florida fun in nashville

Greetings from the North!  I am allowed to say that after spending a weekend in the South, right?  More specifically, I spent the weekend in Nashville, Tennessee with Eric and a bunch of his friends from Florida.  Two years ago, the men of the group headed to Nashville to see the Florida/Vandy game for a bachelor party…they had so much fun they decided to do it for a second time, but let the ladies come along as well.  It ended up being six guys and two girls, so I’m pretty sure the two of us got bonus points for putting up with the guys’ shenanigans.

We stayed in a rented townhouse about half a mile from Vandy’s stadium, which was beautiful and way too nice for a guys’ weekend – the first matter of business was moving anything breakable to a safe location.  Otherwise, the weekend can be divided into a few different sections – food, feats of strength, some touristy things, running (for me), and football.  Away we go.

the food

Our diet for the weekend basically consisted of BBQ with one meal of fried chicken thrown in for good measure.  The townhouse was conveniently within walking distance (or a short drive, if you’re used to driving…the New Yorker in me would definitely walk) of Hog Heaven, a hole in the wall BBQ place.  I ate pulled pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, and a cornbread pancake every single day we were there.  I do not regret a single bite.  If you go, get the pulled pork with the white sauce…I’m still not sure what it is, but it is delicious.  I also can’t believe that I don’t have any pictures of the food…but then again, I’m not a food blogger.  Oops?

As a side note, do not, I repeat DO NOT, go to the South and ask for “regular tea” meaning that you do not want sweet tea.  The guy behind the counter kindly reminded me that “this is the South, we ain’t got no regular tea here.”  Noted. 

The one meal we skipped having BBQ was when we mixed it up for some fried chicken.  One of Eric’s friends had eaten at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken on a prior trip to Nashville and deemed it worthy of skipping BBQ.  They basically serve all types of fried chicken (vegetarians, beware) with all the typical Southern fixings.

photo 3 (14) SO GOOD.

I got chicken tenders with medium heat…provided enough bite for enjoyment, but not so much that I struggled to eat it.  Otherwise, the pimento mac and cheese was ridiculous (Abbe, this must be replicated) and no one questioned me about my tea order.  Win and win.  Seriously, go here.  I suggest taking a statin with you.  (Nurse humor, I can’t help it.)

feats of strength

Boys being boys, they of course had to engage in competition.  “Feats of Strength” continued from the bachelor party that started this whole trip, where they did silly things after consuming some adult beverages.  Pretty sure I was in bed when they recreated those moments, and the feats of strength I was around for seemed a bit more tame than the stories I’d been told.  I do know that Sports Jeopardy and Head Up (yes, the Ellen game) were involved.  The feats of strength that I got to join in on included Jenga and beer pong…please note that more time was spent arguing over the rules of beer pong than actually playing it, ha.  Jenga was actually played at a local bar that had a few different games you could play.  We warmed up with some old school boxing…

IMG_2540 Eric won.  Pretty sure it was rigged slash his guy was broken.

Then we moved onto Jenga, single elimination…and my official invitation into feats of strength.  These guys didn’t know what they were getting into, as I moved onto total domination.  They said I was cheating with my “steady nurse hands”…they come in handy for IV starts and Jenga.  (Putting that on my resume…)  I ended up winning the whole thing, and Eric got this video of a Jenga-fall in progress:

So dramatic in slow motion.

My team also won at beer pong, and Eric’s friends became scared to go against me.  I suggested running games, but that got shot down.  Maybe next time…

the touristy stuff

Being a guys’ trip, not much was planned, but we got around to see a few things.  A store for American Pickers (an antique store with a show on TV that I was not aware of) was on the list, although the store itself didn’t really have much in it.  A few boutique stores were in the warehouse that had the store, so we wandered for a little bit.  We got some fancy marshmallow (peach basil?  yes, please) and found a random tie store called “Otis James.”  Only one guy was in the store, so I asked him if Otis James is a real person…you never know, right?  He said he is a real person…to which I proceeded to ask if he is Otis James.  Yep.  I guess that would have made sense to ask from the start.  We headed out, but the ties were nice and made in the shop next door if you’re looking for handmade ties/bowties.

