Getting My Goat Yoga On

A few weeks ago I wrote about my experience with a room full of adorable kittens for cat yoga. But for the last year I have actually been dying to try goat yoga. Nashville, being the hipster metropolis that it is, has at least 2-3 goat yoga companies from which to choose.

I selected Shenanigoats Yoga to get on my nanny goat namaste. Shenanigoats is owned by Jamie (pictured below) and her family and it began as a goat lawn care service. However, that all changed after someone suggested she get into the yoga business. After a post in our local neighborhood Facebook group inquired whether anyone would be interested in local goat yoga classes, and hundreds of excited responses, Shenanigoats Yoga was born.

Shenanigoats hosts yoga sessions a few places around town, but I lucked out that one of those spots happens to be right outside of Bongo East, a coffee shop just a few minutes from my house. The class was led by Janaye Williams from Shakti Yoga.

Fortunately, it was only about 80 degrees outside. Which, for Nashville in August, is basically a cold front. Unfortunately, I still got a good bit of sun because I neglected my sunscreen. Oops!

Enough about me. On to the goats . . . and yoga.

There were a few dozen participants there for my session. Jamie said they sell out every class, which does not surprise me one bit.

We all lined up on either side of the fence, facing the center. I strategically picked a spot near a water bowl in hope that it would increase my goat traffic.

I was right. Several precious goats came by to pay me (ok, the water bowl) a visit.

One friendly little goat even decided to make itself at home on my mat. I, of course, had zero objections to this.

I spent most of my time taking pictures of and petting goats and little time actually doing yoga. But who cares! Goats!

Jamie and her family were also more than willing to assist with the perfect goat yoga poses. It was a little hard to balance on the grass when the sun is in your eyes, but perfect yoga form isn’t why we are there.

At the end of class, we all lined up shoulder to shoulder so the goats could run across our backs. It was adorable.

I had so much fun with Jamie and her goats and I have already promised a friend I’d make a return visit with her.

If you are interested in attending your own goat yoga session, Shenanigoats has all of their upcoming events listed here.

PS: If you want to keep reading about goats, see this post about my experience milking a goat and making goat cheese.

Meowmaste! Cat Yoga is Positively Purrfect

The world of yoga is expanding. You can try beer yoga in London, goat yoga in Vermont, and cat yoga right here in Nashville.

Photo by Keri Newman

Every other month, Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control hosts an hour of zen with cats and kittens in need of homes. The yoga session helps socialize the cats and helps MACC learn about their personalities to help place them with the right families.

Photo by Keri Newman

Our yogi kitties were Storm, Kit, Kaboodle, and Cutie Patootie Pants (yes, you can change their names if you adopt them).

I really don’t know who had more fun, us, or the kitties who had the run of the room.

Rebecca Carey and Keri Newman, from Shakti Yoga, were our instructors for the day.

Photo by Keri Newman

While Keri took pictures, Rebecca guided us through the traditional yoga poses, cat-cow, cat-uranga, and even downward dog (shhh . . . don’t tell the kitties).

Photo by Keri Newman

We also took plenty of kitten breaks to play with our new furry friends.

Photo by Keri Newman

However, I learned that a hanging ponytail will stand in for any cat toy.

Photo by Keri Newman

But when it was all said and done, everyone was ready for a relaxing sunbeam shavasana.

These kitties, as well as many of their dog and cat friends, are looking for homes. If you want a forever yoga partner (or even just a short-term foster), contact Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control to find your purrfect mate. Adopt, don’t shop.

A Camel Safari & A Drive-Through Petting Zoo

After another long hiatus from the blog, a few weekends ago I crossed something off of my list I have wanted to do for a while: going to a drive-through petting zoo and riding a camel. My friend Amy (from belly dancingrock climbing, the aerial fitness class, and several other posts) joined me for the day. The 100-acre Circle G Ranch is just north of Knoxville and is home to 500 animals (30+ different species).

Long Horn Cattle

When we got there they were still saddling up the camels so we took a drive through the park while we waited. We bought a few buckets of food for the animals so we could have an up-close-and-personal experience.

