A Detour Inland – Nashville, TN

Time with Grown Ups in Nashville!

Time with Grown Ups in Nashville!

From Cades Cove in the Great Smokies we headed west to Nashville to visit some old friends. We met Rob and Natalie in 2003, a decade ago, just before our wedding and just after theirs. We were youth group leaders together (Rob was the Youth Pastor) for a few years and made some great memories. We also have plenty of funny stories that weren’t so funny at the time from hanging out with teenagers for so long together. Needless to say, we were amped on spending a week with them and their growing brood. When they left California to be closer to Nat’s family five years ago, they had two kids (Noah and Ella, now ages 8 and 6). Now they have four kids (add in Viola, who’s two weeks younger than Zeph, and baby Adia, just a couple months old). We knew their house was already full so they graciously allowed us to park our motor home on their front lawn. The original thought was that we would park on the street in front of their house, but being that the street isn’t very wide and if we had our slides on the Moho out it would have made the street a narrow one-way, we knew we had to improvise. I was thinking “campground.” Rob was thinking “chainsaw.” He ran up to his garage, got out the chainsaw, and trimmed the heck out of the trees in his front yard so we could just get the Moho on the grass parallel to the street with enough room to open our slides (the Moho is way too tight to live in for any length of time with the slides closed). It actually worked out awesomely, as the closest campground was about forty-five minutes away, we really would have had to make a haul to get to their house everyday and we would have lost valuable time that we got to spend together thanks to their willingness to let us trailer-trash it on their lawn. Thank goodness none of the neighbors seemed to mind or called the city on us.

Chris and Rob have lunch with Viola and Zeph, and super babysitter extraordinaire Rachael watches

Chris and Rob have lunch with Viola and Zeph, and super babysitter extraordinaire Rachael watches

An added bonus about our time in Franklin, about twenty minutes south of downtown Nashville, was that our other friend/co-youth leader, Janell, flew in from Cali to stay in the Moho with us while we were there. Natalie, Janell and I were like the three amigos once upon a time and when we get together there’s a real camaraderie among us that’s hard to come by in this world. Rob and Chris get along super well also, and love to talk biz and come up with ideas together. Add to that five little kiddos and we had a recipe for a very busy, uplifting, crazy week.
Natalie, who had just had a baby six weeks ago (I didn’t even leave my house for six weeks when Zeph was first born), was a wonderful hostess. She planned a night out for the five of us grown ups, arranged a babysitter (thanks Rachael!), cooked multiple meals during the week, the whole while running her household, nursing her newborn, getting her big kids off to school, and loving her hubby. She’s pretty much my hero. We were out on the town everyday, shopping or sightseeing or running errands. She didn’t complain about how tired she was (I knew she was though, how could she NOT be?) or how hard it was having four kids, or houseguests, or any of it. She just smiled the whole time, ever the consummate host. We used her showers while we were there, her kitchen, her food, her laundry, her entire house and yard and everything in it. Not a peep. Not a sideways glance. I always knew Rob and Nat lived the “what’s mine is yours, mi casa es su casa” lifestyle, but my understanding of their willingness to share and give of themselves reached a whole new level on this trip. We had such a great time. Zephyr loved every minute. Especially because he got used to being around kids when we were in South Carolina with my cousin and her family and was missing them. He jumped on the trampoline in Rob and Nat’s yard every chance he got. He and Viola chased each other up and down the halls. He watched Ella and Noah in action. He convinced “Jenny Nell” (his name for Janell) to jump on the trampoline with him, too. It was non-stop for this boy. He fell asleep within a few minutes of laying him down just about every nap and bedtime, which is quick for him. And Chris and Rob set up their home office together and did their thing during the week… these boys are hilarious together and I could tell the time with a kindred spirit was good for Chris’s soul.

Zeph and Vi enjoy the trampoline with "Jenny Nell" (that's "Janell" in Zephyr language)

Zeph and Vi enjoy the trampoline with “Jenny Nell” (that’s “Janell” in Zephyr language)

Some of the things we did while in Nashville: ate at an amazing restaurant for grown-up night. Rumors East was a cool, organic-looking, hipster sort of place with great food (cheese plate, roasted duck breast with beet sauce, that sort of thing) and a really nice waiter that we really wanted Janell to go for to make our group of 5 a group of 6. She was having none of it, so we enjoyed our food, made inappropriate jokes (did I say we were youth group leaders? Well, not anymore!), and laughed our way through our meal. Then Natalie, who knows well my love of dessert, took us to Jeni’s Ice Cream. This place. Oh, this place. The flavors were so inventive and fun, and rich and amazing to taste. In fact, when you order (after standing in line for twenty minutes or so) they let you taste as many flavors as you ask for! I tried weird things involving absinthe and buttermints and lavender and olive oil and saffron… not all together, of course. I settled on lemon frozen yogurt and dark chocolate. Simple, but pure flavors that satisfied my wish for something fruity and rich. I loved this place so much that when Nat took me to a candy store a few days later that sold Jeni’s ice cream by the pint I had to bring four of them back to the house so we could live the dream one more time. They were almost $12 a pint, and worth every last penny.

Jeni's ice cream sandwiches

Jeni’s ice cream sandwiches

We spent time walking around downtown Franklin. This is such a charming town, and the shops in the downtown area are my kind of shops. Anthropologie, and a few other stores with a similar aesthetic… yes please! We visited a coffee shop called “Frothy Monkey” where the barista had a green tshirt on depicting Winnie the Pooh as a real bear standing on two legs, with golden fur and a red t-shirt, looking like he was in pain, being attacked by a tiger (Tigger), a large mean-looking pig (Piglet), and other real-life versions of the animals synonymous with the old children’s tale. I told him not to let my almost-two year old see the carnage.

Frothy Monkey coffee shop (guy in the green shirt is the Winnie the Pooh guy)

Frothy Monkey coffee shop (guy in the green shirt is the Winnie the Pooh guy)

We visited an old estate that was part of the family who owned Maxwell House Coffee – Cheekwood it was called. The flower gardens were all in bloom and it was fun to walk the grounds and look at all the beautiful trees and tulips everywhere. This was another adult outing so we were kid-free (except baby Adia, who never makes a peep). On our way home we dropped Janell off at the airport, and headed out of Rob and Nat’s front yard the next morning. We had quite the drive ahead of us – almost 900 miles – to get to our next destination – more on our journey back to the east coast next time!

Chris and Erin at Cheekwood Estate

Chris and Erin at Cheekwood Estate

The Moho in Rob and Nat's front yard

The Moho in Rob and Nat’s front yard

  • Kathy Adams

    as usual I loved reading of your adventures. excited to see you soon. Noel asked if it was a surprise to Caleb that we were going to be in Montana. I told her I didn’t think so.

    • zephyrsunrise

      Nope, not a surprise from us:) can’t wait to see you guys!