Road Trippin’: Itinerary & Photo Journal

Bags are unpacked, laundry is caught up, our young Marine has arrived in Cali, Madeline is back in school, and we are rested after a whirlwind seven day road trip through eight states last week!

Bradley graduated his MOS training and is now a Marine MP. We drove out to Ft Leonard Wood to enjoy time with him before he headed off to his PDS.

The boy did not have as many days off as we did, so we arranged a little mini-vacation around Madeline’s spring break and our travels. I love planning road trips, and this one was no different!

I have never let others plan for us; the goal is always to try to pick activities that fit our interests, see as much as we can to get a feel for so many fabulous things our beautiful nation offers, and we leave plenty of time to be spontaneous.

To begin planning I always put our destination into the GPS and look at all our routes; this time we were shown two distinct ways to travel to Ft Leonard Wood. Our entire little family has a goal of visiting all fifty states (hubby has visited 49 of them; I’m at 29 & it’s become quite a contest between our 4 kiddos), and airports don’t count. With two routes showing Madeline pointed out she could add two new states to her list so we decided to loop this trip.

We would leave Atlanta and head west through Alabama, Mississippi, skirt Tennessee with a pass through Memphis into Arkansas and head up into Missouri as we drove out to see Bradley. Coming home we would go through St Louis into Illinois, Kentucky, back through Nashville, Tennessee and back into Georgia.

With our route chosen we had an idea of places we wanted to see along the way and we set out to see what we could see! I thought our itinerary was a lot of fun, and had a couple of requests from social media to share it, so here we go!  Of course some of this was tailored to visiting Bradley, but you should find plenty of ideas for planning your own trip!

Day one we left about four in the afternoon after Audley had gotten off work. We love driving backroads, especially during rush hour, so we when we left on Thursday afternoon we took 2- lane roads from Cartersville, Georgia into Gadsden, Alabama before hitting I-59 into Birmingham. With spring really starting to show up it was a beautiful drive past farms and flowing rivers and creeks as we’ve been blessed with a lot of rain this year.

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Our first stop was for supper just outside Birmingham. We chose a quirky little sushi restaurant called Rock-N-Roll Sushi. We absolutely loved the classic rock theme of both the decor & sushi rolls!

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Madonna & Tommy Lee Rolls

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Journey & Motely Crue Roll

With our bellies full we drove through downtown Birmingham and headed west on I-22 into Mississippi.  Once in Tupelo we stopped for the night at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Day two began nice and early (7:15 am) as we wanted to make a stop by Elvis Presley’s birthplace (we were in Tupelo after all), which has been made into a public park as well as museum. We stopped by before they opened for a morning stroll through the park. While we didn’t get to see the inside of the home, no crowds and the peacefulness of the early morning was worth the stop. It’s a park that’s been tastefully created and quite lovely.

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We left Tupelo and passed through Memphis where we stopped at Elvis’s Graceland, a last minute decision since we had visited the birthplace early that morning.

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Graceland has changed a whole lot since I visited 24 years ago which meant we only viewed the house from a distance. We didn’t want extra museums and planes, we only wanted to walk the grounds; see the memorials and the gravesite. We were not paying $70/each to do so!

We paid $10 to park; Madeline bought a T-shirt, we walked to the wall by the gates (that looks so trashy since they allow people to draw graffiti all over it), took a few photos and was back on the road in 45 mins. I’m not a tourist trap/circus fan when it comes to historic or cultural locations.

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We crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas where we hit backroads through the Ozark Mountains into Missouri to Mansfield.

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Y’all, it’s a stunningly beautiful drive, and you never know what unique towns you might pass through.

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Mansfield was the final home of Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was so excited for this planned stop! It’s not a huge tourist trap like Graceland was (thank goodness), but a tastefully done memorial to recall a fascinating life! Admission was $12/each for both the Rock House their daughter designed and had built for them and the Rocky Ridge House, Almanzo constructed. We spent a couple of hours here, and made it our last stop of the day.

