Friday, July 28, 2006

Vacation 2006--Day 5 (AKA day from hell)

What a bizarre day. I'm so freaking tired, but I'll try to cap the highlights of the day.

Woke up. Went to breakfast at someplace called the Oakwood Cafe in downtown Dalton. It was good and cheap. Went back to the visiting homestead to pack up our schtuff and hit the road. We got to Atlanta about 12:30 and met Peter for lunch. Actually we met at St. Phillip's Cathedral for a look see then had lunch across the street at Fellini's. Slice of spinach and mushroom pizza with a salad. Works for me!

This is where the day went to hell in a handbasket. We left Peter to head off to Chattanooga while we were gonna go down to the Coca-Cola museum. Bah-hah-hah!!! We took Peachtree Rd all the way downtown. That wasn't too bad. The Boy and I had lots of fun verbally jabbing each other in the car. We FINALLY got down to MLK street, pulled into the garage and parked, and set out for the museum. Whoa, did we go the wrong direction! We came up the escalator in the middle of ghettoville. We knew it was close, but we started off going in the opposite direction. I was a little freaked out, and I could tell Boy was not happy. We eventually stopped and asked the most normal looking person we could find where the place was. We were only about 2 1/2 city blocks away. [Oh ya, by the way, I was wearing jeans and a black tee, and it was 105 degrees in downtown Hot-lanta.] When we got to the place with the flashing Coke sign, there was a line out the door to get in. We were told it would take ~45 minutes of waiting to get in. Nope. We were having none of that. We had to get to Jackson, MS before dark. So...we hit the road.

Do things improve here? Good Lord no. When we were at the 15 mile marker on I20 (meaning 15 miles from the GA/AL border), the highway stopped. Not slowed down, not stopped then started up again, stopped. It took us a good 30 minutes to go the one mile to the next exit. I got out the atlas and found an alternate route. Bah-hah-hah!!! So did half of the other people from I20. We got over to this other road and went about 5 miles before it slowed down to a crawl. With a CVS looming on the horizon, we gathered strength to go and get nourishment from the drugstore. Thank goodness for Dr. Pepper, beef jerky, and Dove chocolate! We got back on the slow road thinking most people would take the next turn to get back to I20 and we'd keep going to another road a few miles further. We got another 2 miles down the road, and it came to a dead stop. After sitting for 10 minutes, we turned around and took the original hwy 100 to get back to I20. ARRGH!!!! Anyway, long story short, it took 1 1/2 hours to go about 4 miles. Needless to say, we were well off our Jackson by nightfall schedule.

When we stopped for gas outside Birmingham, we switched driving duties which meant it was my turn. It had been raining for about 30 minutes at this point, but it was only drizzling instead of pouring. I drove us about 3-5mi down the road when I came over a blind hill. Guess what? Yes boys and girls, I got pulled over by an Alabama State Trooper. Double damn. He called me out of the car which had never happened before. Then he told me to sit in his car while he wrote the ticket! I knew I was a dead girl. As it happened, when he called in my license and heard that there was a clean record and he saw how absolutely adorable I am, he gave me a written warning. Oh ya, the details: I was caught going 90 in a 70. I know I know! I drove the rest of the way to the motel with the cruise control set at 73mph.

So now, we are all checked into a motel in Meridian, MS. We never would've made it to Jackson and still been awake. What a nightmare of a day. Thank God for Italian Rosso from Montalcino. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm! G'night!

Vacation 2006--Day 4

Ah, the joys of small towns in the mountains of Georgia! It is so beautiful here. All the birds, trees, and all manner of wildlife have refreshed my soul. The world is beautiful again.

Today we slept as long as the tyke would let us, had breakfast, and set out for the outskirts of Atlanta for a mini SMU reunion. There were the three guys who all went to school together, the two wives who had much about children and home life to discuss, and me. It was a bit odd, but everyone was so wonderfully nice and welcoming! Joy made a fantastic pasta with pesto lunch (there was also grilled chicken and a tomato basil salad on the side, but you know me). The pesto was made with fresh basil from their garden. Made me want to start trying to grow basil again! We stayed there until about 3:30pm then had to head back to Dalton because the extended family was to arrive shortly--had to give them a little time to recoup!

