22 x 16 x 9: Tales of a disgruntled over-packer.

Hello, I'm Adrienne and I'm a chronic over-packer. I carry snacks, gum, water and Aleve on a daily basis. I usually have my camera and an extra layer to ward off the evening chill. I like to have all my things with me. I don't travel light, I travel prepared.

Now, here I am, deciding that I that SE Asia will be easier to navigate if I succumb to the airline's tiny 22x16x9 carry-on size. Le sigh.

I have been trolling the interwebs, looking for inspirational packing posts like this one- (theartofsimpletravel) where Tsh will be traveling for a whole year with less clothes than I've planned on taking for 3 months. Check out what she is taking in the photo below. A whole YEAR! Impressive. Maybe I can do this… maaybe.

A simple, casual travel wardrobe for one year

So far, this is my list.


1 rainjacket & my tiny Patagonia windbreaker that I wore all over Europe last fall.

1 swim suit

1 jog bra/ 2 other bras

2 pairs of socks / 7 undies

1 pair of pants

1 pair of capris

1 pair of shorts

1 skort

1 over-the-knee length skirt (for visiting temples)

2 tank tops / 2 T-shirts

1 long sleeve shirt (for cool mt. towns)

Chaco sandals (newly resoled in Rockford, Mi!)

Lightweight running shoes

1 hat

I am planning on buying a scarf (or 4) on my travels


Deoderant, sunscreen, tooth brush & paste, razor, soap, shampoo & conditioner, washcloth (I don't use them at home but when you have limited water available they come in handy.) Tweezers & small mirror (gotta keep these eyebrows in check!) Q-tips!

First aid kit

Bandaids: assorted.

Moleskin for blisters

Hydrocortisone cream (for itching)

Triple antibiotic ointment

Digital themometer

1 pair of disposable gloves

Tiny scissors

Duct tape

Electrolyte packets



Traveler insurance info: I'm using World Nomads.

Proof of Vaccinations

Contact Card: Family at home, people in country and places I've reserved to stay in each country

Passport (valid for at least 6 months!), Color copies of my passport, copies of my credit cards

Printed travel itinerary with confirmation #s for flights, etc.

Electronics and Randomness

Travel journal & colored pencils

Gum, granola bars & fruit leather

Little gifts like stickers & Michigan-edition quarters

IPad, charger and a ton of really helpful travel apps (listed in this blog post.)

A book to read and trade at a hostel when I'm done.

My tiny new camera the Panasonic Lumix Lx7! It has a Leica lens & full manual controls. Since I'm a Canon girl, this has taken some getting used to- but the photos are coming out lovely! It's SO much smaller!

70 GB of SD cards, Apple card reader (to load photos onto my iPad), extra camera battery and charger

Adapters! (Since all my electronics have voltage ranges from 120-240 I don't need a converter!)


I am certain to amend this list, plus- I haven't decided what bag to use now that I've decided to go carry-on!

10 days til wheels-up!


Categories: Packing, SE Asia Trip 2014 | Tags: , | 4 Comments

My most favorite travel accessory… of all time!

Last fall, while Natasja & I were trying to connect with my lost (& very jet lagged) parents – my ULMON PRAGUE app saved the day.  Seriously.  Well, my iPad and Saint Ludwila.  I thought my parents were just going to give up and go to Slovakia without me.  (Read the account here.)  That experience cemented my iPad mini at the top of my must-have travel accessories.

Here are the apps that I am taking on my trip.

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Google Drive

All of my flight info, travel insurance policy, contact info and my travel itinerary are in a file that I can share with the people who need to know where I am at all times.


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Ulmon (for big cities)

This app is perfect for me because (as anyone who has ever driven anywhere with me will know) I am directionally challenged.  Even off-line, I can touch the blue navigation arrow and it will show me where I am on the map as I walk through the city!  It also lists all the most common tourist sights and allows me to search for the locations of temples, restaurants and cat cafes!

*I also downloaded ‘skobbler’ – which is a GPS navigation app that works offline worldwide. I hope it works!

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Even off-line this app will mark a place and connect a photo I take so I can find my way back later!  Obviously, I’m trying really hard not to get lost.


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This is the app that I use to post my ‘Adventures of a Michigander’ blog since I’m not bringing my laptop.  I did buy an iPad case with a keyboard for the trip.


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All of my flight confirmation emails & travel details are uploaded here to help me keep track!


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Safety First!  This is where I check the government travel warnings for the 7 countries I’ll be traveling in.