Everyone was so knowledgeable, friendly and just lovely to be around!

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despite the rain, this was such a memorable destination!

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I’ll share more of this beautiful and historic location in another post!

At the recommendation of one of the girls at the Wilder Museum, we hit the backroads (make sure your gas tank is topped off) out of Mansfield and stopped in a little Amish community for an all-you-can-eat Friday night fried fish and chicken supper.

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Y’all.

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Amish peanut butter …. you MUST try it!

It was amazing.

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And we didn’t eat again until around 1:00pm on day three.

We rolled into St Robert, Missouri around 8:00 and checked into the Hampton Inn on historic Route 66.

Day three allowed us to enjoy a little extra sleep as our Marine and adopted Marine were sleeping in themselves. We picked the boys up from the base and headed west again towards Branson; an hour and a half drive. Lunch at Steak and Shake, shopping at the Tanger outlets was the perfect way to spend an afternoon with teenagers. Branson has so many shows and activities to choose from, We wanted something where we could have fun interacting and savoring time together, so the Branson Murder Mystery dinner theater was definitely the best choice!

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Our kids volunteered for the roles of the James brothers and Kay Marte (the local town gossip). With dinner and an interactive show we had a crazy fun evening filled with a lot of laughs!

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Day four we worshiped with a little congregation just off of base in Waynesville. Everyone there was so welcoming, sweet and friendly. We won’t forget our visit anytime soon.

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After lunch, Bradley let us know he had to return to base earlier since it was Sunday, so he suggested we make a stop at Uranus Fudge Factory, a quirky little tourist stop on Historic Route 66.

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And if the truth be known I probably was not mature enough for this general store and fudge factory, especially when the guy behind the counter at Uranus asked how I wanted my “fudge packed”.

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Y’all all I have to say is you have to have a warped sense of humor to make this stop which is why Bradley wanted to stop I’m sure.

After we dropped Bradley back off at the base we had plenty of daylight left so we ventured out to drive a little of Route 66. We drove over to Devil’s Elbow Bridge, and stopped by the George M Reed roadside park. Roadside parks were common back when people traveled Route 66 as they made great places for picnics and stretching your legs while on your road trip!

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Roadside parks would be fabulous now as we travel, but unfortunately we live in a society where people would rather abuse and destroy than appreciate and preserve.

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Day five was partially spent on the military base for Family Day as we were given insight to our Marine’s career path and an opportunity to see the kinds of equipment he’s been trained to use.

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After the ceremonies we took our adopted Marines out for the afternoon for an entertaining lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and an adventure at Ft Wood Escape Room. Thank goodness for my Submariner, because the Marines really struggled with this one!

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We also went bowling. 🎳 Thats all I have to say about that one adventure.

It was bad.

The boys had to be back in the barracks by 1730, so Audley, Madeline and I hit Route 66 a different direction for some colorfully fun backroad highlights.

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Once back in St. Robert we stopped in at the Route 66 Diner for burgers and fries. Service was phenomenal, and the food, although simple was delicious!

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Day Six started off with MOS graduation. Followed by a tearful goodbye, our Marine boarded a bus headed to the airport.

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After he left Audley, Madeline and I hit Route 66 towards St. Louis. We passed through Cuba where we had a fabulous lunch at The FOURWAY Diner and drove through this historic little town.

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Cuba, Missouri is known as Mural City

We arrived in St Louis in time to take the last car up to the top of the Gateway Arch. It was the perfect way to end our Route 66 travels.

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After supper, and moving on down the interstate we stopped in Mt. Vernon, Illinois for the night at the Doubletree. There we caught the end of my Alma Mater’s basketball game that put them in the NIT finals.

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Day seven we finally made it back home, but not before stopping at at a fantastic little western store in Marion, Illinois (McKinney’s) for some boot and hat shopping.

