Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day Three: Fort Donelson, The King, BBQ and Graceland Too

Our day started at Wal-Mart, where I bought another tripod; a must for those roadside shots. We drove to Dover, Tennessee crossing into state #6 on this trip.

We made it to Fort Donelson around 10:00am and toured for a couple hours. Interesting stop – the kids loved the cannons and learning about the Civil War. Fort Donelson was held by the Confederate Army, but was taken over by Grant; it turned out to be one of the most significant battles of the Civil War.

On our way to Memphis we drove through some beautiful countryside; everything is so green here. The weather is almost perfect, not too hot but not too cold. Of course a trip to Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without paying our respects to The King. The Graceland tour was a little ‘commercial’, including an audio tour (no personal tour for $32 per person!), but it was fun to see Elvis’ home with all the original furnishings. We all had fun.

Memphis is the place for BBQ, so we stopped at a local joint and Scott and Paradis enjoyed some ribs. I had a pulled chicken that was so hot at one point I said, "I'm not sure if this is spicy or if my tongue is just on fire!" Annelies ate nothing ...

We crossed into Mississippi around 6:00pm and pulled over for our standard shot. Yes, Scott hated every minute of it, but was very cooperative! I just love that man. State #7 on this trip.

The best stop of the day, by far, was Graceland Too. I’m sure none of you have heard of it, but if you are ever near Holly Springs Mississippi you need to stop and visit the home of Paul McLeod, curator and creator. I use Roadside America to find our unusual stops, and that is how I heard of Graceland Too. It's a manic floor-to-ceiling (including the ceiling) tribute to The King. Paul drinks 24 cans of Coca-Cola per day and only sleeps four hours a night. The museum is open 24 hours a day -- he says to just knock louder at night. I couldn't even begin to explain the tour, but I will say the outside is completely blue (Moody Blue), there isn't one square inch of the house that isn't filled with Elvis memorabilia and I'm sure it doesn't meet fire code standards. Just look closely at the photo below ... that is how all the rooms in his home look.

Day Three: 342 miles (1306 total); $238.97 on gas ($739.37 total); 3 states (7 total); $0 Lodging ($0 total); $22.95 Souvenirs ($72.33 total); $122 Tourist Traps ($152.00 total); $3 Redbox ($6 total); 0 fights (0 total); 0 injuries (0 total)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day Two: Lincoln’s Home, The Arch and a Big Bottle of Ketchup

We started the day driving to Springfield, Illinois and visited the home of President Abraham Lincoln. I have to say I was emotionally moved. Our government has taken ownership of a four-block area all restored to 1880. It was emotional to stand in the living room where 27 members of the Republican Party stood and asked Lincoln to be the presidential nominee; doesn’t matter your political views, he was a remarkable man that changed our country forever. We also visited his tomb which was, again, remarkable. The four of us, all history geeks, couldn’t stop talking about Lincoln on our drive to St. Louis.

We got on the road and stopped at a couple salvage yards in an attempt to get a few more license plates. If you are new to our blog, we have a license plate map at home showing all the states we’ve visited. It is uber cool. Unfortunately we struck out at every stop; the salvage yards are required to destroy the plates to avoid criminal use. Bummer for us.

We added the St. Louis Arch to our itinerary after leaving Lincoln’s Home and we are glad we did. Wow, an amazing architectural structure. I struggled a little with the ride to the top, as the ‘elevator’ is tiny, but Paradis played Red Solo Cup and My Name is Money real loud on the way up and down so I could go to my ‘Happy Place’. Since we dipped into Missouri, we added one more state to this voyage!

On our way south we stopped at the World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle. If you don’t know, my family is NUTS about ketchup. It is a necessity in our home, equal to toilet paper. I added a quote to the blog after that stop .. “This is so embarrassing,” is what Paradis said after we pulled over to take a picture, but then willingly jumped out of the RV while I set up the tripod. I just love her!

We crossed into two new states today; Missouri (we already had a state photo from our trip in 2011) and Kentucky. The Kentucky sign was across the river, and Scott refused to stop (what am I going to do with him?). So we went to a Welcome Center – notice my new head lamp Scott bought me for the trip. I love, love, love the red night vision light.

