summer vacation- MA & RI

July 26, 2017

hello, all.  we just got back from a great vacation to New England!  we planned to spend 6 days in Massachusetts & Rhode Island. but we even got to sneak in Connecticut!  when we realized it was like 3 miles from 6 flags, we found out we could go down to Windsor Locks, CT.  so we walked the canal there before heading to Plymouth.

it was a very packed, very fun, slightly unusual vacation & now jovie has declared her love for a new state.  if anyone wants to find her in adult-life then look no further than Rhode Island.  she remarked how “beautiful” it was (we were at Narragansett Beach) and it was indeed better than MD/DE from last summer.  i can’t wait to see what future states will bring.  she keeps finding new favorites.  [this year alone it has been California & Indiana]

we definitely enjoyed:  science museums, an amusement park, some history, lotsa fish [&humans!] & penguins, ice cream in a park, a duck DUKW tour, dr. seuss, & beach time. with some many hundred? dolphins plus a whale thrown in for good measure.

we did not enjoy various ailments, headaches, and stiff pillows that greeted us at one hotel.  but we were all fine & nothing was canceled/altered!

we were definitely glad to be home, but it was fantastic being away!

Springfield, MA:

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Seuss Museum…of course i absolutely loved this place!

Six Flags New England, near Springfield:

once again, jovie LOVED the river ride the best.  these teacups were second runner up.  she loved being able to ride them alone, too.  and did. SEVERAL times.  she enjoyed not being too big for the kid section so she had a lot of independence while The Mr. & i would go ride some adult rides.

Windsor, CT:

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Plymouth, MA:

this place was pretty neat.  it’s sad that THAT is all that’s left of plymouth rock.  the tour guide was super informative!  we got a kick out of the lady putting jovie and these kids to work hanging laundry.

 

Boston, MA:

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we really enjoyed the “duck” tour!  other highlights:  the aquarium (which was entirely too crowded). the science museum,.  riding the “T”, Christopher Columbus park for just sitting imagining after a long day, and the hubbub of the city in general.

 

Narragansett, RI:

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the amount of dolphins was astounding.  there literally were about 100 in this pod. playing all around our boat.  it was awesome!

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we enjoyed gelato on the beach after dinner our last night there.  perfect cap to the vacation!

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Spring Break #4- INKY

April 14, 2017

even though it seems like we just got back from Arizona, we just got back from Spring Break.  we decided to take a road trip to Mammoth Caves and were really looking forward to it.  however, in the interest of seeing the 50, we had to also scooch over into indiana, which jovie was most excited about.

apparently, she’s “always wanted to see Indiana”.  who knew?

Sun- Nashville, TN

so because we were going to be doing a lot of driving, we decided to stop in nashville for the night.  neither The Mr. nor i had ever been there, and it was about halfway.  we are so glad we did.  we had a great time being leisurely and exploring the downtown area.  we pulled into our swanky & free hotel (thanks, points!!) and had a super fun view.

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24th floor!

after getting settled, we walked down Broadway and ended up at a nice riverfront park where jovie had the time to wander around and imagine while The Mr. & i soaked up the sun and sights.  the coolest thing about that was the walk down, where we must have passed 10 restaurants- all playing live music.  it was a bit reminiscent of the jazz being played on Bourbon street last year.  we walked across the pedestrian bridge & sat on the other side of the park for a bit before venturing up to the Capitol.  [i found it interesting that this was the first Capitol jovie had ever been to.  we had never taken her to ATL, nor even the one in columbia!]

and then- THEN- we were able to go to the public library!  it was open on a sunday and WOW!  we spent over an hour at the coolest children’s section we’ve ever imagined.  a fort.  tunnels.  a rock wall!!  it was great.  and of course, we had to venture in the massive & gorgeous rest of the building too.  she’s never seen so many books!

mon & tue- French Lick, IN

i decided to surprise jovie with our hotel.  french lick doesn’t have a ton to offer.  so we were either going to go to a fancy resort or an indoor water park hotel.  i had showed her both to figure out her interest level.  either way, she kept saying she had “always wanted to see indiana”

so we checked into our hotel and she was very excited.

