Life on the Road

After two months traveling the lack of a routine has become the norm, each day is new and different but the hectic pace of a normal vacation fades. Every day I see so many things, meet new people, and no matter where I look there is something unique and different. When I do have a moment to pause it all catches up to me, how much I’ve done in only a few days. What day of the week is it? Where were we two days ago? Honestly, it all blurs together in a wonderful way, each memory and city its own experience. Together each piece makes a colorful whirlwind of memories that has been my trip around the country.

As a result of not having my own routine, many habits, such as blogging, fell by the wayside. I have been so busy living! However, writing about my travels is extremely important to me. It lets me look back and really appreciate everywhere I’ve been, all the things I’ve done, and above all, the wonderful people I’ve spent time with.

Although it may take a while I am determined to fill in the gaps and put to paper (or screen) the full account of my trip.

As I continue to update, click on the photo or link to read about each leg:

The Triangle

Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC



Mongolian Beef and Growlers

Charlottesville, VA


Cheers, We’re Cousins!

Richmond, VA


Visiting Verville

Merry Point, Northern Neck, VA


COWs-Citizens Of the World

Washington DC




Shucking Thanksgiving

Back in Charlottesville, VA



Philadelphia, PA




The Biggest City

New York, NY


Grandpa Frank’s Driving Tour

Akron, OH


Liam, Deep Dish Pizza, and Sacks of Potatoes

Chicago, IL




Just a Taste

Milwaukee, WI


Those Friendly Midwest Folk

Madison, WI



With love from the road,


Reaching the Atlantic

The next 2 weeks I made my way up the East coast with my only major commitment being to pick up my good friend Courtney at the airport in Washington D.C. on November 21st, just before Thanksgving. I made the most of my trip and spent quite a bit of time in North Carolina and Virginia, here’s more or less what I did:

Wednesday November 9th– Charleston, SC

I walked to the Citadel to see what its all about, interesting museum of the school’s history. Took the ferry to Ft Sumter where the Civil War began, beautiful round trip ferry ride with views of the harbor.

Thursday November 10th– Charleston to The Outer Banks

Drove north through South Carolina, into North Carolina and wound my way to the Outer Banks. Made it to the hostel I found was in Kitty Hawk and hunkered down for the evening, it was windy out!

Friday November 11th– OBX, NC

Visited the Wright Brothers Memorial and learned about their work! I think they sound like pretty cool dudes. I found a hammock store!!!! I almost melted on the spot, I love hammocks! I exercised a lot of self-restraint and only left with a catalog. From there I drove to the very Northern part of the Outer Banks where the road in fact ends and cars can drive along the beach between there and Virginia. That’s when I did a very silly thing (It was SO cool though!) and drove Velma just a little ways on the beach, she looks so outdoorsy with the roof box and all. Unfortunately, Velma is a Nissan Altima Sedan and I got stuck in the sand! Fortunately, there were a lot of duck hunters and locals going by in their larger more appropriate beachcombing vehicles. Quickly a group of very nice gentlemen formed and helped me back to the road that was painfully close, only about 10 feet away. Utterly embarrassed I waved thank you and scooted back down that paved road towards the town of Duck. In town I stumble upon a coffee/beer/wine shop with much needed WiFi. It turned out they were hosting a beer tasting so I hung around a bit longer! Dinner was another educational experience that day. I went to the Jolly Roger (karaoke on Friday nights y’all!) where I had to ask my server to teach my how to peel shrimp. Their little legs are pretty gross but with melted butter, delicious!

