4th of July

4th of July

Hey, everybody. I hope you had a great holiday weekend. We had a busy one…but a great one. We started our STAYCATION on Friday, the 4th. This is our vacation week. We couldn’t really go anywhere this year, so we are taking in some things in this area that we have never done before. And we are spending a lot of time doing absolutely nothing…together.

On a side note I am becoming pretty stinkin’ good at MarioKart on our Wii. You don’t want to mess with me in Mushroom Gorge.

So, our 4th of July began slowly. We slept in and enjoyed the morning. The kids spent their morning much like I did when I was a kid…chillin’ out playing games on a Macbook.

After breakfast, we decided it was time for a family activity. So we made cupcakes.

We are nothing if not good posers.

We finally got ourselves in gear, piled in the car, and headed to Nashville. We went to the Frist Center For Visual Arts. Fancy us. We went on July 4th because kids get in free (my wife has done some massive homework for this STAYCATION).

They had fun things to do for the kids. Which was good…because the art…well, lovely though it was, started to all run together for the 5 year old. And, well, everybody else. What’s a Clampet to do.

Fun art times at the museum…

We finished at the Frist around 5:30 or 6pm. Since we were already downtown, we decided to stay down there and enjoy the fireworks show with the Nashville Symphony at the RiverFront, which started at 9:30.

As we were walking out of the Frist Center, we walked by the cafe they have there in the museum. We have heard really good things about it. But at that point, I already had my heart set on Jack’s Barbecue, which is downtown, right by the RiverFront. Mmmmm. I was so dreaming about that delicious food. SO, because she is such a wonderful woman and wife, Angela gave up a nice quiet, no-wait place that uses words like pesto, pannini and veranda for a loud place that uses words like pork shoulder and smoky, names their sauces after southern states, and has this:

She is a mighty good woman. But it turns out her generosity may have been ill-advised. We had to move our car out of the Frist parking lot. So we headed down toward the river. Big mistake. Apparently this fireworks show is a big deal. And apparently people plan to go there months in advance. And apparently they come with gear and all manner of food and lounging products. And apparently the shut down roads for such an event. And apparently thousands upon thousands of people were pouring into downtown for said event…all while we were leisurely enjoying the art.

So, We pulled into the first parking lot we came to, paid 5 million dollars to park there, and headed to Jack’s. On the way, the kids were so excited to see the Batman building up close (they had only seen it from far away all these years…it looks so cool and ominous from the interstate).

You can’t really tell from this picture why everybody in Nashville calls it the Batman building. But it just looks like a Batman building. From a distance. In the dark.

We had to wait in line for an hour at Jack’s. I am sure my sweet baby thought about how close she was to a peaceful pannini on the veranda at the art center more than once while we waited. But she never complained. Not even once.

I sent Jack in to scout out a table for us (the line was all the way out the door and down the street). He found one pretty quickly…so the family got to sit and wait while I waited in line for our food.

People, the Jack’s Barbecue does not disappoint. I am still thinking about it today. The sauces! Especially St. Louis and Texas. Mmmmm. The smoked chicken. It makes me want to cry. All of the Cottrells were so happy eating there. Even Angela…she had no veranda regrets. It rocked our 4th.

After we ate, we waddled out of the restaurant and began to try to find a place to sit and watch the fireworks. By this time, it was almost 9, so we wouldn’t have to wait for long. There were so many people, we could not even get to a place to even lay our eyes on the symphony. But that was ok. We would still have an amazing seat for the fireworks. Since they are, you know…in the sky.

I was so proud of Nashville that night. The fireworks show was nothing short of amazing. We took pictures, which of course don’t do fireworks justice.

And only in Nashville will there be a big neon guitar poking up in the bottom of your fireworks pictures.

We had an awesome time. I had a tender moment when my eldest looked over at me and said, “If these fireworks are this awesome, imagine how great God’s fireworks will be in heaven.” True dat.

We even had a great time in the traffic gridlock that we were stuck in for an hour, trying to get out of downtown. That’s such a good time to surf around the radio stations and laugh at old songs. It’s also a good time to find out that your wife sang in a band in 7th grade called DESTINY, with whom she did two shows (in the elementary school band room) and sang two songs: Heartbreaker and Hit Me With Your Best Shot.

Pause and reflect.


We were exhausted by the time we got home.

But what a great day it was. Swords, tattoos, pork shoulders, Van Gogh, and Pat Benetar…all in one day. And this was just DAY 1 of our STAYCATION!