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We also made a swing by Lipscomb University (my alma mater) in Nashville to catch a little basketball fever. So much has changed in that part of the city ( in a positive way), and I enjoyed the pass through off of the interstate. Lipscomb holds a lot of precious memories for me!

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My old dorm

 

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The tradition of the painted mascot continues on…

While this was a lengthy post, I hope you found some inspiration for your own vacation plans as summer is right around the corner! I plan to detail our visit to Mansfield, St. Louis and a little glimpse of our short drive on Route 66! Hope you’ll stop back by!

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Georgia Backroads: Watson Mill Bridge State Park

Audley and I have been making plans for weekend adventures this summer since it’s mostly just the two of us.  Unfortunately there are people who were not blessed with the gift of common sense who insist on bending the rules, so Audley doesn’t always get the days off he is expecting.  The plus side to this is he always has a job when it comes to construction safety which has now run into most of our weekends.

Being ever the spontaneous people that we are, we turned our recent two days of plans into just one as we threw our empty picnic basket and a blanket into the car, made a stop at The Fresh Market, and continued with a road trip heading up Hwy 78 through Athens, Georgia to a sweet little state park.

Now, when most people think of Georgia, the traffic bogged city of Atlanta filled with people that do not know how to savor the simple things, who would rather run over you than accommodate you, mostly ignore you rather than speak, where people seem so angry and bitter and a town that seems to have forgotten its southern graces immediately comes to mind.

Y’all, I spent most of my youth here, and Southern charm and hospitality are not what comes to mind when I think of Atlanta these days!

Truth is, there is so much more to Georgia than Atlanta and it’s metro counties, and you don’t have to venture too far away to discover it! Just hit those Georgia backroads and start exploring!

Just two hours northeast of the city are beautiful farms and quaint little towns.  This is Georgia.  It is here you can escape the hustle and bustle of Atlanta and where you will find Watson Mill Bridge State Park; a 1018 acre park in Comer, Georgia.

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When Audley and I arrived at the park it was so peaceful and quiet, a true break from the craziness of metro-Atlanta!  The park attendant was probably one of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered and was eager to share this historic and picturesque piece of Georgia with us.

{Small towns y’all; that’s where that Southern hospitality thrives!}

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Watson Mill Bridge State Park is home the longest covered bridge in the state of Georgia, a bridge that spans 229 feet across the South Fork of the Broad River in 1885.  It’s one of twenty covered bridges left in Georgia, but unlike the majority of the remainder, this one sits in its original location.  The bridge is well maintained and you can walk or drive across it.  It is truly a beautiful setting!

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According to the Georgia State Parks website the bridge was built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, the son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King.  It is supported by a “town lattice truss system held firmly together with wooden pins.”  Originally there was a mill in the area, but there are no signs of it remaining.

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Although the park is small there is plenty to do for a relaxing day away from the city.  If you are into camping, there are sites available for both tent and RV camping.  Hiking is relatively easy as you can walk down to the old power house built in 1905, but long since abandoned.   There are also trails for riding bikes and horseback riding as well.  There is a stable for boarding, but you have to bring your own horses though.

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We watched families and adults alike play on the rocks and in the water of the falls.  We even witnessed a baptism!  For the kiddos there is a nice playground, but we stayed away from those areas since the focus of the day was on us without kids. While there are plenty of tables and shelters to picnic,  Audley and I were more than content to throw our blanket down under the trees and enjoy the beauty of the falls and the covered bridge away from the small crowds that were arriving as the morning turned into afternoon.

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There is also the option to rent kayaks and canoes, or you can bring your own and put in above the covered bridge.  Rental for the park owned canoes and kayaks is just $10 for an hour and they do provide life jackets.

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Audley and I rented one of the canoes and had the upper branch of the river to ourselves for paddling.  It was quite lovely, peaceful, and quiet enough to hear so many different sounds of nature the city tends to mask!