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we enjoyed 2 days at the French Lick Springs Resort.  it was quite nice.  we used quite a few amenities- and they had several we did not.  it was kinda nice to just take it easy for a few days.  there is a neighboring resort that we also explored.  that place is known for its dome & it’s quite lovely.  apparently, FDR accepted the nomination from the democratic party in the dome.

unfortunately, these springs are sulphur springs.  think about that for a minute.  both hotels have blocked their little spring where people could go and soak.  however, it is still quite odiferous!

we explored those lovely gardens you see from our room and didn’t last as long as we would have liked, but lasted much longer than we should have.  i never did understand it. because the odors seemed to come and go; we spent a lot of time outside that wasn’t foul.  but the gardens surely were.  alas they were pretty!

jovie enjoyed: swimming in the pools, playing on the playground while waiting to rent a surrey, bowling in the basement, homemade ice cream in the lobby, a pony ride & a trolley ride from West Baden.

wed & thur- Hodgenville, & Mammoth Cave, KY

there were a lot of severe storms in ATL on wed; and our area was due to get some as well.  so we left our hotel as early as we could to get ahead of the storms.  both things in KY would include outside entertainment, and i wanted to try.  luckily it all worked out; and those storms did not really pan out until evening; and weren’t anything at all like the hammering the south got!

first up- President Lincoln’s birthplace!  i was very excited when the librarian from school told me about this being nearby the caves because that was our sole focus on this trip and i wouldn’t have looked into other ideas.  jovie loves history so it was a no-brainer to make this stop!  the monument was pretty informative, but The Mr. & i laughed because it literally stopped with Kentucky.  the movie we watched said that many states can lay claim to Lincoln.  So when he moved to Indiana about 10yrs old, the movie stopped with it.  it definitely left me wanting more info on this amazing life!

sadly, they were renovating/cleaning the steps, so we had to walk in the back way.  but the monument literally just houses a log cabin model resemblant to one that he would have been born in.

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Lincoln must really like stairs!

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here is a spring that *didn’t* stink…. where Lincoln used to actually get his water.

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in front of “his” cabin

afterwards, we got to our lodge at Mammoth Cave.  after checking in we explored above ground.  we were surprised it still looked a little wintry there.  it was a little cool, though.  above ground was a nice (and hilly) walk in the woods.  once we got below ground the next day, tho- WOW.

wednesday was just spent exploring, having a delicious dinner of homestyle cooking.  (warm banana pudding was tremendously delicious!) and watching the hailstorm roll in.  we also found out that the next available tour advertised would be on SUNDAY.  i was awfully upset and disappointed!  there was only the self-guided tour available to us the next day.

for the record- i am a planner.  i love planning.  i even plan spontaneity.  i knew that “reservations are encouraged”.  i did not know they were basically mandatory.  nowhere in my research did i see that they sell out days/weeks at a time.  so i am saying it here and now- for anyone wanting to go to mammoth, book a tour as soon as you know!  i truly thought that meant if you wanted the 10am tour, it may be booked and you might be booted on a 3pm tour.  we were hoping to do the dripstones tour which also included a stop at Little Niagara.

after a most delicious dinner (ben’s favorite of the week so far), we couldn’t wait for their breakfast buffet!  it was fantastic, too.  and luckily The Mr. suggested going over to buy the tickets for the self-guided Discovery Tour in case it also would sell out.  when we got to the visitor center we saw that LUCKILY they have a 4pm Little Niagara tour that they only sell on the day of, and not in advance.  so HOORAY!!!! we were able to enjoy the cave afterall. [it sold out about an hour later]

so we spent time in the very informative visitors center and did the quick Discovery tour where- WOW. WOW!  huuuuuge. MAMMOTH.  the rotunda room is naturally occurring (the whole cave is.  it’s has only been mined a little for saltpeter back in the day;  and some doorways had been added…  )

sadly, you can’t use flash photography (obviously!) so my pictures really didn’t turn out super- but i will try to show the expanse of this place.

