Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 7

11/25/2016

Home!!!  I'm laying in my  own bed as I type this - feeling my own soft pillows.  Oh, the goodness.

Don't get me wrong, we had a fabulous trip, but there is nothing like home.   So what happened today?  Other than the obvious travel?

We slept late at Donald's and then visited with the family a bit this morning, heading out around noon.   We traveled through Atlanta with intentions of staying with Hapaw tonight before heading home tomorrow.   However, on our way their we both realized - we were ready to be home.   So, we pivoted.

We stopped by Hapaws and visited. She wasn't feeling well so we went to grab a bite to eat (given she wasn't up to eating) and told her we would be back.  We had a fabulous meal at The Trading Post in Villa Rica.  By time we got back to Hapaw's, Jack's Mom and Step-Dad were there.

We visited them some more and then headed out around 8 for home.  The trip home was uneventful, though there were police everywhere, and now our journey is over.    We enjoyed the trip and look forward to the next adventure, but for now we are glad to be home with our kitties and our bed.

Special thanks to Pet Sitter of Grovetown for taking care of the babies for us.   They are no where near as needy as they have been when we traveled in the past so I know they got good loving.

Til next time dear Blogland - sleep well.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 6

11/24/16

Thanksgiving Day, a day of reflection and thanksgiving.   That is the holiday - for me, it was a day of good food, exploration, and visiting of the family.

Yesterday we spent the day resting and visiting with family.  We spent the night with Donald & Tina and woke with a house filled with family.   Amie and Tyler are here along with Amanda so we had many to catch up and visit with.

We ate Thanksgiving dinner around noon.  Tina prepared it and she did an excellent job, the food was great and I'll be honest - it was nice to not to cook it :) It was nice to rest and just enjoy a big meal.   But more than the food, the people were amazing.   It was nice to visit and relax with family.

After dinner, we went exploring.  First, we traveled to Cumberland Falls - it was gorgeous.  The water was down, but the falls were still awesome.  We went hiking a bit and even climbed into some caves. Even Aimie went hiking (she's 6 months pregnant).  It was funny.  We went down to the beach - which I think would be under water most of the time.  There were a couple of great spots for photos and I had fun snapping photos.

We then drove down to the dam but passed a Lama and a goat farm on the way.  That was pretty cool - there was this one Lama that pranced - awesomeness.  A prancing Llama.  So funny.

We then wondered down to the to the dam and enjoyed the lake and view before heading back to Donalds.

Once there we visited some more, played a lively game of spoons and settled down to watch some old fashioned, TV :)

Hope your Thanksgiving was just as incredible.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 4

11/22/2016

Today was another adventure. Donald and Tina picked me up around 10 AM and we headed toward Mt. McCloud, however, we took a scenic route up HWY 25. It was a drive along a creek/river that also had train tracks running along it, very peaceful. It took about an hour to get to our destination. Mt. McCloud is a privately owned mountain and you must have reservations to stay, at the restaurant, or live there to enter. Upon driving onto the mountain you are met by a nice gentleman who asks your business and then lets you on your way. Our reservations were not until 1 PM and it was only noon, so we had a bit of time.

We drove past the restaurant (up one lane winding roads again) to an overlook that was staggering. You walk out over rock jetties that have to be 100s of feet in the air and just look out. You could see the train tracks and I bet it would be neat to watch a train meandering along. The leaves still had a good bit of red to them so it was quite a view - a couple of weeks ago, at the height of the changing leaves, I bet it was breathtaking.

We then drove back to the restaurant area. We walked out onto the balcony and the view was incredible. Just staggering - it was a little hazy, but even with that - just gorgeous. We then went in and the restaurant wasn't busy (at all) so they were able to seat us early. The prices were exceptionally reasonable, the food good, and the view amazing! We watched an airplane fly by at almost our same height. They say in the mornings the clouds settle in the valley and you look out over them, I can only imagine.

The waitress was nice and allowed us to look at the lodging they rent out. The rooms were fantastic!!!! Big, great views, jacuzzi tubs, rocking chair front porches. Just amazing! They also are only $195 a night for a top room - you can't even begin to beat that. Jack and I are coming back, you can believe that! He didn't get to see it today due to working and I can just imagine him sitting on the balcony looking over the clouds. Other than hiking there isn't much to do on the mountain so I can see it being a day or two at the most, but we are totally going to make the trip again. I can't wait.


