A Fall Road Trip

Fall is my favorite season. All my senses seam to go into sensory overload in a good way. The air smells different. The temperature is cooler.  Foods are suddenly heartier and flavored with pumpkin or apple and spice. And then there is the fall foliage hitting it’s peak in the mountains. When our daughter Allyson got accepted to Dartmouth, then decided to continue playing the sax in their scatter band, I envisioned my husband and I going up every fall for a football game and watching the band perform. As a band mom for four years of high school, I knew I would miss those days. Life always had other plans for us though. We always seemed to drive up too early in the season or the other seasons entirely. Fast forward to senior year we finally made plans to do it right this time.

We picked a date that worked for Al and our sister (who just happened to make the move from Boston to New Hampshire!) so she can meet up with us too. We patiently waited all summer for our little getaway. Finally the weekend came! With our mom in on the trip, the three of us hit the road on Friday morning.

The ride up was beautiful. Here in parts of PA, we still have a lot of green on our trees. NY and MA had the most vibrant red, yellow and orange leaves of the whole trip. 

VT and NH probably hit peak color last weekend but still didn’t disappoint. There is one area approx. thirty minutes south of White River Junction, VT heading north on I91. No matter what season it is, it always mesmerizes me. I posted it to my IG account. Go check it out when you are done reading!

It takes about six hours to arrive at our hotel in WRJ and we are minutes away from campus in Hanover, NH. We arrived just in time for an invite to meet up with Allyson at the football field to watch the band practice.

It was a full moon this weekend. The moon looked so big and beautiful! No matter how many times I tried to capture it, no picture did it justice. But I do like this one from Friday night a lot.

We stayed at the field for a little bit then decided to head to town where we met up with Al for a later dinner and drinks.

I call this picture Reflections. That’s our mom, my husband Dan and Al.

Saturday morning we got up early for breakfast then squeeze in a hike before the afternoon football game. Al wanted to take us to Gile Mountain to the fire tower to show us the spectacular views. 

The hike itself was about an hour. I wish we had more time to explore but we needed to get back so Al could meet up with the rest of the band.

That’s our sister in the gray jeans and unfortunately the only picture I have of her from the weekend 😔

I have video of the performances but they are long so I will spare you. But this screen shot of them marching off turned out ok.

The band has a tradition that if our team wins (and we did!), the band will parade through Hanover on then over to the campus library where they quietly march up to the Tower room, aka the quiet room, and play music while the quickly march through. Then they quietly exit the building. Being the stalkers that we are, we finally got to see that too… And of course I filmed it. 

After the game, we said our goodbyes as Al had a social engagement to attend and the rest of us were going back to our sister’s new place about an hour away, meet up with her boyfriend and get another late dinner. I hope to see the area in the daylight sometime. Unfortunately it was already dark when we arrived. Their house is cute and they have a great, private back yard with chance visits by bears and foxes. They are right on the edge of the White Mountains with prime hiking spots to visit sometime. Lucky for us, they are big hikers too.

One new place in Hanover that I have to mention since I fell in love with the vibe here was The Skinny Pancake. It’s a small food shed & crepery chain out of Vermont. All the food is local and they have a good craft beer selection as well. We stopped in for a drink on Friday night and we loved the place so much we went back for breakfast. The decore is (or looks like anyway because I am not sure) reclaimed barn wood with tin ceilings and simple light fixtures. And our bartender reminded me of a young Jennifer Tilly. When we went back for breakfast, I chose the Noah’s Ark which was 2 eggs, bacon and two crumpled sweet crepes. No stuffed crepes for this dairy challenged girl. But everyone else really enjoyed theirs! I had to top off my breakfast with a pumpkin spice latte with almond milk.

Delicious!! 

What a great way to start the day… A great breakfast and a hike. Or how about watching a football game with a colorful mountain view and ending with a family dinner? I have to say it was pretty perfect to me. It was very hard to leave this morning and come back to reality. My little corner of PA is picturesque too but nothing compares to that part of New England. It was time to make the six hour drive home, pick up the pups from the kennel and settle back in to our daily grind of life. The next time we go back up will most likely be in June for graduation. Where does the time go? I am happy that we took the time from work to make the trip happen. It’s one I will remember for a long time.

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My Happiness Project – November


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?