Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our Big Road Trip-put your feet up this is gonna be a long one!!!

Do you remember the sound of a record playing some great music, and then all of a sudden a big screech and the music stops? That is kind of like what happened on our road trip. We left home around 7am a week ago Friday- before anyone else was up at our house and started south with my in-laws car.

Our boys  took their grandparents (my in-laws) to the airport a few hours later so we could get an early start. We had a plan. We worked hard the Sunday before we left to search for places to stop along the way, and we had a LOT of fun waiting for us.

Our first stop was just outside of Cincinnati at Skyline Chili. It wasn't actually on our list, we were planning to go to a chili place that was on Diner's Drive-in's and Dives, but my good friend Auntie (who is from the Cincy area) convinced me that Skyline is the only real Cincinnati chili.

It was interesting. There weren't very many people in the restaurant when we arrived. This was our second location (thank goodness for GPS), the first one we found our way to was permanently closed! This one had 4 young women working and they just chattered like crazy among themselves-all across the restaurant, but when they got to our table they were all quiet and soft spoken. I almost felt like we were annoying them by interrupting their conversation time when they had to wait on us.

When our order came, I was really surprised at how small the coney dog was. It looked like a little kiddie version of a hot dog and bun. I didn't really care for the sweet taste to the chili-I was told it has chocolate and cinnamon in it. I prefer what I grew up on, and I'm sure a lot of  people think say the same thing-you like what you know.

We did manage to finish it all was pretty good, just not our favorite.

We left there, headed toward Mammoth Cave Kentucky. As soon as we got off the expressway, we saw a very interesting place on the side of the road...

The store was packed! Floor to ceiling, wall to wall with all kinds of junk treasures! Old, new, reproductions, barely used, to very used. It was almost overwhelming to try to take it all in! It was a fun place to stop, stretch our legs and spend some time looking things over.

Our next stop was Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. We couldn't have asked for or bought more beautiful weather! It was gorgeous to drive in, and some of the leaves were still on the trees-an added bonus! As we were driving through the park to get to the caves info center, there were deer all over the place on the side of the road. Just aimlessly wandering-not afraid of the cars at all!

At one point, I pulled over and one of them started walking right up to Kevin's window! He pulled out the camera and said "Give me a big smile" and the deer actually raised up its chin-like she knew what he was talking about!

We got there just as the last tour was leaving, and we knew that would be the case, so we bought our tickets for the next morning and checked in to the hotel right next door. It was an older hotel built in 1925. It was originally built in 1914,  but burned down and was rebuilt. It was very nice and clean-just older. Each room had a balcony with a couple chairs and a table, and everything else you'd find at a modern hotel.

 Nice clean rooms each with its own balcony in a quiet, peaceful setting = priceless!!

 A giant flock of turkey buzzards sitting in this tree just a little way down the trail from the hotel-it was kind of creepy seeing them all sitting there staring at us!

 This is the hotel-built in 1925-the original hotel was built in 1914, but burned down.

The best part was a wonderful walkway that ran behind the hotel and connected to some hiking trails. It was so peaceful and beautiful! We were at least 4 miles from a main road or any other businesses and it was very peaceful and quiet.

We walked the trails until it got dark and then had a wonderful dinner in their restaurant. We tried fried okra for the first time-yum- and Kevin tried lobster bisque! When we walked in, it looked like a really fancy restaurant-the tables were set beautifully! I felt bad walking in in jeans, but everyone else was dressed the same way.

We got the chicken special and it was delicious. The service was great and I would highly recommend the hotel and the restaurant to anyone considering a trip to the Mammoth Caves! Our dinners were packed with food-we couldn't even eat it all! It was only $13.95 a plate for what we got-even with lobster bisque!

The cave tour was great! I was starting to get a little claustrophobic when we were going down into the cave because some of the passageways were very narrow, so I just focused on getting down there and not how close it was and I made it! Once I got down to where it opened up, I was fine and was able to enjoy my surroundings.

We took an "easy" tour that ended up being about 2 hours over all. They had other tours that were more strenuous-and since we were sweating like crazy when we finished this tour, I was glad we didn't opt for the more aggressive one!

The next stop was to be another Diner's Drive-ins and Dives restaurant in Nashville. We got there at 1:30 for lunch, only to see a sign on the door that they were closed! So, we kept on going. We were headed for a flea market in Hendersonville-no lolly gagging around when a flea market awaits!!

