Immersed in Nashville and Van Gogh

Way back in November, when the Delta and Omicron variants were still wreaking havoc on the world, we made plans to see the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Nashville, hoping that it would be safe to attend by April. And it was! Being fully vaxxed and boosted, we set off on the 6 hour drive from Southwest Virginia to The Music City. “The Fisk Jubilee singers from Nashville’s Fisk University and Queen Victoria most often get the credit for the city’s nickname”, but it was about 50 years later, in the 1920s, as WSMs Grand Ole Opry gained popularity, that the nickname began to take hold.

We arrived in the early evening and went straight to Centennial Park. This 132-acre park features the iconic Parthenon, the world’s only exact-size and detail replica of the original temple in Athens, Greece. “When Tennessee celebrated its 100th year of statehood in 1897 with the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, Nashville took advantage of its nickname “Athens of the South” and built the Fine Art Building as a copy of Athens’ most famous building and the epitome of Greek classical architecture”

I’ve now seen the Parthenon twice but only from the outside. “Since the 1930s, the Parthenon has continued to host changing art exhibitions in its galleries and to educate both Nashvillians and visitors about the legacy of the ancient Greeks and their impact on American civilization”. Someday, I’ll plan the time to go inside and really learn the history and see the interior exhibits.

A very pleasant surprise, thanks to Greg, was finding the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument, also located in Centennial Park. Nashville artist Alan LeQuire created the monument which was dedicated in May of 2020, one hundred years after women gained the right to vote. The gorgeous monument depicts the 72-year suffrage struggle which culminated with victory. It is worth noting that less than 10% of all monuments throughout the US feature women.

The next morning, we made our way to the event center to be immersed in Van Gogh. The exhibit was such a powerful and moving experience. Worth every penny spent and every mile traveled. Set to a wonderful selection of music, the video projection of the artist’s work revealed the talent and the tragedy. We were literally surrounded by Van Gogh’s art as you can see by the photo of our feet.

People walked around, sat on benches, or on the floor in identified, socially distanced spots. The patterns on the floor changed based on the work being shown at the time. 500,000 Cubic Feet Of Projections, 60,600 Frames Of Video, and 90,000,000 Pixels offers the opportunity to experience art in a new way, one that is welcoming to all. We watched the exhibit three times, moving around from space to space, seeing something different each time.

I’d love to hear from those of you who saw the exhibit in another city.

After lunch, we worked our way downtown to see the historic Ryman Auditorium. The words from the website are better than any I might write: This place is hallowed ground. This is the exact spot where bluegrass was born—where Johnny Cash met June Carter, where souls were saved and a slice of history was nearly lost. It was right here that country music found an audience beyond its own back porch, and countless careers took off as deals were signed on napkins and paper scraps backstage.

We took the self-guided tour – watched all the videos, read all the plaques, followed all the timelines. Greg bought me a Chocolate Moon Pie, which as it turns out, I did not enjoy, and even let me take a total tourist photo of him. If you are a lover of old country music, you know, before the “bro trend” as Reba calls it, you must visit!

“You know, ‘Hey bro, let’s go down to the river and catch some fish.’ And everybody’s ‘good ol’ boys’ and that’s the ‘bro music.’ I would really like it to get back to the real strong country. The country of Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, Mel Tillis. I miss that kind of country.” – Reba McEntire

We spent the rest of the day exploring some of the downtown area. There is a six block segment of Broadway that has turned into a mini Vegas / New Orleans combo. Lot’s of partying in the streets, bar after bar filled with music and people, and many a party bus going by. Nashville has evidently become the “go to” destination for batchelorette weekends.

We would love to return to explore the Cumberland River walking paths, the myriad of other museums, university campuses and restaurants, and to hear some live music. Much has changed since I visited 10 years ago. If interested, check out this link from that visit to see some of the incredible architecture of this city. You will also see how much my photography has improved (thankfully!).

If you do visit, be sure to take some time to walk over the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to capture some great views of the city. The final two images were taken from Denim restaurant on the 21st floor of The Joseph, a hotel where we might stay someday if we win the lottery 🙂

Until next time, so long Nashville!

