DIY: Vegetable Garden

4 Jun

Hello, all!  I hope you’re ready to get down & dirty, because my first DIY post is on cultivating your own vegetable garden!  Gardening is becoming one of my favorite pastimes for several reasons:

  1. It’s a great way to spend plenty of time outdoors in the beautiful summer weather!
  2. You get a solid workout (believe it or not)!
  3. Harvest the fruits (or in this case, vegetables) of your labor!
  4. Growing/eating your own vegetables will save you money & is much healthier than eating store-bought veggies!

The list goes on.  To begin, most of my info and tips in this post come from a combination of personal experience and this guide published by Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences.  Reading through this PDF file (which is printable, I might add) is a good way to get a little bit of background information on gardens in Pennsylvania.  I suggest doing this as a way to organize which vegetables you would like to place in your garden (or which veggies are possible for you to plant).

STEP ONE:  Location, Location, Location

There are several things to consider when you choose the site of your future garden, the first being sunlight exposure.  You want to look for a place that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, with 8-10 hours of sunlight per day being ideal.  Vegetables do not compete well with trees for sunlight/moisture/nutrients, so it is best to place your garden away from them.  The next thing you want to consider is the soil in which you will be planting.  Soil is made up of particles of sand, silt, and clay, the combination of which determines the overall quality of your garden.  A good planting soil is one that is an even combination of all three types of particles.  The best type of soil, regardless of the type, is one that drains well (no pools of water), retains moisture, and has an adequate supply of organic matter.  Organic matter can be anything from manure to sawdust; you can even create your own organic matter mixture by placing compost-able items such as tea bags, coffee grounds, stale bread, pizza crusts, banana peels, etc. (a full list of compost-able items can be found at this site) in a bucket or pile in a place where the smell of decomposition won’t be troublesome.  As these items biodegrade, you will be left with a mixture that is full of nutrients for your growing vegetables.  The final consideration for the location of your garden is pesticide exposure.  It’s best to avoid places in close proximity to railroad tracks, highways, or power lines because often times these are routinely sprayed with strong pesticides, which you do not want getting into your garden.  Avoid close proximity to your property lines if you have neighbors who use pesticides on their lawn.

STEP TWO:  Preparing Your Site

The best time of year to prepare a garden site is actually in the fall.  You may be surprised by this, but when sod is turned over in the fall, there is more time for it to decompose and provide better soil conditions for your vegetables.  However, you can prepare the garden site in the spring or early summer, especially if this will be your first time putting in a garden.  (I turned over a brand new garden site this summer, and thus did not prepare my site until the middle of May).  To ensure that the soil is ready to begin working, scoop up a small handful and compress it in your palm; if the soil easily crumbles when you release your hand, then it is ready.  If the soil remains compacted and feels “muddy” when you release, it is not ready.  Give the soil a chance to dry out before you begin working it.  Depending on the size of your site, you can use a rototiller or shovel.  (For my first garden, I chose a small site and worked the soil with a shovel and a manual tiller, however for my current garden my Pap helped me roto-till it with a machine).  Work the soil in an organized manner; it helps to work in “rows” as the soil is churned up.  As you go, you will notice rocks being brought up from underneath.  A small amount of rocks in vegetable gardens is normal, but you want to remove any rocks of considerable size.  My general rule of thumb is to remove any rocks that are “palm-size” or larger.  (My current garden site was in a particularly rocky area — to combat this, I had to remove a larger amount of rocks and compensated with ~20 bags of topsoil which I mixed in after removing as many of the large rocks as I could).  If you want to get nice & technical with it, you can pH test your soil.  Soil testing kits can be purchased at your local garden supply center. (Do as I say, not as I do…I have never pH tested my soil and have grown great plants in the past, the decision is completely up to your personal preferences).  Unless your soil has just the right pH value, you will have to add lime if your soil is acidic or sulfur if your soil is basic.  Typically, plants grow best in a soil pH that is between 6.0-6.5 which is just slightly acidic.  At this point, you can add in any fertilizer or extra organic matter as you see fit. (So far, I have added no extra fertilizer or organic material — this may change if I see that the plants aren’t thriving).  As you can probably see by now, much of the gardening process is up to your personal preference; it also depends on how your garden tends to grow once you put it in.  It’s never too late to mix in organic materials to help enrich your soil.


