All posts by Taneya Koonce

Visit to Mammoth Caves, KY

The last week of January I was able to take time off work for a staycation and what a great week it was indeed! On the last day of my “staycay”, Kelli and I took the kids up to Mammoth Caves. It it near Nashville and only took about an hour and a half to get there.

Prior to going, I spent quite a bit of time checking out the website and trying to figure out which of the tours to take. With multiple factors going into the decision, I decided that we would do the Frozen Niagra Tour.

We arrived at the park at about 10:30 or so if I recall correctly.  Because we visited during off-season, they were not offering the tours as frequently as they do in other parts of the year, but there was an option for the Frozen Niagra Tour at 3pm so we had some time to kill. We started by checking out the Heritage Trail, a trail that begins just behind the Visitor’s Center. Mind you it was cold out – about 20 degrees that day, so we only did about half of the trail.  I wanted to be sure we got to the Old Guide’s Cemetery where Stephen Bishop, a slave cemetery on the grounds.

slave cemetery

We then went inside to see the exhibit in the Visitor’s Center. It was very well done and we learned some interesting facts about the cave. There was also a cave hole in the exhibit that the kids enjoyed. Doesn’t Kaleya look just like Kelli here?

We then drove around the grounds some before heading out for lunch.  After lunch, we came back and it was time for our tour. The Frozen Niagra Tour begins from a man-made entrance to the caves. To get there, we hopped on a bus for the short ride (a few miles).  While the Frozen Niagra is the shortest tour, it is also the “prettiest” part of the 400+ mile cave system and the only part that has formations. The tour was about 90 minutes and it was cool. Dark, wet and creepy about sums it up.

looking out on the grounds
cave formations
Miles & Kaleya in front of another cave formation

On the way out of the cave we saw cave crickets – even creepier!

cave crickets – not cool.

After the tour, we then decided to walk down to the “Historic Entrance” of the cave – the original entrance to the cave. The kids had fun exploring the ravine along the way and it was cool to see that part.

kids exploring. kinda look like “hobbitses” don’t they!
the Historic Entrance

 

The rest of our photos are here if interested. It was a great day – thanks National Park Service for a great visit!

Kaleya waves goodbye

How We Spent Our Anniversary

Well, here’s a belated post! But, I have to do it b/c I wanted to chronicle how Kalonji and I spent our 11th anniversary. Our anniversary is New Year’s Eve and we were fortunate to be able to steal away for two days and spend the weekend in Louisville – without any of the kids. I can’t recall the last time we were sans kids for any significant period of time. :-)

We went to Louisville to meet up with an old friend of Kalonji’s and just hang out around town. We were there from Saturday the 29th – Monday the 31st. Our hotel was right on the Ohio River – on the Jeffersonville side. We stayed at the Sheraton. Here’s a pic from the hotel website.

Our room was nice – see example below. We didn’t have a King, but rather two Queens, so that we could have a better view.

We arrived Saturday night, so that didn’t leave us room to do much, but we did have a late dinner with Kalonji’s friend Dave and his family. Kalonji and Dave went to high school together at Jeffersonville High School, where Kalonji went for his junior & senior years. They had not seen each other since graduation day, 1990 – 22 years ago! It was so great to meet them! I could tell why Kalonji and Dave got along in high school – their tastes and outlook to life are so similar. Dave was even able to scan in a picture he had of Kalonji in high school – classic!

Sunday morning Kalonji and I had brunch at the hotel restaurant, where we had a gorgeous view of the river.

Then, we wandered around Louisville some, spending time on Bardstown Road – a great strip of businesses, etc.

We then had dinner again with Dave and family and spent Monday doing a little shopping before heading back to Evansville. What a great weekend. And, we even managed to get a picture of Kalonji and his brother, and all the kids – a great way to bring in the new year!

Our Digital Music Strategy

After several years of indecision and just trying to see how the industry is unfolding, I have finally committed to a firm digital music strategy. Kalonji and I own a lot of CDs.  To date, I have not digitized them as I had not found a system that I felt would work for us.  However, this weekend, I chose to start using Amazon Cloud Player as our digital online music locker storage of choice.

Here are the requirements of what we needed:

  • lots of space
  • cheap
  • easy upload of our mp3 files
  • stream over the web or via Android device
  • playlists so we can segment according to family member
  • company stability, something that I know will be around for awhile

Why not iTunes?  ITunes is great for ripping CDs. I really like how managing music is easily done with the iTunes interface. Their iTunes in the Cloud service met all the criteria except two – no web streaming, and we can’t use it on Android devices.  Not being able to stream on Android devices is a deal-breaker. I am an Android fan gal, not an Apple one. :-) 

Why not Google Music? I, a self-proclaimed Google freak, was very excited with the launch of Google Music about a year-and-a-half ago. Google Music meets all the criteria. However, the process to upload mp3 files to the online library is horrendously slow. I could not sacrifice the time it would take to get our music library imported to the web account.  I have been waiting on the process to get better, but I have waited over a year and after trying again this weekend, it doesn’t look like it is getting any better. I also do not like their online navigation through the music library; it lacks options that are important for me. 