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We truly enjoyed this piece of Georgia and Audley has already decided a weekend camping here is just what we need …. when this heat and humidity lay off!

Oh my it’s hot down here y’all!

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Sometimes you just have to sit back and let someone else do the paddling!

If you are looking to escape the city or just want to discover some of Georgia’s backroads definitely add Watson Mill Bridge State Park to your agenda.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park

650 Watson Mill Rd, Comer, GA 30629

706-783-5349

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Eight Things San Diego

The boys & I just returned from a fun-filled fall break trip to San Diego, visiting the beautiful city Audley was once stationed in while in the Navy, and visiting with some of his extended family.  The weather was amazingly gorgeous plus we had a fantastic tour guide with Audley’s cousin sharing fabulous highlights over 3 1/2 days!

I totally fell in love with southern California and wanted to share a few of our highlights for a little travel inspiration for your next trip!

I absolutely love history (it was the other half of my double major in college), so when we travel a lot of sights we visit are related to history.  This has always been a fun way to teach our kids to appreciate and learn about the country in which they live without spending as much time in books as I did!

  1. The Hotel Del Coronado.  This National Historical Landmark on Coronado Beach built in 1888 is one of the very few wooden Victorian hotels left in existence. IMG_E7082       This resort hotel has hosted celebrities, royalty, and presidents for nearly 130 years as well as been the location of many literary efforts and even movies sets!

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{Think Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, & Tony Curtis in “Some Like it Hot“!}

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While the hotel has been added on to and grown much over the years, the original Victorian structure still stands and is used for lodging.  We chose to stay in the original Victorian Building mainly because I am such a romantic and loved the historical element.

Our room was so lovely and very roomy.  They have been renovated in recent years, and the more modern decor mixed with the Victorian architecture was tastefully done.  The staff was so friendly and very helpful which always makes a difference in a lodging experience.

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If you love architecture, the Hotel Del has it!  I love the towers, curves, colors and stairways.  It is a step back in time; most definitely one of my favorite time periods of all.

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Oh, I can’t forget… the elevator!  The old fashioned cage-style elevator is still run by an elevator operator which of course totally amplifies the atmosphere!

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The Hotel Del Coronado is family friendly, BUT I’m not real sure that I would take small children (TOTALY MY OPINION) as there are so many couples there for romance, older couples for the resort vacation, and expensive restaurants where the atmosphere is not really for children.  While trying to enjoy an early quiet morning on the patio sipping coffee and savoring the atmosphere, I was really irritated by parents allowing their children to run wild; screaming, yelling and fighting (UGH) and another parent with a screaming toddler who did nothing but make the situation worse by telling her how bad she was.  I try to be understanding, but respect for those around you goes a long way.   Young children in an unfamiliar and more of a grown-up environment really can ruin for those who appreciate and desire it.

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The Hotel Del offers fabulous shopping options (the B&S Emporium could’ve easily emptied my checkbook AND DID cause my suitcase to need a “Heavy” tag on our return flight) from home decor to formal and resort wear!

The Del Coronado is owned by Hilton Properties now, so those who are brand specific when booking lodging will really enjoy the perks! They do not have a shuttle service, so if you have not rented a car, you’ll need to use Uber or a taxi service for transportation.  Many restaurants, galleries and shops off of the resort are in easy walking distance.  The town of Coronado is so cute and definitely pedestrian friendly.

2.  San Diego Zoo. Don’t let the ticket price throw you or even balk at the idea of a two day ticket ($52 for one day/adult & $83 for two day/adult); the legendary San Diego Zoo is so much fun and absolutely worth it!

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I wish we could’ve had two days to visit, but we managed to make the most of one and enjoyed every minute of it.

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After all, a zoo is not necessarily for the kids; big kids and children at heart love them as well.

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With temperatures in the upper 70’s it wasn’t so hot the animals were hiding out.  We were awed, entertained, and mesmerized by the variety of animals and the show many were happy to put on for us.