Cow Attack
When we started the trip around the park we leisurely passed some zebras, llamas, and alpacas (yes, like the sweater). I thought it was going to be a pretty uneventful drive. However, upon rounding a corner we came across a herd of longhorns, water buffalo, and highland cows. They were really excited to see us.

Highland Cow

The quadrupeds had little concern for personal space. All they cared about were the pellets of food we had to give out. The highland cow even took one right out of my hand. He had a rather dirty mouth. (You should have heard the things he said!)

Emu Attack

It turns out the highland cow was the least of my concerns. I soon discovered the waking nightmare that is the emu. They are terrifying. They are like small feathered velociraptors with long necks and soulless red eyes.

Emu Attack 2

You couldn’t look away, even for a second, because as soon as you did they would multiply in number. At one point three of them had their heads in the car. One even stole some food right out of Amy’s lap. There may or may not have been a lot of screaming involved.

Ostrich

After the run-in with the emus I was quite glad to see the ostrich behind a fence. It made Big Bird look small in stature. They can grow up to 9 feet tall.

Barbary Sheep

Not all of the animals were terrifying. The barbary sheep were absolutely beautiful, though there were so many of them in the herd they created a bit of a road block. We had to distract them with food to get them out of the way of the car.

Fallow Deer

We also saw several fallow dear. They had gorgeous white cream colored coats with spots on their back; a bit different than the ones you see in your backyard.

Pot Belly Pig

There were of course also some very curious farm animals. This little piggy just had to come say hello. There were dozens of adorable piglets running around too.

White Camel

Is it just me, or does this camel look like Don Knotts?

Camel

After our drive, we saddled up for a ride around the park. This one, above, kept trying to make a meal out of my arm. Apparently I looked tasty.

We took the same path as we did in the car and the entire trip took about an hour. It was a cool fall day, but fortunately we were still bundled up from a football game earlier that morning. Our guide told us all about the animals in the park, where they are from, what they eat, and how they care for them. A few of the animals are even endangered.

Riding a Camel

It was a really relaxing ride. I should note that despite referring to several of the animals as “terrifying” we actually had a great time. They weren’t really that scary … just “curious,” or so I am told.

End of Ride

Apropos of nothing, while it doesn’t really qualify as something new, I wanted to share another image from my safari weekend. 102,455 Tennessee football fans (minus a few Florida fans) got together and made the coolest showing of school pride in the history of sports. We managed to turn Neyland Stadium into a giant checkerboard.

Neyland Checkerboard

We didn’t win the game, but getting to see this in person was still very special and something I will never forget. We should try to do this again sometime, eh?

A Day As A Dolphin Trainer

A Day of Dolphin Training
This week I made my way back to sunny Las Vegas, Nevada. I went with a group of friends to enjoy March Madness (Go Vols). The trip had perfect timing; while Nashville was trying to decide what season it was, Vegas was gorgeous and 80 degrees. It was the perfect weather to jump in the pool and make some new aquatic friends.

I went to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat to spend a day as a dolphin trainer.

Dolphin Under Water

We started with a tour of the facilities and the 2.5 million gallon dolphin habitat. I have no idea exactly how big 2.5 million gallons is, but I can safely say it is a lot larger than Peyton Manning’s 3.2 gallon tank I have in my office. Part of tour took us below for an awesome underwater view. The dolphins are pretty curious so a few came to investigate who we are and what we were doing.

Dolphin Feeding

Our day started with feeding the younger, adolescent dolphins. MiraMar, above, is approximately 2 1/2 years old. Part of our job was to reinforce the training the dolphins had already received. All of the “tricks” the dolphins do are extensions of their natural behaviors for the dolphins that they do on their own in the wild. The trainers condition the dolphins to associate the jumps, spins, flips, with specific hand signals. If they do it right, they get a reward. I’m getting to know MiraMar and giving him a delicious fresh fish (sorry Peyton). The dolphins eat 15-25 pounds of fish and squid per day.

Dolphin Jumps

Here are the three youngest (Bella, K2, and MiraMar) having some fun and getting some exercise.

