&R rep and their head of management.  While down there I got to get better acquainted with other label and management peeps, various band folk Josh has grown relationships with, and some awesome wives.

And lastly, our secondary reason for taking the week in Nashville, was to scope out the area in hopes of finding “home.”  Josh got really busy, really quickly so before long it was just mom and I spending the days away together.  On Josh’s first day of a packed schedule Mom and I ventured over to East Nashville to scope it out – this was the neighborhood recommended to us as our place to hunker down if we moved.  My initial impression was underwhelming and as we wandered about the prospects didn’t improve.  The town was cute and the restaurants were fun but I wasn’t impressed and, most importantly, I wasn’t “home.”

Home is the place my heart is called to.  My first major decision in my life was to choose a college to attend.  My mom and I toured schools one weekend and when we arrived on Judson University’s campus there was no mistaking my feeling of “home.”  We didn’t bother visiting any more schools, I applied, and was accepted and enrolled only one month into my senior year of high school.  My most major decision was to marry Josh.  I remember hiding behind my childhood home waiting to make my grand entrance into my backyard wedding ceremony when I had my last conversation with God about marrying Josh.  I was slightly overwhelmed at the magnitude of committing a lifetime to someone, even if they were my best friend, but the moment I thought of Josh and saw his face in my mind I was stuck by the truth that Josh was home for me.  Lastly, and most pertinent to home hunting in Nashville, Josh and I have chosen each of our homes due to a sense of home.  Josh and I have called four residences our home in our three-year marriage.  Each one was right.  I remember praying about each prospect before choosing to move or stay, and Nashville was absolutely no exception.  Before even leaving for Nashville, Josh and I were struck by inklings to stay.  When I arrived in Gatlinburg I felt a “no.”  When I arrived in each exploratory neighborhood of Nashville I felt a “no.”  And when I  arrived in East Nashville I felt a “no.”  So, long story short, Josh and I were told “no” about Nashville and “home” about Chicago.

And then came the K-LOVE Fan Awards… but more on that later 😉

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Nashville Road Trip | Northern Girl at Heart

I never thought I would see the day I got excited to come home to dreary, 61 degree Chicago. But last week I saw that day and relished it.

On Monday, May 27 my mom, Joshua, and I all loaded the car and set our sails for a week in Tennessee. Our trip served a few objectives: scout out the area in pursuit of the possibility of a move, a job opportunity meeting for me with Food for the Hungry, and, most importantly, the KLOVE Fan Awards festivities surrounding Citizen Way.

But Nashville was muggy. Every day we were there, outside was an 85 degree wet blanket. We kept asking the locals if the weather is always that consistency and they all replied that it was and that, in fact, it gets worse. At this, I definitely had an epiphany about Taylor Swift‘s awesome, big hair while I was there because the moment I stepped outside everyday I could have been her twin sister. She just seems to have mastered making the big blonde frizz look purposeful. The local Nashville folk also say the pay off is the mild winters, but I actually enjoy winters in Chicago. I mean, compared to Minnesota, Chicago winters are my haven. We still get snow but not as much and my eyelashes and nose hairs don’t freeze in a split second in the outdoors of January and February like they did while living in Minnesota. I’ve actually come to prefer the milder Chicago winters even to summer.

I dare say, I’d like to keep my Chicago weather, even with all the curve balls, over a constant wet, heat blanket. This body is built for the cold, but wet heat makes me grumpy.