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We laughed quite a bit as well since I think some of the animals know you are watching and do things like pose for pictures.

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Do these ginormous reindeer make anyone else want to decorate for Christmas in October?

Some tips for visiting the zoo….

**Go early in the day & purchase advance tickets.  There are MANY school and day care groups that visit the zoo so getting in can be crowded and a little chaotic. Parking is free and appeared to be plentiful and despite the crowds of children the zoo was very clean!

**Wear comfortable walking shoes and prepare to get your steps in for the day… uphill, downhill and everything in between.  We managed over 15,000 steps each on our zoo visit!

**Food is available inside the park.  They have several options that fit the theme of whichever area you may be strolling through at the moment, but like most parks, it’s a little pricey.  We did a “snack” which included a kids meal for me.  I mostly wanted the cute little bag, but it was tasty as well!  If you don’t mind the extra bags, you can bring in your own food and drink.

**We didn’t do the bus tour, but having a guided tour around the entire zoo would definitely be an added bonus, if you have the time.  It does cost extra to do this, though.

**Right now (October 2017) the zoo is undergoing some construction work, creating new exhibits.  This also creates a little confusion when following the map and signs.  Be flexible and don’t be frustrated over it.  Progress can sometimes be a pain, but changing up the park makes for a new adventure each time you visit!

3.  Balboa Park.  If you still feel like walking, right next to the zoo is the beautiful Balboa Park.

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{The zoo is actually a part of the park, but you don’t have to do both at the same time.}

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Named for the Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the park was originally built in 1915 for the California-Panama Exposition, which left behind beautiful architectural delights that were restored after vandalism, arson, and neglect several years back.  The park has had a storied history, but it is now well-maintained with a Prado for strolling, a theater, shops, restaurants, museums, fountains, a conservatory and grassy areas for picnicking and enjoying the day.

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The park is a National Historic Landmark (since 1977) and well worth spending time inside!

4.  Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma.  This gorgeous National Park overlooking the bay commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542.  This is significant as it was the first time a European explorer landed on the west coast.  There is a fee per car (unless you have a National Parks pass) , then stop in at the visitor’s center for a brief history of the area and monument to give you an idea of what you are seeing.

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Walking is easy around the monument and up to the Point Loma lighthouse (the highest point in San Diego) completed in 1854.  There are often reenactors and historians around the area to answer questions and do demonstrations.  Unfortunately we missed them the day we visited, but check their website or with the visitor center for times.

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The monument of Cabrillo was commissioned in 1939 (to accompany a stone marker placed years earlier) by the Portuguese government and donated to the US.  It is so imposing when you look at it up close.

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This beautiful park is not huge, but worth a stop.  The views overlooking the Naval Air Station and Coronado Beach are stunning and make for a pretty picture.

5.  Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  Registered a California Historical Landmark in 1932, The National Cemetery is on your way to Point Loma and covers over 77 acres.  Stop, Pay your respects, and honor the many brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  If you have your family with you, take the time to explain how important the sacrifice of those who served and/or killed in war, those who served in peace and those who stand ready to defend our nation at any time.

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Read the tombstones and the monuments; there are many scattered throughout.

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Let the magnitude of sacrifice soak in.

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Then teach your kids to respect all those who serve our nation, for without them, we would have truly lost our freedoms generations ago.

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6.  Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Yes more history and another nationally registered Landmark, but its history mixed with shopping and food and from time to time costumed reeenactors sharing tales of early San Diego!

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This historic park represents the early days of San Diego and is home to many historic building from the years of 1820-1870.  Some buildings are original to the area, first a mission and military area, while other buildings were moved to the location and preserved.

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You can still dine and lodge at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, check out an old schoolhouse, courthouse, and a private home showcasing a little upperclass living in the old west, or shop for local goods from Temecula Olive Oil Company.