We then left the mountain and went another way home. We went through a small town and stopped at an antique toy/junk store. My brother loves this kind of stuff and I found the store interesting. It's not organized very well and you can get lost in it, but the owner was kind. I bought a couple of small pieces for Mama's Christmas village.

We then headed back to Donald & Tina's house. By the time we got back it was close to 4 PM and we had made a complete day of it. I took a short nap while I waited for Jack to arrive.

He got to Donalds around 6ish and we had a fabulous dinner that Tina made before retiring to the living room to chit-chat about this and that.

Now we are back at the hotel about to call it a night. Jack is taking 1/2 a day off tomorrow and we will then stay at Donalds vs. the hotel, because he will not need the internet speed/phone to work. Donald and Tina have the internet, just not fast enough to do VOIP that Jack has to have for his job...

Anyway, that was today's adventure. Have fun blogland and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 3

11/21/2016

Today was quiet but really nice. I got up around 8:30, got dressed and ate breakfast with Jack at the hotel.

Jack then went to work (in our hotel room) while Donald and Tina picked me up to go visiting. We drove to Corbin KY and walked around the town. It is a tiny town but has its own charms. There is an old train depot with a pretty cool mural painted on it and a couple of old train cars. The town itself was decorated for Christmas and the shops were cute.

We then drove over to London KY and wondered a bit. Tina went to a bakery shop and got some really good deals on snacks for my nieces/nephews that are coming later in the week. And then we went to lunch... now we were going to a restaurant that had good food, but we pulled up to a gas station. I was obviously confused by this and thought a mistake had been made, but no. The restaurant is in the gas station and you know what? They had really good food - teach you to never judge a book by it's cover. I had veggie soup and a grilled cheese and thoroughly enjoyed it.


We also ran to Walmart for a few things and then went back to their house to just relax, which was awesome in itself. I laid on the couch, chatted, played with the dog and well just was. Do you know how nice it is just to be? Their home is pretty in the daytime - there are mules and horses in a pasture next door who came to say hi. I didn't get my camera out today (other than my cell phone) but one day this week I'm going to spend some good time taking pictures with them!

Now during all of this today I have also been fighting with Verizon, can I just tell anyone that will listen - I love Verizon's coverage network, but I hate Verizon. Anytime you have to contact them it is an ordeal. Well, Mama is in TX and yesterday suddenly her phone decides "I need to be reactivated". She went to Verizon yesterday and they replaced her SIM card but needed her apple ID and password. I reset it yesterday afternoon for her, but when she went to reactivate the phone yesterday evening it wouldn't work. So I asked her to go back to Verizon today. She gets there and the guy tells her that isn't her apple ID (has too many letters) and she just needs to buy a new phone to fix it. Needless to say, I told her not to buy said phone and that I would handle. So I call Verizon using 611 on my phone and the kind lady said what I expected "No you don't need a new phone - let me help you get in touch with Apple to fix this." So she connected me to Apple who verified her Apple ID and password were all good and there are no holds on her account. So I have her try it again - I have her try it while I'm on phone w/ her in one ear and Apple on another phone in another ear - can you say fun? Well - no dice because she couldn't connect to the cellular network and has no WIFI where she is. So the only option is to go back to Verizon.

So she goes back.... and the guy says "you need a new SIM card". He calls me to get authorization (something not done yesterday when they replaced it) and says he will get it going. I'm called 15 minutes later -- it's Mama saying that he says she needs a new phone, this one won't work. So I tell her to let me speak to the store manager. I can hear him saying "why" to which I reply, let me speak to the store manager... Suddenly he says "here it works" and all is well. Can you say SCAM???? I'm so going to call corporate about that store when I get a few minutes, they were obviously trying to take advantage of an elderly lady! UGH. Anyway, that took up at least an hour of the day, maybe 2, but she has her phone now and all is right in HooVille.

The day overall was really nice and once Jack was off he came over to the house and we had an excellent meal of BBQ sandwiches Tina made and then chatted, played cards and relaxed some more.

Tomorrow we plan on driving over to McCloud Mountain to take in the scenery and just well - relax some more. Hope your holiday week is going fabulously as well.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 2

11/20/2016

Day 2 of our journey was such an adventure; we turned a typical 3-hour drive into well 8 :) It was awesome.