In previous gardens, I have planted mainly what are called “transplants.”  This is when you go to a garden center and purchase a small vegetable plant that has already been cultivated from a seed by a grower.  For beginner gardeners, this is the easiest way to plant.  Most of my vegetables this year are transplants, however I am trying my hand at cultivating my own sweet peas & sweet corn from the ground up.  Also, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out the link to the Penn State guide for some ideas about which vegetables to plant in your garden; this guide has awesome, detailed instructions for each individual vegetable on care, maintenance, and pest control among other helpful tips.  Definitely make sure you check on the amount of sunlight that your plants need throughout the day; I recommend going for plants that require full-sun, since your garden will (optimally) be getting 8-10 hours of sunlight per day.  If you decide to transplant (which I highly suggest for first-time or beginner growers), there are several considerations to make when purchasing plants.  Check the leaves for any lesions or discolorations.  Ensure that the plant stems are firm and strong, not weak and spindly.  Also, take a peek at the roots to be sure that they are white and as large as the upper portion, or “vegetative portion,” of the plant; healthy roots such as this have very little trouble taking hold in the soil of your garden.

After you have made your plant selections, the fun begins.  You’ll want to pick up some tools for planting; here are the ones I used when I put my garden in:

(from top to bottom) Hand spade, small rake, hole maker/scoop, small hoe

(from top to bottom) Hand spade, small rake, hole maker/scoop, small hoe

You may already have a few, if not all, of these laying around the house already.  I borrowed the hole scoop from my Pap, which turned out to be a great idea.  The first order of business is to even out the soil so that it is level throughout the garden site.  It’s a good idea to work out on a piece of paper how you want to organize the plants in the garden; I recommend placing the tallest plants on one side (against a wall, shrub, building if your garden will be near anything like that) and place the plants in order from tallest to shortest.  (For instance, my garden distribution is as such:  two rows of sweet corn, three rows of tomatoes, two rows of sweet peppers, one row of squash, two rows of sweet peas, and one row of cucumbers).  This way, the sun reaches all of the plants evenly.  Once your organization has been decided and your soil has been leveled, you will want to make even rows with the rake or hoe.  The distance between rows depends upon which vegetables you are planting; check the small tag that came with each plant to see how much space is needed between plants.  If you put them too close together, they will crowd each other out for sunshine, water, and nutrients…and who wants that?!  I put my rows in for each section of vegetables one section at a time; for example, I dug the two rows for the sweet corn first, then planted the seeds before moving on to the tomatoes, etc.  After your rows are put in for your first vegetable section, get the hole scoop (if you have one — if not, your hands work perfectly fine as hole scoopers) and twist it down into the ground until you reach the optimal depth for your veggie.  Make sure that you space the holes out according to the tag on your plant as you move along the rows.  Here is a photo of proper usage of the hole scoop:

Makes digging holes for the veggies a much simpler process!

Makes digging holes for the veggies a much simpler process!

After the holes are dug, it is time to place the plants into their new homes!  Carefully grasp the stem of the plant near where it enters the soil, and use your free hand to squeeze the plastic tray from the bottom upwards to release the plant.  Depending on how developed the roots are, you may lose some of the soil from the tray during this process; this is perfectly fine.  I try to remove the plants from their trays right over top of the hole I am about to plant in so that the soil falls neatly into the hole.  Keeping a firm hold on the stem, gently place the plant into the hole and scoop dirt in around it.  Once it is placed, carefully pack the soil around the stem where it emerges from the ground; try your best to make sure the plant sits as straight as possible, and adjust the soil around it as needed.

Be gentle and remember to support the stem.

Be gentle and remember to support the stem.

See, that wasn’t too hard!  Just repeat this process for all of the vegetable  plants you want to put into your garden.  Depending on where you live, and what kind of critters visit your home, you may want to put up a small fence around your garden once it is planted.  (I have 3 dogs and 2 ducks who love to wander through my plants and who also have no sympathy for them, so I have a small chicken-wire fence around my garden to keep them all out).  Also, if you decide to plant tomatoes (especially the larger varieties) you may want to consider purchasing some tomato cages.  You can get them at any garden supply center — they do a great job of supporting the tomato plants as they grow and become weighed down by the ripening tomatoes.  Here’s a photo for you:

Tomato helpful!