Once back in Dalton, we sat around and talked while James went off to play music for the vacation Bible school's last night. Then we ate hamburgers and grilled corn out on the deck under a cloudy Georgia night sky. Was that the end of the night? No! There was ice cream with Magic Shell to be eaten and "Girl with a Pearl Earring" to be watched. Then it was midnight and time for sleep.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vacation 2006--Day 3

How weird is this? I love Dalton, Georgia. But I'm jumping ahead of myself....

Wednesday morning was delightful if early. We set the alarm for 7:15am so we could be at the tennis courts be 7:30 (ahead of any young 'uns). After hitting snooze twice, I finally got us up at 7:30. We still made it to the courts in high time. RAH would say that we played a game; I called it a rout. At least I got a few points and good shots in. Then we had to clean up quickly to make breakfast at the Inn. A fantastic plate was put before me with strawberries, grapes, raspberry cream cheese coffee cake, and a roasted red bell pepper fritatta. Mmmmmm! It was heavenly. During Breakfast, RAH chatted with the people at the next table (who we'd met the night before). Turns out they had recently left a church in Murfresboro where a school friend of RAH's was the music director. They had sung in his choir! What a small world!

After all the chit chat, it was time to hit the road to Dalton with one last pass through Sewanee (I'd forgotten to buy something a friend requested the day before). It was at that point that I realized we were running a full hour behind schedule. Dalton is in the eastern time zone while Monteagle and Sewanee are in central. Oops! Needless to say, we made excellent time. We even had time to stop and have lunch (again at Cracker Barrel). Gotta love me driving the Beemer through the mountains.

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent chatting and catching up with our friends here in Dalton. The kiddo was cranky earlier than normal, so we just ordered take away from Outback and stayed in all night. Again, yum! We stayed up entirely too late and got up when the kiddo awoke about 7:30 (remember, it's eastern now--felt like 6:30!). I've enjoyed sitting in the "couch room" watching the bird feeder this morning. So far I've seen cardinals, house finches, wrens, chickadees, titmice (nothing from the peanut gallery here), sparrows, a thrush or thrasher--I always get them confused--and of course squirrels. I could stay here forever!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


So after the respective naps, RAH and I went off in search of the chapel. He was DYING to find a piano or something musical to play. When we got there, the speaker for the night was setting up his presentation. Ya, guess who was talking??? I'll get there later. Then we wandered around the assembly for a while. After getting back to the B&B, we watched a little TV, and set out for dinner. We went to a place called Pearl's that opened my senior year at Sewanee. It was freaking awesome but uber expensive. Why the poo not? So is the whole trip if you think about it.

We left just in time to make it to the Twilight Prayer service at the chapel. It was kinda nice. A little bit-o-God in Tennessee. After that was over, we stayed to hear the nightly speaker. **drum roll please** Our guest lectioner for the night was none other than Gene Sparling. Who, you ask? He's the guy who first spotted the ivory-billed woodpecker back in 2004 in Arkansas. Dang was I excited! We were there for almost 2 hours. Even RAH was rapt. I wish you all could have heard him speak as well. It was amazing.

Now I'm back in the room while the Boer is off watching Friends in the main house. I'd rather get a little shut eye before the alarm goes off at 7am so we can go hit the tennis courts before the kids wake up.

Vacation 2006 -- Day 2

Ah Sewanee! How I love thee!