After, we headed to downtown Nashville, which is tourist city.  The other girl in the group was on a hunt for cowboy boots, so we searched around for those and hit a couple bars between stores.  The bars were far from fancy, and we even got this gem at one of them:

photo 1 (22)
THEY SERVE SHOTS IN MEDICINE CUPS.  The nurse in me found this hilarious.  Also, that is beer in the medicine cup because the only shots I’ll be taking are of the flu shot variety.  (PSA:  Get your flu shot!)  I think the bar was called “Paradise Park,” so check it out if you’re in town.

photo 5 (1) Such a deal on boots.  Fun fact:  They’re selling for $200-400 each, not so much a deal!

Nashville is full of some quirky things, including this guy:

IMG_6494 Beaver Elvis…alright.

Annnnnnnd, of course, you go to Nashville to see the Parthenon, right?  Athens of the South?  Full size replica of the Parthenon?  You think I’m kidding, but kidding I am not.


Apparently it was built over a century ago with plans to demolish it after the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, but it was going to be costly to destroy it and the people of Nashville happened to like it.  Now, it serves as an art museum and a place for people to come visit or hang out.  It also has various workouts you can do around it, which I thought was cool.

IMG_6500 My yoga is not paying off, apparently.

“Burning off that chicken?”  haha.

So there you go…it’s like going to Greece without a passport!  And a lot more pulled pork…

the running

Naturally, I couldn’t spend my days off or time traveling in another city without running, so I did a little exploring on the run.  I had high hopes that it would be warm in Tennessee, but it was not…luckily my shorts/tank top did just fine in the 50 degree weather, and I had some lovely runs.

My first run was a five mile out and back around Vandy’s campus.  I stopped at a light to check my directions, and two men sipping coffee asked if I was texting while running.  I told them I’m from out of town (I think that’s rule #1 of things you’re not supposed to tell strangers…) and was checking directions.  They informed me they were visitors too and couldn’t help – probably Florida fans since a bunch were in town!  Anyway, Vandy’s campus seemed nice, although small (student body of around 7,000?), and had some hills.  I waved to the school of nursing and saw some students who were far more stylish than I was in college.

image Hello, Vandy!

My second run was an eight mile run that took me down to the river that runs through Nashville.  It was basically a straight shot down the 70S that you see in the picture above and went right down the main street leading into the city.  I almost got tackled by a Crossfit class running sprints on the sidewalk (move over for the rest of us, thanks!), but otherwise it was smooth running.  That is, of course, until I got a few blocks from the river and saw that the road was closed off – a race was going on!  I kicked myself (not literally, no plyos while running!) for not checking the race schedule, then realized it was a marathon and half marathon (with an earlier 5K, I later found out).  The runners seemed fairly spread out, and my later research found that the women’s winner of the marathon ran 3:19 with second and third running 3:24…put this on my life of “races I stand a chance of winning.”  The half marathoners were a bit faster – women’s winner was about 1:24.  Speedy!  Anyway, running along the river gave some nice views on a paved path.  Made me wish I’d planned a longer run, but oh well.  The pace felt easy, which was welcome from the struggles I’ve been having lately.

Friday – 8.01 miles in 1:02:55, avg pace of 7:45

photo 4 (6) No filter!  Ha.

image Why hello, Nashville.


Ah, finally the reason we headed to Nashville!  The Florida/Vandy game was at 6:30pm, so we had all day to hang out.  Some feats of strength continued, we had pulled pork.  This should not surprise you.  About an hour before the game, we headed down to the stadium and claimed our seats in the Florida section.  When I was back home in Chicago in October, I realized that this would not be my first Florida game – my high school marching band went to the Gator Bowl, so I saw Florida play there.  Of course, this time I was surrounded by a few more Florida fans.  I had my eyes on the Vandy marching band, as it brought me back to my college days…although the Maryland band was much, much bigger.  They played their pregame show and did a Veterans Day theme for half time.

photo 1 (23) Vandy Star.