First, we slept late and then meandered over to Fireside Restaurant. A local breakfast place near our hotel that had awesome reviews; reviews that were well deserved by the way. I had the french toast, which was really good. Not as good as that one in Charleston (yes I'm still going back just for the French Toast), but good never the less. The coffee was fresh and the service was top notch. I enjoyed it's laid back, sunny atmosphere and considered it the perfect way to start the day.

We then headed over to CVS to get me some heating stick on pads for my back, which was killing me before heading on. Let me just say - these things are pretty awesome. It's now 10:30 PM and my back, while still painful, is 100 times better than it was this morning after sleeping on the firm mattress at the hotel. Well, anyway, back to the adventure. By this time it's roughly noon and we decide to go see the Elk in Maggie Valley; about an hour out of the way --- but we won't have to backtrack. We came to see the Elk back in 2009 and really enjoyed it so we figured we'd go again.

So off we went. We got to Maggie Valley and stopped at one of the gift shops. We were browsing and Jack had to go to the bathroom, so he asked the cashier. Her answer "they are closed for the winter". Yep, no bathroom for him. He left me to browse and drove down to the service station a mile or so back. I'm not sure why I find this so funny, but who closes their bathroom when the leaves are still red and falling? I mean they still have tourist, such as ourselves, flowing through. Anyway, he came back, we bought our trinkets and then headed to see the Elk.

As I said we came in 2009, but I conveniently forgot the trek to see them. It's often a 1 lane gravel road with switchback U-shaped curves. Max speed for most people 15 - for us in that big ole truck - 5 to 10 depending on the curve. The route up was pretty, it was intense, it was funny, it was just plain old fun! When I wasn't panicking thinking of certain death I was just having a good time.

We arrived at the Elk grazing ground an hour or so later (17 miles mind you). They were so pretty and I thoroughly enjoyed photographing them, though I'll be honest it wasn't a passionate grab the right shot moment, just a fun time snapping pictures. I also got some shots of 3 wild turkey's who were hanging out. The brisk wind and the clear air - just an enjoyable afternoon visiting God's creations.

We then decided to go on our way. We had seen you could drive through the forest and come out closer to our destination so we did. By this time the GPS signal has long since been unavailable and well I can't read a map. Jack, on the other hand, knew what to do and we were mapping our way through a National Forest on one lane, gravel roads with bridges we weren't 100% sure weren't meant for foot traffic only. No cell or internet - just us, gravel and trees. It was exhilarating! 2 hours of fear, awe, and wonder. I loved it, but it did put us behind schedule.

When we came out of the forest and followed the signs for I40 the ramp was the most interesting thing. The off ramp really just went to this road, in the middle of nowhere. No businesses - nothing just a ramp into the forest. I've never seen anything like it - just amazing. Once on I40, we zoomed along until we both got a bit hungry. We stopped and ate at Cracker Barrell, there were local restaurants nearby, but I just wasn't in an experimentation mood. I was ready to eat and get on our way. So we did.

We arrived at my brother's about 8 PM and enjoyed a couple of hours visiting with them. Their home is beautiful. From what I could see given the late hour it's back aways off the road and he says I can see horses and stuff. I'll give you more details tomorrow, but the inside was just beautiful. He (and probably Tina too) have such a way with decorating. This 3 bedroom ranch home is like stepping into one decorated by a magazine. Antiques hung at just the right spot to accentuate them while at the same time making the home feel welcoming and cozy. We are staying in a hotel tonight - Wednesday due to Jack needing strong internet and phone for work. However, we are moving to Donalds for the remainder of our trip on Wednesday and I am actually looking forward to staying. Our room is decorated with the cutest little bears.

Anyway, that was our adventure today. I'll let you know what adventures tomorrow holds :)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 1

11/19/2016

We are going to see my brother, Donald, for Thanksgiving this year. He lives in Corbin KY and this will be our first visit to his home since he moved there. If I'm honest this is one of the very few visits I've made to his home so I'm looking forward to it. We decided given it's a several hour drive that we would break the trip up so it would be at a leisurely, relaxed pace vs. rushed. So I set out an itinerary.