We got up fairly late this morning (about 8:30), but lazed around until 9:30. Once I could finally get Richard off the computer, we went out behind the hotel and played a bit of tennis. To say that I am a bit rusty is putting it mildly. I was pissing myself off. Granted almost every time I got a good smack on the ball, I would lose my grip on the racket. See, I couldn't find my own racket before I left town, so I "borrowed" one from the church. [an aside: My church choir is having a garage/rummage sale, and there were 5 tennis rackets just sitting there on the great hall floor. I figured I'd give it a week try out to see if I want it to replace my as-yet-unfound racket.] The grip was rubbing off in my hands as I tried to play. Oh well, can't really use that as an excuse--I'm still lousy. It was also a sucky court with no lines and grass growing between cracks in the asphalt. Who knew where the ball was gonna bounce after hitting one of those clumps of sod!

After we got cleaned up (thank God for cold showers!), we jetted off to Sewanee again. I took RAH through the chapel (All Saints), showed him the carillon bells, my old dorms (they've changed up the road leading to Emery), the new equestrian center, the pitiful excuse for a football field, Lake Cheston, and Alto Road. We had to kill time until 11:30 for Shenanigan's to open. Mmmmmmmmmmmm! It's as good, if not better than I remember. I had a killer reuben while the Boer had a cheeseburger. Then we went off to the cross again to hike some of the perimeter trail. Turns out, he doesn't really like hiking. There are "creepy crawlies" out there that could get him. Hahaha! I am glad we turned back when we did though, since almost everwhere we went on the trail was downhill. That means the whole way back was uphill! After that and tennis, my arms and legs are a bit sore.

I then made him drive us to the Natural Bridge. Absolutely amazing still after all these years. It's a big natural bridge formation on the mountain side. Too difficult to describe so I'll try and post pictures later. Unfortunately, I got away from home without the cable to hook the camera up to the computer.

Now, we've just checked in to the B&B where we are staying tonight. He's sleeping on his bed (all snuggled in his comforter snoring away--quietly at least) while I sit on my bed and type with the computer in my lap. I guess this is what they mean by lap top! Anyway, I think he has a great idea. Time for a nap!

Stay tuned for further updates.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Vacation 2006 -- Day 1

RAH and I have made it to Monteagle, TN. What a loooooong couple of days!

We didn't get away until 4pm, so we only made it as far as Little Rock, AR the first night. We had a nice, boring dinner at the West End Smokehouse and Tavern followed a couple of hours in front of the boob tube before falling asleep (at a "lovely" Motel 6 on the west side of town). I think I got him hooked on House (rerun on USA at 10pm--he told me it was too early to go to sleep).

The alarm went off super early this morning, but I was already awake. Drat the motel beds! We started off the day at the Waffle House (#488). Mmmmmmmmm--hashbrowns done the right way! We hit the road about 9am and hardly hit any traffic. We made Memphis by 11am and went straight to Graceland. Whoa. Talk about being surrounded by 70s kitch! It was hilarious. I took pictures of a room that actually had green shag carpet on the ceiling! Then there were all the exhibits of his "costumes." Super garish! It was AWESOME!!!! Got finished with that as soon as we could and got back on the road. We left Memphis at 2:45 and hit Nashville by 6pm. We made excellent time! Of course, that means we got there in time for the end of rush hour traffic. Yippie. Went straight through to Manchester where we stopped at the local Cracker Barrel for dinner.

Now were are all checked into the Smokehouse in Monteagle, TN. I did drive up the mountain and head straight for the cross though. Even RAH was impressed! It's a huge white cross erected on the side of the mountain overlooking the valley below. The cross itself can be seen from all around. So moving! I love this place!

Tomorrow we're planning on doing a lot around Sewanee including visiting with my old choir director and letting RAH play the organ in the church. I'll update tomorrow night (if the next place has wifi).

WiFi here we come!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Who knew it could be so difficult to find hotel/motel reservations? I'm trying the AAA website (thinking my membership will give me some super fantastic deals), and everything affordable is a king bed (two of us traveling--not dating). Do I make the booking and hope I can sleep through all his kicking and snoring? Do I wait until we hit the town and hope to find something better? I guess some of it has to do with summertime traveling of the billions of familes in the world. All I want is a room with 2 beds. Is that too much to ask????