Otherwise, Florida brought a small pep band, so much of the time was spent with Eric teaching me Florida chants.  One of them involves yelling, “Gator bait!” which terrified Gatsby.  It tough being a small elephant.

photo 2 (24) I guess he needs a Florida shirt.

The stadium seemed to have many more Florida fans than Vandy fans – I suppose Florida travels well and Vandy isn’t all the great.  Lots of orange and blue, and lots of touchdowns for Florida!  Florida won 34-10, with much of the stadium clearing out in the fourth quarter due to Florida being up so much.  I’m 2-0 at Florida games, so I guess Eric better keep me around…

and that’s a wrap!

After lots of pulled pork in Nashville, I’m glad to be back to somewhat normal eating up…but I suppose I could use all of that protein to start preparing for feats of strength for next time!

here’s to good friends 2014

I was going to start this post by commenting about the long weekend I just had, but I realized this post will be seen by post of you on Thursday…so for some reason that seemed a bit irrelevant.  But since that’s what I was going to talk about…last weekend I had a fun long weekend!  Last year, I headed up to Maine for the first time (minus one day at the beach when I turned 26…) for Sara’s husband’s annual Here’s to Good Friends weekend.  I believe Scott said that this was the 15th year that he’s hosted it (his parents had their own version in years past), which is pretty amazing.  The idea is basically that anyone and everyone can head up to their “camp” in Maine for a weekend of reuniting and just having fun together.  It’s called camp because when his family bought the land, it was literally just that…so people came up in tents and peed in the woods.  A house has slowly been built throughout the years, and the biggest addition this time around was wood floors and doors on the rooms.  I missed the years without running water, so I’ve never really had to rough it…and I’m sure it would have been cool to see the transformation over time!  The house is really beautiful with an amazing view of the lake.  Life is pretty good up there.

Of course, camp isn’t exactly accessible by public transportation, so Eric (he flew up the night before…when I was working…night shift fail) and I took a train up to Boston where we met other people who needed to fly in.  The plan wasn’t to hit the road with a rental car until after midnight, so I figured this would be a wonderful opportunity to hang out with Amy for the afternoon/evening!  After a nice nap on the train, we met up with Amy, ate some food, and then headed to Harpoon, one of my favorite breweries!  I’ve been on the tour before (and Amy’s been on it so many times that she could probably give the tour…), but recently Harpoon has opened a beer hall so you can hang out and drink their beers.  LIFE IS GOOD.

Photo: Why hello there! #harpoon #beerIt’s so delicious.

IMG_5652 Favorite people!

We sampled many beers from the many taps that they had – Amy and I both got a flight which allowed for maximum tasting potential.  Our waitress was also really knowledgeable about the beers on tap and made suggestions based on what we were interested in.  She also gave me a tasted of the “Fruit Salad” when I asked for the UFO White (one of my favorite beers!).  The Fruit Salad included the UFO White, UFO Raspberry, and Harpoon cider, and it really did taste like a fruit salad!  I enjoyed the sample, but it was a bit too sweet to drink an entire beer of it, so I went back to my original choice.  The beer hall also added pretzels, which looked delicious, but somehow we ended up not ordering them.  I guess we’ll have to go back…

After another stop for food, we parted ways (bye Amy!), and Eric and I headed to the airport to meet up with some of the group to drive up to Maine.  Luckily, someone else was driving because I was running on about three hours of sleep…and we got to Maine at 4am.  Yikes!  Let’s get some sleep and let the fun begin!

