Road Trip Day #15 of 26

Friday, June 26, 2009
We left Alyssa's house (with a few tears after I got down the road a bit) we headed to Savannah, Georgia. My cousins, Angela, Grant and Raleigh Jo Smith were meeting us there so that we could begin our Hilton Head beach vacation together. We arrived in Savannah before them and got checked into our hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton Savannah Airport. The hotel was wonderful! We got a room with a king sized bed and a sleeper sofa, which was nice because Reese usually ends up sleeping with David and me. Having a king sized bed makes that a little more comfortable. Katie is just fine with the sleeper, so we're all happy! Angela and the kids got a room with two queens. It seemed a little crowded, but the decor was fun. Kind of a nautical theme.

The Smiths' plane landed at the Savannah airport at 2:42pm and we went right down to pick them up. The girls were just happy to pile up in the bed with Raleigh Jo and relax for a while, but after relaxing just a bit at the hotel we decided to strike out to downtown Savannah for a little sight seeing. Grant was on a mission to see Forrest Gump's bench, but there really is no such thing. It was just a movie prop! He was disappointed, but we did manage to get some great photos in Old Savannah.

We decided to go eat at the Olde Pink House for dinner that night, and let me say, it was AMAZING! Here is the review that was in Frommer's for this fabulous restaurant.

Built in 1771 and glowing pink (its antique bricks show through a protective covering of stucco), this house has functioned as a private home, a bank, a tearoom, and headquarters for one of Sherman's generals. Today its interior is severe and dignified, with stiff-backed chairs, bare wooden floors, and an 18th-century aura similar to what you'd find in Williamsburg, Virginia. The cuisine is richly steeped in the traditions of the Low Country and includes sautéed local shrimp with country ham and grits cake, crispy scored flounder with apricot sauce, steak au poivre, black grouper stuffed with blue crab and drenched in white onion and butter sauce, and grilled tenderloin of pork served with collard greens and yams. You can enjoy your meal in the candlelit dining rooms or in the Planters Tavern.

And some pictures:

I also managed to find a copy of the menu online, so I uploaded it here, too. (The original source is

I had the Jumbo Sea Scallops with Apple Chutney. They were AMAZING! They don't offer a children's menu, so I ordered a side of macaroni & cheese for Reese. I thought it was great, but she didn't like it much. I'm sure it was because it wasn't what she was used to. Their version of mac & cheese was more like what my Meema used to make, a true, homemade, baked macaroni & cheese. It had a crunchy top of melted cheese and it was delicious! We had a hard time keeping the kids quiet while we were eating, and since this was a very nice restaurant, I was a little embarrassed. I must give 100,000 thanks to Raleigh Jo for coming to the rescue with her iPhone. The kids loved that! The restaurant also had a waitress who would sing for tips. She was incredible! She sang "Moon River" to the table next to us, and it was enough to make me want to cry! I loved it!

After leaving The Olde Pink House we walked to the area of Savannah right on the river and explored. The river area of Savannah is old and mystical and beautiful. I would recommend at least one visit sometime in your lifetime. As for myself, I can't wait to go back!

We went back to the hotel after our tour and settled down for the night. David's plane arrived around midnight, so he took the hotel shuttle to get to us. I was thankful because both girls were sleeping. They woke up when he came in, but it was better than dragging them out to go get him or waking up the cousins to come watch them.

All in all, Savannah is definitely a place I would visit again. I would love to go without the kids and explore the romantic side of Savannah with David sometime!

Road Trip Day #11-#14 of 26

Thursday, June 25, 2009
After arriving with no problems at Alyssa's house (on the Marine Corp Air Station in Beaufort, SC) at 1am, we crashed into bed an hour or so later so that we wouldn't be totally wiped out the next day. Although her new hubby, Chris, was up and off to work very early, we slept in until about 9:30am and then jumped into bed with Alyssa. When breakfast time came, I realized that my bunch would quickly eat Alyssa and Chris out of house and home. We waited for Chris to come home for lunch and leave again, then we took off and went to the commissary on Parris Island. It's great to be military! We were able to stock up on groceries for only $96! I filled up most of the back of my car! We filled up with gas on post, too, for about $.30 cheaper than civilian prices. It was great! We filled all of her cupboards and the fridge and enjoyed the spoils of our trip for the rest of the time we were there. Reese had a jelly sandwich for breakfast one morning and loved it!

The second day we were there we took the girls out to Hunting Island State Park to go to the beach. It was beautiful! We played there for a few hours and found TONS of sand dollars! They were everywhere! I loved this beach. There was something a little primative and clean about it. It wasn't too crowded and the girls had plenty of room to run around.

On the way home we stopped at a roadside stand and bought a few pounds of fresh shrimp and some purple hull peas. We went home and cooked them up and they were wonderful! It was a great supper. Steaks, shrimp, salad, peas, YUMMY! Afterward we played Phase 10 for a while. Katie LOVED that! Reese was worn out, so she wasn't very interested in playing, which was nice.