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google the rotunda room if you wanna see it better.

The Mr. hiked much of the park while jovie & i relaxed and read for the afternoon.  the power went out at 2pm.  it did not come back on until 9pm that night.

meanwhile, we took a very different look at the cave. forgo the huge rooms of smooth walls & ceilings and replace it with the formations of stalactites & stalagmites.

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this is pretty far down

we really enjoyed this place.  the history is absolutely astounding.  as well as the size!  it rivaled our favorite Tuckaleechee Caverns but definitely overwhelmed Ruby Falls.  i recommend it!

we had a lovely spring break.  home on friday, which meant the whole weekend was spent in her room, just pretending, drawing, reading & listening to music.  for some reason she didn’t want to enjoy the lovely weather we had; she rarely played outside.  i think she liked finally having her space back.

 


oh dam!

February 28, 2017

oh dam there was no dam this trip.  but a lovely vacation was still had in the beautiful state of Arizona!

The Mr. & i went to AZ at the turn of the century/millennium.  so we were excited to yet again show jovie some of the things we did 17 years ago.  when i saw that for the first time since starting real school that we had a full winter break, i figured that’d be a great time to go to arizona.

things we were excited to do:   grand canyon, sedona, montezuma’s well & hoover dam.  (i was excited to do the glass walkway at the grand canyon).  as well as having jovie & sophia & sadie all play together!

what did occur was great! i have pictures to prove it!  but, alas:

sedona didn’t entirely happen because there was a ridiculous amount of people there.  were you there?  surely you must have been.  it was like disney all over again.  but this time with no parking!  i felt bad for The Mr. who said “at least 2 of us should enjoy it” so he dropped us off and drove around for 20 minutes so jovie and i could at least have some pictures.

the glass walkway didn’t happen because my research was horrible and it was like 4 hours away from us, apparently.

the dam didn’t happen because jovie inexplicably got sick on tuesday.  luckily we were able to just move the nevada hotel to flagstaff the next day & just push the grand canyon back a day.  also luckily i got to give my little girl lots of cuddles.  that night i was caught in a love sandwich as we all slept in a king together!  super luckily she was all better the next day and so grand canyon was, in fact, grand!

but! BUT!! the cousins were great.  the scenery astounding.  (some of) the food was good. and some bonus excursions in flagstaff were awesome.  it was a really fabulous vacation & as far as scenery goes, (for me, at least) arizona ranks #1 in our states thusfar.  [michigan comes in a very squeaky close second!]

we spent a rainy weekend in Phoenix visiting the fam. the girls all had a good time playing in the rain, while the adults chatted it up a little bit.  luckily it cleared up enough that after our trip to the Science Center  on sunday we were able to meet up with them and play at a park.  jovie did not enjoy saying good-bye after dinner.  it seemed like they all had a good time!

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monday was spent making our way to our hotel at the grand canyon, with stops at montezuma’s well, and sedona.  these 2 places were awesome when we went way back when. this time around, we saw that we could walk down and around a little in these cliff dwellings from about 1,000 years ago.

tuesday we did this:

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and wednesday was finally spent at the canyon!  the drive was close; and we even saw some unidentified animals grazing after we entered.  we parked our car and walked a bit.  when we finally got to this-

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jovie was aptly impressed.

lots of gawking.  a little bit of a hike down. tons of exclaiming. hopefully some memory-ing.  many many photo-ing. some learning. some eating.  and 6 hrs later….

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i could fill a page with all the awesome pix i did take.  jovie took many as well. (but i won’t…….   yet!)    it was…. well- GRAND.

so we went to flagstaff afterwards and had a great evening/morning before we spent the day exploring just 2 parks that are connected by a 20mile drive on the border of the Painted Desert.  Sunset Crater was amazing.  lava fields!  Who Knew???  and the drive to Wupatki was equally so.  we spent the whole day doing this.

we all really enjoyed the pueblos that were built 1,000 years ago.  one of which we could even venture in!  it was a very cold and super windy day but one of our favorites!

