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Monday, February 29, 2016

CLASSIC TRIP - Maui 1995

Note - This is now the oldest  (Puerto Vallarta is the oldest from 1992 - Ed) trip on the site, dating back to1995. Remember that when dealing with prices and such.  I have no updated information at this time.

Our son, Tim, had always wanted to see Hawaii. This year he got his wish as we found a good deal for a week's stay in Maui. For $569 we got a week's stay at an oceanfront room in Kahana, a rental car, and airfare on ATA. This was all booked through Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays.

The flight over was fine. Nothing special but nothing really bad about it either. The only complaints is that it is on a very crowded L-1011 and ATA's idea of what a bulkhead seat is is very different from mine. On the plus side, the flight over was direct to Maui, without having to stop in Honolulu, and the flight attendants were courteous.

On arrival in Maui I headed over to pick up our rental car at Alamo. The line was about 15 people long when I got there and grew quite a bit after me. 30 minutes later, I picked up my wife and son from the terminal.

Our hotel room was in Kahana on the other side of the island past Lahaina and Kaanapaali. It is listed as a condo, but that would be too generous of a description. Basically, our room at the Kahana sands was just that...a room with a king size bed, a murphy bed, and a tiny kitchenette crammed into the corner.

The room was a bit of a disappointment. It was kind of dingy with cigarette burns in the drapes. The building itself has very limited access for chairs. 2 parking spots, a ramp, and an elevator (with one step to negotiate). The room itself had no special accomodations. On the plus side it was on the beach but overall, we were disappointed that a company as well known as Pleasant Hawaiian would book such a dingy place in its packages...even if it was very low priced.

Being optimistic, we try to spend as little time as we can in the room...we are in Hawaii afterall...and get out to do things. Nearby is a dive shop, Snorkel Bob's I believe...that rented snorkeling equipment. The equipment was top notch, the price a bargain, and they throw in a map of local dive spots.

I had been to Maui when I was a teenager and remembered a superb dive spot near the Bhuddist temple on the outskirts of Lahaina. When I asked at the dive shop about this spot, they said it had been ruined by pollution. But more on this later...

Saddened, we went to the nearest spot on the map, Kapalua Bay. The last time I'd been here, Kapalua Bay was out in the boonies. Only a small wooden church marked the spot. I remembered a supremely delightful day spent bodysurfing here as a teen.

Now the entire area is a plush resort with many condos and a championship golf course winding around. The small wooden church is still here, but the rest of the area is completely unrecognizable to me. Coming from Los Angeles, I know how this can happen.

There is a very small dirt parking lot where the public slobs like us can park...public access is still guaranteed to the beach if grudgingly...and we luck out with a spot before it's full. Negotiating the wheelchair from here down to the beach is very tricky and just barely doable. We finally make it to Kapalua's crescent shaped stretch of sand.

Tim and Darryl Snorkeling

Tim and I don our masks and fins and head out into the water. It is pretty. There are loads of fish and we see a basketball-sized octopus having lunch on some small, unfortunate fish. I think maybe time is blurring it, but the beautiful as it is...isn't quite as clear as it was years ago.

Still, we have fun and continue this pattern all week as we head up and down the coast to the dive spots highlighted on our map.

Mid-week, we take in a luau at the Royal Lahaina resort in Kaanapaali. This was a lot of fun. Although I suppose it was not as "authentic" as the luau advertised in Lahaina, it was still a blast. Not cheap (nothing here is, see Random Notes below for more), the price still included dinner and unlimited drinks...always a plus on vacation! Since we went on a Wednesday, Tim got in for free.

The food was good, the drinks cool and refreshing...and when the bartender saw me drop a dollar bill in his tip jar, he made sure I didn't go back to my table before fortifying our drinks heavily with extra rum.

Tim and the Luau Crew

The show was amazing with all the different kinds of Polynesian dances (the Tongan fire dance is pretty spectacular) and the audience participation was very inclusive including wheelchairs (see picture, there's a ramp at stage left). This was probably the best night time fun we had here.

Dining here can be problamatic. It's not that there aren't any good restaurants...there are plenty...but that they're all so expensive, even the bad ones, and without knowing where to go you can blow a lot of money on a bad experience easily.

Cooking in is also not a pleasant option. Groceries here are ungodly expensive.