I could give you a play by play of the time at camp, but this is about how it goes:

  • Wake up and drink coffee/eat breakfast by the lake.
  • Some people swim, some people fish, some people run (or…people think I’m crazy for running), sometimes the dogs chase balls thrown into the water, some people play board games/cards, some people read, people talk to each other.
  • This goes on most of the day, including lunch in there somewhere.  “Showering” takes place in the lake.
  • Dinner occurs.  We had taco night, lobster night, and grill night.
  • Hang out by the fire and make smores.  The key to a good smore is letting your chocolate melt by the fire a little bit to make it even more gooey.  We also tried peanut butter cup smores, which were tasty but the PB was a little overwhelming.  Worth a try, though!
  • Ask Sara a million questions about Mississippi/internship/fellowship.  (Okay, only I did that.)
  • A game of Nerts.  I don’t even know if I spelled that right, but it’s like solitaire with however many people you have.  It’s vicious but fun.
  • The annual walk to ice cream…there’s a delicious ice cream place maybe ten minutes away, and I’m certainly not going to miss that!


image Campfire goodness.

My athletic pursuits were a bit different than last year when I was marathon training and ran around the lake.  My main goal this year was to try and get in some swimming since I haven’t really been in open water lately, so that will be good for the triathlon.  Luckily, a few people thought it would be fun to swim across the lake, so we did just that!  I’ve been testing out the new Bia GPS watch, which was triathlon features in it, including open water swimming!  I was interested to see how the watch would work in open water, so I wore it while we were swimming.  (I’ll review the Bia later!)  We certainly took our time and did plenty of doggy paddling.  Although we had a canoe with the group (just in time!), I was terrified that motor boats would run us over.  I did do some real swimming, which reminded me how different open water swimming is than swimming in a pool.  You can’t really see anything, and whenever you look up, it feels like you haven’t moved!  The water was also kind of choppy, so that made it a little more difficult.  Overall, a good experience.

image Not bad for an easy easy swim?

image GPS was pretty good.

image Minus that little bit…oops.

Overall, swimming was good, and I realize I need to get in the pool more.  (At least more than once per week…yikes.)  Other than swimming, I headed out for a few runs and was met with the hills of Maine.  OH THE HILLS.  They really ate my soul.  About half a mile away from the house, there’s a half mile long hill.  It has a little over 200 feet of elevation in that half a mile…which to me sounds like a lot.  And feels like even more.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a break halfway up because…oof.


It was one of those hills were I couldn’t even fly back down the other side because it was a little too steep for my quads.  Yikes!  Also, I don’t know if I was residually tired (pretty sure that’s not the right way to use the word “residual,” but I like it) or if Maine made me feel weird or what, but I was really tired and dragging on these runs.  Maybe that first hill just got to me.  I certainly didn’t feel awesome on these runs, but I always think it’s fun to be alone on the run.  I didn’t pass a single person (except for a few cars) when running, which is much different than NYC running.  My introverted running self is happy.  Plus, so many trees and lots of green and the ability to jump in a lake when done is definitely a plus.

Otherwise, the weather was pretty perfect for most of the weekend, except for some rain that kicked in on Sunday afternoon.  This led to me reading The Fault in Our Stars in just about one sitting…and I didn’t cry although it pulled at my heart strings.  (Like the chordae tendinae! – Anyone?  Anatomy humor?  No?  Okay, moving on…)  Although the storyline is meant to be sad, parts of it were actually rather humorous…and I will admit that I even laughed out loud.  Impressive combination.  Read it if you haven’t…and let me know if you want to go see the movie!

The rain continued through the night, cleared up a little bit in the morning, but kicked in full gear for parts of the drive back to Boston.  (Again, glad I wasn’t driving!)  We stopped in Kennebunk to get sandwiches at Bennett’s…so much giant deliciousness if you’re ever anywhere in the vicinity.  And it will keep you full for hours…which I know mainly because it worked for me!  The rest of the trip was uneventful, ending with our cab driver telling us he was from the South Sudan and he came to the US to run cross country…and of course I was convinced he was some sort of all star, but that was never confirmed or denied.  So it goes.

So overall, another fun Here’s to Good Friends up in Maine where I got to see some of my favorite people and hang out with people I don’t really know all that well but we’re all just enjoying life.  Until next year, Maine…

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