The Dancing Lights Of Christmas At It's New Location


The Dancing Lights of Christmas is back for it's now 8th season! It's new location is the Wilson County Fairgrounds, but still includes it's half million lights, music, and Santa's village.
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ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas


This years ICE! attraction at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas!
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Formal Wear Caving 2017!


The 3rd annual Formal Wear Caving trip was held on December 9, 2017 at Tumbling Rock Cave, a Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. (SCCi) preserve in Alabama and included 31 cavers from 5 states! Suits... dresses... and even one stuffed into a reindeer. - Photo credit to Dean Wiseman
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The Nashville Christmas Parade!


The Nashville Christmas Parade was held on December 2, 2017 starting at 8:30am, mostly along Broadway in downtown Nashville! It was a fantastic parade with tons of floats, bands, performances, and celebrities.
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Check Out Winterfest At The Fountains At Gateway



If you're in a festive mood and looking for something to do this holiday season, check out Winterfest at the Fountains at Gateway. Open from November 18th - January 3rd, they have ice skating, holiday decorations and fun for all ages.
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Out Of This World... And Underground... The Hawkins Impact Cave


Approximately 130 million years before the dinosaurs walked the earth (360 million years from now), in a time known as the Late Devonian period... a meteor struck the shallow water (30-60 ft deep) of the Chattanooga Sea and created a crater that was around 2 miles in diameter and 650 feet deep with a central uplift from rock being lifted upwards of 1500 ft above it's normal position.
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Bluff Overlook Trail at Harpeth River State Park


The Bluff Overlook Trail is located in Harpeth River State Park in Cheatham and Davidson counties, approximately 30 minutes west of Nashville, which is known for its national historic landmark, the Montgomery Bell Tunnel, as well as the Mound Bottom and Mace Bluff archeological sites. The park includes two trails that are family friendly and offer fantastic views.
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Date Night at City Winery in Nashville


Rustic, Elegant and Beautiful are just a few words that describe City Winery in Nashville. 
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Dinosaur Fossil Hunting Update! The Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History


Hello, my name is Alan Brown, I am a Geologist, Paleontologist, museum founder and director, college instructor and today, blogger. I plan to write on geology, paleontology and the museum. The museum is Earth Experience the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and has been open for almost 3 years, it is my passion and takes almost all my free time.  The one exception is every July when I travel to Montana to dig up fossil dinosaur bones. Many people have asked what it is like out in Montana and what is the process for finding and digging up the bones. Here is a recap of this year’s Montana adventures.

July 5 – I left middle Tennessee for Montana, it is about 1,500 miles. I have been going to Montana every summer for the last 10 years. Digging up dinosaur bones is a labor of love, the land is very rugged and remote, it can be extremely hot, sometimes we have to deal with thunderstorms, rattlesnakes, impassable roads and very strict collecting laws. The most difficult part of digging dinosaurs is finding a property willing to let us to dig. Digging a dinosaur on federal land is against the law and can result in jail time and big fines. So our only option is private land, but many land owners do not want people on their land or they want a lot of money to lease the fossil rights. I am very lucky in that my paleontology mentor, Jerry, had already established a relationship with a ranch and I was able to tag along and develop my own relationship with them. The ranch is owned by the Baisch family and Jerry first got on the ranch through Make-a-Wish. He was looking for a place to take a young boy who wanted to dig dinosaurs as his wish and the ranch owner contacted Jerry and told him to use their ranch. They have conducted 9 wishes on the ranch and I was able to help on the latest one, an amazing experience.

My truck in its natural habitat, the Baisch ranch. Yes it is a long drive.

July 7 - I arrived in Glendive Montana and set up at the cabins. The first years I went we camped the entire time but 4 years ago we started renting cabins in the nearby Makoshika State park. The cabins consist of a main cabin with full kitchen and living room, a bathhouse with multiple showers and 8 individual bunk cabins. The cabins have allowed us to have people join us on the digs. After setting up I went to the ranch and met with the patriarch of the ranch, Marge, to discuss where we could look around on the ranch. The Baisch family lets other people dig on the ranch so I did not want to encroach on land someone else was using. This year was the first time I was without my mentor Jerry because he was in a different part of Montana helping out a small museum with a big molding and casting project.