We did find some places that we can pass on to you.

Our top pick for good food and value is BJ's (now called Lahaina Pizza Company - Ed)on Front Street in Lahaina. Good food, coupled with great live music and reasonable prices. The catch? It's upstairs with no elevator. A couple of beefy looking Hawaiian waiters are more that happy to get anybody upstairs though.

Kimo's is also good and last but not least, check out Lahaina Coolers for a very different menu at somewhat decent prices..

We found Cheeseburger in Paradise way overpriced and overrated.

We took the drive to Hana...wasn't quite as fun as we thought it would be...and took in an Omnimax movie in Lahaina that could have also been better.

Our last day on the island, we decide to take a submersible tour. After 45 minutes of breathtaking underwater scenery, our ship stops and everyone is invited up on deck to jump in for some snorkeling.
The snorkeling is beautiful, in fact the best on the trip. Just as good as that day many moons ago when my dad took us off of the WWII wharf next to the Bhuddist temple that the dive shop said was now gone due to pollution.

And why shouldn't it be beautiful? When we get on up on deck from the underwater area, we see where we are...just off of that WWII wharf next to the Bhuddist temple that we had dived on that day long ago...

Copyright 1995 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Here's a great and extremely easy beer cocktail to make for those upcoming warm days on the patio. We're partying with a dirty blonde!

Watch the Video!

First, get a can or bottle of a blonde ale and a bottle of brown ale.

Fill half a glass with the blonde and top off with the brown.

That's it, enjoy.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Top 10 Charming Downtowns of Los Angeles County

A friend of mine just posted a link to an article about the 10 most charming towns in Southern California.  It's a good list (I only take issue with Temecula which, with it's overcrowding and price gouging tasting rooms, has lost it's charm with me) and it got me thinking...can I come up with a list that's much closer to home?

Let's see what I can do...this will be in alphabetical order.

Belmont Shore - Actually a neighborhood of a very much larger city, this section of 2nd Street in the southwest corner of the county, between Long Beach and Seal Beach, combines the charming walkability of a village and a day at the beach.

Numerous restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops line the street.  We bought our bikes at Jone's Bike Shop near the south end of the strip.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the street at the end (Bayshore Avenue) is closed to traffic during the day, making a pedestrian friendly access to the quiet and friendly beach here on Alamitos Bay.  The big aparment building at the ocean end of Bayshore Avenue is quite popular with singles and gives this part of the beach its locally well-known nickname, 'Horny Corner.'

Claremont - at the eastern edge of the county, this premiere college town is one of our guaranteed good time spots. The village at the heart of the city eschews most of the chains so you get some very unique shopping spots such as the Folk Music Center with it's eclectic selection of musical instruments, the bookstore in the Packing House that serves as a charity for prisoner services, the last outpost of Rhino Records, and even a guy who will custom build a violin for you.

If you're hungry for a great burger, two of the very best are found on the same block. Eureka!, which serves what we consider the best burger in Southern California right now and the Back Abbey.  Pizza lovers will want to try Pizza 'n Such or Union on Yale which are practically next door to each other on Yale Avenue. Aruffo's and Tutti Mangia are great for Italian but save room to go to Bert and Rocky's (also on Yale) for some great housemade ice cream and candy when you're done.

In between, you can catch a movie at the Laemmle Theatre on Indian Hill Boulevard, right next to the Back Abbey (behind the theatre).

Claremont is a stroller's paradise with it's many shady trees, parks, and five college campuses to roam through adjacent to the village. You can easily reach it on public transit, too, as Metrolink has a station here in the heart of the village that's also served by the buses of Foothill Transit.

Photo by BikeSVG

Covina - It's not just a place on 'My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' (actually, that's West Covina, but still...), Covina has a lovely downtown stretching from Badillo and San Bernardino Road halfway between the 10 and 210 freeways.

Pubs, restaurants, the Covina playhouse reside here. Back in the day...before it burned down...the Covina Theater was our place for midnight showings of  'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.'

On the side streets, you can find Claro's, one of the best Italian Delis and markets around, and the City Grill...very good restaurant with an equally good happy hour.

Metrolink stops here and you can easily spend an evening bar-hopping and browsing.