We didn't do much more running around that week in Beaufort, but we had a fabulous visit with Alyssa and Chris. I was so excited to see their new place, which was very nice! She was proud to be a new wife and to have such a great place. I sure miss her at home, but it's nice to see her happy and secure.

Road Trip Day #10 of 26

Monday, June 22, 2009
On our tenth day of travel the girls and I left David in Virginia Beach and headed to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to see my godsister and my goddaughter. It took us about five hours to get there, and we had a ball catching up and seeing one another. After Amanda (my godsister) and I got the girls settled down we sat down and watched and entire movie! A grown up movie! We decided to watch "Taken", and needless to say, we ended the evening feeling downright scared of the dangers our daughters face in this big, mean world.

I did get some pictures of the girls playing on Maddie's new swingset. They had a ball!

The next day we ran around and shopped a little, then we took Katie to practice at one of the gyms in town. We have tried to stay on schedule with her gymnastics practices so that she won't be so sore when we get home from vacation and start regular practices again. She got to practice for almost four hours with the Level 4 gym team and loved it! Thanks Sanford Academy for letting my baby girl practice!

After gym practice we hit the road to go see my sister, Alyssa, in Beaufort, South Carolina. We were sad to leave, but we were so anxious to see "Ghee", as Reese calls Alyssa. It took us another five hours to get there, and we arrived at 1am, but we were so glad to see her.

Road Trip Day #8-#9 of 26

Sunday, June 21, 2009
Since we got to spend most of the week with our friends in Blacksburg after David went back to work last Monday, we decided we'd spend the weekend with him in Virginia Beach. We drove down on Friday, and thought we would surely be there before 5pm. Boy were we WRONG! We made it to Hampton, Virginia, which is only thirty miles from Virginia Beach, but then we hit a snag. A BIG snag. It's called the Hampton Roads Bridge and Tunnel. Believe me, for my family it's a mild version of hell. We got within seven miles of the tunnel and traffic stopped. I don't mean slowed down, I mean stopped. To make a long story short, it took us almost three hours to get to the opening of the tunnel. Three hours stuck in the car with two bored kids. Three hours with very little noticeable progress. It was awful! This picture was taken the following day as we were leaving Virginia Beach for Williamsburg:

We did finally make it to Virginia Beach where David was waiting for us. We managed to get a great room at the Homewood Suites, which was wonderful because it had a fridge and a separate bedroom. You gotta love that! We met one of David's co-workers and his family for dinner at an excellent little pizza place in Virginia Beach called Primo Pizza. Their garlic knots were to die for! After that, we grabbed a few groceries and went to the hotel to crash.

On Saturday, June 20, we decided to celebrate Reese's third birthday at the beach. It was extremely crowded, but the girls had a great time. We didn't stay long, but it was a fun trip. We at least got some cute pictures!

After going to the beach we headed up to Williamsburg, Virginia, for a visit with another of David's co-workers and a trip to Colonial Williamsburg for dinner. We at at the King's Arms Tavern and were thoroughly enjoying a nice appetizer when David made the mistake of speaking in a slightly harsh tone to Reese, who was crawling around in the floor. Keep in mind, Reese is a VERY tenderhearted kid. When she got in trouble, the screaming and wailing began. She was so upset that I had to pick her up and take her out of the room. The King's Arms Tavern is a very nice, quiet place with roving entertainers and candlelight. Of course, the exact moment our child decided to make a public spectacle was when the singer showed up in our dining area. Needless to say, I missed the entertainment. When we finally got back to the table my $35 prime rib had arrived. I ended up with Reese sitting in my lap for the whole meal. She was facing me with her face buried in my chest, so I managed to eat most of my now cold prime rib with her hair in it. We got some pictures there, too, in between fits and screams.

Oh well... Motherhood... It isn't for the weak... Or the ones who want to eat a hot, hairless meal...

Road Trip Day #2-#7 of 26

Friday, June 19, 2009
Our first stop after we checked into the Hampton Inn in Christiansburg, Virginia, was Macado's restaurant. They have the best broccoli cheese au gratin soup, and Katie just begs for it everytime we're in Virginia. They also have awesome sandwiches (my favorite is the Ragtime), and their Chubby Bubby (a HUGE banana split) totally ROCKS! I know I usually gain five pounds just looking at it, but I had to have one (or maybe two) during the week we were there. It is impossible to find good ice cream where we live. Everything is that awful soft serve stuff.

Anyway, back to our Blacksburg visit. We went back to the hotel after dinner, and by the time we arrived, David was there waiting for us. We just relaxed and regrouped the rest of the evening. The kids tried to swim, but the pool was COLD!

The next day we went to visit our friends, David and Wendy. We ate grilled burgers at their house while the girls had a ball picking blueberries in their back yard. We went and played at a park near their home and then headed out to the Home Place restaurant near Salem, Virginia.

Having dinner at the Home Place is a different kind of dining experience. It's about 12 miles from Salem, in a beautiful mountain valley near the Appalahian Trail. The scenery is incredible. The house itself is an old, but charming, farmhouse which has been tastefully expanded into a restaraunt. The wait can be up to two hours, but they have an excellent outdoor area where the kids can run around and burn off energy.