Tomato Cages…so helpful!  They are upside down in this picture; when you place them, you want to press the pointy ends into the ground around the stem of the tomato plant, with the circular portions facing upward.

Alternatively, you could use wooden stakes and tie the plant stems to them as they grow; this method is a little more traumatic to the plants but works well, too.  Most common vegetable plants are pretty hardy and don’t require a lot of fuss to be healthy.  As I have said previously, check the tags that came with each plant to know exactly how much water they need.  Generally, I water mine every other day, except during especially hot & dry weather, where I water them every day.  It’s best to water your plants in the early morning or evening to avoid scorching them in the hot afternoon sun.  The plants will basically steam themselves as the water evaporates out of them if you continuously water them during the hottest parts of the day, so try your best to avoid this practice.  Other than those few things, let nature take its course, and soon you will have delicious home-grown vegetables!

What garden tips would you like to share?  Any tried-and-true methods that stand the test of time?  Feel free to comment & share your gardening experiences.  I hope this DIY has been helpful and inspiring to the new and old green thumbs alike!

Here are some pictures of my finished product:

My favorite...

My favorite…

Cucumbers, how refreshing!

Cucumbers, how refreshing!

Gordy the Gourd!

Gordy the Gourd!

Pineapple Tomatoes

Pineapple Tomatoes

Sunsugar Tomatoes...a new addition this year!

Sunsugar Tomatoes…a new addition this year!

Sweet Bell Pepper (green)

Sweet Bell Pepper (green)

All planted, minus the fencing.

All planted, minus the fencing.

“Forget not that the Earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran


Born to be a Fiddler in an Old-Time Stringband

31 May

I had myself a pretty sweet adventure this Memorial Day Weekend.

For Ryan’s college graduation, I bought his ticket to a bluegrass festival called DelFest in Cumberland, MD that was held this past Saturday.  We decided to make a long weekend out of it by spending Thursday & Friday visiting my dad in Leesburg, VA.  This part of the South has some pretty interesting history; Leesburg is the site of the Battle of Balls Bluff, a major Confederate victory during the Civil War and birthplace of a few ghost soldiers that allegedly haunt the town.  Leesburg was also the temporary safe haven of the United States government and archives, including the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, when they were forced to flee Washington D.C. during the War of 1812.  Just a little unsolicited history lesson for you all.

During our stay in Leesburg, we were able to visit the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, located at the Dulles International Airport.  Two of the most notable artifacts in this museum are the Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle Discovery.  The Enola Gay is the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II.  In fact, it is the first aircraft to have ever dropped an atomic bomb.  Standing beneath this massive aircraft, one can’t help but wonder if the people who ordered the atomic attacks on these two cities truly understood what it meant to use the bombs.  My conclusion is that if they fully understood the consequences that were to arise in the aftermath of destruction, they never would have flown the Enola Gay with its deadly cargo.  The other artifact worth mentioning is the Space Shuttle Discovery; many of you may have seen the transfer of this shuttle from its home in Cape Canaveral to the Dulles International Airport on the news.  The Discovery has the most extensive record of all of the NASA shuttles, including a total of 365 days spent in outer space, 39 completed missions (more than any other single manned spacecraft in history), 5,830 orbits of Earth, the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, and the “return to flight” missions that followed the explosion of the Challenger and the Columbia disaster.  Seeing this shuttle in person was awe-inspiring.  I can’t imagine the immeasurable bravery and intense spirit of adventure held by the astronauts that rode the Discovery into bold new horizons.  The $7 I spent to visit the museum was well worth the immersion in history and adventure that was provided by these two aircrafts, let alone the hundreds of other artifacts held there.