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Trail Wallet

At the end of my trip, I’ll be able to use this app to see charts on my spending.  It will break it down to how much I spent per day & on what.  I’m sure you’re already looking forward to that blogpost.

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I just signed up @adventuresofamichigander, follow me to see photos that I don’t post on FB or my blog!


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Booking accommodation just got easier!

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I may be the only one interested in how many miles I walked while wandering the temples of Angkor Wat.


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Have you ever wished that YOU could be in the photos on the vacation postcards that you send to your friends?  Now you can! Personalized postcards are super fun!


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 Heads Up!

Ellen DeGeneres designed this app and it’s hilarious to play with groups.  It’s simple, your team tries to get you to say the word on the screen, as you hold the iPad on your forehead.  The best part is the video it takes during the game – this game will make me lots of friends when I get stuck inside during a rainstorm.

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It’s hard to keep track of the days when you travel so this app warns me when I might be feeling ‘PMSy’ rather than just ‘Hangry’.  It’s very helpful.


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I love the way my photos look with this app!


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I use this to crop & edit my photos and add text.


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Skype / FaceTime

It’s free to video chat- but you can also send text messages and make phone calls very cheaply!


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Weather+ (International)

It’s good to know if it’s going to be 80+ humid or 90+ humid.


Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 10.17.28 PMFly Delta

The app is worth downloading simply for the Glass Bottomed Jet feature, where it will show you the places you’re flying over + which FB friends you’re flying over!  Slightly stalker-ish but neat!


Also: Kindle, FaceBook, iMessage, GoogleTranslate, Uber, plus some games and a 7-min workout app.

If you’re still reading, leave your favorite travel apps in the comments, please!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

7 countries in 77 days

Here is the outline of my epic journey.

I’ve left room for plenty of detours.

Oh, how I love when a plan starts to come together!  Unemployment has given me adequate time to do some in-depth research.  I’ve been pouring over TripAdvisor forums, loads of blogs and good ol’ travel guides for weeks now and here’s what I’ve come up with so far.


I’ll be flying into the Narita airport, north of Tokyo and connecting with a YMCA Camp Jeweller, Matt Allan, who is stationed in Yokosuka with the US Navy.  I plan on hopping the bullet train to Mt. Fuji Nat’l Park and contenting on to Kyoto and Osaka.  I’m only there 6 days but I intend to live it up!

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Next up, I’ll fly in to Bangkok (the star in the map below) from Tokyo and then start traveling counter-clockwise and then head down the peninsula to Singapore!

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Wat Pho

Wat Pho

In Bangkok, I’ll be met by Bryan- a friend I met through a St. Michael’s connection who works for the US Government.  Bryan transferred to the Bangkok branch on August 8th and since he’s new in town, he’s going to be the perfect sightseeing buddy!  After a few days of eating amazing Thai food and wandering through markets & temples, I’ll fly out of Bangkok and into Cambodia.




I’ll enter the country at Siem Reap, a town made famous by the temples at Angkor Wat.  I’ll buy a 3 day pass in order to take my time & escape the heat when I need to.  Then, I head down to Phnom Penh (PP) to meet up with Meaghan T. (a 20 yr + friend from Camp Gordonwood)!  I am a lucky girl ~ Meaghan is letting m come to her school for a day!

#4-Vietnamjasmine_introvietnam sapa bac ha 31 (1024x768)

I’ll cross this boarder by land- after securing a visa in PP and continuing on to Ho Chi Mihn City (HCMC) where I’ll meet up with another Camp Jeweller- Troy Jankowski from Sydney!  We’ll take the train to Hoi An and then to Hanoi.  The rice terraces of Sapa and the rock formations of Halong Bay are on our itinerary.  Hopefully, we’ll find time to take a cooking class too!  (Photos by vietnamtravelsonline.com)

#5-Myanmar (Burma)Burma-COVER

Troy & I will arrive in Yangon for the Festival of Lights!  Then, we’ll travel to Bagan, Inle Lake and fly out of Mandalay at the end of the 2 weeks.  For more photos of Myanmar, check out this book by Scott Stulberg.

There will be another few days in Bangkok as Troy flies home and Laura Johnson flies in from Nashville!



(Photos from parallelperception.com)


In Malaysia, Laura and I plan to laze around on tropical beaches, wind our way through Kuala Lumpur and end up in the sovereign city-state of Singapore!



