(L to R) Phil, Barb, Mike @ The Loveless Cafe(L to R) Phil, Barb, Mike @ The Loveless Cafe
  • (L to R) Phil, Barb, Mike @ The Loveless Cafe

Barb, Mike and I (Photo Montage #1) spent the best part of last week vacationing in Nashville with the Heskje’s (Barb’s brother Gary’s family). Gary, Mary Lou, Carmen, Genevieve, Sophie, Blake, Evan, Vivienne and Lilly are all wonderful people, full of fun, good humor and hospitality. These photos tell the story of our rollicking good time.

Photo Montage #2 – Going clockwise around this photo montage; Vivienne models a cool pink cowgirl hat inside the Ernest Tubb Record Store downtown; The Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Ole Opry; Mike, Evan and Blake hamming it up for the camera (this happened a lot).

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Here we are on the plaza (above) across from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I’m directing an impromptu photo shoot, the results were …entertaining. While there, I found out that Emmylou Harris was a 2008 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She makes beautiful music and I think this honor is pretty cool.

Barb loves The Opryland Hotel. You can’t go anywhere east of the Mississippi with her and not duck your head into The Opryland Hotel. Of course it makes things a lot easier when your brother-in-law lives like two miles from this architectural wonder. I have to say it’s an amazing place and we took a lot of fun pictures there. Photo Montage #3 – This gazebo shot was my favorite, but the two inset (framed) photos featuring Vivienne and Mike are also primo. They’re sort of like Mary Poppins where the kids jumped into the cartoon sequence; in this case a cool turn of the century mural.

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We did a lot of stuff in Nashville and even visited Memphis for a day. You have to check out my post detailing our visit to Graceland and Sun Studio. We also did a little junking in Memphis. When we pulled up to our first antique mall, Gary was so obviously excited to get inside and shop, he just parked the van without pulling completely into a parking spot… we laughed and then teased him a bit. I snapped a photo (above). Then he got back in the van. I took some more photos; now they’re here on my blog… documented for the whole world. My Dad used to say that something is only funny when all parties are laughing. …Gary are you laughing? I can’t see you from here.

One afternoon Gary and Mary Lou planned a surprise for us. We all piled into the van and played 20 questions trying to figure out where we were going. Surprise! It was the Lane Motor Museum. This is an extremely cool place and you simply must go see it if you are in Nashville for a couple hours. Photo Montage #4 (top) – That’s Mary Lou holding Lilly’s stuffed friend with Genevieve; the entrance to the museum with some amazing cool cars (like the one from the movie Brazil); one of my favorites (a Mini Cooper); and Lilly and Vivienne taking their favorite cars for a spin.

So yeah, we just kept doing stuff and exploring every day. Just for grins we checked out a new walking path in the vicinity. It even had a suspension bridge over the Cumberland River. The weather was beautiful and there were many people out enjoying themselves including mad cyclists ripping past us at breakneck speeds. Photo Montage #4 (bottom) – This photo marks the end of our hike. Before we turned back, we contemplated the circular sand pit thingie; Gary, Mike, Barb, Evan, Mary Lou, Blake, Lilly, Sophie, Vivienne and Genevieve.

We had some real fun in Nashville and vicinity. One night we went to a Tommy Emmanuel concert and discovered Anthony Snape (see my blog post). One day, Gary took me and Mike junking up North. When we popped into a gas station for petrol, it was interesting to note that you could get a bag containing a gross of M-80 firecrackers for fourteen bucks. Pretty cool.

On this same junking journey we stumbled into some truly great treasures. Photo Montage #5 – See Gary by the Elvis tapestry? Priceless. See Mike and Blake mimicking the pose of the statue? We argued the whole ride home about how much heart and authenticity (or lack thereof) the boys had really poured into their attempts to imitate the pose of this proud native American. What do you think?

Easily the most significant “find” of the trip was the Neil Diamond autograph. Mike found it, I think. And Gary was like, “We gotta get this for Barb.” And like I knew instantly he was right. Look at her face.

The last photo in this group is a marvel. Mike is seen here eating a “three hand” sandwich. These Heskjes make a big sandwich and if you don’t have someone sitting next to you to lend a hand (in this case, Sophie), then you better hope you have a third arm coming out of your chest. I’m serious.

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Things really started to heat up when we found ourselves at one of Evan “Slugger” Heskje’s Little Leage Baseball games. It was intense and not just because it was stinking hot (a sweltering hundred and five or so in the shade). See how the ball just flies off Evan’s bat (above). The action was non-stop, until the opposing team cried foul at the number of pitches our pitcher had thrown. It turned into a “thing” and a request for a decision had to be called into the Higher Ups at Little League Headquarters in Virginia. All play stopped and we chilled for more than an hour… or tried to. You can see Mike and Blake sharing some iTunes, and Sophie and Lilly making the best of it.

Everybody had a different strategy to deal with the heat. Photo Montage #6 – Genevieve is seen here doing the hand jive as Barb and Lilly look on. Also in that photo on top of the bleachers, Mike and Blake have switched off their primary circuits and while they look attentive, they are actually asleep. Lilly, who spent the first half of our visit not feeling well, is just happy to be out with us and sitting on Barb’s lap. Things got really exciting when Blake and Sophie started the bubble blowing contest. There is one photo that Sophie made me promise not to show—I kid you not—and I haven’t shown it, yet… it’s a bubble past its prime (popped and deflating) and hanging out of her mouth and looking goofy. The photos don’t lie; Sophie won the contest. Why are you glaring at me, Mike?

Photo Montage #7 – Good times at dinner featuring Gary and Lilly. Blake preparing for a run at political office. And Gary, Mary Lou and Barb, and everyone else on the front porch at the Loveless Cafe after our goodbye breakfast.

Photo Montage #8 – For all of you who think I’m a little “out there”, I thought you should see where I get inspiration. The photo insets amuse me no end. Have you ever seen bacon flavored toothpicks before? I hadn’t. They’re unique and cool and so is the tin they come in. Clockwise from the top, that’s Blake, Carmen, Vivienne, Evan and Lilly. And below is a unique treasure created for me by Sophie. Some call it a folded napkin. I call it art.