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Located in Old Town San Diego, and built in 1825 by lieutenant José Maria Estudillo, Casa de Estudillo unveils the lifestyle of a prominent San Diego family.  Standing as the most famous of the original adobe buildings in Old Town, it’s furnished with representative items from the 16th to 20th centuries and is was built with a Catholic Chapel included within its 13 rooms.

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It was a religious and social center during the early years of San Diego.

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I loved the horseshoe shape of the home with the beautiful courtyard at it’s center.

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Portions of the casa are under construction, but you are still welcome to tour other areas.  It is free to tour as you are strolling through Old Town.

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There are also several authentic Mexican restaurants for you to choose from for you cravings dining pleasure.

7.  La Jolla Cove.  Only pictures can describe this picturesque beach area.  Breathtaking and stunning are the only words I can come up with.

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It is well worth spending a day or two, just swimming with the sea lions!

8.  USS Midway and Seaport Village.  While we were unable to tour the Midway itself, I absolutely loved this area of Naval history.  Our visit to San Diego happened to coincide with the Navy’s Fleet Week so we spent a lot of the weekend doing things related to that with Bradley. With his plans of joining the Marine Corps after graduation he was totally taken in by all of the military activity going on.

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The military police demo with the dogs was wonderful & the marines spent a good bit of time talking with Bradley.

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Bradley was a last minute in a “Run Where the Marines Run” obstacle course & 3-mile run… He did so good!

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This boy of mine will make a wonderful & dedicated Marine.

Around the Midway are several monuments and memorials to sailors or ships from the WWII era and even a tribute to Bob Hope and his work with the USO!

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“Unconditional Surrender”

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US Aircraft Carrier Memorial

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Monument for the USS San Diego and her crew.

If you just want to relax and stroll by the harbor, this is a wonderful park to do that!  You can also catch a trolley (it does cost) and take a guided tour of San Diego near the harbor area.

Seaport Village with architecture from Mexican to Victorian is great for touristy shopping, sweet treats and just strolling through for fun.  There is a gorgeous and historical 121 year old carousel with hand-carved horses!

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The harbor is right near the airport, so it was the final destination of our trip before catching our afternoon flight back to Atlanta and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy it.

Have any of you ever visited San Diego?  What did you enjoy most?

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Biltmore Estate Girls Weekend

Last weekend, my blogging girlfriend Tammie Reed (Talking With Tami) & I took off to Asheville for a really fun girls getaway!

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Weekend of fun coming right up!

 Tammie was reviewing Chevrolet’s new totally electric car, a Bolt EV they provided the trip, and she asked me to accompany her.

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I was able to drive the Bolt EV as well.

Tammie and I left on Friday about lunchtime and we casually drove up, stopping to freshen up the charge on the car in Greenville, SC.  We arrived late in the evening, checked into Aloft Hotel (I’m a hotel snob & I approve), walked down to a local sushi restaurant (who knew that you could find delicious sushi in the North Carolina mountains), and then grabbed some rest for our fun-filled Saturday at the Biltmore House.

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I’ve been a season pass holder for the Biltmore Estate for several years now.  It’s always changing and I think I learn something or see something new with every visit!

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Main entrance… guests of Biltmore have entered this gate since 1898!

This was Tammie’s first visit and she was shocked at the size and beauty of it all.

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We had so much fun walking through the estate and taking in the opulent lifestyle the Vanderbilt family must have enjoyed.  One of the goals of the Biltmore estate is to carry on the many legacies of George W Vanderbilt.  These include a gift of hospitality, sustainability, and education.

Each guest who visits the Biltmore Estate is made to feel welcomed and valued.  The Vanderbilts were known for their lavish dinner parties and weeks of entertaining guests at a time.  While I’m sure Vanderbilt never intended to open his home to the public, he wanted a place designed that had the comfort of his guests in mind.

As you tour the home and see the beautiful tables, you can easily imagine the dinners that were enjoyed by family and guests alike.