Saturday November 11th– OBX, NC

I drove South instead of North and stopped at the Hatteras National Shore Lighthouse, although I couldn’t go up it. The drive was beautiful a two-lane road most of the way with dramatic shoreline and water on both sides. I saw kiteboarders taking advantage of the windy and sunny day. Walked down to the beach and appreciated the Atlantic Ocean some more, from sea to shining sea! I also saw a lot of damage from Hurricane Irene which hit the coast at the end of August. A lot of things had been fixed and a bridge reopened but a few towns were hit much worse than others. The evidence was everywhere; boarded up houses, construction sites, piles of rubble, abandoned and collapsing motor homes. Just south of much of the damage was the ferry to Ocracoke. I had to wait about an hour for the next ferry but the ride was fun. The ferries held about 25 cars each I think and looked much more like tugboats than the ferries in Washington. We chugged across the sound for about 30 minutes and disembarked amongst sandy hills. Driving into Ocracoke the sand swirled into the road, unaware of its boundaries. As cars in front of my passed over a patch of sand the grains swirled up and fell some place new each time. It was easy to see the winds had the same effect and the hills themselves were merely temporary.

Ocracoke was like many of the towns in the Outer Banks, long with one main road and a cluster of cute buildings. By far, Ocracoke was the most flavorful of all the quirky towns I had stopped into. I visited another coffee/wine/beer shop and overheard some of the juicy island gossip. After dinner I made my back to the ferry and Kitty Hawk.

Once I was back in my part of the Outer Banks I found a sports bar to watch the second half of the Duck’s game at when they beat Stanford (beat=VICTORY)

Sunday November 13- The Outer Banks to Durham, North Carolina

On my way west I stopped on Roanoke Island at the Fort Raleigh National Site and learned about The Lost Colony; which frustratingly there isn’t much to learn! I drove to Raleigh and just briefly checked out downtown. I made my plans to stay in Durham and checked in for the night.

From there I got to experience The Triangle!

With love from the road,


True Southern Beauties: Savannah & Charleston

Feeling well on the way to recovery I spent Friday making my way through Georgia. From Atlanta I drove to Athens where I saw a double barreled cannon, wandered around the University of Georgia Campus, and had a tasty Spanish tortilla for lunch. After taking the elevator up in the wrong parking garage I found my way to Velma and headed south along highway 221 making a few other stops in pictaresque towns along the way. The highlight was definitely a short detour I took to drive across a covered wood bridge, check it out:

The Covered Bridge

That evening I made it to an airport hotel outside of Savannah where I was suppose to meet my mom. I got checked in and relaxed for a while but it got later and later and still my mom wasn’t there. I called her and she said she was terribly lost and hadn’t set up the gps on her phone. With some patience we figured it out and she finally arrived after traveling the whole day, what a champ!

Saturday morning we headed into Savannah completely unaware that there was a marathon going on, we clearly were not participants in our fall boots and sweaters. Savannah is charming as can be and more than a little enamored with itself. We toured one of the historic houses that took up a whole side on one of Savannah’s squares. It was particularly fascinating because of the advanced indoor plumbing the home use to have. To nerd out for a moment, they build these three giant water storage areas in the house to collect rainwater. From there the water reached the plumbing fixtures only through gravity. The builder was also obsessed with symmetry so there are a lot of fake doors.

Savannah, GA

After that tour we gradually made our way to the Telfair Art Museum which was a very nicely done museum, smaller than most but it was nice to make it through all the galleries for once! We rested our feet in the main gallery/ballroom on a plush round red couch with paintings on every wall! It kept us entertained for quite some time. The Telfair is home to the Bird Girl statue made famous by “The Book” aka “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” shown here:

They had to remove the statue from its original place in the cemetery because so many tourists would go tramping through. The other place we visited the next day that was really important in the book was the Mercer Williams House where “the incident” took place.

 I asked my mom, “What incident?!”

And in good form she told me, “I’m not going to tell you, your just going to have to read the book.”

Well fine.

My mom had given me this book before the trip and told me I had to read it before going to Savannah. Of course, I forgot to. I am reading it now though and my whole visit made so much more sense!

Sunday evening we made a reservation for dinner at The Olde Pink House, which was delicious Southern cuisine in all its modern glory. Full of fabulous fried food my mom and I made the quick walk back to our hotel.