Culver City - Along Culver Boulevard, you'll find another worthy entry to this list. It's very movie centric with a couple of very major movie studios in the neighborhood ('Gone With the Wind,' 'The Wizard of Oz,' and 'Jeopardy' were or are filmed here at the Sony Studios, formerly MGM).

It's not uncommon to see familiar faces about or to see some poor production assistant coming in to a local restaurant to pick up a big order for the crew back at the studio.

At the end of the street is the Culver Hotel, famous for housing the actors playing the Munchkins in 'The Wizard of Oz.' It's a great place to pick up a drink in the bar.

The other end of the neighborhood houses the Sony Studios along with the Henry Fonda Theatre, where live performances are staged.  Great restaurants here include Ford's Filling Station and, our favorite place for Southern fried chicken in Southern California, Honey's Kettle.

Courtesy of Wikimedia
ilpo's soujourn via CC BY 2.0 license

Glendale - A stroll along Brand Boulevard, just south of the 134 Freeway, reveals many iconic spots.  Damon's tiki styled steakhouse, and the Alex Theatre.

Keep walking south and you'll come across the Americana at Brand, a large, outdoor shopping mall where you can ride a trolley from one end to another.

The biggest highlight here, though, is the most crowded.  The long lines at 315 North Brand will tell you you're at one of the very best...and most popular...bakeries in the world.  Porto's draws 'em in with a dazzling and dizzying array of sweet baked goods. They also sell Cuban sandwiches and other light snacks.  Be prepared for a crowd and a wait, though.

Courtesy of Wikimedia
in saphho we trust via CC BY SA 2.0 license

Glendora - Another favorite for film producers, downtown Glendora on Glendora Avenue and Foothill Boulevard by the Civic Center, is a quiter version of a charming downtown district.  There's no movie theater or college to pull in the visitors so you won't get the crowds that sometimes descend on Old Pasadena or Claremont.

Shoppers will like the Kitchen Shoppe, the clock store, boutiques, candy shop, and more.  Diners will like Kara's Korner for Jewish deli-inspired comfort food (their Matzoh ball soup is what I crave when I have a cold), Domenico's for pizza, the Vault for breakfast, and another version of T. Phillips.

Larchmont Village - In the heart of the city, just south of Hollywood, lies this little neighborhood of shops and restaurants. Village Pizza is a great place for hand made pies.

After browsing the shops and having a cup of your favorite coffee, nearby is the Original Farmer's Market, which can host a day of browsing all by itself.

La Verne - Another college town, downtown La Verne covers a mere three blocks between Bonita Avenue and Arrow Highway. The adjacent University of La Verne provides a lot of shady, grassy walking areas, with occasional performances in its theaters and auditoriums. An NCAA Division III school, there is also a full slate of college sports so you can catch a thrilling game.

The fully stocked library invites the public to come in and browse, as to the art galleries on campus.

D Street, the main drag, houses an array of restaurants from budget Asian bowl take out to full-blown sit down gourmet. One of the Inland Empires legendary pizza houses is here, Warehouse Pizza, that has sustained many a college student for over four decades.

Drinkers can also carouse at the handful of bars here and Miss Donuts, on the corner of Bonita and D, is one of the best of its kind.

Monrovia - Our hometown's core has a restored old town section on Myrtle Avenue. About five blocks north of the Monrovia Gold Line light rail station, Old Town Monrovia is several blocks of shops, restaurants, pubs, and a movie theater.

The Krikorian Theatre pulls in the crowds who then dine at a feast of multi-ethnic restaurants on the street. You have Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, French, Vietnamese, British, Spanish, Cuban, Italian, Thai, Mediterranean, and good old American food represented at over two dozen fine restaurants. Our four Friday night rotation restaurants are all here...The Monrovian (solid Greek diner), Rudy's (great Mexican food and bar), T. Phillips (72 tap ale house with decent pub food), and Belasera (fine Italian dining).

Shoppers can browse jewelry stores, the library's used book store, a fishing store, cookie shop, shoes, clothing boutiques, candy shops, and more in a very relaxing and charming setting.

You'll be forgiven if you think you've been here before...being close to L.A., you know Hollywood will come calling and Old Town Monrovia has been used as a set for literally hundreds of movies, tv show, commercials, and music videos.  A few you may have heard of are 'Legally Blonde,' 'Grosse Point Blank,' 'The Goldbergs,' and 'Beethoven.'