(look! jovie’s as tall as the lava.)

the drive from flagstaff to phoenix was absolutely awesome.  i can’t shuttup about the fact that ALL. you see are mountains.  for 2 hours.  that’s it.  distant mountains.  close mountains.  mountains.  everywhere.  it was lovely!

 

 

 

 


oh mi!

August 2, 2016

hello, all! oh my we had another fabulous vacation to OH, MI!

we spent an entire week traveling the beautiful state of michigan with a nice little dip down into ohio so i could color that in on our map.  pretty much 15 years ago to the date, The Mr. & i went and explored michigan right before he proposed to me.  (where i fielded questions about why we weren’t engaged from both Aunt Julie & grandma katie).

it was a fabulous trip back then, and a fabulouser trip now! (yep)

i fell in love with the sweet small picturesque towns in 2001.  same towns were just as picturesque 15 years later.  we wanted to do a re-do and bring jovie.  plus we added the east coast this time.  (sorry, michigan- i have a favorite side!  here’s where i throw up my gang sign of a W)

DAY ONE had us touring detroit- i do think all 4 of my readers know that’s where The Mr. spent the first 13 years of his life.  we saw his old house, old schools, famous landmarks (the corner store!) we had a fabulous lunch a few miles away in downtown at Greektown.  & spent some nice time on Belle Isle.  (look! that’s canada!!)

belle us ca

then aunt julie & uncle tom were nice enough to host a dinner for us (in their beautiful backyard!) where jovie also got to meet 2nd & 3rd cousins.  it was nice- hadn’t seen all of them since ’07.  jovie was awfully quiet- soaking it all in.

DAY TWO had us going to visit jovie’s great grandma katie & marshall.  we spent the day with them in their beautiful backyard!  it was wonderful seeing them again!

we then left to stay at a “nearby” hotel and watched the sunset at 9:13pm

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DAY THREE took us to the Glen Arbor area to go to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  this place was amazing when The Mr. went as a kid.  it was amazing 15 years ago and it’s amazing now.  maybe moreso because we got to enjoy jovie enjoying it.  her face was priceless when she first saw the mountain of sand.  she said “i believed you that it was big, but i didn’t know it could be THAT big…. i thought it was just as tall as daddy!”  needless to say we spent a few hours here.  climbing (way harder than it seems!!) and running and digging and playing and rolling and running down and climbing again!  the pictures honestly can’t do it justice, but i’ll try:

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here, you think you’re at the top.  do not let that fool you:

jovie on hill

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we were pretty tuckered out by the end of the day.  we drove just a little ways to Traverse City & had a nice dinner, followed by some ice cream before crashing for the night.

but before that, we drove the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to get a different view of the dunes & lake michigan:

DAY FOUR was a lovely drive up the west coast.  scenic. quaint.  i couldn’t wait to re-do this.  gramma & grampa recently took this drive & told us to veer off to the Tunnel of Trees.  The Mr. & i had the best time laughing at the long detour in order to get *somewhere* on this 19mi drive.  dirt/desolate roads.  Carmen the Garmin had us laughing pretty good.  i really hope that will cement as a funny memory.

we got up to Petsosky, one of the towns i’ve been talking about since ’01.  we grabbed a lunch from the exact same cafe as last time & sat at a table in the park, listening to a random day of a folk music concert.  jovie enjoyed it a lot.  she video’d them on her/my new/old phone (remember, it’s a camera & app machine)  drove on up thru’ Charlevoix (the other town i loved) and then finally got to cross “BigMac“.

here’s where i could fill up a whole book on all the pix i took of the bridge.  so if anyone’s keeping track, this year we did 20+ miles on lake ponchartrain, 20+ miles of chesapeake bay (tunnels and bridges) and now 5 miles on a beautiful suspension bridge!!   i loved it.