The next morning, Monday the 7th, we had breakfast in Savannah, found Mom a Christmas ornament, and headed to Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston was as lovely as Savannah and another wonderful town to walk around. We spent the afternoon wandering around seeing the waterfront, the homes, and took a break to watch the sunset at a rooftop bar. Afterwards my mom took me to try raw oysters, I’d never had them! We slurped the little lemon-and-cocktail-sauce buggers out of these hideous alien-looking shells. It was cool!

Actual dinnertime had arrived and based on my friend Taryn’s recommendation we went to Magnolias for another round of Southern cuisine. After dinner this time we skipped the walk and caught a pedicab back to the hotel.

The next day we had some time before I took my mom to the airport. We found a place to get my haircut (its hard to find a good place on the road!), visited the site of a former slave market, saw some old churches, saw some old graves, AND got pralines. After such a fun long-weekend I took my mom to the airport and said, “see you in December!”

Thanks for such a fun weekend Mom!

With love from the road,


Constantly Moving

Still on the road but its hard to find time to write! Too busy living 🙂 The Avett Brothers put it into words perfectly in their song A Lot of Moving:

A lot of movin’, A lot of rollin’
A lot of drivin’, A lot of strollin’
A lot of leavin’ here A lot of arrivin’ there
Trying to go just about everywhere
A lot of thinking about where I’m going next

If I’s a police I couldn’t catch me Because I’m always up and ready A lot of chasin’ here
Escapin’ there
Blue lights flashin’ ’round everywhere
A lot of woo-ooo where am I going next

A lot of movin’, A lot of rollin’
A lot of drivin’, A lot of strollin’
A lot of leavin’ here A lot of arrivin’ there
Trying to go just about everywhere
A lot of thinking about where I’m going next

Country to my left side
Country to my right side
City to my left side
City on my right side
Banjos and back seats
Side roads and side streets
Well if you wanna stay for dinner I’ll throw my suitcase in the river A lot of drinkin’ here and drinkin’ there I’ll play and sing just about any damn where
A lot of thinkin’ about where I’m going next

A lot of movin’, A lot of rollin’
A lot of drivin’, A lot of strollin’
A lot of leavin’ here
A lot of arrivin’ there
Trying to go just about everywhere
A lot of thinking about where I’m going next

We started headed west today, I’m looking forward to seeing that other coast again.

With love from the road,

Sickness and See You Soons in Atlanta

My time in Atlanta was short but sweet. We arrived after a long drive from New Orleans to Louisa’s house. Louisa was a dear friend of my grandmother Kittye Mae’s and was kind enough to take us three in. Her husband Jerre stayed up to meet us and introduced us to our new best friend: the home theater. We rallied to watch The Hangover, it was even funnier than the last time I watched it!

The next morning though, things had caught up with me. I woke up with a foggy head, scratchy throat, and could no longer deny it: I was sick. Luckily I was in a pretty good place to be under the weather. Louisa broke out the medicine cabinet and soup while Dakota and Rach headed out to sightsee. They visited the MLK Jr. sites, the Aquarium, and Sweetwater Brewing while I watched more than a little TV.

We spent the evening at the house and I was feeling much better, definitely well enough to play some Rockband with Louisa’s son Adam! We had a ball but had to get ready for the next morning, the girls were going home 😦

All three of us got up real early so we could have breakfast at THE original Chick-Fil-A aka the Dwarf House. It was an appropriate southern send-off before Dakota’s morning flight. Kisses and good-byes, we’ll see you back West!

Rach and I returned to the house for a bit and I rested up for the next stop of the day: The Margaret Mitchell House where Gone With The Wind( Rachel’s FAV book) was written. The tour was very interesting and gave the classic so much more meaning for me. Plus, who knew Margaret Mitchell was such a b.a.?

We had lunch and before too long it was time to take Rachel to the airport! Where had the month gone?! Back at Atlanta International we said farewell, unloaded the bags, and my Partner-In-Crime headed back West.