Cabins in Makoshika state park

July 8 - The rest of the crew arrived. This year I was accompanied by my dad (Dale), his cousin (Bill), three volunteers from the museum, Roxanne, Novella, and James and Novella’s mother Corina came as camp cook. Novella had been with me before but it was everyone else’s first time.

July 9 – Dale, Bill and I left early to the ranch. Novella, James and Roxanne arrived very late so I let them sleep in. First I showed Dale and Bill an area with lots of petrified wood. The petrified wood is extremely common on the ranch and it varies from looking like a tree that just fell yesterday to colorful agate filled rocks you might never think was wood. Then we went to the area of the ranch Marge said I should go. It takes a lot of walking to hunt for dinosaur bones. Many people ask how I know where to dig, basically you walk until you find something and that’s where you dig. We walked up and down and around steep hills and valleys. We found pieces of broken dinosaur bone and a few pieces of fossil turtle shell. Turtles are the most common vertebrate animal fossil on the ranch.

Dale and Bill looking for fossils

Bill looking for petrified wood

July 10 – The full crew headed out to the ranch and continued exploring. After several hours of looking we found some dinosaur bones. We found two piles of small pieces of dinosaur bone that were once complete bones. Once dinosaur bone is exposed at the surface it starts to break apart from rain, wind and freezing. What we hope to find is just a little part of a bone exposed and the rest buried. We found one bone sticking out of the ground but as I dug down it ended just below the surface. Finally, the last bone we started digging on continued underground. By this time is was hot and the crew was tired so we called it a day.

A weathered dinosaur bone, nothing left but scraps.

A bone partially buried, a good find

July 11 - Full crew went back out to the dinosaur bone from yesterday. This time we brought materials to make a jacket. A jacket is a protective cover over the bone so it can be transported safely. The bone appears to be an ilium, part of the hip, from a medium sized Edmontosaurus. I say appears because often after the bone is cleaned we find out it is not what we thought. The jacket is made out of plaster bandages, it is similar to a cast doctors use for broken bones. We ran out of bandages and called it a day. Novella and James left for Wyoming and South Dakota.

Bill, Dale and Roxanne jacketing the bone
July 12 – The road out of the state park was closed for construction so we were stuck. On the bright side we had half the state park to ourselves and we spent the day exploring. Lots of great scenery pictures were taken by everyone.

Bill and Dale sightseeing in the park

July 13 – Dale, Bill, Roxanne and I put the final layer on the jacket and spend the time waiting for the plaster to set looking for more bones but found nothing. I carried the bone back to the truck. It was long and heavy and it was a lot of rough terrain. I was completely spent by the time I got to the truck so we headed back to the cabins.

Dale and Roxanne with the collected bone

July 14 – We were a tired crew and the forecasted high for the day was 105 so we took a day off to go sightseeing. Corina joined us and we drove to Medora, North Dakota. It is the entrance to Teddy Roosevelt National Park and they have souvenir shops and restaurants. We bought souvenirs and took a 36-mile loop drive through the park. We saw Buffalo, wild horses and prairie dogs, everyone enjoyed the day.

Buffalo in Teddy Roosevelt National Park

July 15 – Dale, Bill, Roxanne and I headed back to the ranch. I took them to an area to collect petrified wood and then to a microsite. A microsite is an area where we often find small fossils. It was a point bar or gravel bar in a stream during the time of the dinosaurs. In the gravel we find fossil teeth, small bones, seed pods, pine cones and fish scales. Gar fish scales are common at this particular site and everyone found a scale. My best find was a small meat eating dinosaur tooth. After more exploring we found a pile of broken bone, I think it is a vertebrae and I might be able to piece it together.

July 16 – Crew heads home, I do laundry.

