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.

img_1553

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!

img_1560

img_1570

Madonna & Tommy Lee Rolls

img_1565

img_1567-1

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.

img_1717

img_1697

img_1606

img_1707

img_1604

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.

img_1627

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.

img_1735

img_1724

img_1736

img_1662

img_1630

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

img_1669

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

img_1734

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!

img_1778

despite the rain, this was such a memorable destination!

img_1789

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.

img_1792

Y’all.

img_1795

Amish peanut butter …. you MUST try it!

It was amazing.

img_1797

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!

b46163bf-27fb-4d87-85f5-1eb0f0f3720e

img_1849

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!

img_1832

img_1852

img_1850

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.

img_1887

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.

img_1884

img_1862

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”.

img_1866

img_1865

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!

img_1955

img_2287

img_1956

 

img_2283

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.

img_2285

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.

img_1986

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!

img_1993

img_1992

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.

img_2004

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!

img_2021

img_2027

img_2025

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

img_2071

img_2097

img_2102

img_2232

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.

img_2136

img_2137

img_2126

img_2131

 

img_2138

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.

img_2214

img_2223

img_2178

img_2170

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.

img_2276

img_2279

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.

img_2250

img_2248

img_2277

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!

img_2282

 

img_2271

My old dorm

 

img_2263

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!

img_5691

Out With The Old~Finally

To say the least, blogging in 2018 was rather sporadic at Fiddle Dee Dee.  Honestly, life was different and hard to explain, although it wasn’t a bad year. As old as my kids are, a lot of last year was parenting related and since I’m definitely not a “mommy blogger” didn’t want to focus on these things, all the time. It was also an emotional year as my youngest graduated from high school, leaving Audley & Me, for all practical purposes, empty nesters!

img_9821

We made a Marine, and a medical assistant, and a personal trainer, and an interior designer….

While I’ve been absent from the blog, my Instagram and Facebook pages stay active and you may have caught a glimpse of our beautiful holiday season among other fun things!

I would love to have you follow me if you don’t already!

On the technical side of things, blogging has been a challenge as my 7-year-old MacBook needs to be replaced thanks to Apple’s way of doing updates (just like with an iPhone) and I can’t update the latest operating system which has rendered my Photoshop useless and slowed down my laptop to discouraging speeds. Hopefully this will all be corrected soon, and I’ve just decided to do the best I can with what I have for now!

January (all 795 days of it) was a trial month, so to kick off this new year & set the tone for 2019, I thought it would be good to update you on where I am in this season of life. It’s an all new adventure!

While I don’t talk parenting, my family has been a huge part of my blogging lifestyle over the years as we travel, cook, celebrate, go out and share, I wanted to update where they are. They were so young when I began this blog.  Now they are making their mark on the world as productive and disciplined Millennials and GenZ’ers.

I’m very proud for people to know my kids and the influence they share on the world!

One of the very first pics of my kiddos on the blog…. it’s safe to say things have changed.

My little family is all grown up!

Samantha and her husband, Justin celebrated their 6th anniversary in December!

With one of my grand-dogs

 

She’s working for a primary care doctor in Tennessee and Justin was just honored with law enforcement officer of the year for the entire state of Tennessee and will be honored next weekend in Nashville.

County LEO of the year honors in December

Samantha has the DIY bug, and has been doing a lot of work on the little house she and Justin live in. She’s become the unofficial party planner for just about everything at work and pulls together fun events for her co-workers.  Healthcare may be her calling, but she has a gift for decorating and entertaining.  It’s so much fun to see her latest projects and plans!

MacKenzie celebrated her first anniversary with Michael and turned 21 all in the same week. They bought their first house last year as well.

And our other grand-dog

She began her senior year of college, is finishing her major in exercise science, and is a personal trainer in Greenville.

Such an adorable Preacher & Wifey

The Golden Strip Church of Christ where Michael has preached for 3 years, has grown immensely, and they just purchased a new building for their use. It’s an exciting time for these two newlyweds.

Madeline played lacrosse her freshman year at Point University, but decided to change her major to interior design, attend tech school (a very smart move for her creative spirit), and move home for her sophomore to keep her loans and other costs down.

Just hanging around in Missouri

As you know, I’m a firm believer that a 4-year degree isn’t for, or necessary for everyone. Having one definitely does not guarantee a job! She’s doing well and I love her vision board projects she has had to pull together. Ethan Allen furniture at The Mall of Georgia featured one of her holiday table settings during the month of November which was voted on by the public and received the honor of “best in class”. Madeline did a fantastic job!

Ethan Allan tablescape contest

Bradley: Our baby graduated high school and 10 days later left for Parris Island where he earned the title of United States Marine.

img_3506

The most handsome Marine serving right now. I am entitled to be prejudiced.