(Photos by dogonews.com)

imagesI won’t arrive in Singapore until December, so it I haven’t made many plans.  It’s a big city (and it’s own country!) so I hoping to meet up with fellow Masonite Heather Klepper Roddocker while I’m in town.  This is the last stop in my travel adventure… I’m already feeling nostalgic.

Categories: SE Asia Trip 2014, Trains, Travel | Leave a comment

The Traveler’s Catch-22 (or 3 reasons why I should not go on this trip.)

I’ve have a lot of time to think lately.

Much of this time has been spent thinking about vaccines, visas and voltage (say that 3 times fast!)  As I repeatedly recount the story of my next adventure I find myself feeling the need to justifying this trip.

These are the three questions that keep popping into my head when I start overthinking.


(This photo is of Halong Bay, Vietnam. Taken by Nic (Luckypenguin)

#1: I don’t have any money.

I understand that it is not fiscally responsible for an unemployed person to traipse across the world for three months.  BUT…. Time IS money, people!  And I’m RICH with TIME!  Welcome to what I’ve dubbed the Traveler’s Catch 22: If I wait until I accumulate a stack of cash,  it will be when I have a job again!  If I have a job, then I won’t have 3 months off to travel!  I’ll put as much as I can on a 0% credit card and pay off this trip next year.


(Photo of Bagan, Myanmar by Raul Cruz Photography)

#2: It is not SAFE for me to travel the world ‘alone’!

Well, safe is a relative word… because LIFE is a risky endeavor!   For my own sanity, I have always tried to stay in that sweet spot between being overly cautious and being blissfully ignorant.  Like Kenny Rogers says, ‘Trust in God, but lock your door!’  (I bought some great travel insurance too.)  ‘Alone’ is also relative, I’m meeting a few old friends along the way and I’m sure to make many new friends too!


(This photo of a monk in Angkor Wat, Cambodia was taken by Timothy Allen/BBC)

#3: I should be looking for a full-time job or working on adrienneleephoto.com, not going on vacation.

Sure!  That sounds like a good use of my time!   But I consider this a ‘life experience’ trip, not a vacation and I’ve decided that when I’m old, I want to have a collection of stories instead of a collection of fine china to pass down.  I may be broke, but my aim is to be interesting!

Now that you know WHY I’m going, read my next post to find out WHERE I’m going and WHO is coming with me!

Categories: SE Asia Trip 2014, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Shaefers visit Nashville!

Susie, Luke, Bridget and Michael were patient enough to sit through epic construction traffic just to come see me in Nashville!  We had such a great time!

Michael is such a trooper!  The Shaefer kiddos are great road-trippers!P1010350Dinner at Calypso Cafe and we got to see the banner that the kids of St. Ann’s Episcopal made!

What a loong day in the car!  Zzzzzzz!

Gooood Morning!!!  Wait… somebody’s still sleeping?!?!


After a great sleep – Big sister gets little brother ready for breakfast!


We hiked up to the top of the pedestrian bridge to see if we could see any boats.  Nope.  But we did spot Cumberland park!  Let’s Go!P1010353

We had to take the LED elevator down to playground.P1010355SWEET!!!  There’s a waterfall under the bridge and a bunch of little jets of water that shoot up!  FuN!


Oh yeah!  Michael is TOTALLY loving this!  P1010364

Bridget spies a climbing wall and net!  Cumberland Park is awesome!P1010363

Come on, Michael!

He’s doing it!  Through the water fall!P1010372

He did IT!P1010371

What’s the best way to celebrate a fun time at Cumberland Park?  JENI’S ICE CREAM!P1010391

This girl is going to be a Kindergardener this fall!  Can you even believe it?P1010408

NAP TIME!!!!  (Bed head!)



B & I hung out in the GIANT CHAIR!
P1010461We spotted butterflies in the garden!  (Can you spot the Swallow Tail?)


Michael liked the colorful peppers.P1010436

The log cabin in the Nature Play area was fun.


Time for dinner at the LOVELESS CAFE!


Fresh biscuits and homemade jam while we make up our minds about what to eat for dinner!P1010487

It rained and thundered on the way home- then off to bed!  The next morning, B practices rolling up her sleeping mat.  She’s such a good (indoor) camping buddy!


Michael had a bit of a ceiling fan obsession… although in this photo he looks like he’s having a religious experience.  Luke looks so proud.
P1010502Bye guys!  It was SO fun to have you visit!


Love you, Shaefer Family!






Categories: Cumberland Park, road trip, Shaefer Family, Water Park | Leave a comment

Redneck Riviera: Florida isn’t just for retirees and Disney fanatics.