Our next stop was Cumberland, MD, the site of DelFest.  DelFest is an annual bluegrass festival hosted by the one and only Del McCoury and his band.  The festival was born from the desire to celebrate the rich history of bluegrass music as well as to bring forward fresh talent in a laid back and friendly atmosphere.  I have attended several festivals in the past and I can honestly say that none of them compared to the fun I had at DelFest.  Originally, my sole desire to visit DelFest was to finally see Old Crow Medicine Show, a folk/bluegrass band that many of you know for their song, “Wagon Wheel.”  OCMS was the only band at DelFest that I had even heard of prior to attending.  Soon after our arrival, I was swept up into the beautiful harmonies, fierce fiddling, driving chords, and fluid dancing that filled the festival grounds.    I had the honor of seeing Del McCoury, one of the fathers of bluegrass, perform with his band alongside a few Grand Ole Opry greats from the past.  Seeing Old Crow Medicine Show perform was like nothing I had ever experienced at another concert.  I was amazed at the pure musicianship they displayed along with kick-butt performance ability.  Needless to say, it was among (if not THE) the best shows I have ever seen, and I highly recommend that you go see them live if you every get the chance.

Not much in this world makes me happier than music, and DelFest was a beautiful experience for me.  Hippies and hillbillies intermingled and laughed together in good spirits.  Banjos plucked and fiddles rang out into the night.  And I came away with a much greater appreciation for the genre of bluegrass as well as a few more favorite bands.

“Runnin’ from the cold, up in New England; I was born to be a fiddler in an old-time stringband; my baby plays the guitar, I pick a banjo now.” -Old Crow Medicine Show, Wagon Wheel

New Beginnings

16 May

Sometimes I find it so amusing that in this gigantic world full of people, there are those out there who care to read this blog and hear my tiny voice out of the billions.  I do believe in everything that I write here; I share it because I simply can’t contain my wonderment/curiosity/excitement in many of my experiences.  I am honored that others appreciate and seem to share the same feelings about life as myself.

As a blogger, I’ve been far from perfect.  This blog began two years ago as my web-writing entry for a writing contest at my university.  I’ve allowed the blog to grow in whatever way it has chosen – and thus have never truly developed a strong theme.  I also do not update it nearly enough.  I’d like to do better in the future.  That’s the beautiful thing about new beginnings: they come in an unlimited supply.  The sun comes up each day, and the stars shine out each and every night without regard to any of our mistakes or shortcomings, both great and small.  Fascinating, isn’t it?

Fresh starts and new beginnings are among the most interesting facets of the human experience.  We strive for perfection while still embracing and accepting our IMperfections.  “No one’s perfect.”  “We’re only human.”  And yet, we still yearn for the best of what this life has to offer, casting aside our downfalls and disappointments in favor of broad new horizons.  It’s beautiful and awe-inspiring.

And it is the driving force behind this post, a fresh beginning in and of itself.  I hope to share more with you through this blog.  With the dawn of physician assistant school rapidly approaching, I suspect that I will have many amazing, wonderful, and unique experiences to write about.  I’m not quite sure where this blog will end up, and which direction it may take next; I plan on enjoying the ride and watching it unfold one post at a time.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” — Eric Roth (screenwriter for the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story titled The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Out of the Rubble

24 Dec

It’s taken me quite a long time to fully absorb and process the shooting tragedies that have gripped our nation throughout the past two weeks.  Truthfully, I have yet to fully wrap my mind around these recent events.  I don’t think anyone ever will, completely.

Many were quick to respond with quips and witty remarks regarding gun control.  Gun supporters touted, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Gun opponents almost snarkily pointed out, “See, we told you this was a bad idea.”  It is true that even before the sun had set on that fateful December day, news stations were running stories and interviews about gun control laws.  Second-amendment diehards have been firmly rooted in their right to own guns, citing the freedom to protect oneself.  Opponents of the right of citizens to bear arms cry out that more government intervention would truly protect us from mass murders such as these.  My Facebook page has been besieged with images and memes quipping remarks from one side of the debate or other.

Personally, I think people have forgotten the indisputable facts in their rush to argue with one another.

