Time Out in Tennessee

Is anybody else tired of being home? Don’t get me wrong, I love my house. We have an amazing park right across the street, and incredible hiking opportunities within a 30-minute drive.

We have also taken time to DIY around the house. Is DIY a verb? No. But it should be. We have been DIY-ing all over the place.

Our old shed? Gone. And replaced with a new one – which we assembled. With the 2,000 screws that came in neatly -labeled packets.

Clearly, there is still some detail work to be done here, but this was a huge project! Many thanks to our long-time friend, Jerry, for the use of his trailer to haul off the pile of debris that comes from demolishing a 30-year old shed.

We have also been purging all of the excess stuff we’ve collected over 20 years of living in this house. Where did it all come from??

This, on top of the fact that I am taking 6 graduate credits this summer while trying to accomplish the nearly impossible – design a plan for teaching this fall. I feel like a contractor, trying to build a home for a difficult customer. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on it, a new request comes in, or the timeline changes, or the materials need to be redesigned. It is madness.

I was also hospitalized at the beginning of July with a massive asthma attack. It’s still not under control, but I’m taking my medications (yes, plural) and I haven’t landed back in the hospital, so I’m counting this as a win!

We needed a break. But we also needed to stay socially distant due to my health issues.

A trip to Nashville to visit our daughter was perfect. Nashville is a day’s drive from home, and we tend to keep stops to a bare minimum. So we packed up our hand sanitizer, our masks and our gear, and headed to the Volunteer State.

Where to Stay

We had no desire to stay in a hotel, preferring to rent a place where we could have space to ourselves. A kitchen was a must, both to reheat takeout and to cook simple meals, with a refrigerator to stash our own food. So we turned once again to Airbnb.

The 12 South Loft guesthouse owned by John and Lori was absolutely perfect. Nestled at the back of their property, the space had everything we could have dreamed of.

The space was wide open, with a beautiful upstairs loft, and Lori’s attention to detail was some of the best we have seen anywhere. And for $135/night, the value was unbeatable.

We know some of you hesitate to try Airbnb, but you are seriously missing out. It has become our go to for domestic travel, and we’re even looking at a night in one when we head to Iceland next year. Be smart, but give it a go.

More Than Just Honkey-tonks

While Nashville is known for its bar scene, as well as beautiful attractions such as the Grand Ole Opry, The Hermitage, and the Ryman Auditorium, there is far more to this part of the state.

There are endless ways to explore nature here, keeping active and out-of-doors while maintaining social distancing.


Our first excursion was to Percy Priest Lake. The 42-mile long, 14,000-acre lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1968. Approximately 15 minutes from Nashville, the lake offers everything from boating and fishing, to camping and paddle boarding.

Kassidy, our daughter, has an iSUP similiar to ours, and the weather was looking good, so we packed up the jeep and Kassidy’s new addition, 9-month old Enzo, whom she rescued from a local animal shelter.

As you can see, Enzo loves the paddleboard. So much so, that he kept jumping from one to the other! While that made paddling a bit of a challenge for us, Enzo was always safe in his Vivaglory life vest. Fitting it on him was simple, and the rescue handle made it easy to pull him up on whichever board he wanted to hang out on.

All dogs should wear life jackets when on the water, and if you decide to try this one via our link, we do earn a small commission.

Jeff had his kayak seat attached, while Kass and I went the traditional route.

Time on the water is always time well-spent. Although a storm eventually chased us off the lake, we were able to spend plenty of time relaxing and reconnecting.

Hiking at South Cumberland State Park

If you have been following us for awhile, you know we love hikes. And one of the things that makes Nashville such a great destination for outdoor lovers is the number of day hikes.

Thanks to our friends at @waterfallwanders Nashville, we chose to hit South Cumberland State Park, a 90-minute drive from Nashville. We wanted a hike that was challenging, but not too difficult for Enzo. We also wanted to check out one of the 60 waterfalls in the surrounding area, and maybe get a little swimming in. The Greeter Falls Loop and Greeter Trail to Alum Gap checked every box.