We ended the night in Murray, Kentucky at another Walmart!  

Day Two: 374 miles (964 total); $165.57 on gas ($500.40 total); 3 states (5 total); $0 Lodging ($0 total); $49.38 Souvenirs ($49.38 total); $30 Tourist Traps ($30 total); $0 Redbox ($3 total); 0 fights (0 total); 0 injuries (0 total)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day One: Illinois, Asthma Attack and Shower in Wal-Mart Parking Lot

Our first day on the road was a success! No stops, we drove straight through to get some miles under our belt. We are now in Lincoln, Illinois. We hit the Illinois border around 8:00pm and stopped for our picture alongside highway 80. We are far back, because this isn’t one of Scott’s favorite traditions. He gets so nervous about having the kids run alongside the highway .. I’m not sure why?!!

We ‘camped’ overnight at our favorite location .. a Wal-Mart parking lot. Why not? It is one of our favorite things about RV vacationing. We drive as late as we can (OK, as late as SCOTT can), we simply pull in the lot, extend the slide-out, brush our teeth and hit the bed.

It got so cold in the RV last night Annelies started having an asthma attack. It was easily cured with turning the heat on, and a shot of inhaler. The temperature this morning is a sunny 48 degrees.

Scott is in Wal-Mart shopping, his morning routine. Paradis and I just showered .. yes, in the Wal-Mart parking lot! I love this life and I’m so happy to be back on the road.

Thanks for all the emails and comments everyone. I so enjoy writing this blog to document our family’s adventures. Every day I feel as though all of you are right alongside us.

Day One: 590 miles (590 total); $334.83 on gas ($334.83 total); 3 states (3 total); $0 Souvenirs ($0 total); $0 Tourist Traps ($0 total); $3.00 on Redbox - NEW category this year! ($3 total); 0 fights (0 total); 0 injuries (0 total)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back on the Road | Southeast 2012

We are back on the road my friends. Thanks for following us!

This 12 day trip traveling Southeast will take us through 15 states, covering nearly 4,500 miles. We will see Lincoln's home, Martin Luther King's home, Disney World, Great Smokey Mountain National Park, the World's Largest Ketchup bottle and Graceland, home of Elvis. Plus more.

We have rented another RV for this adventure. I picked it up in Clearwater this morning; Kari and Mark Kyllo came along with me. Thanks to both of them for helping me kick off this adventure. We pulled the girls out of school early so we could get an early start.

I'll write more as we get organized. Paradis is making us lunch ...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grand Canyon here we come ...

I'm jumping up and down and can hardly contain my excitement ... I just booked lodging at Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for Spring Break 2013!!! Phantom Ranch is the only lodging below the canyon ring. There are only 10 beds for women, and 10 beds for men each night (in addition to some cabins used by those coming down via mule) so advance reservations are necessary and done so 13 months in advance.

We knew the hike alone would be enough of a challenge (9.3 miles one way - both down and UP), so I figured the only way I could convince my traveling team to join me on this adventure was to have a hot meal and soft bed ready for our arrival. Hiking to the bottom is very dangerous during the summer months, as temperatures can easily reach over 100 degrees, so March and April are prime months. The kids spring break is the last week in March, and that is when we got our reservations. Perfect.

I used three phones to call simultaneously and it took me 17 minutes just to get through as 'all circuits were busy'. Thanks to Lesley, Kelli and Scott for calling as well; Kelli also made a reservation, so now I have two to pick from. I need to work out our itinerary, which seems crazy since it is nearly 13 months away.

I'm currently planning two other trips. In a couple weeks (depart March 28, 2012) we will travel Southeast through 15 states covering nearly 4,500 miles in a RV. See our planning map. The first week in May we will travel to Kentucky, where we will celebrate Paradis' 13th birthday.

Lots of fun things planned. Thanks for following us on our adventure. (I'm now going to run around the house screaming, "I got reservations! I got reservations!" and maybe take a nap, since last night I had non-stop nightmares about not getting through this morning! Thank goodness my client cancelled today and I'm home.)