Earned the Title

He’s in his schooling right now to become a MP. Let me tell you, Audley and I are two extremely proud parents!

As for us, Audley & I celebrated 23 years of marriage in August, purchased a much needed new vehicle for all the road trips we make (we have kids in 3 different states now), took an empty nesters cruise to the Bahamas and Cuba that turned into a couple cruise with Samantha and Justin, and went all out for Halloween.

We traveled to Parris Island, I visited Camp Lejeune, and we celebrated Thanksgiving in Missouri with Madeline, Bradley and five other Marines who were also stuck for Thanksgiving.

img_6827

Christmas brought our children home which will probably be the last one we celebrate together for a while as Bradley will get his orders for a permanent duty station soon.

Missing Justin as he was on duty… support the Blue y’all; they sacrifice so much.

All together at my parents in Tennessee

This month wraps up two years since we moved to metro Atlanta. It’s not the first time we’ve lived in the Atlanta area since we married, and I grew up here, but it’s not the same.  Atlanta doesn’t feel like home, and I can’t say I enjoy living here. I do love the convenience of a real store for baking supplies (not Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), a really awesome gym, and shopping for virtually anything I need if feeling chill enough to face the traffic, but honesty I do not call Atlanta home.  Atlanta is a cold and lonely place, and while it is in the South, it’s not really a Southern city.

Audley changed companies last December, leaving the corporate world behind, which has done wonders for his stress levels. The down side is he drives 75 miles one-way to work everyday.  I’m really hoping 2019 brings a move our way!

To where, I have no clue, but I can be packed in a week.

So here we are, the first full week of February throwing out the old and embracing 2019.  I’m focused on keeping our house feeling cozy and warm, engaged on our marriage (a little differently now that the kids are grown), getting back to healthy habits and self-care that has taken a back burner again (making me feel rather slobby and frazzled), and finding out who I am now that I’m no longer a full-time mom (I seemed to forget there was life outside mothering).

It’s amazing how much can change in just a year, but I hope you will be patient with me, and join me as I embrace this new season of life!

img_5691

A Letter to my Son

I’ve been a little preoccupied the last several weeks as this season of life is swiftly passing by.  In just one week my youngest child and only son will walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma …. and in three weeks he will leave for Parris Island as he has enlisted in the Marine Corps.  It’s just a little emotional around here right now.

{OK, it’s just me that is  little emotional.}

Today is Bradley’s senior picnic, and as a part of the traditions at Loganville is the receiving of senior letters from friends and family.  I wanted to share my (rather long… sorry) letter that I wrote to Bradley as he enters a whole new world in the coming days.

baby

May 2018
Dear Bradley,

When you came into this world you taught me to look at things in a whole new way! After having three girls, I didn’t know what to expect of this chubby darling boy God knew I needed. In a way I have dreaded this day for 18 years now, but at the same time I am so excited for your future that I can’t help but beam with pride between the tears. You have grown up to be an amazing young man with a future so bright others should be jealous! Everyone loves you, is proud of you, and I absolutely know that you will be able to do wonderful things in this life, not only in leadership (you are a natural born leader), but by being your own kind hearted, loving, intelligent and entertaining self!

IMG_0141

First Day of Kindergarten

I’ve loved watching you grow and mature these last 18 years; growing into a responsible man, but also maintaining your irresistible ­mischievousness of spirit. My word how you have always been, and I hope will always be mischievous! From sandwich incidents at school to thinking you were being sneaky to visit grands, I can’t begin to count the number of times you have managed your way out of trouble because of your wit and that twinkle in your eye. You’ve tried my patience, been my conscious, a fitness cheerleader, accepted change with little complaint (although your heart hurt) and stepped into the roll of a man while helping around the house while your dad travelled.

Through all your life I have talked to you freely about everything. That is because I love you. While I always wanted to shield you from the darkness of the world, I also wanted you to know that things aren’t always what God had intended for them to be. By being open with you I hope you learned the difference between right and wrong, what God expects for you in your life, and know you can always come to me with anything. Just for a moment I want to talk freely with you again as you graduate and leave for boot camp.


Live a Life of Love. Love is not just romance; it is a way to live your life. Love is so many beautiful things as pointed out in I Corinthians 13 (patient, kind, self-sacrificing, etc)… You can take these principles of love and use them in all aspects of your life, even boot camp believe it or not. Living a life of love means every person you encounter will see God in you and know you truly care for people.  You can live a life of love and still be a man.  Love is not weakness; it is strength.

IMG_0034
Live a Life of Purpose. God wants us to lead purposeful lives and lives that reflect Him. There are so many ways to do this, but it’s mostly living your life with a set of values and beliefs that God expects of you. I hope you have grown to have your own, and not just relied on your dad and I to give you a purpose. Have passion in all that you do and set priorities so that you accomplish all the goals that you have for your life.  Be the strong man God intended for you to be and you will be a world changer.