While the full hike is 3.2 miles, we only covered around 2 miles or so, mostly because we were distracted by the falls and the swimming.

The terrain is definitely varied, although the trails are well-maintained. We saw a number of younger kids, but the rocky terrain is not suitable for strollers and may present a challenge for some.

At about the 1/2 mile point, we found a waterfall with no name. I’ve tried to track it down, with no success, so if you have hiked this trail and can identify it, we’d love to hear from you.

Although the basin was too shallow for swimming, we were able to walk right up to the falls. Absolutely beautiful.

Continuing on, we eventually reached the split between the Upper and Lower Greeter Falls.

We decided to hit the Upper Falls first, as there were few people there.

The descent was only a little tricky, and the reward was great. Perfect for wading, and little danger of dropping over the edge. Although we did notice one young adventurous explorer being yanked away from the edge by her dad.

A short walk back along the path and you’ll find the descent to the Lower Falls. For those who are afraid of heights, the spiral staircase might prove nerve-wracking. The rocky path to the falls might also be a little intimidating. One young teen was frozen on the side of the hill as his dad tried to talk him down. We tried to encourage him, but he was still there when we left.

But again, once you’re there? It’s sooo cool!

We had a blast swimming in and around the falls. The water is deep, and there were quite a few people, but everyone respected everyone else’s space. Enzo was not a fan of the water, but he loved the attention.

Hiking at Radnor Lake State Park

If you’re looking to stay a little closer to Nashville, Radnor Lake State Park might be the spot for you. With over 1,300 acres and nearly 8 miles of trails to explore, this park is perfect for those who love wildlife, bird-watching and the sights and sounds of nature in general.

We met up with our dear friends, Tony and Valerie, for a socially-distanced 2-mile hike around the lake. This path is accessible to strollers and all-terrain wheelchairs, and is easy enough for almost any skill level.

Wine-d Down

We’ve made a few trips to Nashville over the past couple of years, and we heard great things about Arrington Vinyards every time. Unfortunately, we’ve always had so much going on that we’ve never made it out there.

Until now.

Near the town of Franklin, approximately 30 minutes from Nashville, Arrington Vinyards was a perfect ending to a beautiful day. With plenty of open space, socially-distanced seating, live music, and a view that reminded us of the Piamonte region of Italy, we were able to sit back, relax, and just enjoy time together.

We stopped off at Trader Joe’s (yesss!) to fill our picnic basket before heading to the winery. There are food trucks on Saturday nights, and some food is available on site. But who can pass up Trader Joe’s?

You Just Can’t Miss…12 South

White Bison is a new favorite coffee destination. We love really good coffee, and White Bison is well up to our standards. Direct Trade coffee with a variety of roasts to suit every palate, and specialties such as pour over, nitro, and cold brew make this a coffee lover’s mecca.

Christie Cookies was a great discovery on a walk from our Airbnb to explore the 12 South neighborhood. The slogan on the front of the building is what first caught my attention. Christie is clearly a woman after my own heart!

We found this Nashville staple about 30 minutes prior to opening, and the smell of freshly-baked cookies begged us to hang around until opening. Naturally, we had to oblige.

I forgot to take a picture of Jeff’s chocolate chip cookie, and it was gone in two seconds anyway. I did remember to take a picture of my lemon-white chocolate chip, but only after I had already broken off a piece – oops!

Hiding underneath is a blondie cookie that was supposed to make it back to the house. It did not. And we’re not sorry.

And if we haven’t said it before, we’ll say it again – Frothy Monkey. We never miss a chance to hit this Nashville favorite. With local ingredients combined in unusual ways, weekly wine and beer dinners, and Wine Down Wednesday happy hours, this more-than-a-coffeehouse invites you to sit awhile.

This vacation was exactly what we needed. We were able to stay socially-distanced without being socially-isolated, and explore our daughter’s new home with minimal risk.

There is no question…

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