Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nashville, Delaware and the Vegas Red Rocks

After returning to the States, I spent a good deal of time with my parents, catching up with old friends, and performing with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. I had let a lot of "to do's" stack up toward the end of my Korea stay, so I was busy busy busy for those first couple of weeks.

But now that most of that is all over, I'm back on the travel trail, satisfying my itchy feet :)

The very first stop was a short, several hour layover in Chicago. My parents were so kind to drive me there with my years worth of Korean luggage so that I didn't have to take multiple trains and walk part of Chicago with it all.

I'd been trying for a little while to meet the maker of my violin, William Whedbee. Unfortunately, schedules had never aligned, but this trip, I had a few extra hours and I was able to stop by his workshop (which is unbelievable) and talk to him a little bit. It was great and I hope next time I have a few minutes in Chicago to be able to stop by again.

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With my Whedbee Violin
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The master and his craft.

After the quick visit, I said goodbye to my folks, and jumped on the plane to Nashville. The hour and a half flight seemed so fast compared to the long flights from Korea and SF to Chicago.

My adopted dad picked me up at the airport and took me home where I almost finished my to do list and started to relax and begin my vacation time.

After four days of Nashville it was time to move again. I started by spending a day browsing around Nashville. I'd never spent a day in the city before (my adopted dad lives an hour outside the city). Being a thrifty shopper I went bargain hunting at a couple large thrift stores but came up empty handed :(  So I headed on toward a huge shopping complex closer to downtown call the Opry Mills Mall. There was a Gap outlet store there and I had a coupon so I was interested in seeing what I could find. Since I've lost more inches than I realized more and more of my clothes don't fit.

Opry Mills mall is HUGE. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time wandering around it, watching all the people. And I was also fortunate because I finally found a new pair of tennis shoes (mine were over five years old and in desperate need of replacement) and the Gap store did not disappoint! While I was shopping I bumped into a stranger who ended up chatting with me for well over half an hour. I had time to spare so it was a nice time to spend. Now I have another new friend! It was a really fun first half of my day.

Following the shopping, I went to check in at the hostel I'd previously booked, Music City Hostel,  and checked in. It's a nice little area with numerous buildings, each with a couple of rooms, a lobby and bathroom. My room was the sunshine room :)  And inside, my door was the guitar door. There was a fiddle door across the hall, but it was a private room so I couldn't swap.

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After I got checked in, one of the guys I'd met in the lobby took me up on the offer to go see the second Hobbit film at the $2 theater. The theater was only 11 miles away, but in rush hour traffic it took us over one hour to get there. So we missed the first hour of the movie, but oh well.

When I got back I had intended to go see Otello at the Performing Arts Center, but was so tired and hungry I just searched for a nearby restaurant and then crashed around 10p.m. Around midnight the girls sleeping on the bunk next to mine came in so I woke up. Then at 1a.m. the girl underneath my bed came in and woke me up. Then around 2:30a.m. the guys staying in the third room of the building came home quite drunk and very loud playing all sorts of idiotic games to amuse themselves. So I laid in bed awake until around 4a.m. when they went to bed finally....  And my alarm when off at 6! Short night!

Considering the policy that they give you upon checking in that you're supposed to read and sign, that has very specific details on drinking and whatnot, I'm not highly rating this hostel in anyway since they obviously didn't adhere to their standards by making the guys go elsewhere (the girl sleeping under me worked for the hostel so she could have alerted the manager). When I walked outside the next morning the grounds had been destroyed. Things were flown all over the place. Hope the guys had fun....

An early morning flight to Delaware and I was off again. Fortunately, I have a good friend there who was willing to put up with me, I mean, put me up, for a whole week while I did some recording. Now, small side track, the recording didn't actually take place SO, if you know a pianist (that is a professional with sight reading abilities) that might be interested in working with me on cruise ships, please send them my way. Here is the advertisement that I made for the job: cruise ship pianist. I did enjoy some wonderful, fabulous friend time and even got in free to the highly rated Longwood Gardens. Actually enjoyed it so much I hope to take my mother there when everything is in bloom later this summer.

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Delaware was tough in many respects, but I'm moving forward and appreciating the wonderful time I spent there.

After Delaware, it was off to Vegas baby!!  Flew in late evening, ate at a lovely Korean restaurant lol, where I got to speak some Korean and entertain the staff with some pictures and tales of my recent trip.

Now we all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so I'll just mention some nice highlights and say, Vegas was fun! And hiking the Red Rocks was awesome!

Highlight 1: The Vegas Strip is still magnificent to see. I'm never underwhelmed at the monstrosity of the buildings. Everything is just beyond belief.

Highlight 2: The food is delicious if you go to the right places. I ate at a Korean restaurant for my first lunch named K far outside the strip. It was tasty and fun. Then there was a juice and organicy restaurant off the strip called SkinnyFats. It was fabulous! Bouchon, on the strip was a highlight of one brunch and Mon Ami Gabi was a nice French late night dinner with patio seating facing the Bellagio fountains. The waiter was my favorite ever and the view was amazing and the food quite tasty so a lovely late night meal all around. One breakfast was taken in a family restaurant called Coco's. Not my favorite, but many other's favorite. The last dinner was at Biscayne Steak House in the Tropicana. Service was eh, but the eggplant mushroom tacos and deconstructed bananas foster dessert were superb!

Highlight 3: Unmentionable.

Highlight 4: Definitely can't say.

So I guess those are my Vegas highlights :)

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After an exhausting few days of little sleep and much exercise and surprisingly not much food, I pulled an all nighter before flying back to Nashville. And in typical Ronda fashion, I called the wrong shuttle and had to walk a mile and a half back to the right hotel in my dress heels. When I got there I couldn't find the car keys so I dumped everything out of my luggage. No deal. Called road side assistance to unlock the car hoping the keys were in it. No deal. Dumped out my luggage again. No deal. Called a couple airport lost and founds as well as asking at the hotel where the car was parked. No deal. Began making plans to sleep in the car and charge my phone somehow. While planning inside the hotel, dumped out all my luggage a third time...found the keys. whoopee! Multiple hours later, so tired I could hardly walk a straight line, I delightedly hopped in the car and made my way home.

Now it is time to head to New Orleans and the ever popular Jazz Fest. Bags are unpacked, repacked and ready to go. Swinging good times to be had, delicious food to savor, tantalizing music to hear, and unforgettable times to make more wonderful memories.