Summer camp is done.  All the post-camp meetings are finished.  Time to take a road trip! photo 2-6 I figured that I should take advantage of my current latitude and enjoy a weekend at the beach!  When I asked Laura if she’d like to road trip with me, she said ,”Yes! Let’s go to the Gulf coast, Florida!  They call it the Redneck Riviera!”  The Redneck Riviera!?!?  Was that supposed to be a selling point?  I had only been to Florida once… when I was 14 and our family went to Disney.  It was an amazing trip but it firmly cemented a stereotype in my mind – Florida was full of retirees, Daytona Beach bikers and Disney fanatics.  (I’m pretty sure these stock photo retirees are on their way to Disney.)impact1 Laura insisted that the panhandle was the best part of FL (besides the Keys!) and I’d be a fool not to drive down there with her.   It took up seven hours of our Friday, but it was worth it!  Highlights include: a rest stop with a real rocket ship, cows asleep in the shade, a CAMP license plate, pop up campers that looked like Hershey kisses, self-service ice houses and chocolate-covered graham crackers from Cracker Barrel! P1010160 P1010159

photo 1-7We stocked up on supplies and visors at Publix, then headed to St. Andrew’s State Park to set up camp!  Nice sites! P1010256             Once we were settled, we made grilled cheese, grabbed the kite and headed down to the beach to catch the sunset! P1010203 There was a pirate ship that cruised the shoreline.  We saw it again the next day, ‘firing’ its canons.P1010206 There was a neat Great Blue Heron just chilling on the beach.  We sat 20 ft away from him for almost an hour as the setting sun lit up the clouds.P1010216 The pier at St. Andrew’s State Park. P1010226   There was a nice breeze and it didn’t get too hot in the tent.  The next morning, Laura cooked up some breakfast, eggs and sausage.  (The palm-like underbrush gave the park a very tropical vibe.) P1010254 We decided to pay $20 to take a boat over to ‘Shell Island’ for the day.  Just finding out how to do that was quite the task since the brochure offered very little info… like where you buy tickets.  It took us 2 tries.P1010258 We learned there is no shade, no bathrooms & no services on Shell Island.  The ticket sale girls told us to pee in the ocean, that’s what the fish do!  Um, ok…  We had picked up a discarded umbrella from the beach the night before.  Off we go, the shuttle leaves every 30 minutes. P1010259 After 10 minutes wading through the sugar sand, we arrived at the beach!  (We were really glad we had decided not to bring along the cooler!)  This is a photo of the people flocking to the Ice Cream Boat!P1010260 There was plenty of empty beach to claim- so we found a spot and set up our free umbrella.  Ahhh…P1010263 Laura had thought to bring goggles for both of us, so we swam down along the break wall to where the little tropical fish hang out in the rocks.  Then, we had ‘snack lunch’ and took the kite for a walk.P1010282   We spent six hours living the beach life on Shell Island, then headed back to camp.  Being at the beach all day had made us hungry for FISH TACOS!  We spotted this cute little place, right on the water.P1010284 The fish tacos were pretty mediocre (cheddar cheese?!? Really?) but the view and the onion rings were on point!P1010287 We decided to risk it and try to make it back to the beach for sunset again… but we just missed it. P1010300 Luckily, Laura is a marine-animal-magnet and she spotted a HUGE sting ray from the pier AND this adorable little turtle, chasing his dinner!  He swam along under the pilings, entertaining us with his cuteness, but it was getting too dark to get a clear photo. P1010298 We had to buy ice for the cooler, so of course we stopped by “EVERYTHING A DOLLAR” on the way.  The lady who works there makes hot glue ‘sculptures’.  Laura thought her sunglasses tan made her look like that cute little owl, so she bought him! photo 4-4 Sunday morning, we made friend egg sandwiches (Brilliant!) and tea, then packed up camp to drive to Destin.  The 2 state parks we had originally wanted to stay in are there, Topsail and Henderson.  As we drove between Panama City Beach & Destin, there were an intense number of giant hotels between the road and the beach.  A bit of a bummer, but they also had lots of public access points to make sure you could get to the water.photo 1-5 Lunch that day was donuts.  The Krueller was magical.  The Key Lime Pie donut was perfection.  The cream filled Long John was so sweet it made our teeth hurt.  Luckily, Laura had a half gallon of milk in the cooler. photo 2-7   We  stopped in Destin to get some caffeine to combat our OMG-we-ate-donuts-for-lunch sugar crash.  There is a big board walk with zip lines, airbrush stops and people coming in from fishing trips.  So many fish.   Look!  I found a pirate ship!photo 2-5   It was time to head home, but first- let’s get some more ice for the cooler!  This photo was taken 2 seconds before 20 lbs of ice plummeted into the cooler.  Luckily, I thought to take the eggs out before loading up. photo 1-4   We drove and drove… and we were still in Alabama when I remembered that it was 8pm and we hadn’t eaten dinner!  Tragedy! (Remember what we had for lunch?  Geesh.)  Like a food beacon, we saw a WAFFLE HOUSE at the next exit!  Our waitress, Trouble tolerated my request for UNsweetened tea and suggested the marinated chicken breast with hash browns.  It was awesome.photo 4-3   Thanks, Laura!  What an awesome trip.  That won’t be the last time I visit the Florida Panhandle. P1010283