Thank you for a wonderful adventure Rachel! Every single up and down, windy road, border crossed and self-revelation was a delight. I will remember it always! And thank you Kota for a terrific birthday present: You!

Can’t wait to see you both SOON!

Thursday evening I had a great time with Jerre, Anna, and Adam. We had a lovely dinner and even got treated to dessert. The next morning, clean laundry in tow, I repacked the car and made a full day out of my drive to Savannah. My next PiC would be a pro: Mom!

With love from the road,


And ever and ever and ever

Day Five: Dani’s Last Night in Town, October 30th

Sunday is traditionally a day of rest but of course that didn’t happen for us. We started out with some more amazing food at this cool diner and made our plans to go on a swamp tour and venture out of town for the day. I felt unwell for quite a while but when it was time for the swamp tour to start I knew I had to rally.

The swamp was beautiful, we saw lots of birds and learned about the plants and such. Our tour guide Captain Ted was over the top to say the least, quite a character. We didn’t seen any alligators though! Probably because it was cooler and pleasant out.

The closest we got to a 'gater!

On our way back into town we stopped in the French Quarter to cross some New Orleans cuisine off our list, pescatarian style. To go with our bloody marys we tried blackened alligator, crawfish etouffe, oysters rockefeller, and seafood gumbo, it was all delicious!

Back at India House we knew we had to rally, it was Danielle’s (our Canadian friend who sounds straight out of Alabama and is super duper awesome) last night in town! We had a whole new set of costumes to break out too. Dani decked out as a flannel-clad Canadian and we made an axe so she could regulate Bourbon Street. Rach and I had picked up


these little kid costumes at the Wal-mart in Alabama. Each consisted of a little animal had and matching (or not) clip on tail. I was a dinosaur, Carasaraus to be specific. Rachel was a tiger, growllll, in LSU territory no less. And Dakota, well Dakota had an elephant head but they were out of elephant tails so we had gotten her a cute pink pig tail instead. Dani dubbed her “Eleoink” a rare crossbreed haha!

The rest of our costumes consisted of work out clothes and comfy shoes, time for some active wear! We caught the street car with a medley of people in various costumes and if it was possible the people watching on Bourbon was better than ever! We had a blast and the only downer, which turned out to be quite funny was when the cab driver rudely told us “to just give me my money and go.” So I gave him exact fare $10.25 (quarter included) and told him that he wouldn’t get a tip for being so rude. Apparently I sounded like an old lady telling him off, if only I had the purse full of bricks to really give him a piece of my mind.

Day Six: HALLOWEEN, October 31st

Halloween day! It felt like we’d already had Halloween but here finally it had arrived. We got up to see Dani off then fueled up with mimosas and dank breakfast and the adorable Ruby Slipper Cafe. Today’s destination was a plantation just outside of town. We headed out there with Louis, one of our beloved Aussie’s. Perhaps it was fate’s sense of humor but most plantations were closed on Mondays so the one we did find to go was a funny blend of history and not-so-much history haha. The tour of the house was interesting enough, especially learning how short people use to be! However, for the second time in two days we had a preachy tour guide. The people on the tour with us also had very little sense of history which provoked some entertaining questions. After the tour we got to wander around the grounds which was the best part! Dakota and I chased chicken/turkey things, we checked out some old buildings, played with spanish moss, and got candy on our way out!

Back in town we hit up the drugstore for the necessities: cash, postcards, drink fixings, and a bottle of champagne! It is our last night in New Orleans after all! After some down time we broke out the final costumes: Fairies!

Dakota truly out did herself! She made each of us tutus and wings, each in different colors and completely unique. We used the extra fabric to make armbands, anklets, sashes, whatever else we could think of to add. To top it all off we went crazy with eye gems, shimmer makeup, and body paint! It was like getting to be a kid again and playing dress up. I may have had the best time just getting ready haha! The rest of the night was fun as well but very crowded again. We made our way back to the hostel before too long and just hung out there, chatting and enjoying a warm Halloween. Our timing worked out well as there were shootings down on Burbon! Everyone who came in talked about the horrid traffic and that the cops had blocks shut down, pretty nuts! We were very content to be far away from that.