July 17 – I go out on the ranch with Marge and she shows me several sites where she found dinosaur bones. I am pretty good at reading maps and she wanted to know if the bones were on her property or not. Properties are often defined by 1 square mile sections and it can be hard to know where property lines run. Often there is no fence or landmark to determine where the property line is. Unfortunately, several bones were on federal land and we could only look at them. However, we did find 2 good sites on her land including the biggest rib I have ever seen.

July 18 – Last day in the cabins so I cleaned and packed up. The plan is to camp out at the ranch after today.

July 19 – Heavy rains early in the morning. To get to the areas of the ranch we are digging we have to cross a creek. Normally the creek has 6-10 inches of water but it had 4 feet of water and was three times wider than usual. It looked doubtful that I would get to do any field work for several days so I decide to head for home.

So that sums up the 2017 Montana field season for me. Every year is different but the basic process for finding and recovering the dinosaur bones is the same every year. The work on the dinosaur bones has just begun, it will take months of work at the museum in the lab cleaning and gluing the bones back together to get them ready for study and display. I am already thinking about next year’s trip.

Roxanne looking for fossils

The struthiomimus skeleton that we have a cast of at the museum was found here.

There are some great sunsets in Montana.

Please be sure to support the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History: The Earth Experience by stopping by to make a visit! To learn more about the museum, be sure to read our previous POST to get a sneak peak at what you'll see!

Also, November 5, 2017 at 2pm - 6pm The Earth Experience is holding it's NaturALE Beerfest fundraiser so be sure to check that out! Tickets can be purchase through Eventbrite at this LINK so be sure to check it out!





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Dollywood's Great Pumpkin LumiNights!


Dollywood's Harvest Festival runs from September 29 - October 28, 2017 mostly in tandem with it's Southern Gospel music event. Families get to enjoy the glow of thousands of intricately-carved pumpkins as they wander through immersive harvest-themed displays throughout Dollywood's Timber Canyon along with "Pumpkin Artists" onsite who host demonstrations showing guest how to create their own masterpieces!
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First Caving Adventure... The Rocky Topper At Cumberland Caverns!


Cumberland Caverns lies on the south slope of Cardwell Mountain and is undoubtedly one of the most extensive cave systems in Tennessee with more than 32 miles of passages trending beneath the Cypress sandstone benches and slopes of the mountain, an outlier of the Cumberland Plateau.

Cumberland Caverns provided Rocky Topper passes for the purpose of reviewing this tour.
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Exploring Rock Island State Park


Rock Island State Park is located across Warren and White County, Tennessee on Center Hill Lake at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins, and Rocky Rivers and totals 883 acres. The park includes a natural sand beach with a playground and nearby campgrounds for families to enjoy. For the more adventurous types, the white water sections attract professional kayakers from around the world, and the Caney Fork Gorge with it's deep pools and limestone paths are perfect for hiking, swimming, and exploring. Rising above the gorge is the Great Falls Dam with it's 19th century cotton textile mill and adjacent Spring Castle. Gorgeous overlooks and trails include views of several waterfalls including the 30 foot Great Falls and 80 foot Twin Falls. Rock Island State Park is a must-see destination that has something for everyone.
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Honeysuckle Hill Farm


Honeysuckle Hill Farm offers plenty family fun and adventure for all ages!
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The Nashville Mini-Maker Faire At The Wondr'y


Nashville's fifth annual Mini-Maker Faire will be from Saturday, September 30, 2017 to Sunday, October 1, 2017 from 9am - 5pm. It can be found on the EVENTS tab of our Facebook Page and tickets are free this year thanks to sponsors if you go to this LINK.
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Cavalia Odysseo in Nashville!


Near the Gaylord Opryland sits a giant 125 foot tall White Big Top tent the size of an NFL football field... This is the temporary home of Cavalia Odysseo, here in Nashville from August 30th and running through October 1, 2017. Cavalia is a spectacular show by Normand Latourelle from Montreal who is one of the co-creators of the famed Cirque du Soleil. Entertaining and visually stunning for adults and kids alike, it consists of a two hour show that includes 65 majestic horses and 50 people sharing the spotlight as riders, acrobats, aerial artists, and musicians.
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Lucky Ladd Farms, Farm Fun For The Whole Family!