Categories: Gulf Coast, Jumping Photo, road trip | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrations: Americana style, Netherlands style


The wonderful and well-traveled Natasja came to Nashville to stay with me for the first week of July 2014.  Natasja and I met in S. Africa in 2008, we hit it off so we adjusted our travels to scuba and surf together.

673_101479000787_9697_n 1898_105077040787_3025_n In September 2013, Mom, Dad & I spent 3 days with her in Prague!

wpid-Photo-Oct-1-2013-406-AM.jpgShe came to Nashville via New York, where she had spent 4 weeks at a yoga farm in Woodstock, learning how to teach Sivanada yoga.

10502149_10152269070983877_2373131883078282818_nI went to pick her up at the airport on Sunday night and Monday we had breakfast at Sky Blue Cafe.  Across the street there was an adorable house with a white picket fence and an insane amount of flowers!


Then we hit up Kroger and headed out to Opry Mills Mall.  We bought $15 Gap jeans, shoes and matching $3 patriotic Flag shirts.

That night we tried to eat at the vegetarian restaurant, Wild Cow, but got there just before they closed.  We went across the street to Rosepepper and Natasja got a vegan burrito and was super happy.

July 1st: (Happy Birthday Jessie!)  Today we went to a little boutique called, OMG with 300 lbs of gold glitter lacquered into their floor.  Then we mailed Jessie’s birthday package and headed down to Hillsboro Village.  We went to Pangea and bought cat postcards and to BookManBookWoman and bought nothing.  At 4pm we saw our first movie at the Belcourt!  It opened in 1925 to show silent movies, then was briefly the home of the Grand Ole Opry!  Afterwards, we head to Wild Cow again… and it was closed on Tuesday.  Pfft.  Calypso Cafe was a great replacement!

20140702_122946_Richtone(HDR)July 2nd: THE BEST DAY EVER!  We canoed the Piney with Paul and Laura!  N & I stopped at Mitchell’s Deli and bought everyone a yummy sandwich.  (They were as delicious as Zingerman’s but half the price!)  Then we picked up Laura and Paul and headed East.  It’s still amazes me that 45 minutes outside of Nashville, everything is all backwoods and pick-up trucks.


20140702_171325 Our canoe outfitters were great: Pinewood Camp & Canoe.  The gave us this cool canoe with a toking rabbit.

20140702_123219_Richtone(HDR)It was a perfect paddle: quiet river, all to ourselves.  A green heron followed us along the river.  It was 83 degrees and we stopped to swim. Ahhhhhh.












We had gotten dropped off and paddled back to camp- when we got there we found a rope swing!  Paul and I went off of it 4 times.  Super fun!


We stopped at M.L.Rose for veggie burgers (& 2 for 1 beers!) after our paddle and met this awesome person: our waitress, Meridyth!  She spent 3 months in Cambodia and was hilarious.  Obviously, we’re buds now.


Since none of us wanted this super day to end, we walked Paul’s dog, Neepa and got shakes at Bobby’s.  It was 10pm before we headed home.  Best Tuesday on record.

July 3rd: We made oatmeal & headed out to Sri Ganesha- a Hindu temple that I drive by on my way to work.

IMG_7639We arrived while the priests were doing a ceremony.  We took our shoes off, entered the temple and inside there was a giant room with many small shrines to Hindu gods along the wall.  In the center, there was a 10×20 room with a giant statues of Ganesha.  The priests chanted as they made offerings of fruit to the elephant-headed god.  They rang bells for a long time and wafted incense over the offerings.  When the short ceremony was over, they passed the plate around and brought you back fruit from the altar commensurate with your donation.  Natasja and I each got a banana.