Like the fact that 20 young and innocent lives were stolen away from their families, which would be unbearably painful at any time of the year, but especially so at such a family-oriented and sentimental time for us all.  That 6 incredibly brave adults heroically put themselves in harm’s way to protect and comfort the children.  The 29-year-old behavioral therapist Rachel D’Avino, who was one of the teachers killed protecting her class, had yet to find out that her boyfriend planned to propose to her on this very day, Christmas Eve.  Twenty-seven year old Victoria Soto is rightfully being hailed as a hero for hiding her children in a closet, shielding them with her own body, all the while telling them “I love you, I love you” so that the last words they heard on Earth would be beautiful ones.  The school psychologist Mary Sherlach and principal Dawn Hochsprung of Sandy Hook died fearlessly, attempting to disarm the attacker near the front office.  I was so struck by reading the stories of courageous staff members, who by risking their own lives helped to save the lives of many others.  A custodian threw caution to the wind to run throughout the building warning others of the attack.  One woman in the front office turned on the intercom so that the whole building could hear the struggle and prepare themselves as best they could.

These are the stories worth remembering, remember them.  Not the gunman’s name.  Not the fact that his guns were “legal.”  Not his possible mental disorder or motive.  Focusing on him makes him out to be some sick celebrity, and casts the victims into darkness.  It breaks my heart to think that people will remember the name Adam Lanza, but they won’t remember the name of the beautiful blonde six-year-old slain by his hand.

The full stories of all 26 victims can be read at the following link, where I originally read most of the information stated above:

I am both nauseated and inspired reading these stories.  Out of the rubble of unspeakable tragedy clambers the perseverance of the golden human spirit.  I think it is best to remember these brave and beautiful souls as we gather together with our own loved ones this time of year.  Even if only one of their names jumps out in your mind during quiet moments, perhaps the legacy of beauty, courage, and selflessness will outshine that of hatefulness, evil, and horror.

We can only hope.

The Magic of Autumn

24 Oct

Summer nights seem to get all the glory.

There are incredible amounts of creative works written, performed, sung, and painted about the magic of a summer night.  Truth be told, I’ve always been a summer girl at heart.  I delight in the warmth of the evening sunlight on my back and the way the golden tones seem to create a glowing halo around everything they touch.  The way the cool water of a lake or stream seem to call my name on a sweltering July afternoon.  I had always balked at the arrival of autumn, bringing with it cooler weather and fewer hours of daylight.

However this year, as the days grow chillier and the leaves embolden their hues, I find myself more and more captivated by autumn.

No matter the season, twilight has always been my favorite hour.  It is the silvery seam that fastens the day to the night.  Summer twilight is heady and sultry; it shimmers like rising heat.  Autumn twilight takes on an entirely different persona.  It’s bold; the glorious colors of the sunset burst forth, setting ablaze the hillsides whose leaves only amplify their boldness.  It’s crisp; the breezes are full of brisk air that tousles the tresses and reaches deep into the lungs, purifying as it goes.  It’s cozy; the nip of the outdoors provides the perfect context for a piping-hot thermos full of rich coffee, a beautiful balance of cool and warm.  Snuggly scarves and woolen coats are delightfully worn, their familiarity like that of an old friend.  The autumn twilight air smells like dry, crunchy leaves, a scent that is sure to conjure up childhood memories galore.

As my cheeks grow rosy in tonight’s evening chill, I realize that I’ve discovered the magic of autumn that I’ve been missing all along.


23 Oct

College has been a truly beautiful experience for me so far.  Being a junior now (how time flies!), I’ve spent the last 2 and a half years growing and being inspired.  The latter is what has led me to believe that I have chosen a path that will lead me to a joyful life; the courses that I have taken while being part of the Physician Assistant program here at Saint Francis University have inspired me time and again to think beyond the obvious and commonplace.

Last year, my Anatomy & Physiology courses served as my muse.  The human body is full of quirks and the seemingly miraculous that, to me, serve as endless possibilities for writing, pondering, and even simple amazement.  I feel the need to write about these things simply because when I learn about them, I am simply overwhelmed and humbled at the complexity and elegant design of natural things we tend to take for granted.  Being that this blog began as nothing more than a way to express my personal thoughts, feelings, and musings, I am astounded at the massive popularity of one of my previous posts, “The Unequivocally Critical Clavicle,” which you can read at this link:

This “Aha!” moment was just one of many that I would experience throughout the rest of my sophomore year, school-related and otherwise.  Another of these moments that I would like to discuss is the body’s reaction to pain.