Pittsburgh Winter Weekend

The Allegheny River and the Rachel Carson Bridge

When we knew that Greg had business in Pittsburgh in January, I immediately started researching “what to do in Pittsburgh in the winter”, and wow, did I find alot! So many things in fact, that we will have to return to this wonderful city since, on this trip, we only had one day.

We woke to a temperature of 5°F but it had warmed up to a walkable 15°F by the time we set out to explore. As you can see, the Allegheny River was iced over next to the shoreline. The City of Pittsburgh has created the Three Rivers Heritage Trail which is a multi‑use riverfront trail system. The “33‑mile nonlinear trail has segments on both banks of Pittsburgh’s three rivers with access to city neighborhoods, business districts, and local attractions”. The sun was shining brightly and once my fingertips adjusted to the freezing temps, we thoroughly enjoyed our time along the river.

Once we got back to the North side of the Allegheny, we enjoyed public art, a greenspace called Magnolia Park with gorgeous blooms contrasting with the snow on the ground, and a frozen fountain.

We also explored the outside of The Pennsylvanian which was constructed in 1900 for use as Pittsburgh’s Union Station. The website explains that “The Pennsylvanian is considered one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings. The handcrafted, dome-shaped rotunda at its entrance – encapsulating the vision of Chicago architect Daniel Burnham – serves as a prominent symbol for Pittsburgh. The New Yorker art critic Brendan Gill proclaimed the building as “one of the great pieces of Beaux-Arts architecture in America”. The building is now a wedding venue and private apartments, so we were not able to explore the inside.

After all of this time outside in the really fresh, really cold air, we warmed up in a local brick oven restaurant with tap room. We were seated right by the brick oven which was the perfect antidote for freezing temps.

Pittsburgh has many museums to choose from and we chose The Clemente Museum. Our guide was a fabulous story teller, and while Greg, the baseball fan, already knew the story of Roberto Clemente, I was inspired by his humanitarian efforts and bravery in the face of racism. I highly recommend a visit to this museum which is located in the former Engine House No. 25, built in 1896, and located in the Lawrenceville section of the city.

After our tour, we walked over to the 11th Hour Brewing Company to quench our thirst. Pittsburgh is such a walkable city! My friend Ruth and I visited several years ago for a Virginia Tech / Pitt football game and we walked and explored for hours.

We ended the day with an incredibly delicious dinner at Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar afterwhich we drove to the top of the Monogahela Incline for a nightime view of the city scape.

It was a jam packed 36 hours in this wonderful city, and we cannot wait to return!

Greensboro: Denim and The Gate City

Long before becoming the third largest city in North Carolina, Greensboro was known for being the largest denim maker in the world. As Greg and I walked around the city last weekend, we saw many signs of this denim history. As I stopped to capture this mural, the driver of the car that was idling right in front backed up so I could take the shot. How very cool! And how perfect that the guy leaning against the fence was wearing jeans. We stayed at Hotel Denim and would have eaten at Blue Denim restaurant if the tables had not been booked all evening.

To commemorate Greensboro’s rich history with the denim and textile industry, Wrangler, VF Jeanswear spearheaded a public art project, dubbed “Jeansboro”, of painted jeans sculptures all throughout downtown.

Greensboro is also called Gate City because by 1890 there were more than 60 trains passing through the city each day. It had become a major transportation center, largely because of the denim industry.

We enjoyed the street life, the historic buildings still in use, and visiting the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum opened in 2010 as a comprehensive museum of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. It commemorates the Feb. 1, 1960, beginning of sit-ins at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, by the N.C. A&T Four college students, reflecting careful planning carried out with colleagues at Bennett College. Their non-violent direct action challenged the American People to make good on promises of personal equality and civic inclusion enunciated in the Constitution”.

Did you know that MLK was due to be in Greensboro the day that he was assassinated? He canceled his visit in order to remain in Memphis to continue his work with striking sanitation workers.

We only had 24 hours in Greensboro and are already ready to go back and explore some more!