Google Drive? I do use G Drive extensively, and wondered if I could find convenient way to play music files stored in my account. It too meets the criteria above with the exception of playlists. Though, if I could find a player for music files in G Drive, surely the player would facilitate playlist creation. So far, no luck there either. All the options I have been exploring were insufficient in functionality.

Amazon Cloud Player to the Rescue!   Last week, I received a notice that my free cloud subscription would be ending soon, so I took this as an opportunity to check out Amazon again. I already am a heavy Kindle book user via the apps, and liked what I’d seen during my trial for the cloud service. Yet, I never committed because I was waiting around for Google. Well, I decided to wait no longer and I am enjoying adding our files to Amazon Cloud Player. Especially since not all files have to physically be uploaded.  Just a few months ago, they added a “match” feature where your files are run against their catalog and songs that are present are added w/o you having to upload the file. The upload speed for files that do need to be physically added is great and I’ve had no troubles. In just 24 hours now, I’ve ripped and uploaded around 1,000 songs. I am putting everything under my account, and then using playlists so that each of us can quickly get to our own music of choice on our individual devices. This rocks!  


Kaleya Was on TV

During the last week of August Kaleya was on television! Her school was featured in the local news for the changes that the new principal, Jahi Rohrer, is trying to make to help bring the school up.

Kaleya can be seen at 0:58, at the end of the row of students doing their morning cheer.

Though we withdrew Kaleya from the school just two days after this aired, it was still cool to see. Kalonji is President of the Parent-Teacher organization and he will still be involved with the group. However, we felt for Kaleya’s best interest that we needed to transfer her to a different school. 

TSU Has Him Now

This weekend was another exciting weekend for us. Miles has been accepted into a transportation engineering camp at Tennessee State University and this weekend was drop-off weekend. The camp lasts the entire month of June and he’ll be living on campus. The camp is for rising 10-12th graders and only has about 20 participants. We learned today that participants come from around the country, not just Nashville, so that was a pleasant surprise. See this blog post from last year to get an understanding of what the kids will be doing.

Yesterday, we dropped Miles off for camp.

luggage in hand
on the hall
Q and Kaleya will miss him!
view from his window
in front of engineering school

This is going to be a great opportunity for Miles given his interests in pursuing engineering. Enjoy Miles!

Then, after we dropped him off, we went to Sweet CeCe’s. It was my first time there, but Kalonji has taken Kaleya before. Of course, it was good. :-)

Sweet CeCe's
yes, the ice cream is good

As we were leaving though, I had a moment of shame. It took me forever to understand the significance of the anchor in this football game ad.

the anchor signifies the commodore - captain of the sea!

I should be ashamed too; as much as I like the Vanderbilt history and everything related to the Commodore!

A Crazy Seven Days

It’s been a hectic week this past week for us.  This was the last week of school and then we had a busy Memorial Day Weekend.

Kaleya at school luau
Kaleya w/ 1st grade teacher

On Saturday, I took a quick trip up north of Nashville to visit a genealogy friend. On Sunday, I met up with a group visiting the states from Spain to help one member of the group search for her family. On Monday I rested most of the day, but did various household tasks. We did however, take a quick trip out to Radnor Lake. I’d not been there before, so it was nice to just walk around some.

whoa! a deer!
beautiful Lake Radnor

Busy, busy, busy!

Saturday Outing: The Symphony & Cheekwood

Today, we did another Nashville first – our first visit to the Nashville Symphony.  For this I need to greatly thank my co-worker Frances who used her ticket credits to purchase the tickets for us to go see the Pied Piper.

inside the Symphony Hall

…but I have a confession to make – I actually did not know the full story of the Pied Piper, only knew bits and pieces.  So I didn’t know what to expect. But it was great! The conductor began the show by describing the plot, then having the orchestra play music representative of the different characters in the story so that we’d know when the characters were involved during the musical performance. I think our favorite “character” was the music for the rats; it was very appropriate.  On top of that, they had a performance group on stage acting out the story and the conductor continued to provide explanation.  I think all the kids and adults alike enjoyed it – I know our family did! :-)

Kaleya poses outside after the show is over

After the symphony, we then headed out to Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. This was my second visit there, my first one having been back in September.  This time, our visit was free as Kaleya’s school was having a Family Fun Day and we could enter at no charge.

When I went in the fall, it was Kaleya and I, so I’d been wanting to take the boys to visit – this was the perfect opportunity.  We arrived at about 1:30 and spent the next couple of hours walking the grounds, playing around the ponds, and going through the museum.

by the pond
turtle peeks his head out
Miles and Jihad exploring the pond
the kids in front of the house
Miles did not really drink the water!

The exhibits in the museum changed since my last visit and one I particularly enjoyed was the Red Grooms exhibit. We have some of his artwork displayed in the library where I work – the Eskind Biomedical Library at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. My favorite piece was cool, and I didn’t even get the name of it. You can see it at about 1:20 into the video below about Red Grooms and his wife.  Red is a Nashville native so I really should make more of an effort to learn about his artwork.

In all, we had a great day today! Tomorrow, I look forward to staying in and relaxing though. :)