Dolphin Petting

After we were done with the youngens, we moved on to another pool to spend some time with Beetle. Beetle is around 10 years old and an absolute sweetheart. He was kind enough to give us lots of dolphin hugs and kisses.

Dolphin Hug

He seemed like a very happy boy. He is also a very heavy boy.

Dolphin Kiss

They were practicing socializing the dolphins with each other, so they pulled K2 away so MiraMar and Bella could work together. They used that time to work with K2 on his signals, and that meant more dolphin kissed for me. Incidentally, K2 is named after the charity organization, K2 Adventures Foundation.

Dolphin Ride

After lunch we hopped back in the pool for some swim time with Osborne. I swam out to the center of the pool and extended my left hand and waited for Osborne to meet me. He swam straight towards me, placing his dorsal fin right in to my hand. I grabbed on and he towed me along to the shore. Dolphins are surprisingly fast, and can go approximately 22 miles per hour. That might not seem quick, but just wait until you are being pulled behind an aquatic mammal.

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Lightning hopped out of the pool for a photo.

Dolphin Training 2

Just when I thought we’d done everything we could, our day wasn’t close to being over. We had yet another training session with the dolphins.

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More training. Hello dolphins!

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Next, we moved on to some underwater time. We strapped on snorkels and went below to see the world as they see it.  it was really cool to hear their vocalizations underwater (which are made with their blowholes rather than their mouths).

Dolphin Petting 2

After snorkeling, we went to spend some time with the ladies. Above is Huf N Puf, who just turned 14 a few weeks ago.

Dolphin Belly

Finally, we got to spend some time with Duchess, the matriarch of the family. Duchess is 32 and has been at the Mirage since the habitat opened. She is a very big girl, weighing in at just over 500 pounds. The trainers at the habitat get the dolphins to go through a standard medical routine in case they might actually need treatment. By getting them to randomly go through the motions when they don’t need special care, it makes it easier to collect blood or other samples when it is needed. For example, Duchess is upside down presenting her tail because blood is collected from a vein in her fin, just like blood is collected from our forearms. However, no samples were taken the day I was there.

Dolphin Trainers

At the end of an amazing day, we stopped for a picture with some of the trainers. While the dolphins gave us a very unique experience, the day would not have been possible without the humans who work with them.

English Tea Service
The next day we began our morning with a trip to the Bellagio spa, for several hours of relaxing and detoxifying. After the spa, we made our way downstairs to Petrossian for a proper tea service. It was possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Along with a cup of yummy vanilla jasmine tea, I had mint cucumber watercress, chickpea goat cheese, and quail egg salad sandwiches, all of which were delicious. I absolutely devoured them as fast as I possibly could.

English Tea Service

After the sandwiches, I moved on to the scones. I tried lemon curd and clotted cream for the first time, both of which I suspect I’ll develop addictions to. The mini tarts and cakes were also indescrible. Along with the tea, we got a few glasses of champaign to kick off our day. Why? Because it’s Vegas.

We enjoyed tea so much that we plan to make a habit of tea time together once we are back home.

Adopting A Fish

Getting a fish was not on my To Do list. In fact, this week I had other New Things planned. Two were canceled due to work and a third was canceled due to fish.

This week I adopted a rescue fish. Thats right, a rescue fish. The owner didn’t want it anymore and was going to flush it. They had the fish for a year and just decided that they didn’t want it anymore. So, my friend Summer swooped in and saved it from a trip down the drain. Summer decided, since I spend so much time at work, that I could use some company and my office needed to be more homey.

When I told my friends that Summer gave me a fish, the first two questions were: “Alive or dead?” and “In a bowl?” These questions concerned me. Mainly because I wondered what it said about me that my friends would think that someone would hand me a dead fish.

At first was hesitant about having a fish. I feel responsible for a great deal of fish carnage as a child and I remember at least 3 backyard fish burials. Also, I feel bad about keeping it captive in a bowl. But its not like I can exactly release it back into the wild. Now that I am an adult, I feel I have as good of a chance of keeping it alive as anyone else, and at least I won’t be flushing it down the toilet.