Day Seven: We WILL be back, November 1st

Tuesday morning we loaded Velma up once again and headed to Magazine Street for our final New Orleans meal and to say good bye to friends. At this point we were all starting to run out of energy, we had given New Orleans our all! Saying “see you soon” we headed out of New Orleans for Atlanta passing through Mississippi in true road trip style.

Until next time NOLA!

With love from the road,


What happens in New Orleans, stays in your heart forever

Thank you Captain Ted of the swamp tour for today’s cheesy title but I’ll give the guy credit cuz New Orleans makes my heart flutter!

New Orleans. Nawlins. The Crescent City. The Big Easy.

I could write about our visit there for days and still be unsatisfied. To save you all the pain of reading my overly detailed tirade I’m going to outline our week there as well as I can, without chewing your ear off.

Day One: My 22nd Birthday, October 26th

Dakota’s flight got in a little late but it all worked out perfect since we hit more than a little traffic (gave me time to do my nails). Even so we had a few minutes to wait at the airport…

Check it:

Diet Cokes at the ready we checked into the hostel, donned our birthday attire and hit the town! At the hostel they told us about a New Orleans birthday tradition, you pin a dollar on the birthday girl/boy (Dakota made mine into a rosette!) and then people keep adding to your connection throughout the night! It paid the car ride home and someone gave me a $5 Harrah’s chip when they didn’t have a dollar, too fun! We managed to make it down Burbon Street, try grenades, go the the Absinthe bar, and try a Hurricane. Successful birthday accomplished.

Day Two: My 22nd Birthday Hangover, October 27th

First priority: FOOD! Rach rocked it on Yelp and found this delicious cafe/juice bar with my fav, biscuits and gravy, yum yum yum.

We explored the French Quarter in the day time, it was beautiful out! Everywhere we went music could be heard, becoming louder as we drew closer to the right cross street. I saw more than one little miss with a brand new hatbox! It was enough to make a big girl jealous. As we gradually got to know the jumble of french, spanish, and religious street names we met up with some other travelers from the hostel for giant po boys.

Again the issue arose of being able to stay awake long enough to even glimpse the night life. Unfortunately this time Diet Coke got the boot and an irish pub swung in to save the day. We had Irish coffees all around and played some of the worst pool I’ve ever witnessed! Haha well except for Oscar and Izzie, two out of six isn’t very good odds though.

After heading back to the hostel, taking a break, and dressing up we went in search of music on Frenchman Street and we were not disappointed! Such fun with our hostel group! Ironically there were quite a few Californias there, go figure.

Day Three: “Staying In”, October 28th

On Friday we had to change hostels for a couple of nights. As always all of our stuff had somehow escaped from our bags all over our dorm room! We packed it up once more and shuttled over to the Marquette House Hostel. We got checked in, dump our things once more and scoped out the new digs. Marquette was a very different layout from India House and it was quite a journey back and forth between the car, we had a lot of costumes to bring in after all!

Once we were set up in our new digs we resumed exploring. Rach headed back towards the French Quarter with a buddy and Dakota and I met up with our amigo Cahill who was conveniently semi-lost near our hostel. We walked up to Magazine Street, the walk was BEAUTIFUL right in the heart of the Garden District with tons of picturesque houses.

Love the porch swing in the bottom right cornerMagazine itself had lots of cool shops and restaurants, a we felt right at home there. It took us quite a while to even decide on where to eat our dinner. We did find a happy compromise between craving and cajun: A crawfish and shrimp pizza with grilled onions and a white sauce! Scrumptious!