In 2008, Jason and Amy Ladd purchased the farm with the dream of opening an educational venue to teach children (and their parents!) about the importance of agriculture and helping to reconnect them with their agricultural roots which are often 3-4 generations removed from the farm.

In 2009, Lucky Ladd Farms officially opened and quickly became known as "Tennessee's largest petting farm". Fall is by far their busiest time of the year with guests from all over the Nashville region and beyond coming to visit the pumpkin patch and corn maze, along with the multitude of other activities and educational exhibits that they upgrade, or add to ensure that visitors see a little something different each year that they visit.



PROMOTION, PLEASE HELP!

We're supporting Lucky Ladd Farms by running a promotion for a "Family Fun Four Pack" of tickets for anyone who

1) Likes our Facebook Page

AND

2.) Likes  Facebook Post for this article (the one linked, not the one seen in Groups).

We'll randomly select a winner by September 18th!


OUR RECENT VISIT

On arrival at Lucky Ladd's it's a short walk from the parking lot to the main barn. Going to the right side of the barn is a ticket booth where a friendly farm hand that you purchase tickets and get a bracelet from before entering the farm. Feed for the petting zoo area can be purchased here at a reasonable price so be sure to pick up a few bags before going in.



Soon after are signs pointing to the various activities that can be found  as well as a board displaying all of their upcoming festivities whether it be their Easter Egg Hunt, Watermelon Festival, Sweet Corn Festival, or slew of Harvest \ Fall related activities. These can also easily be found on their webpage.





 Generally the first stop for any visitor is the petting zoo area where our daughter's favorite pig can be found roaming around waiting to be fed as well as sheep and alpaca's. Further on is also an area where kids can brush the 15 or so sheep in one of the areas pens.






Once you exit the petting zoo area several activities present themselves including a children's play area with various obstacles and objects to climb on, a barn to play in, gem mining, a large enclosure filled with corn to play in, as well as barrel rides and even a bubble play area (so be sure to bring bathing suits if it's warm out!)











After moving through all these activities, there is a hill with a newly added barn enclosure over the slides that have been a staple for many years. Children (and adults) can run to the top and grab a burlap sack and race down them.




Across from the slides is a hayride as well as the location of the "Pumpkin Hollar" that is done in late fall, a wooded trails with glowing pumpkins.

When you are all through with all the activities the kids will have worked up an appetite so there is a separate area where you can purchase hamburgers, hotdogs, as well as various treats at extremely reasonable prices.








If you've never been, we highly encourage you to visit Lucky Ladd Farms. Your whole family will have a fantastic time and if you've been before, considering making it an annual trip considering the constant annual improvements that have been made in the 5 years that we've been visiting the farm.





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Bluegrass Underground... Season VII Airing 9/6/2017


On Wednesday, September 6, 2017, PBS will begin airing Season VII of the famed Bluegrass Underground, a 13-time EMMY award-winning PBS music series. Presenting station, WCTE in Cookeville, TN will be airing the series Monday nights at 7:30pm CST and in Nashville on WNPT, Saturdays at 10pm CST.


Access to the PBS taping session was provided by the Bluegrass Underground.
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The 2017 North American Solar Eclipse... Worth The Wait!


The 2017 North American Solar Eclipse proved to be well worth the wait for many.... skies were partly cloudy though a great many popular viewing sites enjoyed enough of a break in the clouds to fully view totality, for some a once in a lifetime event.
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Gateway Island Park


In 1997, with Gateway Office Park being rapidly developed, it was recognized that there was a great deal of underutilized open space. Lose & Associates was commissioned to develop a plan for this space. One of the greatest challenges was a 40-acre area that had historically been an unregulated landfill. Considering it's central location, it was decided to turn this land into a city park that residents would be able to use for recreation and relaxation.
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