Peyton Manning Beta Fish

I soon realized that I was a nervous fish mother. He wasn’t moving or eating much so I became concerned. A friend commented, “He’s a picky eater and aloof? Your fish sounds like a jerk.” Another suggested he was just being coy. However, my friend Candace pointed out that the poor guy was probably just cold. Despite keeping my office roughly the temperature of a tropical island, the water in the tank was quite chilly. So, I moved the tank to a warmer spot in my office and set up my space heater and warmed the little guy up.

The next day he was cold again. I realized that I couldn’t keep up this routine. After work I went to the pet store and spent more than I would like to admit on a larger tank, a heater, and other fish accessories. Setting up an aquarium is more of a process than you’d think. I spent at least 20 minutes just cleaning the rocks for the tank. But once I got it all set up the fish seemed a lot happier.

Betta Fish Tank

I decided to name my betta fish Peyton Manning, which I have discovered is a remarkably unpopular name for a fish. If anyone has tips on how to keep Peyton alive and happy in his new little super bowl, please let me know.

Horseback Riding

Last weekend I visited Knoxville for an alumni meeting at my law school. I hadn’t seen my friend Amy since I left town so I wanted to have a new adventure with her while I was there. Amy previously accompanied me belly dancingindoor rock climbing, and hanging upside down from ropes. First, we wanted to go hang gliding but the timing didn’t work out. Next, we thought about hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but the government has apparently closed nature. Finally, Amy suggested horseback riding.

Horseback Riding Walden Stables

We went to Walden Creek Stables, which is just outside of Pigeon Forge. It was my first time passing though Pigeon Forge, which is like a hillbilly version of Disney World, and I have determined that it is either the tackiest or most amazing place on Earth. I am undecided as to which; further investigation is needed.

Horseback Riding Walden Stables2

Walden Creek Stables is 500 acres of farmland and mountain trails. We went on a 60-minute ride though creeks and the hills of East Tennessee. I rode Quincy, a gorgeous horse with one blue eye and one brown. He was extremely gentle, probably because he was trained as a child’s horse. That said, he took every opportunity he could to sample the grass.

It was interesting learning how to control him. Getting him to go faster, slower, turn, etc. However, I felt really weird asking such a majestic creature to both carry me around and do it the exact way I wanted it. It was a foreign concept for me. Sarah, our guide, told us about how every horse had their own personality, and they determined the order we went down the trail based on their personalities. Some were natural leaders and would guide everyone down the trail, others were more ornery and would kick so they had to be place in the back.

My favorite part was watching the leaves fall and going through the creeks. There was something very relaxing about it and it made me think about what it was like when the only way to get around was via horseback.

Over all, it was a really fun ride. Maybe if Eric Berry went for a ride here it would help him get over his eqinophobia.

Honky Tonkin’ & Visiting the Zoo

Honky Tonkin’
I lived in Nashville full-time for 6 years and part-time for another 4 years. During that period I avoided Broadway and honky tonks like the plague. Anytime my friends wanted to go I would excuse myself for the evening and go home. I just assumed I would have a bad time and that it would be filled with nothing but rednecks and tourists. My friend Clay, however, took issue with my characterization and said that the right honky tonk was “a beautiful local authentic music experience.”

Me: So where are the good Nashville honky tonks?
Clay: There is one that is hands down the best, Robert’s Western World.
Me: Sounds like they sell cowboy boots.
Clay: As a matter of fact, they might. . .

I never figured out if they sold boots there, but the walls were lined with them.

When we arrived, Jesse Lee & Brazilbilly, the house band, were playing traditional country music. The dance floor was already packed when people from all walks of life (including local celebrity/designer Manuel Cuevas—see the silver-haired gentleman below).

Roberts Western World
It was not long before I got asked to dance by a stranger in western wear. One vintage gentleman (which is apparently what we call “old” now) taught me to waltz, and another showed me how to western swing dance. I always forget how friendly everyone is in Tennessee. I finished the evening with some friends on the dance floor and was absolutely exhausted.

Here is Jesse Lee & Brazilbilly performing Cattle Call, one of the songs I danced to.