(we were on lake huron.  the bridge divides the lakes huron & michigan)  we went to the bridge view park and to dinner before watching another late sunset in Saint Ignace. but first jovie wanted to swim in the great lakes.  the cold water of MD/DE has nothing over the great lakes.  unfortunately, it was quite rocky so she didn’t last long.  then i took her out for a girls’ night to a cafe next door to get a grampa-sized sundae (we ate maybe half)

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the moon rising at 9:23pm

 

DAY FIVE took us on a ferry to Mackinac Island. (that you can see in the pic above).  an island with no motorized vehicles (unless you count jazzy carts).  bikes & horses.  it’s a quaint little town we went to way back when.  we rode bikes around the island and this time we even found a stair hike that brought us to a nice view of a natural arch!  spent the day here exploring, eating lunch, going to a butterfly garden & getting some famous fudge! but FIRST we got to enjoy going UNDER big mac in the ferry!

(couldn’t get the bike picture in this big slot, so there, you have The Mr. in full size)

DAY 6 we checked out and drove down the east coast to Tawas Bay.  not before stopping at the quaintest most charming deli (take 5 deli) in alpena.  we got to the hotel at the same time as the little summer rainstorm.  so jovie swam in the indoor pool before swimming the bay of lake huron.  this was a sandy beach.  it was cold, but not very rocky.  we had dinner downtown and enjoyed another late night sunset.

DAY 7 more driving, down to Toledo, OH (via Ann Arbor for lunch).  i was quite disappointed that there is no marker indicating when you get from MI to OH!  we were not staying at a very scenic place (certainly not all these water views!) so there wasn’t much to explore.  we had the rest of the afternoon so we decided to go to the movies to see Secret Life of Pets.  (nobody loved it) (only jovie’s 3rd movie experience, other 2 were on a xmas) (popcorn for dinner!!)

afterwards we got some yummy ice cream from Handel’s.  huge and delicious.  after that we drove to the downtown area and got to see some of Toledo before heading to bed.

DAY 8 we stuck around the hotel until checkout time and headed back to the mall searching for a souvenir.  i didn’t have high hopes (they don’t mark their state line!) so luckily, i had grabbed a napkin from handels, and had the movie stub.  proof that we saw ohio.  then we headed to the airport and came home in time for dinner and crashing in our own beds!

a fantastic vacation-  over 1,001 miles driven, 8miles biked, 250 steps climbed (the arch), maybe around 5 miles ferried, maybe 0.25 miles trammed, a mountain of sand climbed, a zillion miles walked and tons of smiles & memories!

 

 


3 state whirlwind

June 25, 2016

…so we took a quick vacation right after The Mr. turned 40.  we have read several of the American Girl books.  one was Felicity- who is a colonial girl.  jovie is interested in history so we thought the Virginia trip should include Colonial Williamsburg.

however, trying to knock off more states, we also added in Maryland & Delaware.  what to do, what to do?  we headed for the beaches.

we flew into VA & drove 3 hrs. to say in Ocean City, MD.  the next day we zipped to Rehoboth Beach, DE & sunday we went back to VA to enjoy Williamsburg.

it was a whirlwind, but we all enjoyed ourselves.  the drive over the Chesapeake was neat;  reminded me of the Lake Pontchartrain drive.

Ocean City was nice.  Rehoboth was massively crowded.  We wished we had had an extra day for Williamsburg.  Jamestown would have also been nice to explore.  We got there Sunday afternoon & enjoyed the hotel pool & splash pad.  We headed into Revolutionary City after supper to walk around and see what was there.  Monday morning we spent the day there doing the tourist thing before heading right back home again.


Spring Break #3- MS,LA,AL

April 15, 2016

so, even though our spring break didn’t go exactly as planned, it was done almost completely, and jovie had a great time!

Sat & Sun– Biloxi, MS.

the intention was to take a ferry to an island and spend the day.  those were the only plans that got derailed.  but it all worked out fine.  spent the day at the beach anyway!   the wind was blowing; it wasn’t too hot.  gorgeous weather, but a cold Gulf!

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see that speck? it is between 2 barely visible lines. those are poles that say DANGER. i know this, because that speck is The Mr. & Jovie. they are standing up!

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a la Galveston

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not everyone gets snow!