The food is served "family style", and the choices are very limited, but that's why it's so good! The servers bring bowls of everything to your table, and just like family, you share everything. Entrees include roast beef, Virginia ham and fried chicken, which is ALMOST as good as my mom's. Sides include green beans, pinto beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, rolls, biscuits and apple butter. It was the best the best $14 meal I've had in a while! If you are visiting the Roanoke/Salem area and are looking for a way to get some really good food, as well a great look, at the Blue Ridge scenery, this is it!

We spent the rest of the week relaxing and visiting our buddies, the Schwartz family. We went out to eat at Red Robin and at Macado's again, and we saved tons on our budget eating dinner with them at home. Thanks guys! We also caught a free movie at the theater with nine kids total in our group (and only 2 were girls!), got to see the Twilight movie with Amy & John while the kids slept, babysat for just a bit when Schwartz kid #4 cut his head open and needed to go to the ER, and went swimming at their community pool. Katie even got to go work out two different times at one of the local gymnastics gym. I was so happy that Virginia Techniques was willing to let her practice with their team! We will be arriving home just a week before we go to gymnastics camp. It's wonderful that she can work out on the road so that she won't be sore during camp!

It was a great week, and we we so sad to leave... See you next year, Blacksburg!

Road Trip Day #1 of 26

Friday, June 12, 2009
AAANNNNNDDD...... We're OFF!!!!

We left Searcy last night around 5:30pm and hit the open road to begin our 26 day road trip. On this first day we were enroute to Crossville, Tennessee, for an overnight stay then on to Blacksburg, Virginia, for a visit with some old friends. I expected to arrive at our hotel around midnight, maybe a little later. It is about 430 miles from Searcy to Crossville, so I figured that we would arrive no later than 1am. Boy, was I wrong!!! Unbeknownst to me, we were in store for some horrific thunderstorms! Since I wasn't listening to weather radio or watching TV, I missed this important bulletin from the National Weather Service:






This radar picture shows our situation a little better... Granted, this photo is from way before we hit Nashville, but it was coming for us! Our location for the worst of the storm is almost exactly in the center Tennessee on the following picture.

As we approached the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, the bottom fell out. The lightning was AMAZING, but the wind was terrifying! Our car was blowing all over the road, and the spray from the 18 wheelers just made us more blind than the rain itself. I was scared to death!

We pulled off at a Hampton Inn just West of Nashville, and could tell by the cars that were parked in the flower beds and everywhere else that there were no rooms to be had. Apparently all of the other travelers on the road decided to stop, too.

Since staying in this area was obviously not an option, I did what any smart woman would do; I called my mom! She looked at the weather radar out of Nashville and came to the conclusion that if the girls and I could stand to wait it out in the car just a bit that the storm would blow right on through. We chose to do that, and within twenty minutes we were down to a light rain. We continued our journey to Crossville and arrived, a little worn and frazzled, around 3am. The kids were all hyped up to be out of the car, so getting them settled was a chore, but we finally bedded down and slept a few hours. Thanks to David's diamond status we scored a late checkout, so we all slept till noon. We missed the free breakfast, but really didn't care. I had the food suitcase (more on that to come later, I promise) so everyone was cheaply and quickly fed.

We left the hotel singing Willie Nelson tunes, and very happy to be on the road again! This map shows our total trip itinerary. Hopefully we'll avoid more bad weather!

View Larger Map

More travel advice

Thursday, June 4, 2009
I just thought of a couple more things that might be of use to some of my fellow road warriors, so I thought I would post them, too. Enjoy!

Suction Cup Hooks

I always take along several suction cup hooks when we go to any vacation location where water will be a part of our daily routine. They are small and light, therefore very easy to pack, and they can serve a multitude of purposes. We mostly use them to hang up wet swimsuits. If we have a patio at our hotel I put them on the sliding glass door so that the warm air can dry our swimsuits and coverups, but if not, the inside of the shower will do! It's so much better than hanging everything over the shower rod or trying to use the scrawny little clothsline in some hotel tubs. They're also great for hanging up a ribbon full of hairbows or anything else that is relatively light.

Trash Bags

Another thing that will come in handy on an extended trip is kitchen trash bags. The trash bags in hotel rooms are notoriously thin and small, and usually aren't up to handling the amount of trash the my family can produce in one day. (Think - dirty diapers, swim diapers, fast food bags and boxes, etc...) Just tucking a small roll of trash bags into your suitcse can keep things a little neater in already cramped quarters.

The "Food Suitcase"

If your kids are anything like mine, they will be starving at the most inconvenient of times. I take along a small suitcase full of stuff just to make my life easier. We pack in Easy Mac, instant oatmeal, a box or two of cereal, some canned fruit, a can openener, napkins, cheap plastic bowls and plates, disposable silverware and whatever other snacky type things my kids like to munch on. If there is a microwave in our room we're all set! If not, we request one, and most hotels are happy to help us out. Our food suitcase has helped us out a lot when it's just too hard to make it downstairs for a hotel breakfast that closes at 9am.