Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting Road Trip Ready!

Let the Packing begin!
The repeat offenders (my mother and I) are hitting the bricks this Friday (April 4th), leaving our sleepy little town for a 4-state road cruise.  Places we will be adventure hunting:

Memphis, TN
I've always had a place in my heart for Elvis, and mom suggested we add this stop in, when our plans were just AL and MS.  Only spending one night here might not be what some people think of as getting a good feel for the state, but we've visited TN on more than one occasion.

Helena-West Helena, AR
How did I pick this place?  Beats me, but being the only downtown on the Mississippi River for quite a stretch definitely has an appeal to it.  It has a lot of Civil War history, and that small town feel that I'm always chasing.  I'm going to have to have a local explain to me the Helena vs. Helena-West Helena title because there seems to be some debate.

Oxford, MS
First stop for Ole Miss is....Ole Miss itself.  Oxford holds a lot of history (especially for you literary fiends, since it's the home of William Faulkner) and we couldn't pass up a chance to stop in an see Square Books.  We're only staying one night here, but we're going to make it count!

Tupelo, MS
Another one night stop, but if you actually read above, you would know why we are stopping here.  Two words: Elvis's Birthplace!  It seems to be a hip little town, and we thought there might be some adventure we could snoop out there!  Also, the Natchez Trace Parkway runs through it, and I have a thing for Parkways.

Birmingham, AL
A two-nighter for this capital city.  The history, the food, the sites...Was it even a question that I would need more than 24-hours to explore and soak in the Birmingham scene?  Mom's excited about the Botanical gardens, and I'm excited about...everything.

Anniston, AL
Last night, but certainly not the least.  This tiny town will be our last shot at adventure before making our way back home.  We're splurging the last night, and staying at an iconic inn (all the other nights will be at the Days Inn/Baymont/Best Western).  We're both excited to see a close friend who inhabits that neck of the woods, and check out some of the small town charm!

So there you have it, a state-by-state itinerary.  Being the planner I am, I have a highlighted, bulletin'ed, sub-sectioned itinerary (that I think wow'd my mother), but you never know when adventure will strike, so it's more of a "guideline".  I'll give each state its own post, filled with pictures, good eats, and (hopefully) great views.  If you have any suggestions on where to go, what to pack, or want to say hi, comment below!
Fingers crossed I can get through 3 more days of school without the travel bug getting too anxious.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Future Planning

Hello, my poor neglected travel blog!
I haven't posted my Florida or (one of the many) South Carolina trips, but between teaching and moving it's been hard to find the time!
Spring Break is coming up, so there are some possibilities, and this summer I'm planning a Road Trip to PA!  How exciting, right?!

Anyways, be on the look out for those updates, and it'll be March before I decide on the where to go next!

Sincerely Yours,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Welcome to the Wettest County in the World

If you know me at all, you are aware how much I love the mountains.  And not just any ole mountains, The Appalachian (here is how to say it properly) Mountains.  Growing up 25 minutes from the parkway instilled a love and respect for these beauties that I can't even begin to describe, so I wont attempt.  Either way, I had only seen MY side of the mountains, and when I found that I had a free weekend last week, I set to planning my Virginian adventure.  Now, I love planning and thinking and mapping, but I wanted to go somewhere off the beaten trail, somewhere small but rich in culture.  And through my research on Historical VA, I found exactly what I needed: Franklin County, VA.  Haven't heard of it?  I'm not surprised.  Have heard of it? I bet it has to do with moonshine!  Of the people who know about Franklin, most know it from the movie "Lawless" (with Shia-LaBeouf and Tom Hardy!) that is based on a book, "The Wettest County in the World" (I'm reading it now!).
     When I told Mom and Dad about this, Mom called dibs on being my co-pilot and Daddy surprised us by getting us a room at a Bed and Breakfast, the AMAZING Claiborne House in Rocky Mount, the county seat of Franklin.  The Leete's are literally the best innkeepers you could imagine!  My mom and I were so impressed at the warmth of their B&B and the hospitality the entire family has!  (See my entire separate post on the B&B HERE)
I'm a sucker for a big front porch...