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we came back to the room & discovered National Pillowfight Day

Mon, Tue, & Wed– New Orleans, LA

one word: beignets.   The Mr. & I are now experts.  sadly, Jovie was not a fan.  The 3rd place (yep!) was my favorite place… and it also had other stuff so jovie could enjoy a brownie.  interestingly enough,  they got better at each attempt.  in order of visiting (and worst to best) Morning Call, Cafe du Monde, & Cafe Beignet.   (that one’s also the cutest name).

ok, ok…. you may want to know how the vacation part of it was.

we found lots of child-friendly things to do & we all had a great time doing it!

Monday, we went to City Park.  Unfortunately the amusement park portion was closed during the week, but we went to Storyland part.  that was cute.  jovie was over it.  then we checked into our hotel where we got upgraded to a 2BR suite.  to which i say: SWEET!  jovie loved loved that and was never over it.  if we weren’t trekking NOLA then we were either watching TV in her! very! own! room! or swimming in the pool.

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Rapunzel, meet Rapunzel

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that slide was FAST

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IMG_1242 here, we pay homage to my first ever hotel room when I was 7. it also had an upstairs. (why, yes.  jovie is 7 and has been in a zillion hotels already)

Tuesday we bought an experience pass & spent the day at the aquarium, insectarium & butterfly garden.  we haven’t been to an aquarium since Tennessee!

the insectarium was perfectly done.  i skeeved the entire time i was there!  highly impressive.  no pictures of that though.  and the butterfly garden’s pictures didn’t have jovie in them.

Wednesday we took the trolley & went to the zoo as part of the experience package.  it was a really good zoo.  & you could not beat the weather.  still, i was surprised at how most of the animals were tired & not around.  [kinda reminded me of ATL zoo.  we used to have season passes to it;  we have gone several times.  i saw the lion 2ce.  once was only his ear.]

above you see jovie trying to be the photographer on the bridge.  she was really into her 4yo camera this trip!  also the merry-go-round was initiated and completed by herself entirely.  big girl!  (oh- this trip she also enjoyed riding the elevator alone!!)

our last night in NO:  ice cream. bed. cartoons.

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Thur– Selma, AL via the Ponchartrain Causeway.

i was looking forward to this part because it’s neat showing jovie where i lived for 4 1/2 years.  (incidentally this summer she can see where The Mr. lived, too, when we go to Detroit!)

& also so so cool!!! i couldn’t wait to go over the longest continuous bridge over water!  Big Mac in Michigan is a paltry 5 miles long. (tho it looks like a bridge & not a road.  it’s awesome!) {and also jovie gets to do that this summer, too!}

also, they have been studying a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr. this year so I was excited to share The Bridge with her.  things in Selma were exactly the same & unexpectedly different & not at all where i remember them.  in fact, they moved the McDonald’s across the street (and i’m pretty sure they even re-named that street) so i was even more warped.  considering it was 29 years since i lived there; and 17 since i went back!  ( The Mr. & i got to go in ’99…. it will likely be my last time going back).

—that was about how long it took us to drive over the lake where all you see is lake. (and cars); and i actually have the sign that says 23.8 but this pic was prettier.

we came home friday & had the weekend to get out of the routine of no routine.  oh yeah! because also, the weekend before all this was easter.  & jovie was sick 3 of the 5 days before going.

getting back to the routine this week went very well!  ….except i miss them beignets!


Bama Bound

August 6, 2014

We had a quick opportunity to explore one of the 50 again this past weekend. [51 if you count Puerto Roco…. which I intend to!]

The Mr. has been home so much this year so far, but recently has been traveling more.  So we gave Alabama a quick night out.  We decided to go to Birmingham after my research of going to the coast left me with some amount of sticker shock.

Although I can appreciate that a beach house in the summer would be pricey, I wasn’t willing to pay more for 3 days in ‘bama than we paid for TN for a week!

Even though we were gone only one night, we seemed to pack in some good fun.  Of course, we got to go to a play-place science museum.  and then Sunday before leaving, we took a nice hike that Jovie did all by herself (~4mi round trip)

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Dad had to join in on the fun

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Hello, Birmingham

it was a quick but nice little jaunt.

We certainly look forward to the next state vacation!