Hi friends! I wanted to start off this post with a big THANK YOU for hanging in here with me. I am grateful for all of you, my readers and followers on all my social media platforms. I have met some wonderful men and women through this blogging community and feel like we are old friends.
November has given me a lot to be thankful for. My daughter Allyson got home on 11/21 for her long winter break (6 weeks). Since we would not be home for Thanksgiving, my MIL made a full feast on that Sunday before instead. Our sister Mandy came down from Boston which was a surprise to us! And we spent a lot of time with her, our other sister Megan and her husband Jeff. I could not think of a better way to kick off our vacation!
Speaking of vacation…. That Saturday we ended up changing plans. The news reports of all the escalated crime in NOLA and especially right where we would be staying was terrifying. We did not want to take any chances. So, we cancelled our hotel and decided stay more north. I promise I won’t go on and on about every deal. But since this road trip is a huge part of my happiness project, I will just give highlights. If you already follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will have already seen pictures and/or check ins.
Let me first say, as I did in my October post, that our idea of a road trip is more about the journey. We don’t have our days booked in advance filled with scheduled tours and must see places. We like to go and wander around. If we discover something along cool the way, great! I can be happy just looking at old buildings or churches and maybe checking out the inside for a few minutes then moving on. I can look at old building for days if you let me. Due to our time constraints and traveling times, most of the cities were explored at night.
Our first stop was Gatlinburg, TN. The town and neighboring Pigeon Forge were lit up with the largest Christmas light display I have ever seen! Unfortunately, I was driving so no pictures were taken. We arrived after everything was closed so no exploring. Our hotel was set up on a mountain and the morning view was glorious! The hotel is round so of course I could not resist this perspective shot from the lobby.
Our stay was very short lived. We were back in the road by 10:00AM and headed to Nashville! Dan and Allyson were here once before during college touring season. I had heard so much about how great this city is. So, now was my chance to experience it as well. We had plenty of time before checking into our hotel so we decided to go see the Grand Old Opry. We didn’t want to take a tour so we wandered the outside and took some pictures. Allyson had a debutante ball in Houston coming up and needed shoes for her gown. So, we went to the mall. I fell in love with cowboy boots all over again (but didn’t buy any). But Al scored a pair of dressy sandles for $12! We stayed downtown on 4th St. Since all the nightlife is on 2nd St, we didn’t have far to go. Unfortunatly Al is three months shy of 21 so most places would not let her in. Coyote Ugly did (until 7:00) but it was empty (we were three of maybe ten customers). And she could not sit at the bar anyway so we had our drink and left- Womp Womp. Waking around and listening to the live music was cool though.
My highlight was a Johnny Cash museum. The only museum I visited. I had no idea it was right there! I love me some Cash so naturally I went. I left with a shirt too… The only thing I bought the whole trip. That church was our hotel view. I didn’t get a chance to get up close. But I love churches so I snapped a picture.
After one night in Nashville, we were on the road again. This time, destination Hot Springs, AR. At first when Dan suggested this, I thought he was crazy. But I trusted his judgement and he was right – I loved it! Our hotel was nice. People were super friendly and the hot springs? Spectacular! Of course, we were only there for the night so we got in as much as we could. Bathhouse Row was amazing. I would have loved to go into one of these historic places but they were closed. It was he night before Thanksgiving after all….
Maybe it was the mist from the hot springs, the full moon, the history of the place or all of it combined…There was something magical about this place. I especially enjoyed roaming inside the Arlington Resort and Spa (top left in the first group of pictures). I could do a whole separate post just on that place.
The architecture is stunning. Just look at these lobby elevators! The place was like something out of “The Shining”. Very cool indeed!
We were back on the road by 10:00AM Thanksgiving morning- destination Houston, TX. We arrived around 4:30PM. With dinner plans at The Capitol Grille. The dinner was ok. The sides were very good. The turkey was very dry though. Considering they are known for steaks, I let them off the hook. The waitress referred to Dan as my father which was pretty funny. I know people think I am Allyson’s sister but Dan does NOT look old enough to be my father! Luckily he could laugh it off. The rest of the night consisted of him making old man jokes. I love his sense of humor. Haha!
We stayed uptown, not to far from where Allyson’s friend lives and the hotel she would be sleeping at for her party. I didn’t take many pictures here even though this was our longest stay of the trip. On Black Friday morning we walked to The Galleria mall. It wasn’t crazy busy and I was disappointed that the sales weren’t kind blowing. We did not buy any gifts. However, we did have an amazing meal that Peli Peli which is South African cuisine. They only have two locations, Spring and Houston. I hope they expand to Philly some day. The food was THAT good! Allyson was meeting up with her party at 2:00 so after seeing her off, we returned to the mall, struck out again then just walked around town, bar hopped a little before going back to the hotel. We had an early start ahead of us the next morning.
Allyson texted me pictures of getting ready for the ball. She has a talent for hair and makeup. I wish I could do my hair like that! I thought she looked beautiful. She had a fabulous time with her friends.
Sadly, Saturday morning left us facing a 23+ hour drive home. Dan is leaving for a business trip today (Monday) so taking our time to get home was NOT an option.
Our route did take us across southern Louisiana so I did get to see parts of the bayou as we drove over it. With stopping for food and gas, it took up 25 hours to get home (left 6:30AM central, arriving 9:00AM eastern). Once home, we all crashed for a few hours before it was time to get the dogs from the kennel. Today is my last day off. I am taking it as a rest day. I have a few things I want to do but I doubt I will even leave the house. Getting in the car does not sound appealing to me.
I am grateful for the time spent with my husband and daughter this past week. With Allyson in her Jr year in college, who knows if we would have this chance again after she graduates and starts working full time. I think out of all the stops, Nashville and Hot Springs were my favorites. I would love to return and explore some more. But maybe a plane ride and two separate trips next time! Haha!
Tomorrow is December already! I can not believe the year is almost up. I don’t feel ready for the holiday season. I have parties every weekend leading up to Christmas and vacation on Christmas week as well. Maybe in that time, I can find ways to spread some Christmas cheer.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Did you do anything non traditional this year?