It was PACKED! We had a hard time finding a parking spot! This just seemed to heighten our expectations of the great junk treasures we were hoping to find. We couldn't have been more disappointed! It was as Auntie would say, a tube sock flea market. There were only 3 booths in the whole place that were of interest to us. 2 with vintage goodies and an Amish baked goods booth.

I picked up an Amish-made pecan pie for Kevin for his birthday (which was Monday), because I had no way on the road to bake him a cake and pecan pie is his all time favorite. That pie was the BEST pecan pie either one of us has ever tasted! I wish I would have gotten 2! It was only $4-yes it was a little smaller than a normal pie, probably about 6", but oh, was it good!!

We made a rule before we left home that we had to eat at restaurants that we didn't have in Michigan, and we so far, have kept to it, except one time, and we allowed that because we were starving-there was nothing else for at least 20+ miles and the closest one to our home was about 3 hours north of us-so that made it ok.

We've eaten at Waffle House, Sonny's BBQ, Skyline Chili, Hardee's, Shoney's, Chick-Fil-A, the Cuban Restaurant and the Mammoth Cave Hotel Restaurant. Hardee's used to be all over Michigan, but in our area at least, they've moved out and the closest one, that I know of, is about 3 hours north of us. The worst service was at Sonny's in Valdosta, Georgia. The server left us sitting for 25 minutes before coming to take our order-we were almost ready to get up and leave. We stayed because after all the driving we did, we were almost in a zombie-like stage. Too tired to think of finding another place. The food was good, but the service was really bad. Same with Waffle House-incredibly horrible service-one waiter and one cook for the entire place-a place that was packed and really needed at least 2 more servers.

The next stop on our journey was Stone Mountain in Georgia-just outside of Atlanta. This was pretty awesome as well! We both really enjoyed our time there. We went right away to the parking area near where you walk up the mountain. It didn't look very steep, and it seemed like a ton of people were climbing/walking up, so we decided to go too. It is a mile up. I was pretty exhausted at about the half-way point and we stopped to catch our breath.

We were being passed by old people and little kids, so we started off again. We got to one area where they have hand rails because it is very steep, so I figured that this must be near the top. I put all my hopes in the fact that (I thought) we were nearly done. We reached the top of the rails and saw we had a little ways to go before another bend in the trail. I assumed just past the bend would be the top.

When I rounded that curve and saw there was still a pretty good chunk of stone to climb, I pretty much gave up. I sat down on a big rock and told Kevin to go without me, I was done. So he left his hoodie and the camera bag and took off. As I was sitting there (sucking in air like a vacuum), along comes a very pregnant woman and her husband-just like they were on a Sunday stroll! I felt shame at myself for giving up!! So, I gathered all our stuff and forced myself to get to the top-no matter how long it took!!

When I made it, I was elated that I pushed myself to finish! The view was amazing and the most awesome part...two bag-pipers playing patriotic songs for Veteran's Day! It couldn't have been more beautiful! The other beautiful thing I saw was a sky tram-woo hooo!!! I gladly paid the $5.50 a person for us to ride down instead of walk-especially after talking with a mom up there who's son walked up with his Boy Scout troop. She said their pack leader told the boys that going down is much harder than going up!

I was very thankful for my almost 50 pound weight loss that day! I couldn't imagine carrying that extra weight on me and actually making it to the top without needing oxygen. As it was, I was really huffing and puffing and having a hard time catching my breath for a while. Maybe the altitude, more than likely just plain being out of shape!

 The BEST thing to see at the top of a mountain-a skylift DOWN!!!

We shopped a couple of their tourist-trap shops and drove through the park checking out the other attractions. It is a really neat place and I would highly recommend it. If you find yourself going to Atlanta area with an extra day, plan a trip to Stone Mountain.

Our next stop was the Big Peach Antique Mall in Byron, Georgia. We spent quite a bit of time there, and I found some treasures that I think with their size will fit in our carry-on. Otherwise, I had told Kevin that HIS clothes would be staying in Florida so my treasures could make it home with us-LOL! I'm kidding-kind of.

 All of the jadeite and the shakers are reproductions...I don't care though-they are lovely to me, and I'm sure I'll never ever find the originals-at least in my price range! The ice bucket is from a thrift store near my in-law's house as is the picture holder. The sour cream/cottage cheese bowl is from Webster Flea Market (more about this a little further down).

 These three trinket boxes look old, but they aren't-they are also from a thrift store near my in-law's.