Step 1 - Let Jack sleep in a little bit given he traveled and worked all week. We ventured out around 10:45

Step 2 - Sunrise Grill for breakfast. This is a weekend tradition for us and well I needed coffee. Breakfast was great as usual, though had an interesting conversation with Jaycee regarding my new cleaning lady; time shall tell.

Step 3 - Chimney Rock Park - This is where it gets interesting. We were driving the truck and as you get closer to the park you must get off the interstate and onto curvy mountain roads. Jack was driving - I was having control freak out issues and he offered to let me drive. Can you just say Thank you, Jesus! Now don't get me wrong - Jack drives wonderfully, but you can't tell my nitwit brain that when we are going around a curve at a whopping 20 miles and hour and I see certain death in my future. Make sense yet? No - not to me either. So he lets me drive and we are on our way only... we weren't. We get about 20 minutes from Chimney Rock to stumble upon the fact the road is closed. No one can go to Chimney Rock at this time due to forest fires.

Step 4........ Yea that is where the itinerary got blown all to Hades and back so we pivoted.

Deviation Step 1 - Go back to find our way to Hendersonville (which is where our hotel is). It's about 30 to 45 minutes out of the way but the faithful Google Maps helps us find our way.

Deviation Step 2 - Check into the hotel early and ask for ideas. At this point, it's 3 PM and we aren't certain what we have time to do. The clerk was very helpful and gave us a brochure of holiday events. I'd like to speak about the hotel for a moment, if you forgive the digression, it's called The Cascades Mountain Resort. It's right next to the Hampton Inn we stayed at last time, but the rooms appeared bigger on the website, the reviews were good, and the price was reasonable. I have to say overall I'm impressed so far. Clean, spacious, huge indoor pool with slide, I'd recommend it if you are in the area. Only 2 negatives so far and they are fairly minor 1) Smell of chlorine in lobby / common areas and 2) Hot water exist, but it takes a while to find your room :)

So anyway we get into the room and sit. No plans, no agenda, just well - what now? I start looking at restaurants and Jack is looking at the holiday event brochure. and we decide - dinner and a play. Their decision made, we got this, we pivot rather well, yes we do. Onward and Upward - we are back on track, no more deviation - this is the plan, let's go.

Step 1 or 5 depending on how you look at it :) - Go to Hendersonville and walk around before dinner. Yea - great idea.... wait its 45 degrees. That's ok, you have a coat. Walk - look in shop - walk - look at shop - walk..... What are we doing? It's cold.... Let's go drive through town - who says we need to actually see in the windows :)

So we drive through Hendersonville. It's cute and if I had longhandles on under my jeans I bet I would have enjoyed it's ambiance, but well - no. So on to the next item on our agenda.

Step 2/6 - Dinner. Let's try something that looks different, something local. The steak house (Binions), Nah that looks too much like Texas Road House. Let's go to Never Blue. Reviews are awesome and the menu looks interesting. So we go in - sit down and order drinks. I order a Sangria and Jack a coke. I had a Sangria in Jamaica and thought they were good.... well apparently Sangria's in the US are different, because this was strong and had an after taste that would kick you in the groin. We look at the menu and suddenly what looked interesting on my phone just looks fancy and not terribly appetizing. So I do the unthinkable... I tell the waiter to give us a check for the drink and we leave. Yep, I paid $7 to take a sip out of a bad drink and leave. Where did we go you ask? Yea, you guessed it, Binions the local steak house.

The food was good I have to say as was the service, but I nailed it with the atmosphere. It's a local TX Roadhouse - not really my scene, but the steak was good - tender and juicy. They had shrimp cocktail as a side dish, which is unique, and their roles were the light wonderful yeast rolls like you used to get at Ryan's so overall - good deal.

Step 3/7 - Play - Now this we did right and I'm glad we missed Chimney Rock or we probably would have been too tired to consider this. We went to see A Christmas Carol at the Flat Rock Theater, the NC State Theater. It was opening night of the play and was magnificent! The acting, the singing, the staging - just wonderful. They also had hot chocolate at the concession area - cold night, hot chocolate and a Christmas play, the trifecta. Honestly, it was an incredible play and they did such a good job.

We are now laying in bed about to call it a night before we finish the journey tomorrow. Our day may not have gone super smoothly, but I had a good time and really for a day meant to be fun, that is the important part right? Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our day as much as we did having it. Sleep well blogland!

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...