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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Women In Aviation Conference: And a three day tour of Nashville

When Rob registered for the Women in Aviation conference/job fair six months ago, I immediately offered to join him, because, Nashville. Driven through it before, but never visited.

It fell at the worst possible time for me. We had just returned from our dive trip to Bonaire. I was back at work for a week and then left again. And THEN, I was scheduled for some ongoing education at Duke University for a week. But, I was eager to get to know Nashville and I had discovered that some long-lost cousins live in the city, so I was excited to reconnect with them.

Tuesday my 24 hour call shift ended at 8am.  I was blessed by the call shift gods and actually slept at home, uninterrupted all night. Rob and I had planned to squeeze in a training flight for CAP because with all my travel this month, we really had no other available time to fly. So, we were up early and at the airport ready to depart by 8am.

It was a brief aerial photo training mission. We circled Arsenal Island and I took some shots of the dam and the site where an emergency services training will take place in a few months.  It was windy, and quite turbulent. The turns around my target were steep and tight.  Suddenly I was reaching for the motion sickness bag, humbled, but really and truly sick. I had managed to get the shots I needed, so we made a quick landing and were ready to hit the road to Nashville.  Yes, driving!  When every aviation professional in the country is headed to the same place, we knew better than to rely on pass travel.  And it's only a short 8 hours from home.

The week prior, as I went online to book our lodging, I discovered that the SEC tournament was in town.  Read, sold out and expensive hotel rooms. Instead, I decided to give Airbnb a try and found a sweet little 3 bedroom home we were able to rent for far less than the going rate for a hotel downtown. We got to the house, unloaded our bags and went in search of BBQ nachos.  It was Rob's birthday!

We decided to give Whisky Kitchen a try as the review for their BBQ nachos were good. There was a bit of a wait, even on a Tuesday evening, but we were told we could hang out outside, by the patio seating and take any seat that came available. Rob went to the bar and got drinks and we found a table shortly...not seated, mind you. It was a bar height table without stools. No probs. We were starving and not at all picky.
'My wife took me to Whiskey Kitchen for my birthday. BBQ nachos!'
Rob got an Old Fashioned I stuck with wine and we eagerly awaited the acclaimed BBQ nachos. Very disappointed to find the nachos to be lacking in BBQ sauce. There was chicken, but no sauce. When we asked about it, our waitress happily brought us a ramekin of BBQ sauce that we drizzled over the nachos. Much improved! Rob ordered a second drink, trying the New Fashioned on our waitress' recommendation, but it was really not at all something he enjoyed. When she asked how he liked it and learned that he didn't at all, she insisted on replacing it with another Old Fashioned.

We went seeking music after dinner and ended up at a quaint little place called Family Wash and Garage Coffee.  A former Laundromat turned diner/bar.  The featured bands were different permutations of the same people; by evenings end they were all on stage together, shoulder to shoulder, putting out some good music. Trombone, steel guitar, accordion, and harmonica added to their unique sound.

Wednesday, we mapped the nearest Walmart and went in search of a portfolio. Duh. How do neither of us own one of those already?  Then we searched for a place nearby to get breakfast.  Sam and Zoe's looked suspiciously empty when we drove up at 7:36, but they had just opened. By the time we got our food, they were filling up.  I had a yummy strawberry scone and Rob had a breakfast burrito. Funky little place with a cool vibe. We ate quickly and then I drove Rob to the conference center and came back to our little house and took a nap. Then I met my aunt and cousin for brunch at a fun little place called Pfunky Griddle. You make your own pancakes and hashbrowns, even eggs if you order them.  The kitchen will prepare your bacon for you but the rest is up to you. It was fun!  Our waiter, Jeff, could not have been kinder or more patient. His t-shirt was covered in what looked like pancake batter and flour and it fit right in to the overall feel of the place.... a little bit grungy. But the place was full and the patrons all seemed to be enjoying themselves.

I spent the afternoon planning out our evening's adventures:  a tour of the neighborhood distillery, Corsair Distillery, Then Uber to The Hermitage Hotel downtown for happy hour in the Oak Bar, dinner at Merchants and then Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. What a fun night!

The Hermitage Hotel

'Southern hospitality... That's all I can say... Thank you, Dwayne!'
Cocktails in The Oak Bar

Robert Smith's photo.
Dinner at Merchants


Robert Smith's photo.

Thursday morning we had breakfast at Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro, a neighborhood near Vanderbilt University.  This place was one of the "Must Try" breakfast spots that I had read about. It was fine. I could tell it was a local favorite. But, there was nothing spectacular about it. The neighborhood is cute.  I came back later to browse the shops while Rob attended the conference.

Thursday night, after Rob finished up at the conference, we had dinner with my family.  They were so sweet and had a very special German chocolate cake made to celebrate his birthday. We visited and reminisced and I received an "Uncle Dave special" hug as we said goodbye.

It was still early so we went out via Uber again to Music Row. Cant get enough live music in Nashville. We made sure to visit the world famous: Honky Tonk Central.

Friday:   Biscuit Love Go there. Stand in line.  This place is So worth the wait for breakfast. As the line wends its way toward the entrance, wait staff will come out and hand you menus. Once inside, you can browse the swag. I didn't buy a t-shirt or a mug. I did have a very memorable breakfast. The biscuits, well, of course. They are fantastic. I had a simple egg plate: with toast and cheese grits. Rob tried a unique take on a breakfast sandwich called The East Nasty. Biscuit + Gravy + Fried Chicken + Cheese.
We shared the Bonuts. It was an indulgence. But we had a long drive ahead of us.
These are the famed Bonuts. You gotta. 

The East Nasty 

Our three days in Nashville were so fun. I can't wait to return. Rob's conference went well. He made some good contacts. We are optimistic that he will find a way out of the regional airlines soon.  I am not sure what that will mean for how our lives will change, but I know it will be an important career move for him.  Cross fingers for him!