Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Bluebird Cafe - Nashville


          Yeah, I know . . . it doesn’t look like much but The Blue Bird Café plays an important part for rising song writers for the Nashville music industry. The storefront Café is joined on one side by a realtor’s office and a hair stylist on the other side.  It provides two shows a night and is open seven days a week.  The first star that got their start at the Café was Kathy Mattea.   Since then stars such as Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Swift have all passed through to stardom while showcasing at the Café.
          Audiences of the Café come here for one reason and that is to listen to the newest talents and even some who have all ready made it stop by and share their songwriting and guitar playing talents.  The only rule for the Café is the “Shhhhhh” policy.  You come here to listen to the performers.  Their stories, music and performance abilities are paramount for this establishment.  Beer and appetizers are available too.
To learn more about the Bluebird Café in Nashville check their website

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Test Drive

We are off again!  Will the Blog work?  A few tech changes since we used it the last time.  The message from Google is that we may experience problems.  Hopefully those are the only ones!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Manatee County Wine Country

A great day trip is a visit to the Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery in east Manatee County.  Yes, we know, who would have thought that Florida would be a good location to start and operate a wine producing vineyard?  

After listening and visiting with the owners, operators, executives, and workers of the Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery(who are all in the photo below) we think much differently.    

Larry & Lenora Woodham greet their visitors warmly and give a terrific tour of their facility.  They have a deep passion to operate their winery in a "green environment" as demonstrated in their vineyard, harvesting, processing and bottling procedures. 

It is about a 40 mile drive from Sarasota.  You will definitely be surprised with the facility and the wine being produced.   After viewing a short video, Larry and Lenora will share their story of the winery that started with an idea and plan about 13 years ago.

You have an opportunity to taste the available wines with labels reflecting the animals and envirnorment surrounding Bunker Hill. We bought three different wines and may combine them with a Florida inspired dinner one evening.  

Bill sampling one wine
 Check out their website for more information on how to get there and all about the winery.

And of course, we would have to have our picture added to "where the gentle rain and warm sunshine create the sweetest grapes in Florida" under the Recycled Wine Bottle Wedding Arch. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Closing Comments for the 2011 Summer Trip to the Midwest

Good-bye Chicago (or maybe Cincinnati) - We are heading home to sunshine
We are back in Sarasota - 44 days on the road and 6,424 miles.   During that time we found gasoline prices as low as $3.31 per gallon in Tennessee and as high as $4.48 in the Chicago area.  We accomplished our main mission - to travel and sight see in Minnesota and North Dakota.  Now we have visited 49 states together.  Nancy still has Hawaii to cross off the list BUT BILL IS DONE!  
Whenever we come home from a foreign or US trip we come with wonderful memories and visions, lessons learned, and an appreciation of life.  This trip was no different.

Nancy's Thoughts and Favorites

The beauty of the US is always #1 on my list.  On this trip it was sunset in the Badlands, the farm lands in the Midwest, pathways to rivers, lakes, and ponds, the intense colors of wildflowers,  the vistas of rollings hills and woods, and the wildlife from pelicans to prairie dogs.

The second is the inspirational stories of the people.  First the ones who came to North Dakota  and Minnesota in the late 1800's to the early 1900's.   In the history museums and centers you read and see the stories of the immigrants who came to homestead - seeing their one room sod houses and  families.  There are journals of their struggles and survival that give insight into their lives.

Another inspiration is the people who had ideas and with hard work turned the ideas into companies  One of my favorite is two friends who started their business in a shack behind a house - the beginning of Harley-Davidson Motor Company. 

An inspirational site was the Mandan Indian Village near Bismarck.  Visiting an earthlodge showed how they lived off the land - creating all of the items they needed from nature and the buffalo.

#3 is the transformation of small towns and cities.  One of the saddest roads took us through Cairo, IL where the stores were vacant, factories empty, and buildings dilapidated.  Most of the main streets of the other downtowns were surviving with cafes, small shops, a bank, law and insurance offices.  The need for some towns was to have a gimmick to draw in visitors e.g. Superman in Metropolis IL.

#4 is the neighborhoods in cities like Minneapolis that reminded me of Bethlehem where I spent my childhood.  But now...the porches are empty.

#5 is the realization that I am a warm weather person who likes to wake up to sunshine on most days. 

Bill's Thoughts and Favorites

Some of our plans were changed due to weather and the Midwest flooding of the Missouri and its feeder rivers but when some doors close others open to new road ramblings. 