We attempted to tone down the revelry by staying in at the Marquette house, but go figure we picked up a box of Franzia, met too many Aussies, and taught quite a few people how to play Kings Cup. We sat in the courtyard for hours, even as it got unusually chilly, and laughed and gabbed and laughed some more. Its not every day you get Americans, Australians, Brits, a Scot, a Dane, and a Korean all hanging out! It was well worth a little less sleep 🙂

Day Four: Saturday Night of Halloween Weekend, October 29th

Hello the Weekend! Boy were we in need of it 😉 Saturday morning I was on Yelp duty and found a local sounding breakfast place within walking distance of the art fair we wanted to go to. The place was great! The walk lovely! And the art super cool! Boy were stoked on New Orleans!

We had read about this funky expo art space created after Katrina, aka “The Storm”, and wanted to try and find it although we couldn’t find any current exhibition listed. We did make our way there and although most of the previous art was gone and nothing new up we saw a whole different side of town there.

Now I don't think this was part of the art space...

From the highway we got a great view of the cemeteries which are all mausoleums because they can’t dig graves. They were hardly eerie in the day time and went surprisingly well with the concrete of the overpass. Once we got off the freeway there was a lot to take in. In this neighborhood the streets had cool names like Arts Street, Music Street, and Painter Street. There were a lot more homes here that were clearly abandoned after the storm. On a lot of the other ones you could see repairs and crawl spaces. It showed a delicate balance between the stark reality of what the Storm left behind, as well as the perseverance and rebuilding that came after. Hard not to be cheery though when you see a building painted like this!

At this point we were getting pretty good at navigating our way around! We made it back to Magazine Street for some last minute costume shopping, dinner, and the ever important stop at the store. See, New Orleans is all about the cash, lots of places won’t take cards and of course, the nearest Wells Fargo is 30+ miles away (every bank should have an ATM in the French Quarter!!). So our solution was that if we gotta pay a $2-3 fee might as well get a pack of gum instead and get cash back. But with the minimums on cash back! Boy, did we have a lot of gum!

A disco ball and a mermaid in a sheet!

Saturday night was our first costume night! So, a disco ball, a mermaid, Shirley Temple, a guy wearing a dress and skateboarding, and Robert Deniro’s character from Taxi Driver all hopped into (go figure) a cab and headed downtown. IT WAS NUTS! Almost too crowded for my taste, there wasn’t hardly any point going into a bar or club. The people watching was just the best, all the costumes, people had drums everywhere, a real party in the streets.

One of the silliest stories of the night had to be when I was trying to meet up with my friend, she told me she was outside the Spotted Cat but I couldn’t see her. So I tried shouting her name, “KATRINA!” not even thinking about it. One of the guys near me, turned and said, “You are gonna start something yelling that in this town.” Absolutely shocked (it probably helped I was a wide-eyed Shirley Temple) I exclaimed, “But that’s her name!!” Everyone around me laughed and I made a mental note not to repeat that one. Maybe you should go by K or Kat in New Orleans, Katrina haha.

Don’t worry more to come!

With love from the road,


Ages 22 and 95

October 25th we woke up and got cleaned up, Jimmy and Becky were already up and I got to see my other cousin Bret for the first time in quite a while. I have loved seeing family that I barely remember but have always heard about. Having my own memories and relationships with them has not only enriched my trip but will be a gift in to the future.

Our first adventure for the day was to the nursing home where my great-aunt Betty, Kittye Mae’s younger sister is living. She has a hard time hearing and the pitch of female voices is particularly tricky. Betty is extremely lucky as her vision is still good so she can read and watch things without much trouble. She seems very happy and good-natured, she declared more than once; “I am the oldest woman in the whole wide world!”

After our visit we headed to the waterfront for a delicious lunch, the biggest problem of all was figuring out how to eat my fried shrimp po boy there were so many fried shrimp piled on top! Then a big decision awaited us: Should we go on a boat adventure or do something else?

