I’m struggling with how to start this post, because it doesn’t seem possible that we left Toledo just a month ago. Especially since I uploaded pictures from our various adventures first, and then faced with the task of sharing the narrative. We’ve had so many different experiences already, and I hope to do them all justice!
Here’s our home on wheels…complete with Jeep loaded with golf clubs, bikes and kayaks!
THE WEDDING THAT STARTED IT ALL
My niece, Hannah Zeigler and her fiancé, Zach Early, chose to get married on Saturday, October 7 on Zach’s family’s farm in Buchanan, Virginia. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day as we all gathered to witness their heartfelt vows during the ceremony. I was especially touched by the photos of both family members who are no longer with us physically, as well as wedding pictures from both sides of the family. From the quaint, winding drive to the farm, to wrapping the night under the stars (and bubbles!), surrounded by our kids and extended family, it was a special celebration to remember. Congrats to Hannah and Zach!
The two newest brides in the family…our daughter, Kyle and goddaughter, Hannah.
With Brad, Kyle, Ian and his partner Adam, huddling together in the chilly fall air.
FAMILY TIME AT THE RUBINI FARM
It was a great decision to invite the Zeigler clan to the Rubini family farm in Tryon, North Carolina for the week following the wedding. There was just too little time with my brothers and their families while we were in Virginia. Sadly, my niece Wendy and great-niece Isabelle and brother Greg and sister-in-law Lisa were not able to join us. They were missed during our time together. The week was filled with hikes on the property, a drive up into the mountains, several evenings sharing stories around the firepit, shopping trips into nearby Hendersonville and Landrum, and wrapped with a fun evening at Mountain Brook Vineyards.
The newest family member, little McKenzie Claire (daughter of niece Shellie and her husband, Michael) was the hit of the week. We all took turns making dinner, played Rumikub and cards, and had a blast playing Heads Up after a fun dinner of fajitas and margaritas. This is one fun gang to hang with. Next time we’ll have to bring the water guns!
On White Oak Mountain, which can be seen from the family farm. We’ve had many family picnics at the top!
With the whole damn-fam (missing Adam and Gordie’s wife Debbie who left for work duties) at the winery.
Ian playing with McKenzie while niece Liz and her husband Nick look on. Fabulous sunsets!
Week number two of family brought Brad’s sisters Gail and Karla, along with his mom, Lynn and step-brother Michael and his fiancée, Melissa to the family home. Much of our time was spent close to home, playing Rumikub, (a game Lynn introduced us to years ago and now a family favorite), and enjoying all the amenities, including hot tub, sauna and hiking trails to a waterfall. It’s a perfect place for family gatherings, and is available to rent. Check it out here.
Speaking of family homes, after a yummy lunch at Burnt Shirt Vineyards (be sure to check out the link, the view of Chimney Rock from the patio is amazing!), Karla, Brad, Michael, Melissa, and I traveled to the Biltmore estate. Preserved by the Vanderbilt family, the audio tour offers great insights into what life was like back at the turn of the century. It was our third visit, and every time, I wish I had more time to take in the estate, the gardens, the winery. A bonus was a nice lunch at the Tryon Equestrian Center with Lynn and Melissa, both horsewomen. There was a jumping competition over the weekend, and we enjoyed witnessing extraordinary horsemanship after lunch.
Enjoying lunch at the Burnt Shirt Vineyard restaurant in Chimney Rock.
The beautiful reception room at the Biltmore.
Great shot of the Rubini ladies and the mountain view from the farm.
Sunset and coffee on our last morning.
NASHVILLE: I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY AND A LITTLE BIT OF ROCK N’ ROLL
Brad and I had both been to Nashville before, but never together. We enjoyed staying several nights just outside of town at a Harvest Host family’s property. This is a great program that allows RV camping at host sites including golf courses, breweries, wineries and private property. Generally there are no utilities available, so visitors “boondock” or stay without water, electric or sewer. We’ve really enjoyed our stays and it’s been a convenient option for overnights on the way to another destination.
We discovered Nashville is dog-friendly, so ventured down Broadway Street, enjoying all the different country bands belting out their tunes. We had a beverage at The Stage on Broadway and then some barbecue at Jack’s. Luna was welcomed and seemed to enjoy the experience. While downtown, Brad noticed that there were crowd-control stanchions outside the Bridgestone Arena. When we discovered that Queen with Adam Lambert was playing, Brad went into the box office to see about getting tickets to that night’s show. There was a man walking around outside the box office too, I figured he was doing the same…waiting outside with his dog while his travel partner checked on tickets. On the contrary, he was trying to sell two tickets. Brad and the man connected, and the next thing you know, we were on the floor, seven seats away from the extended stage, watching legends Brian May and Roger Taylor, along with the incredible Adam Lambert, crank out Queens tunes from the ages. Unforgettable experience!
At The Stage, just before the concert…and Adam Lambert in all his glory during opening number, Radio Ga Ga.
HERMITAGE AND TULIP GROVE
Andrew Jackson’s estate wasn’t on our radar, but since it was just 15 minutes away from our campsite, we thought we’d be letting our grown kids down if we didn’t visit. (Back in the day we did a lot of history. A lot. Just ask them.) We were both quite impressed with the home, the grounds, the painstaking efforts to not only preserve, but to present Andrew Jackson’s life journey. Known as the “People’s President” because he was not born into wealth, we both admired some of his initiatives during his presidency…he extinguished national debt during his service.
We took the time to drive across the property to Tulip Grove, which was the home of Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel’s nephew. The home was closed for construction, but we made our way over to a variety of cemeteries near the mansion. Buried there are both Jackson family members, a plot dedicated to Confederate soldiers who stayed in the Confederate Retirement Home that used to be on the property. And then, off to the side, was a circle of rocks. Intrigued, I read how a number of unmarked graves of enslaved people were discovered by archeologists at an adjacent property. Click on the image to the far left to read about the touching, and appropriate tribute to the slaves.
A glimpse of Andrew Jackson’s mansion and the burial site tribute to enslaved people at Tulip Grove.
We left Nashville and drove four hours to People’s Creek at Lake Wappapello State Park. The campground was quiet, very quiet due to the weather over the weekend…rainy with a chance of meatballs. Seriously, it rained so hard at times I thought meatballs were descending on the coach! We walked in the rain, but would have preferred to kayak on the lake! Brad captured this picture on the morning we left, as the moon was setting and the sun was rising!
A sign of changes to come…from rainy to cold as we ventured into Branson, Missouri. Stay tuned!