Sierra Madre - One of the few cities in the county (maybe the only one?) that does not have a streetlight within the city limits.  It's getting a little trendier and more popular over the clubs use it as a destination for their weekend rides and the 'Only Place in Town' diner is no longer compliant with truth in advertising in it's name.

The second outpost of the wildly popular Luck Baldwins pub is here as is some great ethnic restaurants ranging from Italian, Spanich, and Greek to French, Argentinian, and Belgian.

Sierra Madre Playhouse puts on some very entertaining live theater in the middle of town and the only lodging is a converted jail cell that is now a bed and breakfast.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Comment on Comments

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Tennessee Touring: The Gaylord Expedition and Wrapup

You wouldn't think so, but there's a hotel in Nashville that is a tourist destination unto itself. Really.

It's so popular that other hotels in the area run shuttles to it just so their guests can go and see it for themselves.

The Gaylord Opryland sits on 40 acres of land. Almost 30 of those are covered by the massive building itself. It is the largest non-casino hotel in America outside of Las Vegas. There are just under 3,000 rooms, a navigable indoor river, three massive atriums, the studios of one of the most powerful radio stations in the country (WSM), 17 restaurants and bars, a golf course, and 600,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Musick family decided to tackle the Gaylord one day and, it might not have quite been "a three hour cruise...," it did turn into a three hour adventure just to make it through the incredible amount of lobby and atrium space here during the frigid Thanksgiving week while getting lost at seemingly every turn.

Did they ever make it back out alive? (SPOILER HINT: I am typing this...)

Watch our last Tennessee video as we hunt for food, hack through jungle, brave the frigid wilds of the Cumberland valley, all while trying to find our way's "The Gaylord Expedition."

Watch the Video!

After you've watched that, you may want to browse through the collection of reports and videos that make up our complete, Grand Tennessee Tour, by clicking on the links below...

On the Elvis Trail - Day Trip to Tupelo

Dining and Drinking in Memphis

Memphis - Martin and Elvis

On the Elvis Trail - From End to The End

Welcome to Nashville

Daytrip to Franklin

Nashville - The One With The Music...

Nashville - The Hall of Fame and Studio B

The Cocktail Hour: Beale Street Pub Crawl

...and that's a wrap for the Grand Tennessee Tour. Hope to see you back for our next new adventure soon.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 21, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Wine Tasting for Lent

It's the Lenten season where many forego hard liquor for forty days.  In the meantime, we’re tasting wines and beers for this week's Cocktail Hour.
This week, we taste a white and a red…just like you’d get from your wine club shipment!

The white is the Thornton 2008 Gew├╝rztraminer.  Thornton is a winery in Temecula, California that is best known for their sparkling wines.  Temecula is a popular place to visit due to its proximity to Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego which are roughly all equidistant from it.  It’s a hot, dry area sitting south of Lake Elsinore and north of Escondido off of Interstate 15 inland and over the mountains from Camp Pendleton on the coast.
My gripe with the area is that they’ve succumbed to the Napa Valley disease…charging a lot for tasting, and charging a lot more for their wines even though  you can buy them at various retailers for less…because swarms of tourist descend upon the area each weekend.
That grievance aside, they do make some good wines here.
This Gew├╝rztraminer is an example.  From grapes grown in the area, which is known more for reds than whites, this pale, greenishly yellow wine pours like syrup into the cup.  A sniff reveals a citrusy tart, sweet nose with a strong pear scent along with hints of honeysuckle and peach.  It smells like it’s going to be another tarty, immature white.
Drinking is another matter.  Like the pour, there’s a syrupy taste and mouth feel.  It’s not nearly as fruity or tart as the nose would suggest.  The taste is a nice, mature balanced flavor with hints of honey and apple.
Easily the best white wine I’ve had in at least eight months. 
At the winery, this will set you back $22.  The Wine of the Month Club has it for $14.99, while Tom’s Farms…alongside the 15 in Corona…has a 2004 for $9.99.  I’d bet a buck that they’d also have this vintage for less than the winery price too.