There were ladies sitting on the floor, threading fresh flowers into leis to purchase for the statues in the shrines.  There were little kids running around and fliers for senior’s activities.  The temple had a very family-oriented vibe, like church.  We thanked them and headed off.

Next, we headed to Warner Parks so Natasja could see where I had been spending the summer.  We met the lovely ladies at the Nature Center, prepped some crafts at the Field Station and walked around a bit.  Then it was time to find dinner!  Paul had a fantastic vegetarian suggestion, Woodlands Indian Restaurant!

Natasja was thrilled that Woodlands was all vegetarians, since it’s pretty hard to tell if ‘stews’ contain meat until it’s too late. We shared Thali- Chai tea & rice pudding.10527305_10152276429838877_296938232793117789_n

Then we raced off to the Ryman for one of the Bluegrass nights: Yonder Mountain String Band!  They had 2 special guests: Sam Bush and Alli Krall.  Alli sang ‘Jolene’ by Dolly Parton and RAGED on the fiddle.  I wanted her to play Dolly’s songs all night.  Yonder was great but they were prone to long ‘solos’ for each player… during EVERY SONG.  Natasja discovered that she’s not really into ‘jam bands’.10450530_10152276857968877_1084731628425221884_nWhile we were listening to Yonder at the Mother Church of Bluegrass, MOM & DAD arrived and made themselves at home.  We cruised Honky Tonk row after the show, so they were asleep by the time we got home.

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You may notice the police officers in the background… Natasja was entertained by their golf carts.  They must have been bored, later they were shining their flashlights on Natasja & giggling when I took her photo.


July 4th: HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, AMERICA!  I had planned a day jam-packed with patriotism, so we made breakfast and headed down to a little neighborhood that has been putting on a 4th of July celebration for 38 years!  They start with a what they called a ‘children’s parade’, even though each child had at least 2 adult escorts… so it was more like a ‘parent’s parade’.


We took our dish-to-pass to the food tent & found our seats for the reading of the Declaration of Independence!

Can’t you just hear this couple’s conversation?

“Alan!  Alan!?!  You’re going to miss the symphony, Alan!” “Martha… I’m right behind you.”IMG_7668

Dad is looking super-happy because of all the free hot dogs.10478149_10152278330468877_5500900182724045057_n

After the symphony finished their Sousa marches, it was time for the pot-luck!  YUMMMMM!!!


This is the most patriotic pie I’ve ever seen!  And it was Natasja’s favorite: Rhubarb-Strawberry!




After we pulled ourselves away from the festivities, we stopped at Centennial park. Did you know that the largest train fatality in the US happened in Nashville in 1918 on “Dutchman’s Curve”?!?!

Well, now you do.

IMG_7738 IMG_7729

IMG_7756Then we head to Hillsboro to have Las Paletas popsicles- they are handmade in 30+ flavors!  Mom & I had Mexican Caramel, made with goat’s milk!  Dad had lime.  N had banana, dipped in Olive & Sinclair chocolate.  We were all tuckered out from the festivities and head back home to nap.  We had dinner at Tenn16 (Dad wondered why his chicken & waffles had so much syrup on the chicken…)  Mom & I shared some awesome meatloaf.  We couldn’t linger, we had to make it downtown for the fireworks!  Luckily, Laura & Won had been holding some prime viewing real-estate for us!  We were still wearing our patriotic matching outfits!

10486781_10152278330678877_305175584603433856_nThe 10 minute drive to downtown took 45 minutes… but when we got there- it was totally worth it!


The show was the 2nd, only to NYC’s this year!  The thing that made it really over the top was the Nashville symphony- they were playing music, synchronized with the blasts!  Too bad they didn’t have louder speakers.  While we waited for the traffic to clear, we checked out Won’s house, that used to be a bank.  He turned his 3 story vault into a library, using shelves from the bankrupt Border’s Books.

IMG_7847 IMG_7850

This is where you make deposits! And photobombs!IMG_7856

There is a theatre upstairs!  And a ballroom!IMG_7868

Laura's bank house



July 5th: Breakfast at home, then off to Olive & Sinclair for a chocolate tour!IMG_7880Mom and Natasja look fabulous in their hairnets!   Roasting Beans. Even the chocolate grinder is patriotic.




IMG_7886IMG_7874Then, off for burgers and Mint-Oreo shakes at Bobby’s and a stop at Antique Archeology, which is the shop from the History Channel show, American Pickers.  There was a long line and it was boring.  Don’t bother.



It was WORLD CUP time!  Off to a patio pub to watch the Netherlands vs. Costa Rica!