My first honky tonk experience was a lot of fun and I absolutely loved the music. It was not what I expected, and I have once again learned not to have preconceived notions about things. If you are ever in Nashville make sure you go by Robert’s for a swingin’ good time.

Visiting the Zoo
Somehow I have made it through life without going to a real zoo. I decided to rectify this by visiting the Nashville Zoo with my friend Meagan. We were supposed to have a nice, sunny, 67-degree spring day. What we got was a hazy, 56-degree, seasonally-confused day. Despite the weather not being what we hoped for, we had a lovely afternoon.

The zoo was geared up for Eggstravaganzoo, their annual Easter egg hunt. This meant the zoo was festively decorated, kids were everywhere, and the animals had giant Easter eggs in their habitats. It was the perfect day for a visit. We even joined in the festivities by gorging ourselves on popcorn and blue cotton candy. Mmm.

We got to see dozens of animals, but here are a few of our favorites:

First up was the Bengal tiger. There are fewer than 2,500 in the world and they are classified as an endangered species. They are absolutely gorgeous creatures and one day they might not be around for us to see.

Bengal Tiger

I loved the African elephants. I have never seen one in person so they were the highlight of my day. They were absolutely huge (as you might imagine). On average they weigh 5 tons and male elephants can grow up to 13 feet tall. Like the Bengal tiger, African elephants are listed as endangered.

Elephants

I also loved seeing the Masai giraffe. They were not as tall as I expected, I think I have seen Lion King too many times. They were, however, absolutely beautiful and graceful.

Giraffes
The Eurasian lynx may look pretty mellow, but apparently they can hunt animals 3-4 times its size. I am glad we were separated by (I hope) a very sturdy fence.

Eurasian Lynx

OK, a goat isn’t exactly an exotic animal, but it was pretty cute.

Petting A Goat
Of course, no blog post would be complete without me interacting with some sort of bird. Before we went in to feed the birds at Lorikeet Landing, Meagan warned me how much they seem to hate and want to attack her. The zoo was really busy that day and the birds definitely seemed hyped up on all the extra nectar they got. Perhaps the extra sugar was an aggravating factor, but just as she predicted I watched the birds poop on, scream at, and try to bite Meagan. I made it out unscathed.

Feeding Lorikeets

We had a great time at the zoo. This summer they will add an interactive Kangaroo exhibit and I can’t wait to come back to pet them!

Honey Basil Martini & A Double Back
About 6 1/2 years ago I had my first martini. It was quite possibly the most disgusting drink I ever tasted; it had the all the charm of, and I what I suspect the flavor of, rubbing alcohol. Ever since, I have avoided the drink. This weekend I went to Virago, one of my favorite restaurants in Nashville. As I was perusing the drink menu I noticed their Honey Basil Martini. My usual reaction is to turn my nose up at any type of tini, but I thought that it was important to give the drink a second chance.

Honey Basil Martini

The drink was made up of Stoli Vodka, grapefruit juice, honey simple, and a basil leaf. It was an interesting mix of tangy and sweet with a hint of basil—and didn’t taste anything like rubbing alcohol. While I don’t expect to turn into James Bond (who, according to the West Wing, is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it), I will be a lot more likely to choose a martini when I am out with the girls . . . or with Mr. Bond.

Later the same evening we went to The Patterson House, a prohibition-era, speakeasy-style cocktail bar. The bar had a vintage decor, was dimly lit, and the walls were lined with books (including the Tennessee Code Annotated—nerd moment).

After my positive martini experience earlier in the evening, I decided to go a bit creative on my drink order. My friend Clay pointed out the “Double Back” on the menu. The Double Back was comprised of Sailor Jerry Rum, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, cream, a whole raw egg (yes, you read that right), Averna, and Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters. The drink was cold and creamy, but had a warm and spicy flavor . . . and you could not taste the egg (thank goodness). It was perfect for a cold rainy night on the town.

After having my mind changed about martinis and loving a drink with an egg in it, I will no longer order my safe go-to drink choices and will try to branch out a little instead.

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