  1. Dori on July 7, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Somehow, in the far reaches of my mind I can just see and hear Angela singing,

    “You’re a real tough cookie with a long history of breaking little hearts like the one in me. That’s okay let’s see how you do it. Put up your dukes let’s get down to it…”

    Well…you know the rest of the song. No need to dredge that up any more than I have.

    Looks like an awesome 4th, but just knowing that “before I put another notch in my lipstick case” has crossed your bride’s lips makes me smile! 🙂


  2. Darlene R. on July 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Ah yes, the Batman building. Our kids always love to see the Batman building.

    I hope you enjoy your staycation.

    I might have told you this already, but we LOVED Fellowship Bible Church! Thanks so much for telling us about it. We loved hanging out in the Franklin area last weekend. It’s a cool town! 🙂

  3. Bev Brandon on July 7, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Picasso, Pork, Pat, and Pyromaniacs all packed into one panoramic inaugural staycation day. But you gotta love the eldest thinking about what beauty God has planned. You packed and poured the beauty on them not just with acitivites but by giving them your presence, your faces.

  4. ocean mommy on July 7, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful weekend.

    LOVE the picture of the sleepy little one. That is exactly what the backseat of our car looked like coming home from fireworks Friday night. Praise Jesus both of them slept until 9 Saturday morning!!! It was the greatest gift they have ever given me. 🙂

    Have a wonderful week with your family!


  5. Kelly S. on July 7, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing the pictures!!
    We are actually having a STAYCATION next week. However, since there are no museums around here, we Clampets are headed to the super Wal-Mart to buy a new TV. I can hardly wait……seriously, the down time at home TOGETHER sounds great to me. The new TV just won’t be bad either.

    Pat Benetar Rocks

  6. Cindy on July 7, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Sounds like your ‘staycation’ got off to a wonderful start. How will you ever top that day? My 4th was pretty uneventful…my husband and girls are all the way across the country visiting their granddad who is ill. But I have absolutely nothing against some quiet, mommy time but I think I will be totally bonkers by the end of the month.

    So, you finally got to meet my friend Tina in Atlanta! Yea!!! You have been to WNC so many times in the last year or so and she has missed you every single time. I was so glad to hear that she did get a chance to meet you at Deeper Still.

    Hope you and your peeps have a great rest of the week enjoying wonderful family time.

    Cindy in Weaverville

  7. Anonymous on July 7, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Great report, Trav! Thanks for sharing each detail – I laughed out loud, and almost had a tear or two. (but more laughing, don’t worry.) I love your family! Have a great week with them.

  8. Fran on July 7, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Being that I have done most of what you posted about…well, actually not much of it, but it seems like it….I knew exactly what you were talking about. I love downtown Nashville. We take our kids to Titans games and they want to live there…and downtown at that.

    I also hear there was a big country concert the next night…some guy named Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney! 😉

    Love me some Nashville….Glad your 4th was that much fun. And, Angela gets a jewel in her crown for being so wonderful. What a good wife and momma.

    Have a great week!
    Hugs and blessings~

  9. denise lopez on July 8, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Your blog is one of my daily checks. I laughed my head off tonight (this morning–whatever) I realize everything at 2 in the morning is funny but it wouldn’t matter if it was 8 pm–that is hilarious. We lived in Jackson Tn for almost 8 years–we live in Tulsa now and I watched my fireworks at Rockets over Rhema (Kenneth Hagin’s church) A bold move for this Baptist girl! Anyway, I myself have always said there is nothing like watching fireworks in the south with Elvis singing Dixie in the background–nothing! Thanks for making me laugh.

  10. Johna in Indiana on July 8, 2008 at 6:15 am


    Even though I do not personally know your family from Adam’s cat (as my mamaw used to say), I sure do love to read your stories. They are all adorable.

    Thanks for sharing from your heart.

    I am blessed by your ministry and am looking forward to seeing you all in Louisville in a few weeks.

    P.S. You should so totally patent “STAYCATION” – priceless!!

  11. Gayle @ thewestiecrew on July 8, 2008 at 6:19 am

    AWWWWW! What a cute sleeping buddy photo!
    Glad y’all had a great 4th, it sounds like a ton of fun!

  12. Susan B. on July 8, 2008 at 6:34 am

    What fun! My husband and son are enjoying a Staycation this week. Unfortunately, I have to work. It’s great to see what’s waiting right in your own back yard to be discovered. Amen to Jack’s statement on fireworks. I thought the same thing….