10487308_10152279967668877_9124329047859517929_nIt was 0-0 at the end of the game… so on to penalty kicks!  HUP, Holland, HUP!  AND THEY WON!!!



To celebrate the end of a successful visit, we toast with tiny mustache glasses full of Limoncello, sent as a gift by Natasja’s handsome Italian cousin, Silvio.  It’s too bad this epic week is over!  I miss you, Natasja!  Ciao, Bella!IMG_7925IMG_7926







July 6th: Mom and Dad headed home after breakfast, taking their, “newest & tallest daughter” with them.IMG_7933

I was sad to see them go, but N got to see the new house in progress AND my baby photos.  So it was worth it.  Natasja-  I can’t wait to figure out where in the world we will meet up next!!!


Categories: Bluegrass, Fourth of July, Nashville, Prague, road trip, Ryman, Trains, Travel | Leave a comment

Camp Warner Park

Since my move in April, I’ve been a busy little bee, setting up summer camp in a 3,000 acre park in Nashville, Tennessee!  Well, June 9-13th it all came together!  This past week was rainy and cool and full of amazing experiences with awesome staff and happy kids. 8 weeks ago, I couldn’t have imagined things would go SO well.  I did all my blogging on CampWarnerPark.com, so you’ll have to head over there to see the rest of the photos.  Here are some highlights!

Our home base- the Bob Brown Field Station!


 Sidewalk chalk!


Our youngest group, the DUCKLINGS!IMG_6138

The Tadpoles, searching for critters in the river.IMG_6142Catch and release salamanders.IMG_5610

Lunchtime at the pavilion.


The Metro Park Police came by to meet the campers!  This is Echo and Officer Owens.

Officer Johnny shows us Burt’s teeth!IMG_5831

Long hike to the quarry!

IMG_6037Searching for fossils at the quarry.

Then we head to the Little Harpeth River for some ‘research’.IMG_6097

Rhett shows the campers some stonefly larvae.IMG_6121

River FUN!


Corn Snake, thinks its a tie.IMG_6085

This week was SO fun that there were some tears when it was time to go home!IMG_6199Its good to have feelings.

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Mom and Dad visit Music City!

Hooray! After a month of getting used to this new place, I was ready to show off Nashville to my parents! They drove down 9 hours from Michigan on the first Friday in May. The weekend was packed with eating, and exploring. Here are the highlights!

Saturday May 3rd

The next morning we head out for a busy day of exploring the city. At Yeast Nashville my biscuit breakfast sandwich was tasty and large.

Then, we went to check out the downtown Farm Market. It was right next to the Bicentennial Mall; at one end is the capital and it’s made to mimic the National Mall in DC. There were towers with bells at the other end, quite the carillon!

After we were done learning about Tennessee’s history (16th state in the Union!) and headed down to see Warner Park, where I’ll be holding camp this summer!

Mom and I, enjoying the Little Harpeth River.

We had a lovely little wander, then headed to Harding Academy to meet Jessie & Ron’s friend Barrett at the art show. Barrett spends a LOT of time outdoors, waiting for wildlife to photograph. He captures some really stunning photos and even won a National Geographic contest for this photo of a Grizzly, charging after salmon in a stream.

Dad was feeling nappish after that, so Mom & I dropped him off at home and went to split a salad at Calypso Cafe and take a brisk walk in Shelby Bottoms Park, my favorite spot to run with the Indigo Buntings.

Hours later, we roust Dad and head to 5 Points Pizza to grab a few slices to go. Dad gets pepperoni and we get prosciutto and basil. YUM!!! We eat it on a bus stop bench and head off to explore downtown Nashville.

We park on the north side of the river and take the pedestrian bridge across because it has the best views. This is Dad’s cool abstract-reflection-of-the-bridge photo.

Reflection Bridge

There were about 9 different groups of red-carpet-ready teens getting their prom photos on the bridge. Here’s the prom pix of Mom and Me!

mom and A on bridge

Dad found a rooftop wedding to photograph.

Rooftop Wedding

I spotted a horse-drawn carriage!

Finally, across the Cumberland River and into town! We stop to admire the fountains.

And explore Broadway- with all the Honky Tonk bars. But of course, we’re only there for ice cream.


After grabbing ice cream, staring at all the gaggles of ladies in cowboy hats and walking past the buskers – we got sleepy and hiked back over the bridge.