For the red, we’re going with a wine we’ve tasted many, many times and picked up while filming our California’s Hidden Wine Country video a couple of weeks ago.  It’s the Centro Basco Red from Galleano Winery in Mira Loma, California.
Here in the Cucamonga Valley it’s hot, dry and dusty…which makes it perfect for bold, red wines like zinfandel.  Centro Basco is a very good Basque restaurant not too far away in Chino.  Galleano produces their house wine, a red table wine blended with their zinfandel grapes.
The nose is peppery with hints of plum and currant.  It’s a dark, inky pour into the glass.
That pepper nose carries over into the taste.  It’s spicy with tastes of cherry and a tannic, oak smoothness.  Slightly pucker.  A perfect complement to the big, bold dinners served at Centro Basco.

There are only two places on this earth to get it.  As the house red at Centro Basco (where they call it a Claret) at $8 a bottle or here at the winery for $5 a bottle.  Yes, those prices are not typos.
You can also get a coupon for a free glass with your dinner when you have a free tasting at the winery.

It’s a much better wine than the price suggests and one of the true bargains in wine but you’ll have to travel to the Inland Empire to get it.  Definitely worth the trip, especially if that includes dinner at Centro Basco.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Tennessee Touring: The Hall of Fame and Studio B

Winding down our adventure in Music City and the home of the Delta Blues, we're left with one must-see from Tim's list, the Country Music Hall of Fame.

We could have also spent the evening out at the Loveless Cafe barn to see the Music City Roots TV show but, at this point, we'd seen eleven acts in different concerts and clubs along the way plus had a CD shoved into our hands as we walked Nashville's streets by a unknown artist trying to get known (turned out to be a compilations of Christmas songs and the singer sounded like an animated chipmunk).

It's Letty's turn to have a bad day with whatever virus we picked up in Tupelo. She bravely soldiers on but you can tell she's not feeling the love today.

Thirty degrees with a snowy rain is not particularly inviting either but at least there is reasonably priced indoor parking half a block from the Hall.

It's warm inside and the Hall has an instutitional smell (like a library or school) that is not sitting well with my sick wife. We get our tickets, enhanced with a tour of RCA's historic Studio B, and head on in.

Another audio tour, another hour or so of helping Tim punch the right numbers to match whatever display he's sitting in front of

It's interesting to a get to see Nudie's sewing machine, Elvis's "solid gold" Cadillac, Webb Pierce's silver dollar and gun car (Buck Owen's had a duplicate of this car, now hanging over the bar at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield), many musical instruments, outfits, and gold records.

My favorite exhibit, though I do not think it's permanent, was the Bakersfield Sound exhibition. Probably because I'm biased towards that city but it weaves a great history of the two men who dominated it...Merle Haggard and Owens...and the intricate, weirdly intersecting family histories they had together.

Other less familiar names like Homer Joy along with notables such as Dwight Yoakam are also put into the context they have with that California oil city.

We check out all the plaques in the actual Hall...a big rotunda at the end of the tour...then head back into the lobby to wait for the bus to take us to Studio B.

A ten minute ride (yes, the buses are wheelchair accessible) and we're at the back door of the famous studio. While it's mostly retired today (Studio A next door is it's current replacement), some artists still like to make special arrangements to use it, such as Marty Stuart on his Ghost Train album.

Elvis recorded over 200 of his songs here, more than any other studio.

The tour starts off in a small lobby and it's significance is explained to us as well as a listing of some of the top artists who have recorded there.  At the end, we are ushered into the studio itself as we hear some more tales...

The lights are different colors so that they could be used to set the mood; Elvis liked to record at three in the morning; the room is perfectly acoustical, there is no echo at all, a special reverb box had to be built into the wall to accomodate those who wanted it.

We're allowed to sit at Elvis' piano...but not play it...and then we're off.

Nice addition to the Elvis Trail but still not as awesome as Sun Studio was back in Memphis.

The bus driver tying Tim down in the bus tells me an elderly gentleman who has just parked nearby is Harrold Bradley. 

Harrold and his brother, Owen, opened up Nashville's first recording studio in 1954, starting the industry that Nashville now thrives on.

My wife wonders what the driver told me, so I tell her. Soon the word spreads to the tour guide who announces it to the bus. A couple of women sitting in front of us excitedly chirp up "finally, we saw someone famous here!"