Well, as usual when confronted with the choice of doing something involving a boat and just about anything else I voted boat and so did the rest of the crew! Jimmy hitched up the boat and took Rach, Bret, and myself on a boat ride! We cruised along the back Biloxi Bay (god help me if I remembered that right!) and it was just lovely. Our favorite sight? As we passed along a narrow water way there were two barges to the right, one completely empty and higher out of the water than I’ve ever seen a barge and the other, precariously skewed with one end loaded and the other awaiting its burden. On shore, atop a huge pile of scrap metal, a crane busily worked away grabbing heaps of angular rusty bars and sheets then dropping them all at once in a heap on the barge. We only got to see the crane make a couple of grabs but us three girls up front all looked at each other grinning and Bret said it all, “Cool.”

Back ashore we made our way back to the house where Becky was prepping up a storm for the Betty’s birthday lunch the next day. We enjoyed a quite dinner and heard some great family tales, even watched an episode of Dancing with the Stars (that one pro-dancer was uber cocky, and they were way mean to Cher’s son- don’t mess with Cher man).

The next morning I woke up with a giant smile on my face, it was here, MY BIRFDAY! Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy birthdays, especially mine own but not everyone may know why. I love my birthday because and any birthday really because they are the best excuse to see so many friends and people, talk to someone you haven’t talked to in ages, and really just connect when so many other days you might be too busy to be. Birthdays are also fun because you get to spoil people rotten, and when its your turn, well, you get to be spoiled rotten. 🙂 hehe

This year I was lucky enough to share my birthday with one classy lady, Mrs. Betty Collins. I had forgotten until we got closer to Mississippi that Betty’s birthday was just the day after mine and so we could all celebrate together Becky hosted a wonderful luncheon at the house.

After some breakfast blue berries muffins (the beginning of being spoiled- Thanks Rach!) we cleaned up and awaited Betty’s arrival. Most of the day was in fact spent eating! What else could you ask for?! Becky served up a delicious ham, cornbread, green beans, just to begin with. There was a chocolate pie, a birthday cake for Betty, AND cupcakes for me to round things off! The food coma was battling with the sugar high for total domination. We were roused from our stupor by a call from Jimmy who went out to pick up their dog from the “hotel.”

“Tell the girls to get ready, I found a dead armadillo!” Bret had inspired us all, we were desperate to see an armadillo and as it would be easiest to see a dead one, our eyes had been peeled along the road but we hadn’t seen one yet. As silly as we could be we grabbed cameras and hopped in the car once Jimmy returned, “I have a great ‘dillo eye” he said, adding “ya gotta be patient when looking for armadillos.” Patience had paid off, there it was just before the overpass nice and partially squished. There was a break in traffic as we ooed and aaahed, snappe a couple of photos and called it good!


Not long after we made our farewells to the Collins clan, thank you all for such a wonderful visit!! With evening approaching we set off in the valiant vehicle with so much to look forward to: a bomb partner-in-crime at the airport, an unopened bottle of honey Jack D, another great sunset, and a birthday celebration in New Orleans. Just you wait 🙂

With love from the road,


After more than a little hiatus

Boy do I need to catch up! Its hard to feel too bad that I’ve been so bad at blogging because I’ve been adventuring! At the same time it means there is so much to tell!

I've been real busy as you can tell

Picking up where I left off…

Sunday morning I woke up while Rachel was getting set to go on a run with Oscar. I dragged myself to the empty bed in the boys dorm and the rest of us lazed about while those two crazies went running all around Nashville, sheesh. Once they made it back we walked just a few minutes away to grab breakfast/lunch, some very interesting decisions were made. I decided to have tortellini, it just sounded so good. Brian decided to offset my carbo-loading with a Naked juice and parfait haha. Rachel and Danny both committed to sandwiches and beers, the day had truly begun.

From the hostel Rach, Brian, and I set off to do some exploring. We tried to go to the Grand Ole Opry Museum only to learn it was closed until further notice following the flash floods that occurred in May. We saw the gift shop at least? The whole thing was set up in a mall, wasn’t very appealing or country to begin with.