When George W Vanderbilt III made the decision to build the estate in the 1890s he was inspired by all of the amazing country homes he had seen in his many travels in Europe.  He wanted a place that he could invite friends and family to enjoy the same hospitable lifestyle he had come to enjoy while traveling abroad.  While this was not his only home, it was one he loved and put a lot of effort into creating.  GW wanted a home that would showcase his love for art and literature (he had an amazing collection of both), while also being a self-sufficient, working country estate.  He used the latest in technology and technique to help achieve his agricultural goals.

When guests came to Biltmore they were celebrated and entertained in a spectacular fashion.  Guest often stayed for weeks at a time and had enough activities planned that they never grew bored with the country estate.

The Vanderbilt’s hospitality was enjoyed by many high-ranking social, political and art individuals including the US Ambassador to Great Britain, Joseph Hodges Choate as well as authors Edith Wharton and Paul L. Ford.

When guests dined at the Biltmore they were able to enjoy large meals served in the banquet hall.  With its medieval decor, large triple fireplace and rich, dark colors it was an impressive setting I am sure!  The tapestries hanging on the wall were antiques from the 16th century when GW acquired them so they are true treasures now!

Biltmore-Formal-Dining-Room | Fiddle Dee Dee

Couldn’t you just see this table set for a large dinner party with pressed linens, gleaming silverware, glistening crystal, and beautiful china?  Seating arrangements would have been carefully arranged so that guests of honor were predominately seated for conversation.  Dinner may have been for a party of 6 or a party of 36!

Menus for guests were planned around the seasonal bounty that was readily available on the estate.  Once a menu was planned, Mrs Vanderbilt would approve it, or even tweak it a little.

I found this menu dated from March 26, 1896 published a current Biltmore cookbook:

Blue Points (oysters that would have been overnighted by rail) w/ celery, olives, radishes, salted almonds

Saucie de Lyons

Consumme Royale (a rich, clear soup that has been clarified)

Parisienne Potatoes

Cucumber Salad

Terrapin ala Maryland

Sweetbreads with French Peas

Sorbet

Lettuce Salad

Cheese & Biscuits

Ice Cream

Fruit & Coffee

That is a huge meal and just a sampling of what a guest of the Vanderbilt’s might enjoy!

Guests were treated with the finest of food, almost all of the bounty from the estate itself, although an ocasional telegram might have been sent North to have a shipment of lobster overnighted by rail to the estate!  Attention to detail was a standard guests came to expect when they entered the home.

Oh how I wish we still entertained and showed such hospitality today!

Edith Vanderbilt’s sister wrote after visiting the estate,

“The dinner table, in the center of the room, being too large for common use, a small cosy round table is drawn up before the central fire, & there we dine each night, with 2 footmen in knee breeches, gold garters, etc. to serve and look de style!”

Biltmore-Dining | Fiddle Dee Dee

The breakfast room was a perfect place to enjoy an intimate luncheon or take afternoon tea.  Luncheons were smaller affairs consisting of only five courses.  It was a wonderful opportunity for guests to gather to talk about events of the morning or plan other activities for the afternoon.

Biltmore-Breakfast-Room | FIddle Dee Dee

 I love the blue jasperware tiled fireplace mantle!

Biltmore-Jasperware-Fireplace | Fiddle Dee Dee

Food and drink were an expression of hospitality and home away from home for the guests of Biltmore.

Cooking would have been done in one of three kitchens; the rotisserie kitchen (where meats might have been prepared), the pastry kitchen, or the main kitchen with its large stove and oven, icebox for storage and plenty of workspace!

Biltmore-Estate-Main-Kitchen | Fiddle Dee DeeBiltmore-Picnic | Fiddle Dee Dee

There were pantries for canned goods, fresh goods, and a huge walk-in refrigerator!  It was the most modern of its time!

Biltmore-Estate-Pantry | Fiddle Dee Dee

Total pantry envy!!

After supper, ladies might retire to the salon for conversation and possibly live music, while the men disappeared off to the smoking lounge and gun-room for a nightcap.