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hot as Balzac

Why did people settle in Texas? I guess I can understand the idea of lots of land, good grazing, beautiful scenery (like the Hill Country). But dangit, why didn't they leave come July or August???

So thanks to the inordinate amount of Texas heat, my car is in the garage (for the second time in a week). This time he's getting a new radiator. Let me tell you how fun it was to pull into a parking spot Tuesday evening about 6:30, get out of the car, and hear this sound like flowing water. Yes, by Jove, it was all the coolant being purged from my reserve tank. Glad there weren't any cats or dogs around. I could've been blamed with the death of many poisoned animals. After everything cooled off, we checked the radiator, and it looked like there was still fluid in there. I hoped for the best and decided to head home (granted at this point it was about 11pm--much cooler right?). By the time I got to my friend's house to drop her off (maybe ten minutes of driving), the temperature guage started rising--fast! Well, I pulled into her driveway, popped the hood, and was blasted by heat. Not a good thing. We went inside, got some large cups of water, and poured them onto the radiator and reserve tank caps to hasten the cooling. When I finally could get the caps off without burning off my eyebrows, I noted that I was pretty much out of all fluid. Coolant, water, everything--gone. Off to the store for coolant! I was quite surprized that the first place we went had coolant. I got the kind that had to be diluted (that "premixed" stuff makes me nervous--what if it is too dilute, too concentrated?), went back, diluted it by half with water, and added it to the reserve tank. It was hard to see into the radiator, so I added the little bit that was left over to it. When I finally got home at almost 1am, I was tired and sweaty. If your car is overheating, you help it out by not running the a/c. Well, when I passed a TxDOT sign at 12:45am, it said the temp was still 96 degrees. UGH!!!

All the fluids got topped off first thing in the morning, and I made it about 50 miles in the heat of the day with no problems. Things were going quite well. I stopped off at the house for about 15 minutes to change for dinner with friends, then left and drove another 10 minutes. Wouldn't you know that after that short jaunt, the whole coolant boiling over incident happened again. Double damn! At least this time, I was carrying pre-mixed coolant in the car with me. Topped everything off again and waited to call the garage this morning. Stupid Texas heat.

Now the boy is fixed to the tune of about $500. Whoa. I guess that's what credit cards are for (unfortunately). If anyone has any odd jobs, I'm taking suggestions. Monetary donations are also being accepted.

Monday, July 17, 2006

it's Backwards Day!

Don't you love waking up in the morning and deciding to do everything out of order? OKay, so that's not really how it happened, but that'show it feels.

When I finally was able to drag myself from the lush comfort of my bed, I was hungry. I didn't want to take the time to actually cook anything for breakfast, so I went looking for substitutes. what I found was leftover shrimp egg foo young. That seems breakfasty, right? I mean, it's like a Chinese omelet. Eggs are a breakfast food. There you go. Leftover Chinese food for breakfast.

I stopped at the gay Starbucks to meet a friend to compare recent hair make overs before I ventured to work. While there, we split what I deemed to be dessert. They have this fantastic cranberry oatmeal bar thing that is sooooooo delightful. Yummy! That and the shaken Zen iced tea is a marvelous mid-morning snack.

Come about 2pm at work, I realized it was time for lunch. I went to the bougie Starbucks a few doors down looking for a refill of my tea and one of their fancy sandwiches. Let me just tell you that I picked the one place that had no lunch type food. I ended up getting a fruit, yogurt, and granola thingy. It was really good if a bit more of a breakfast food than a lunch food. Unfortunately, it was a ton more expensive than the same "fruit and yogurt parfait" thing from McDonald's. Oh well. It was really good though!

At least dinner should be a real dinner. The H-bomb and I are going to Outback from some good old bloody cow. No bloomin' onion, no margaritas, not even iced tea. Just steak. Maybe I can afford that!

So the trend today was lunch--dessert--breakfast--then dinner. Things can still change though!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

new blog!!!

Oh, I'm so freaking excited! I can finally have a blog where people have no clue who I am unless I reveal my secret identity. Ha ha! Let the games begin!