Sunday, May 4th

In stereotypical ‘Adrienne’ style, we spent Saturday running all over town and Sunday we were tuckered out!  So, we were going to try to take it a bit easier…

So, we went to church at the cute little Episcopal church in my neighborhood, then met up with Laura and Won at the Gerst Haus for lunch. Oops, no photos. Then, we went to meet the cousins, Rachelle and Steve Sipkovsky at Radnor Lake!

Cousin Sips

We hiked around the lake, spotting big turtles with Brayden, Bryce, Brenden and Ellie.  We were careful to follow ALL the POSTED RULES… no running on the trails, no dogs, do not sit on the scopes.  Lots of rules.

Silly Rules

It was a lovely little gem of a lake – nothing remarkable by Michigan standards, but since there aren’t any natural lakes around here, it’s pretty unique. In fact, this lake was created to supply steam engines with water as they passed through Nashville, an overland transportation hub.


We hiked until 5pm, then Mom and I were hungry, so we headed to Calypso Cafe! Mom and I got salads (again! SO good!) and dad? Well, he got a warm mint brownie with whipped cream. He loved it.

We were tuckered out and headed home, where we spent 45 minutes watching YouTube videos like this one about the “Flippy, floppy spider of the Sea” (aka. Octopus). Do yourself a favor and watch it.

Monday, May 5th

Mom and Dad head out early, and stop by Louisville to see Father Roger and Andrew. They got home pretty late, but it was worth it! They’re making plans to come back for another visit this summer when we go to Mammoth Caves! BYE MOM! BYE DAD! I LOVE YOU!!!

Mom in the Van


Categories: Bears, Dad, Mom, Nashville | Tags: | Leave a comment

Moving to Nashville is like going to college.

I started off my last post by talking about my standard 2-4 week ‘settling in’ period marked with location-based frustration and uncomfortable-in-a-new-place grouchiness.  (My local CVS had NINE gun magazines on display.)1Home defense

Hooray! The transition is over!   Here’s a recap of my gradual acclimation to NashVegas.

I took a weekend trip down to Atlanta, GA to spend the weekend with Barb Knust & family!  Atlanta itself was hot and ‘concretey’ but Barb & Jaime’s neighborhood was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted who also designed Central park!  It was shady and the winding streets were lined with gorgeous flowing trees!






Barb Sabina




On the way back to Nashville, I stopped in Chattanooga to see Sara Breese Apgar and meet the Cheetah Brothers, Simon and Owen Wilder.   Chattanooga  instantly felt more like ‘home’ than Atlanta did – there were water features for the kids to play in, bridges to stroll on and handmade pasta to enjoy.  FOuntains

CHeetah Bros
Back in the Nash, I began feeling more like a local when I had my first celebrity sighting!   I was at the little organic grocery store, the Turnip Truck and saw Hayden Panettiere, star of the TV show Nashville!  She was just buying some organic produce and wearing this cool leather jacket.

 Hayden Panettiere

That weekend Laura and I set up a Camp Warner Park booth at the Earth Day festival in Centennial Park.  For those of you not familiar with Nashville, Centennial Park central feature is the Parthenon which was constructed for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial & World’s Fair.  Memphis built a pyramid.  This is an awesome Wikipedia photo of the celebration.Parthanon

Our booth was near the Children’s stage and we got to watch a number of ‘global dance’ performances.

Indian Dancers


The stage drew quite a crowd and we had a fun craft project for the kids to do in between acts.  We colored 200 bird necklaces with kids that day!





Then I got to go to a Bird Banding event at Warner Park Nature Center!  I wrote a whole blog post about it, click HERE to read it.

This past weekend I got to meet some great new people and one of them told me that moving to Nashville was like going to college.  (I bet you’ve forgotten the title of this post already.)  There are lots of fun, young people but no one is really ‘from’ here, so you get to have 100 conversations that revolve around where people ARE from and why they moved to Nashville.  Then you hang out around a bonfire and someone plays guitar.

Nolan and Nicole  These adorable folks are Nolan and Nicole Rossi!  Nicole and I worked together for the YMCA of Metro Detroit, back in 2007?!  They have been in East Nashville for 4 years and had a backyard BBQ to celebrate their new privacy fence.  (Which is a MUST in a city.  Our own ‘backyard’ is not a relaxing locale due to the 2 smelly, barky dogs on chains next-door.)  I got to meet their awesome friends and hope to see them much more often now!  Hooray for old friends!

And for cousins!


And for NEW friends that are old friends of your other COUSIN!


And finally, hooray for Dogwoods- they are the prettiest trees!  Dogwoods







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