After hanging with Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Ranger Doug and meeting Leon Rhodes, Anita Stapleton and seeing all the stars at the Opry, I'm thinking "if that's the only famous person you've seen on your trip, you ain't been trying hard enough..."

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

CEREBRAL PALSY STORIES: The Most Interesting Sleep Machine

We all know that eating a well-balanced along with regular exercise are some of the keys to living a healthy, happy life for anybody.  Most of us also know that maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise is not always easy for any number of reasons we come up with.. That is not breaking news.  As the title of this post mentions however, I'm not going to write a in-depth guide about diet and exercise  Instead, I'll touch on a third element of overall health and wellness. That is a good night's sleep.

First off, I have to say that it wasn't until about a year ago this time when I learned just how important sleep is to someone's overall health firsthand.  As I've mentioned before, I can't really speak for anybody who doesn't have a disability in terms of what effects a lack of sleep can have on their health, but for other members of the disabled community, I'm here to tell you that there are different treatment options for a good well-rested night of sleep. It is also important for the disabled community to consider that not having a good night's sleep over an extended period of time can have an impact on not only your physical health but your mental health as well.

For the mental health aspect, it is important for those individuals with disabilities to not be afraid to speak up to a family member or caregiver if something is bothering you.  That is one skill I've gotten better at particularly over the last year when I started having my own mental health issues that stemmed from a lack of sleep.

Over the last year, I went to a psychologist when my sleep deprivation issues started roughly around April of 2015, which included hallucinations and emotional outbursts that didn't make sense.  At the end of those sessions, I had been diagnosed with Insomnia.  For those that may not know, Insomnia is defined by Web MD as a sleeping disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and or staying asleep  

During this time, I also started having issues with my breathing or lack thereof while sleeping.  To address this issue, my primary doctor referred me to a sleep specialist where I spent the night at said doctor's office to see if I had Sleep Apnea, where you stop breathing while sleeping, in addition to Insomnia.

Turns out I did and it is easily treatable with the use of what is known as a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine that helps open up your airway to breathe easier so you can have a good night's sleep on a more consistent basis.  One thing that does take some getting used to is the mask a sleep apnea patient has to wear.

You should also consider that a CPAP machine doesn't solve all the issues from not getting enough sleep, but once your used to it, it doesn't hurt.  Another thing the machine does is it keeps track of how many times you stop breathing throughout the night.  The lower the number in the EPH (Events Per Hour) section of the Sleep Report the better.

For those who might be considering the use of one, just remember to breathe and green faces are good.  The machine does give out red faces from time to time based on certain factors that I can't fully explain since I'm not a certified sleep doctor who specializes in this particular field of medicine. The only advice I can offer is don't get discouraged by red faces and it helps to have a positive attitude each and every day.  

Tim Musick
Copyright 2016
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Tennessee Touring: Nashville - The One With The Music...

The day trip to Franklin for brunch was just what I needed to fight the blues of the first day in Nashville.  Our theme for this trip is music, so now we'll jump in with both feet.

It's 7:00pm and we're at a non-descript office park south of downtown. Looking for a place to park, we see a guy in an empty lot waving frantically at us to park.

Watch the Video!

"You going to the Jumpers' show?"


"That'll be five dollars, park right over there.  Y'all have a good time, OK?"

Mightly friendly but what comes next is a bit disturbing. Another guy working the lot pulls up and doesn't shut his door quick enough for the first guy's liking. Pretty soon, guy number one is yelling at guy number two. Then both are yelling, then guy one tells guy two he's fired, then pushing and shoving, then a truce is reached and I guess guy number two is still working.

"Sorry about that, he's just a bad apple.  Y'all enjoy the show," guy number one tells us.

Okay, then.

At the other end of the building is 3rd and Lindsley, a small nightclub that you blink and miss.  We're here to see the Time Jumpers, a band made of of some of Nashville's biggest names that like to get together each Monday night here, play music together, drink beer, and just have a good time.

If' you're there, you get to hang with them and have a good time, too.

It's low-key and casual. We're treated to the sight of Vince Gill...a Country Music Hall of Famer and multi-Grammy winner...on stage setting up his own gear. No roadies tonight.

