Living La Vida Local

Our friend Linda is the “Queen of Adventure”. Her bucket list is actually a barrel list, and I kid you not, she is out doing something exciting All. The. Time. A few weeks ago, she went tandem hang-gliding…by herself. As I am writing this post, she’s having a blast in Idaho…at a museum for potatoes. Linda has this knack for making the ordinary extraordinary. She takes selfies in front of road signs, poses with statues, and visits hole-in-the-wall places that can’t possibly exist on any map. And when she’s not exploring, she’s running marathons, volunteering, or coming up with some new scheme to get her husband to join in the fun…like going to a different fish-fry every Friday for few weeks. If Nike ever wants a less controversial spokesperson, I nominate Linda. “Just Do It” is her middle name!

Linda is an inspiration and often when I’m sitting on the couch on a Friday night pondering the age-old question of what to do with my weekend, I think of her.  What would Linda do? I sometimes ask out loud. Something crazy and fun, that’s what! So this past weekend, we had our own “Linda Adventure”. We got off the couch and explored our own backyard – Gallatin, TN – the “nicest place in America“.

On Friday evening, we perused the booths at the Market in the Park. Crafters from all across the area were there to sell their handiwork, from crochet hats to industrial chic furniture. We didn’t buy anything but we came back with a ton of ideas…like soup bowl cozies and so many things made from pallets that it would take an entire post just to list them all.

On Saturday morning, we drove to the neighboring town, Hendersonville, for the Tennessee Honey Festival.

And on Saturday evening, we took part in a culinary adventure unlike any we have ever tried. Part walking tour, part scavenger hunt, the event was called Grit, Grace, Grub, and for $25 we received a passport and map to visit 19 local restaurants. At each restaurant, our passport was stamped and we were delighted with a sample of their signature dishes. When I say sample, I mean a “southern-sized” sample, which is what most folks call a small plate. While the object was to visit 2 restaurants from each zone within 4 hours, we tried to hit them all. We made it to 15 of the 19, which qualified us for the $250 drawing. I don’t think we won, but we had a ball and even made The Tennessean (again!).

After seeing the size of the samples at the first restaurant, we went back home to get our cooler and a couple of to-go plates (and by a couple, I mean 5, which were all filled to the brim by the end of the night). We sampled some fabulous foods, from bourbon-glazed salmon to stuffed flounder in a crawfish sauce, pimento cheese sliders to frozen Greek yogurt topped with fresh strawberries.

A Southern-sized Sample of Salmon and Goo-Goo pie

We ate until we were stuffed and left with enough food to share with my mom and have 4 meals for ourselves. We eventually ate everything, by the way, and even shared our zero-waste project with the manager of one of the restaurants.

Sneaky Angie and her slice of Nashville Hot Pizza.

I think part of the reason this was so much fun for us is that we don’t go out to eat very often. Almost every restaurant we visited was someplace we’d never been. Except Prince Street Pizza. We love them. We love them so much, in fact, that Angie did something we’ve only ever joked about doing before – she swiped a leftover pizza! There was a large family in the room set up for the food tour. They weren’t part of the tour, just eating in the same room. When they left, they left behind half of a mushroom and onion pizza. Untouched and destined for the trash can, Angie rescued it and we had it for dinner Sunday night. Hey Linda, how’s that for adventurous??

As we sat outside Southern Juice & Beverage Company enjoying our frozen yogurt, I thought to myself, how different the world can be when we try to see it from someone else’s perspective. Since moving back to Gallatin three years ago, I’ve been reluctant to actually enjoy living here. I felt that if I gave in, I was giving up on our dream of returning to Florida one day. What I found though was that I was cheating us out of many extraordinarily ordinary adventures by thinking that the most fun we could have was someday and somewhere other than here. That’s not a very minimalist attitude, by the way.

Our friend Linda lives in a tiny town in Minnesota. The population is 1/5 the size of Gallatin (or about 7,000 people). If she can find adventure in her backyard, there’s really no excuse for the rest of us (and by us, I mean me). So from now on, Angie and I are going to live by the Linda Playbook, which if it were actually a thing would probably be filled with Nike ads and have a slogan like:

No challenge too big, no adventure too small. Just Do It.