 I had to snap this little Sunbonnet Sue quilt as it reminded me of my blog buddy Marie when I saw it-she collects these! She's from Canada and she met me at the Midland Antiques Festival this summer-maybe we'll run into each other there again this summer!! Hope you're doing well Marie!!!

 I am assuming these are the European version of Pyrex...they were marked England and I LOVE them, but not the price!!! $75 FIRM for the set of three!!

 These wreaths seemed to be really big in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida-we saw them all over. I took a shot of the back of one, in case I decide to try my hand at one. Looks to be just wired ribbon on a wreath frame...

 This was by FAR my favorite booth at the Big Peach! I bought everything from this one booth! I was surprised that the dealer didn't have to disclose on the tag that the items were reproductions (we do in our mall and I only think that is the fair/honest thing to do). I knew they were repros, but someone else might not...

 This paper rack was HUGE!!! It was about 4' long!

 This is now on my new wish list!!! LOVE it!!!

We spent the night in Valdosta and splurged on a little nicer hotel. One that had an indoor pool and hot tub. After the trek up the mountain, and sitting in the car for so many days, we were stiff and sore. We stopped at the welcome center of each state we drove through and picked up hotel discount books and really saved a ton of money on hotels. We really enjoyed our stay at that hotel. The hot tub made it the stiffness go away and it wasn't so bad to hop back in the car the next morning.

Welcome center coupons really knocked the price down on this hotel! It wasn't  a very big splurge because we had a coupon!

Our next plan was to visit the Budweiser brewery and take a tour, but on the way, we remembered the Webster Flea Market, and both of us decided that would be way more fun. Since we were driving, we had to text a friend at home to look up the address for us. We got there around 11:30 and a lot of the vendors were packing up!! It was supposed to be open until 3, but they were leaving early. I was bummed! We got to see a lot, but we also missed a lot because it was being packed up.

I LOVE the Webster Flea Market! I've gone many times with my Grandma. It was kind of bitter-sweet to go there this time without her. If you are ever in Florida on a Monday, go to the Webster Flea Market!!! You will LOVE it! There is a section of new junk & tube socks, but there is also a big area of antiques and junk that we all love.

I found a #6 and #7 Fiesta mixing bowls there-beautiful condition-not so beautiful price! $90 and $110-so I just had to wipe the drool from my lip and keep walking. I did get kettle corn-I had my first kettle corn at Webster about 10 years ago. I'd never had it before then, and I only bought it that day because the boys and I had skipped breakfast and grandma was on a marathon shopping expedition and we didn't know when we'd be getting lunch. We fell in love with kettle corn that day! All of us love it now and are highly disappointed if we go to a flea market or such and they don't have kettle corn.

After we left Webster, we decided to drive to Kevin's mom and step-dad's house. It was in the mid eighties and we were hot and sweaty, and really tired of being in the car! They were very happy that their car made it, but I don't think they were so happy to have us crash in on them. They only have a two bedroom home, and they sleep in separate rooms, so Ed had to give up his room for us.

We went grocery shopping and loaded up their fridge and cupboards for them. Their neighbor had taken them to the store when they first arrived and they had a few things on hand, but not nearly enough. We also weeded their flower beds, vacuumed, did a few loads of laundry and cooked a little for them while we were there. I hope it was helpful for them, but I'm not so sure-knowing how finicky he is, I'm sure most of what we did wasn't up to his standards, but our hearts were in the right place when we did what we did.

We visited a local mall on Wednesday and watched a very long, very bad movie (it was raining buckets all day), and then we stopped at 6 antique shops and a couple thrift shops on the way home. That was a fun day! We ate dinner at a Cuban restaurant called...The Cuban Restaurant...what else!?! It was new and came highly recommended by the old man in the library who tried picking me up! Once I mentioned my husband, he didn't want to stick around and talk to me anymore-LOL! We even saw him the next day pulling into their community and he waved at me! Too FUNNY!

Our initial flight home was uneventful, other than our first flight being delayed an hour, and our connecting flight in Atlanta was bumped up so that our lay-over was cut from 2 1/2 hours down to about 10 minutes! the boys dropped my car at the airport and that went smoothly too.

I am SOOO glad to be home and be in my own bed again!! My two girls were so very excited to see me -they were barking and jumping and wagging their tails like crazy!! Little Lucy hasn't strayed very far from my lap while I 've been home today. It's GOOD to be home!!!

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