Singer of Riders in the Sky, Ranger Doug Green steps by our table and has a little chat. He poses for the picture above and tells us Dawn Sears...wife of the band's leader, Kenny Sears and one of the best female vocalists anywhere...will not be there tonight because she is starting round two of her chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer.

It's a shame it's happening to such a great singer. (Note - sadly, Dawn lost her battle to cancer last year - Ed)

I get a CD for Letty so she can get to work getting signatures. Tim and I had met Billy Thomas, Vince Gill's regular drummer, before. He didn't remember me but it came in handy to get him to start the signature fest.

Letty went to work for the rest of the band, me filling in when I could get one easy, and got Sears, Vince Gill, Andy Reese, and Paul of the best steel guitar players around.

It's truly an all-start cast and when the swinging starts at 9:00, the place gets rockin'.

Kenny Sears, the leader and head fiddle player, is celebrating a birthday tonight as is Gill's wife, Amy Grant. A cake is cut for Kenny and Amy takes to the stage to belt out a song before giving way to Gill's daughter Jennifer, who also has a great set of those Gill pipes.

At the end of the show, a few band members scoot out the back very quickly but the remainder settle in at the bar. Ranger Doug had sung "Put Another Candle on Your Birthday Cake" for Kenny and Amy, which was Sheriff John's song when I was a kid.

I went up to him at the bar and thanked him for singing that as it reminded me of those childhood memories. He told me he grew up in Costa Mesa, then sang another Sheriff John song for me at the bar.  

It's another day in downtown Nashville in the morning as we battle the bitter cold (34 and dropping) at Broadway Brewhouse. Just a place we wandered past, really, but it turned out they make a very good gumbo.

The hot stew, warm dining room, and cool beer seemed to be just what we needed.

After, we head up the street to the Ryman Auditorium for a tour.  The Ryman is the historic home of the Grand Ole Opry, our country's longest running radio show.

Although they moved the Opry to a new theater east of town, most people really consider this its proper home. The folks who run it must have taken it a bit to heart. Now, the show moves back to the old and renovated Ryman each fall and winter.

Inside, we see a short video, see some exhibits of costumes and musical instruments, take a souvenir photo, and see the snow starting to fall outside.

Tim is not doing well in the cold. He has a thick jacket, gloves, and a hat but only a thin pair of pants as the bottom layer. Back to the hotel to warm up and, while he's doing  that, I run over to a nearby sporting goods store to get him some long Johns, which help out quite a bit.

Now, it's back to the Ryman for the show. Tonight, we're attending the Grand Ole Opry with seats in the third row.  It's one of three wheelchair spots on the bottom. There are a few more up in the balcony.

The show is great with eight acts doing three numbers each. John Conlee, Katie Armiger, Sundy Best, Riders in the Sky (there's Ranger Doug again!), Chris Janson, Bill Anderson, Marshall Chapman, and...the evening's headliner...Craig Morgan, who is celebrating five years as a member of the Opry tonight.

Great show! First timers Sundy Best, a duo from Kentucky, brought the house down with their music earning them a standing ovation on their first try.

In the morning, a forty minute drive takes us to the far, western side of the city and the Loveless Cafe. 

Famous for their biscuits, everybody tells you that you cannot leave Nashville without trying it. Yes you can, actually.  

The Loveless is really good, is home to another classic Nashville music show ("Music City Roots", taped each Wednesday night in the barn out back), and has great service.

Food is good but not so good as to overcome the forty minute drive each way and the two hour wait once we got there.

If you can get in quick before all the tour buses hit, maybe it might be ok.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Cocktail Hour - Cosmopolitan

I was never a fan, but for those of you who liked "Sex and the City," here's your drink. It's very easy to make and very refreshing on a sunny day on the deck.

Watch the Video!

INGREDIENTS - for two drinks
2 oz. - Vodka
1 oz. - Triple Sec
4 -5 oz. - Cranberry Cocktail
1/2 lime

Squeeze juice out of lime into a 500 ml cocktail shaker, 1/3 full of ice. Pour in vodka and triple sec. Fill to top with cranberry juice. Shake and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge and cranberries or pomegranate seeds.

I'm OK with it but some guys think this is a feminine drink. Probably because of the dark pink color and the association with Carrie Bradshaw and friends. For them, fill a glass with ice, pour it in and call it a vodka and cran.