  13. Cheryl on July 8, 2008 at 8:09 am

    That last picture cracks me up! I think every child looks like that when they sleep in the car.
    My toddler woke up from a carseat nap the other day and he looked just like Eddie Muenster!!!

  14. Anonymous on July 8, 2008 at 8:39 am

    The pic of Jack sitting in the chair for the fireworks is hysterical – the lady in the background looks like a little elf. She seems so much smaller than everything else in the picture!

  15. BethAnne on July 8, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Ummm, yeah, Jack’s is awesome…..and the fireworks ARE a HUGE deal. My kids make us drive downtown every time we are in Nashville so they can see the Batman building……..”aint TN great”? hahahaha 😉

  16. Tarah on July 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Hi, Travis! I followed a link on LPMs blog here. I loved this entry. We just had our own ‘staycation’ a couple weeks ago, and from here on out, now I know what we can call it! Your wife must be an excellent woman! I was asking myself, “would I have bit my tongue and not said a word?” (about leaving the cafe and waiting forever for BBQ) Hmmm.

    Well, as a mother of 2 boys who love anything that has to do with Batman….I can totally see the resemblance in that picture! It’s good to know that’s what everyone calls it….next time we drive through Nashville I will definitely point that out, and my boys (and hubby) will think I’m very cool. 😉

  17. Kim @ Through My back door window on July 8, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I’ve enjoyed your blogs and love this one. Enjoy your staycation. Have a blast with your kids and wife.
    I’ve only been to Nashville once for a MOPS convention and only saw the Gaylord Opryland and the mall next to it. Would love to see more someday, looks like an awsome place!

  18. Longmeadow Mama on July 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    My husband and I are absolutely addicted to Mario Kart Wii! We’d love to challenge you in a race or two, or three, or hundred! (If you’re like us “just one more race” turns into many more!)
    If you have the wifi hookup and are interested, comment on my blog or email us ([email protected])and we can trade license numbers.
    BTW, my hubby says Mushroom Gorge is for wimps! It’s actually one of my favorites. Rainbow Road rocks too!
    Have fun…

  19. Eliseo on July 8, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Sounds great! I love the picture of your son knocked out from so much fun. 🙂 Gotta love taking those of our kids – right?
    We will be in Nashville in about a week and a half — what’s a good way to spend the afternoon without breaking the bank?

  20. Patty on July 8, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Sounds like a great staycation. Our family did the staycation on Memorial Day and July 4th. We talked about Riverfront but honestly there were so many homes in our subdivision that had their own fireworks show, it was seriously a great show. We bought over $200 of fireworks and I must say that ours was the best. :o) We had mortars called the Excalibur and it lit up the sky and rattled the windows and drove the dog under the bed. Great 4th!! Gotta love the batman building. Loved the picture of Levi asleep. How sweet! Have fun on the rest of your staycation.

  21. Adam Owens on July 8, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Holy blog posts batman. I just kept scrolling and scrolling. It is the never ending post. lol.. but seriously glad to hear you had a go little vacation the Nashville. I dont see any pictures after Jacks with BBQ sauce slopped all over the families faces. That would have been a great photo op.
    All we had on the 4th was rain..all day long. Maybe next year will be our year.

  22. Laura on July 8, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Just wondering if Living Proof Band with you Travis will come out with the song the Mercy Seat. Whoever sang it at the Deeper Still was awesome.. Know where to get it??

  23. connorcolesmom on July 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    We love Staycations
    There really isn’t anything like just chillin with the family
    and look at all the fun you had

    I love the comment Jack made about God and fireworks – So true
    I also love the pic of Little Levi sound asleep now that is a good day 🙂

  24. Dee12 on July 9, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I heard your music for the first time today by receiving a devotional email. Your voice is incredible. Only being a Christian for a year and a half a lot of this is so new to me. It touches my very soul to listen to it. God Bless You!

  25. twinkle on July 10, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    With all those fireworks…did you break out singing the Star Spangled Banner? I would have loved to have heard your version!
    And Levi in that chair chillin’ with the macbook. That is priceless.
    I love fireworks, especially sparklers.

  26. Anonymous on July 14, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    MarioKart for the Wii rocks. Mushroom Gorge is ok but Delfino Square is awsome.

    Glad to here you had a good 4th with the family.

    God Bless both you and Angela.

  27. Tina on August 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I didn’t know that everyone calls that the Batman building!! haha…I went to Nashville a few years ago…and thought the same thing as I was driving and could see it in the skyline…how funny…Sounds like you guys had a great time!!

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