When we arrived, we realized we had left the house before breakfast and drove straight through lunch!  The innkeepers suggested El Rio, an AMAZING Mexican restaurant on the corner above our B&B.  I don't usually love Mexican food, but it was DELICIOUS!
this spread was a meal for of course we split it!
Afterwards, we explored a little in town, and found the nicest people at Renick's Antiques, who told us about things we needed to do in the area, and really gave us a taste of the small town hospitality we are so blessed with.  
When we finished at Renick's, we headed down Booker T Washington Highway to find the heaven of all creameries:  The Homestead Creamery!  As you can see, we had HUGE ice cream cones (no preservatives!), bought some cream and lemonade (that was smooth and perfect), and played with the animals they had!  After that, we went back to the room and relaxed, snacking on pralines and cream cheese bars mom had made for the trip and left overs from El Rio.  We watched Lawless on my laptop, and went to sleep in the most comfortable sheets in the world!

Saturday, we woke up and had an amazing breakfast at the B&B, and Shellie made a post about our trip on their Funky Blog!  Mom and I drove up to Roanoke and visited one of her favorite places on TV, Black Dog Salvage.  And....WE GOT TO MEET MIKE!  Mom and I both were freaking out!  He walked up to us and asked us how we of course we got a picture with him!!
After that, we went to the Texas Tavern and had their chili and Cheesy Western!  It has been in Roanoke since 1930, and is open all night!  We got tons of pictures and a t-shirt for a souvenir!
The waiter talked us into going to the Roanoke Star!  It's the tallest man-made free standing star in the world!

When we were done there, we ran back to Renick's to pick up something mom had decided she had to have (and that I loved too!) and went...right back to the creamery.  It was so good we had to get it twice!  After that, we visited the Booker T Washington Memorial, which we barely got to before it closed!

We went back to the inn then, and I picked up some delicious wings and pizza from Franks.  We turned in from the night after an exciting day, and packed up to leave the next day.

Sunday, we got up, had breakfast, and before we could check out and go to church, Daddy surprised us by getting us another night at the Inn!  We had some car trouble on mainstreet that caused us to miss the morning service, but we picked up some lunch and took some pictures around the inn.  

When 2:45 rolled around, we grabbed our tickets and boarded the bus to go on the Moonshine Express! put on by the Franklin County Historical Society.  They had "likker" stills, banjo pickers, and merchandise for sale before boarding, and they took us across town, showing different historical homes and having volunteer actors boarding the bus, telling parts of the story!  I felt like it was a personal view of this very historically based town, and I felt like I was taken back in time!  Tour only runs twice a year, so definitely check out the events page on their site!

Me and Tim Smith!
The tour lasted over an hour, and we got t-shirts and a guidebook (and a copy of "The Wettest County in the World" for me ;D) and went back to get ready for church.  
We visited the Rocky Mount Church of Christ Sunday night, and it was like being welcomed in to the family.  The sermon was amazing, the people were kind, and we really felt at home.
Surprisingly, we found the BEST Italian restaurant in Rocky Mount, still open when we got back from church.  Hema's was just below our B&B, so we settled in an were AMAZED at the prices, and the quality of the food.
Mom got the special (not pictured), I got a "Chicken Loca" and we split some cheese bread and a dessert.  I was SO impressed, I would say you should definitely not drive past the restaurant without trying it out.

The next morning, after breakfast and a bittersweet check-out, mom and I visited the historical society.  We got to meet some of the volunteers who had been on the moonshine express tour, and we were shown around the museum by one of the volunteers!  It was like stepping back in time, and being guided through that by someone who had lived through it was absolutely magical!

For our last stop in Rocky Mount, we had lunch at The Hub Restaurant!  Everyone at the Historical Society suggested we go, and we were delighted at the food!  Mom went with biscuit and gravy, while I ordered the Hub Club!

Overall, I'm so blessed that I got to go on this trip with mom.  We had some really amazing quality time, and got to really enjoy just hanging out with each other.  We are a lot alike, and though we sometimes butt heads, it's because we just want each other to be happy.

Rocky Mount was the perfect little town for the start of this blog.  I don't think we could have happened up on a better place with better people to start this amazing 50-state adventure.  