Several of the historical river destinations of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were closed due to high water or soon to be expected flood waters.  
We came to the Expedition’s first winter home, Fort Mandan, from a different direction than following the river.  The flooding was beginning to take its toll.  Several days after leaving Minot, North Dakota the governor instructed over 12,000 residents to leave their homes because of rising river levels.
What have our travels taught us?  We experienced asphalt roads are much better for highway construction and travel comfort than concrete.  And you get to see much more of the character and interest of this land by staying off the Interstates in your travels. 
Some small towns know better than others on how to change their downtown areas into viable business models that will encourage customers rather than not.   Small town America now offers services that aren’t competitive with suburban businesses, e.g. local cafes & restaurants, used book stores, antique & collectable shops, art stores or local historical society center, etc… 
Some areas where you would not normally stop entice tourists to visit with either presenting the largest, longest, biggest, and smallest or some other rare abnormality to their area.  Oh yeah, having a famous person born, raised or even visit a location is enough to create a “historical” tourist magnet for same.
Teddy Roosevelt was right the Badlands, the area is far better than its mis-named label.  
In closing we discovered without a small Shoshoni Indian girl, named Sakakawea, the Lewis and Clark Expedition might never have been completed.  Sakakawea was an important contribution to the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Without her the Expedition could have suffered the same fate as did Col. Custard and his cavalry troops at the Little Big Horn. 
We hope you enjoyed sharing our travel experiences for the Early Summer of 2011.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


We arrived on Sunday, June 26th in Indian Hills near Cincinnati to visit Bill's brother Scotty and his wife Robi.  It was a special day!   Scott and Robi's first grandchild, Ryder James McIntire was born earlier that day. He is the first child of their son, Chris and his wife, Leigh Ann McIntire and the first of a new generation of McIntires.   This was our first visit to Scott and Robi's new home too - a lovely setting on a pond with gardens cultivated by Scott.

Scott, Robi and Casey

View of the pond

A wonderful screen porch - like a tree house- great place for relaxing with a book, a drink, or friends

Casey, the family's dachshund - taking an afternoon snooze.  Bill likes to take afternoon snoozes too.


We took a ride out to see some of the ancient Indian mounds that are along the banks of the Miami River.  These were a couple of Wright University students assisting in the excavation project conducted by the archaeological professors. 

                     The rolling hills of the area are quite lush and beautiful.

Budding flowers of all sorts are blooming everywhere.

Some of the housing styles of the mound Indians during their period in the area.

We stopped at one of the farms in Indian Hills for fresh produce...

                           One of the rare farms in the Indian Hills area.

Visited Waynesville  to shop - dine - explore

Summer time in this area is an explosion of colorful flowers and all sorts of garden plants.

Of course we could not leave Cincinnati without having lunch at Skyline Chili.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Visiting Chicago

There is no doubt that Frank Lloyd Wright is one of America's most well known architect of the past 100 years.  Since we visited Taliesin in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, we had to see his home and studio in the Oak Park area of Chicago

The Oak Park home of Frank Lloyd Wright where it all began... a look at modern architecture that was unique to the period... very similar design to Taliesin. 

The entry to the house shared with his first wife and six children

Sculpture in the garden

Using the colors of plants to enlighten the surroundings of the Wright home

The opinions of this architect who not only designs structures but the furniture and art that surrounds and is encased in these dwelling are of a love hate variety 

                                                 Family Visit

While in the Chicago area we stayed in Wilmette and visited with Bill's sister, Charlotte and her youngest son, Chad, his wife, Beth and their three children, Ben (a tennis player), Sarah, and Rachael...also their two dogs.



Charlotte and Chad (also known as Billy)

Rachael -ninth grader, Chad, and Beth
Charlotte, Nancy, & Bill

We enjoyed our visit and ended it with pancakes at Walker's.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Milwaukee M's

                  Miller's, Motorcycles, and Museums

The King of Beers in Milwaukee is Millers . . . . and that's a fact Jack.

The tour is cool, the beer is cold and best of all the beer is FREE!

A 1950 bus used to promote Miller Beer

One of the beer's first logos, The Girl on the Moon.

Free beer served here!

The home of Captain Fredrick Pabst built in 1892 - one of Milwaukee's architectural landmarks.  It has incredible wood craftsmanship, elaborate wall coverings, and an impressive fine arts collection.

Harley Davidson HOG heaven

Statuary depicting the best of cycling expertise

The first Harley Davidson - Serial Number One!

Buy a Harley!

Nancy testing her abilities on a HD Hog
 Whether you like Beer, Motorcycles or Mansions of the past, Milwaukee opens the pleasure for not only these places to see and visit but much more.  Milwaukee is a great tourist destination and worth several days of exploration.