405859_10150656397232868_415430599_n69195_10151551263232868_1507482799_n

534630_10150773513367868_1041323471_n
Life a Life with No Regrets. See the world, love passionately and give of your time and efforts to those you are close too, as well as strangers. Not everyone will appreciate it, but at the end of the day do not regret anything you have done. At the same time, don’t hold grudges. Life is too short to spend hating and not forgiving others. They may not reciprocate the actions, but when you look back over your life know you have forgiven and don’t regret how things went. In the same manner, see all that the world has to offer; from history to culture your adventures in the Marine Corps and even after when you return to the civilian world will be amazing. Savor every moment and DON’T FORGET TO TAKE PICTURES!!!


Live a Life Being True to Yourself. Don’t let the world influence you into doing the wrong things; you influence the world into doing the right! Unfortunately peer pressure doesn’t disappear when you walk out of high school and into the adult world. Sometimes I think it is worse as an adult. Stay true to the values and morals you have been raised with and maintained over the years and don’t let some other Marine, girl, job, or even Christian (you know not all are who they say they are) influence you to turn away. I have said it so many times, you are a natural leader. From the friendships you have chosen to the wonderful work ethic you have developed, we know you can lead.  Be that leader.

18119387_10155379075182868_4544071215924588020_n

23435227_10156071809037868_1508852197992226309_n
Live Life my son. Climb a mountain, learn to sail that boat, earn your pilots license, work for promotions, try that foreign cuisine, learn to scuba dive, preach a sermon at least once, marry the girl who completes you … don’t be afraid to live, experience, and share your life! When you are older and telling stories to your children and grandchildren I want you to be able to tell them you truly loved and lived! Don’t look back and say “I wish….” LIVE. And yes, I am repeating myself, TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES!

24910102_10156155629467868_1942572251933133771_n

DSC_2191

23380168_10156066549962868_7891441863416670535_n
I know you will do the right things in life because you were raised to do so. Always remember to keep your temper and your given word, stay faithful to the Christ and the Church, and always be loving.

I Love you so much my son,
Mom

31939688_10156587302992868_7739661939340476416_n

Holiday in the Park Presented by Six Flags Over Georgia

holiday-in-the-park-six-flags-georgia

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas; everywhere you go…

and that includes Six Flags Over Georgia as the park now stays open select days from now until January 3 to celebrate with you and your family!  In its fourth season, Holiday in the Park is known as one of the Best Christmas Events in Georgia, and definitely something everyone in the family will enjoy.

IMG_1983

Just before Thanksgiving I was given the opportunity to visit Six Flags with my blogging gal pal, Tami, where we enjoyed a festive evening filled with sounds of the season, twinkling lights galore and live shows full of cheer and delight!

Six-Flags_Holiday-in-the-ParkSix-Flags_media-night

So what all can you do while at Holiday in the Park?

Let me share a little glimpse !

***Enjoy the lights!  From the moment you enter the park at the Main Street entrance you are met with the first of millions of colorful LED Christmas lights that form a canopy between the buildings, then wrap around the buildings, to draped between attractions.  The 25 Ft Christmas tree and gazebo in the front of the park makes a perfect location for family photos.  Don’t miss the lighting of the tree at 6:00 each evening.

six-flags-holiday-lightsIMG_2024

Retro-Santa-Holiday-in-the-Park

six-flags-christmas

window-vignette-six-flag

christmas-window-six-flag

holiday-in-the-park-lights

***Take whirl on your favorite roller coaster and enjoy the different themed areas as you walk through to find it.  My favorite was the Retro Christmas area… I’m such a traditional old soul. Tami and I rode the Goliath (It’s been years since I’ve been on a roller coaster!) and then took a ride through the Monster Plantation.

monster-plantation-six-flags

Some things you never outgrow!

six-flags-georgia-lights

***Catch a show!  From carolers in the front of the park to stages with entertainment, you’ll find something to fit everyone in the family, and I promise you’ll be singing along.

Six-FLags-Retro-Christmas

holiday-performance-six-flags

six-flags-carolers

***Visit with Santa and other Warner Bros. characters.  You’re never too old for Bugs and Daffy!

IMG_2051

For someone living in the Southeast, a weekend get-away would be fabulous during the holidays.  Atlanta is full of adventures to enjoy and an evening in the park under the holiday lights is a perfect way to cap it all off!

If you have been slow in finding your holiday cheer this season, take the family to Six Flags this year and enjoy the holiday mixed with rides and entertainment all in one place!  I’m sure it’ll become a holiday tradition for you all.

Signature