Thanks for reading guys, and stay tuned, you never know where I'm gonna end up next.

More than Just a Mattress and a Meal

My mom and I had the opportunity to have our first stay at a Bed and Breakfast this past weekend, and I  must say, impressed doesn't even begin to explain how I felt during and after our trip which you can read about here

I'm a breakfast fanatic.  Biscuits, gravy, pancakes, waffles, toast, fruit, sausage, bacon, name it, and as long as its in the morning, I'll go nuts.  So as you can imagine, the idea of staying in a cabin-y room and waking up to a delicious spread nearly drove me bonkers in anticipation.  And believe me, I wasn't disappointed at all.
Left: The Claiborne Ave view of The House Right: The Wash Room Cottage Mom and I stayed at! 

I was expecting amazing, I was expecting unique, and I got that...and so much more at The Claiborne House in Rocky Mount VA.  The Leete's have a beautiful B&B, and you can see the care and preservation they have put into taking care of this amazing house, which is over 100 years old.  They were friendly and ready to help us have an amazing weekend, and full of suggestions of things to do in the community.  Here are few pictures of the property:

 These pictures don't do it justice AT ALL.  It's the perfect mix of whimsical and homey, country chic if you will.
Now that I've shown how beautiful the grounds are....HERE COMES THE FOOD!

Saturday's Breakfast:

 We walked in to a beautifully set dining room, smells of tastey promises wafting in from the kitchen.  We start with a delicious granola, yogurt, and fruit bowl, and then are brought the most amazing french toast I've ever had the pleasure of devouring.  Shellie and her family truly are food artists, and they embrace the beauty of breakfast with every meal they prepared for us.

Sunday Breakfast:

Delicious fresh biscuits, fluffy perfect eggs, crispy hashbrowns, and juicy tomato slices started the day of right!

Monday Breakfast:
Saying which breakfast was my favorite was hard...but I'd have to say this croissant french toast with fresh blueberries.  As you can see, I couldn't even hold my self back, I'm surprised I didn't lick the plate!

I'm a list person, so here is a sample of a list I made while we were staying at the The Claiborne of the small touches that meant the most to my stay:
  • They have brochures on ALL of the amazing things to do in the area.  Shellie and her family can tell you everything you need to see/do while you're around, because they have completely immersed themselves in this community, and truly know the "do before you leave" list.
  • They have "Granny's Rules": no cussin', drinkin', or smokin'.  With exceptions, of course.  They are very clear on the respect that they expect their guests to have for their home, but are always willing to work with you.  I felt free to come and go as I please, and to carry on with our plans and business.
  • The pictures and descriptions were accurate, if not underestimating.  More than once, I've stayed at a place that looked AMAZING, but was SERIOUSLY disappointed when we showed up.  Not in this case.  It was gorgeous online...but beautiful in person.
  • The Wash Room smells like cedar every time you open the door.  I didn't smell anything unpleasant the entire time I was at the B&B.  They are so meticulous of their cleaning that there was never a foul incident in that category (or any category, for that matter). 
  • THE SHEETS WERE LIKE CLOUDS, SURROUNDING YOUR BODY!  I know this is an obscure thing to have on this list, but I'm telling you...I almost couldn't get out of bed.     
  • When we asked them honest questions, they gave us honest answers.  We asked where to eat: they told us their favorites.  We had to deal with a little family situation through our visit, and they were so kind and caring in helping us deal with it.  Our car battery died on mainstreet, and Tony and his daughter came to the rescue!
  • They have an "Elope Virginia" program, that includes an intimate, 2-4 person wedding, with pictures, cake, and the night at the B&B.  I think this is brilliant, and extremely well priced given the services they provide!
My list is much longer, but I'll end it here for now.

 There is no way that this post is going to be able to do this amazing family business justice.  All I can do is point you towards their trip adviser reviews, and their "Funky Blog"!
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below!

Note: I normally wont make separate posts for every place I stay of my big adventures, but my first B&B experience was so amazing it needed its own post!

As Shellie and her family would say "Isn't it time for a Blue Ridge Day Y'all?"