Mount Mitchell

Covid-19 Update:  Since I picked back up on blogging, I’ve been sharing brief updates about our travels.  Rest assured, we are taking precautions.  Wearing masks, eating outdoors or take out (or in empty restaurants), and hand sanitizing.  We are doing our part to keep ourselves and others safe!

*****

On our way back home to Virginia from South Carolina a few weeks ago, we decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop in at Mount Mitchell State Park.

At 6684 Ft, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the MIssissippi River and offers incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

As we climbed in elevation, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up.

We didn’t have time to get out on the trails, but we plan to return to do some hiking another time.  Thankfully, we were able to get back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and appreciate the views along the way home.

 

VA / KY / TN Celebrated, too!

Covid-19 Update:  Since I picked back up on blogging, I’ve been sharing brief updates about our travels.  Rest assured, we are taking precautions.  Wearing masks, eating outdoors or take out (or in empty restaurants), and hand sanitizing.  We are doing our part to keep ourselves and others safe!

*****

We spent last weekend traveling the roads of Southwest Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The colors on individual leaves and trees were so varied and drew my eye again and again.

What a glorious way to spend Election Weekend!

Mother Nature was celebrating, too! ❤

Pacific Coast Highway Tour: Astoria, OR to Newport, OR

We left Astoria knowing that we had less than 150 miles to drive.  Piece of cake, right?  Not on Highway 101 and not when we were stopping every few miles.

What an incredible day!  One minute it was gloriously sunny; the next it was raining, and all of it was wonderful!

I’d aleady had my feet in the Pacific Ocean off of the Washington Coast, and on this day I did the same in Oregon.

Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach

Whale Sighting!

Forgive me! I just realized that these next four images are from Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington!

The Astoria-Megler Bridge

My apologies for the lack of order of these photos! Hope you enjoyed them anyway!

Pacific Coast Highway Tour: 3 Hours in Seattle

What do you do when you have 3 hours in Seattle?  After arriving by plane from Virginia, and with WAY TOO MANY options, we picked up our rental car and made a quick stop at the Pike Place Market.

 

After enjoying Fish Tacos and a local craft beer, with vows to return, we took the Edmonds Kingston Ferry to the Olympic Peninsula.

Getting Back Into It: Bike Adventures

This year, I was able to ride into Pennsylvania, my 9th state on the bike (I also was able to visit Oregon, my 48th state overall … but that’s another story).  This image reveals my excitement about visiting Pennsylvania, Gettysburg to be specific.  I also rode through Western Maryland and West Virginia, both previously visited, during this 1200 mile ride in July.

You’ve heard me say this before, but I am FOR REAL, trying to find time for blogging!  It’ll probably just be some photography for now … but Let’s Go!

Sideling Hill

What? Is this an actual post from LB?  Yes indeed it is!

I’m still struggling to balance work / civic commitments / some fun and blogging, and while I’ve continued to contribute to Monochromia each week, I’ve clearly not done so well here.  I’ll make it back, I swear!!

This post links to my contribution to Monochromia this week.

I took a 1200 mile motorcycle ride last week, my annual solo trip, and had the joy of riding through this gap. The Sideling Hill Road Cut on Interstate 68 and US 40 in Western Maryland, is a 340 foot deep notch excavated from the ridge of Sideling Hill.  It is notable as an impressive man-made mountain pass, visible from miles away, and is considered to be one of the best rock exposures in Maryland and the entire northeastern United States.

The image on Monochromia is of the bridge that runs over the highway.

This last image shows the cut in the mountain from many miles away.

Be back soon (I hope!)

Pick Up Where I Left Off?

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Life on the Bike and getting back into my blogging groove.  I’m 6 months behind on posting photos from various adventures.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Cape Charles, Virginia

Tallahassee, Florida

Knoxville, Tennessee

various Virginia State Parks

and Cincinnati, Ohio

I’ve worked alot, and volunteered alot.

Thankfully, I’ve played, alot, too.  I’ve traveled for fun and I’ve traveled for work.

I’ve worked on political campaigns and hosted non-political fundraisers.

I’ve riden the bike (not enough!) and managed to keep up with photography (again, not enough!).

And finally, I’ve missed WP and my blogging friends.

Slowly but surely, I’m finding my way back to my WordPress home!