From there we were going to head back towards the state building/downtown but as per usual we got a little sidetracked. There was an exit sign for Andrew Jackson’s house called The Hermitage so we figured we’d pop in. Well, Mr. Exit-Sign-That-Doesn’t-Tell-You-What-It-Is-For-Is-Actually-Five-Million-Miles-Away, you win again.

That didn’t keep us from getting more sidetracked though. We saw this place and had to get a closer look:

Hmmm what's this place?

Just dying to know what it was we headed towards the modern looking back door where we met a very friendly security guard. He told us this use to be a residence, three stories and all, but now it was used as the offices for the Historical Society or some such. After thanking him for the info, and a few handshakes we made our way around the exterior, “I call the floor with the porch!” With all the floors divided between us, we saw a barred entrance to the basement right next to the dumpster, “that’s where Danny and Oscar can stay haha.” Our imaginations exhausted we continued our original quest to The Hermitage.

Now, before we began this side quest of the initial quest, we had already read that it was rather pricey to tour the house, our hope was to be able to drive up and check it out. Ironically we were able (no fences stood in our way at least) to drive around quite a bit of the property, see and adjacent house, graveyard, etc. but we never got to see the main house! Oh well, the cows were pretty exciting too.

We actually made our way back into down, drove along Gay St. and got a feel for the Nashville we’d only seen at night. Just down the hill from the impressive state building we found the Farmer’s Market which had three HUGE halls. The first was gardening things and produce, the next was an enclosed food court with several shops and meats, lastly was a flea market. Open aired avenues fanned out in both directions and even though we arrived towards closing there was still plenty to see, like this:

Giant gourds! Not for the eating Brian

Blue pumpkins!! With lumps!!

Pumpkin towers

Some of many pig parts for sale

Brian and I got a bag of delicious grape tomatoes and ate ourselves silly! He made a new Jamaican friend and I learned about a new place I want to travel to. We met up with Rachel who had been across the street checking out the rather overwhelming walking timeline of Tennessee’s history, a lot of note can happen in a few hundred years.

I don’t remember how it came up be we began to patiently explain to Brian the dating guidelines we have come up with along the way, i.e. No trucks, No gingers, No last names that are first names, and they only get sillier from there. Note: the key use of the word “guidelines” because like everyone else we love changing our minds and making exceptions 😉 to all this Brian had the best response yet: “I don’t think there is a type of girl I wouldn’t date!” Now we still aren’t sure what he meant to say but that’s what came out haha I still haven’t decided whether it should give ladies hope or traumatize them.

Our last night in Nashville with our new friends! The next day held lots of driving for us but we had a ball nonetheless. Somehow (as always) we literally stumbled upon a brewpub with a 2 for 1 beer special for dinner. Despite the huge increase in volume as the place filled up, Oscar and Brian provided top-notch entertainment. We did have to explain to Oscar that the “Milwaukie beer” he just ordered was the same Pabst Blue Ribbon we had before we left the hostel, go figure! After we were fed and full we caught a cab downtown for some more live music and dancing! The highlight of the night was definitely when the band broke into a rendition of “We Are The Champions” and all of us belted it out on the dance floor.

Our best attempt at a group photo haha

The next morning gave us a moment to pause, it’d been so much fun hanging out together! I think we were also all very excited for the next part of our trips it was hard to dwell on it too much. We said farewell to Brian who took off on his bike for North Carolina, Danny and Oscar had another night in town and just a few days later we would reunite in New Orleans! At the same hostel again no less. With a pit stop for fuel for Velma and ourselves, Rach and I hit the road! This drive took us on all new highways but through some new territory. We stopped in Mississippi and had Chick-Fil-A for the first time ever! It was a very impressive chicken sandwich.

Late that evening (after a few missed highways and “rerouting” by our phones) we made it to my cousins’ in Long Beach, Mississippi. Jimmy and Becky stayed up to welcome us and we all hit the hay soon after happy to be back in the deep South.

With love from the road,