Pain and suffering, just like love and joy, are aspects of the human journey that every single one of us experiences.  Pain takes many forms throughout our lives, from the prick of a splinter in a finger to the devastation felt due to heartbreak.

Physical pain, such as the finger prick mentioned before, is the result of some stimulus (the splinter) triggering microscopic neurons to generate sparks of action potentials, which are the rapid rise and fall of the electrical potential between the outside and inside of a cell.  These action potentials travel along the peripheral nervous system until they reach the spinal cord, which then transports the signals to the brainstem.  It is here that the signals are registered as pain.  This entire process occurs at lightning speed, and is something that most of us probably take for granted.

Electrical activity of neurons.

Our need for the sensation of pain is made extremely apparent in medical cases where individuals have lost this sensation.  One example is diabetic neuropathy, which is a long-term complication of both type-I and type-II diabetes involving the loss of sensation in extremities, most often occurring in the feet.  People who suffer from diabetic neuropathy cannot feel if they have injured themselves in the affected area.  If the injury, such as a cut on the sole of the foot, goes unnoticed, there can be severe consequences including bacterial infection, sepsis (the body’s reaction to widespread presence of pathogens in the blood and tissues) and septic shock, and even amputation of the affected limb.  Those affected with diabetic neuropathy must take special care to protect their feet and check them often for cuts, scrapes, and bruises.

In this context, it is easy to see that pain has beneficial qualities; however, when we suffer things like heartbreak or loss it is more difficult to see how pain can be a good thing.  The purpose of physical pain is to trigger an instinctual reaction in the body that forces it away from a damaging stimulus.  In much the same way, heartbreak and suffering drive us away from the things in life that damage us, and in turn, drives us toward the beautiful aspects of life that foster our growth.  These tragedies of life nudge us closer and closer to the innate goodness of the world, even if it takes us months, years, decades to realize it.

I’m thankful for all I have endured and suffered through, for these things have brought me closer to my bliss.  I know there are hardships and difficult times along with happiness on the horizon, but these provide opportunities for growth and the little sparks of momentum that constantly drive us away from harm and toward nourishment.

The beauty of life is in the journey, the peaks and valleys just carry us along.

From the Road

17 Jun

It’s a shame that it’s been so long since I’ve written to this blog; lately I’ve been doing the majority of my writing the old-fashioned way, in my leather bound journal.

I’m currently on the road with my family, taking a trip through the south. We spent two days in Nashville, Tennessee exploring the great city of music. Words cannot describe how breathtaking it was to be fully immersed in the heart of America, the birthplace of country music. I was able to take a step back in time during my visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. It is full to the brim with fascinating pieces of history from country’s biggest names. One of my favorite pieces was Webb Pierce’s “Silver Dollar” convertible, which was furnished with over 1,000 silver dollars, revolvers for door handles, horseshoes for gas and brake pedals, a saddle between the driver and passenger’s seats, and a massive set of horns across the grille. The more girlie part of me fully enjoyed the special Taylor Swift exhibit; I gushed over her gorgeous gowns and sparkling guitars, which have been featured on her “Speak Now” world tour.

I also had the delightful opportunity to experience the Grand Ole Opry in full, from touring it’s roots in the Ryman Auditorium to seeing a Saturday night broadcast for myself later that evening. I didn’t know this until I was actually at the show, but every single Saturday night show at the Opry is live-broadcasted on AM radio, station 650 WSM. It’s easy to be completely captivated by the “family tradition” that permeates the entire Opry House from the moment you walk through the front door. Country greats like Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, June Carter, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline have all graced the Opry stage, making the stage itself a legendary place to stand. In fact, when the Opry was moved from its original home in the Ryman to its current location just outside of the city, a circular section of the old stage was placed right in the middle of the new one. This “circle unbroken” has witnessed every act at the Opry since its beginnings, including all of the legends mentioned above; standing on the piece of the original stage is a feeling unlike any other for aspiring country artists who now perform at the Opry among the greatness of past performers and country legends. I feel lucky to have experienced what has become such an integral part of our nation’s history.

I could’ve easily spent another week exploring Nashville. Somewhere amid the honky-tonks rockin’ into the night, I found another little piece of me, and I can’t wait to return one day.



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