Biltmore-Smoking-Room | Fiddle Dee Dee

I love the dark masculine interior of the smoking room

Guest lodging was plentiful in the home.  With 250 rooms, you can imagine the space available.

Biltmore-Estate-Guest-Room | Fiddle Dee DeeBiltmore-Guest-Room | Fiddle Dee Dee

Mr. Vanderbilt’s own bedroom was set up so that when he awoke in the morning and curtains were open, he could see the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

George-Vanderbilt-Bedroom | Fiddle Dee DeeBlue-Ridge-Mountains | Fiddle Dee Dee

Mrs. Vanderbilt’s room was set up in a similar manner, yet much more graceful and elegant!

Edith-Vanderbilt-Bedroom | Fiddle Dee Dee

There were so many activities available to guest and residents of Biltmore House during the day and evening.

Biltmore-Estate-Grounds | Fiddle Dee Dee

Outdoor activities including horseback riding shooting sporting clays, hunting, bocce ball, bicycling, hiking (yes they hiked during the Guilded Age), picnicking, fishing were all apart of life at Biltmore.

A July 1908 New York Times article noted that “Mrs. Vanderbilt hosted a fishing party on the estate and landed 20 large mountain trout, the largest catch of the day!”

{I feel like we are missing out on so much in this day and time!}

If you wanted something more relaxing, a stroll through the beautiful gardens or conservatory adjoining the house would be just perfect, especially as the sun is beginning to go down.

Biltmore-Garden | Fiddle Dee DeeGarden-Roses | Fiddle Dee Dee

Tammie-Reed-Biltmore | Fiddle Dee Dee

Tammie enjoying the garden late inthe afternoon

If the weather was less than desirable a guest could remain indoors and swim, bowl, workout in a gymnasium, play various board games or read one of the nearly 23,000 books in GW’s library!

Biltmore-Library | Fiddle Dee Dee

George-Vanderbilt-Library | Fiddle Dee Dee

It is said George W Vanderbilt III read nearly 4,000 books between the age of 12 and his death at 51.  He kept a journal listing all of them.

Billiards-Room | Fiddle Dee DeeBiltmore-Bowling-Alley | Fiddle Dee Dee

“The vast swimming tank under the great hall is a great resort for the young men after exercising — ten feet deep so they can take a deep dive.  This forenoon we are to drive about the farms and see the wonderful stock.  Mr. Vanderbilt is teaching the farmers about the first rudiments of farming.”

~from a letter written by Joseph Hodges Choate to his wife, January 1902.

Biltmore-Estate-Indoor-Pool | Fiddle Dee Dee

Each activity would have required an outfit change, up to five a day!  Could you just imagine the flurry of fashion in that house?!

Guilded-Age-Clothing | Fiddle Dee Dee

Just an example of attire from the Guilded Age

Not only were guests at Biltmore treated well, but so were the large amount of staff and employees.  House staff had their own kitchen and dining areas with fresh foods and game as well as bedrooms they did not have to share, which was a rare treat in that time!  Employees of the estate were able to enjoy the bounty of the estate farms as well, in their homes or on their breaks.  It was as if they were family.

Biltmore-Staff-Dining-Room | Fiddle Dee Dee

House staff dining room

The legacy of hospitality and sustainability are two of my favorite reasons to visit the Biltmore Estate over and over as these are still prevalent around the estate today.  No, it’s not exactly the same, but the staff of Biltmore are gracious and kind, welcoming, and knowledgable.  The restaurants utilize a farm to table program with much of the produce and meats are estate raised!  And while we did not visit the winery on this trip (I did purchase some amazing grape juice), the legacy of Vanderbilt land continues.

Biltmore-Sunflowers | Fiddle Dee Dee21751594_1594918093902361_8581185044392291680_n

Take a trip for yourself and see just how fabulous the Biltmore Estate is!

 

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