Saturday, April 22, 2017

NOLA

My first trip to New Orleans!

Carl and I had talked about heading down to Louisiana for Mardi Gras this year, but then it came and went and we completely forgot about it, so we decided to plan a trip down there Easter weekend as we both had Good Friday off.

We left AL around 8AM Friday morning for the six hour drive to New Orleans.  On the way down, we stopped at a couple interesting places.  Our first actual stop was in Bessemer, Alabama, which is just outside Tuscaloosa.  In Bessemer, we stopped at the Bessemer Hall of History Museum.  Our original purpose for stopping was to see the one-millionth Pullman Standard Freight Car.  The museum was kind of cool though, it had a bunch of random old stuff from the area, but it also had a type writer that was from the Eagle's Nest.


We traveled a little further to Hog Heaven BBQ in Laurel, Mississippi for lunch.  It was this little itty bitty BBQ joint stuffed inside a restaurant but it smelled delicious- and it was!  We got a pound of pulled pork and a sausage link with fries and fried corn on the cob.  The fries and corn were mediocre at best but the meat was magnificent.

We got to NOLA around 3 in the afternoon and went straight to Carl's cousins house where we were staying.  They were having a craw fish boil that night which I was excited about (even though I DO NOT like seafood!) I know its a southern thing to do, so it was on my list.  They had coolers filled with LIVE craw fish. I reminded me of back in college when Carl and I went to an Asian market and got a live lobster for him to make for dinner.  It was crawling around the in back of the car (okay thats an exaggeration, it was in a bag) the whole way back to his apartment, then when we got there, it fell off the counter and then onto the floor! Anyway, I digress.  Lucky for me, they threw things like sausage and corn on the cob, mushrooms and potatoes, in the water after the craw fish had been boiled as well.  It was all spicy and delicious!  It took some time, but eventually I tried the craw fish.  It wasn't bad, but I still just can't get comfortable with the whole process of eating things like craw fish.

Before
After
The next morning we got up and drove into town to go to the World War II Museum. For some reason I thought it would be more holocaust centered, but it wasn't at all.  Most WWII-type museums have been, so this was a different piece of history I haven't gotten to actually SEE much of.  The museum started off with an exhibit on the propaganda of WWII, definitely a side of the war I didn't know much about.  I paid the extra 10 bucks for us to see the Beyond All Boundaries film produced by Tom Hanks, as I had read that it was worth going to.  Carl and I agreed that it definitely was.  It showed the journey through WWII in a 4D film with loud sound and fake snow!


After the museum we headed down to the French Quarter.  We didn't spend a lot of time down there, just enough so I could see what it was all about.  We walked past Cafe Du Monde but the line was far longer than I cared to wait in.







We found a place called The Spud Spot.  A whole restaurant with just potatoes!!! HEAVEN ON EARTH.  The potatoes were GIANT and you could choose from a variety of different "stuffings."  I had taco and Carl had chicken fajita, the Italian meatball one sounds good too!  I wish I had one closer to AL, I would love to try them all! From there we headed back to the house to take a nap.

Giant stuffed potato!
That night, Carl's cousin and her husband took us to Blue Oak BBQ for dinner.  (We really like BBQ!) We shared a platter with chicken and pulled pork, mac n cheese and beans.  The four of us also split a plate of wings and cracklins (essentially bacon pieces).  It began to rain as we were finishing out meal outside,  so we dash in before it started to downpour!


Prior to heading back to AL we headed south to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve to participate in "Spring in the Swamp" which was just program to advertise walking through the park which is set in a swamp.  I was most excited about being below sea level (dorky, I know, but I don't know if I've ever technically been below sea level before).  Carl spotted two alligators in teh swamp, there were a couple snakes, a frog, and a bajillion lizards in a variety of colors.  After the swamp, stinky and sweaty, we hopped back into the car and began the drive back home from Louisiana.

Below sea level!
Can you spot the lizard?
NOLA was fun, but I'm glad we did it over the weekend instead of making a full vacation out of it. I'm not sure what our next road trip will be, but I can't wait for it!!

Spring Break 2k17

Even though I didn't leave the Tennessee area, spring break was definitely an adventure.

My grandma was suppose to fly in with my cousin to Nashville on Friday night, but just as they were about to depart for the airport, she got a phone call saying that their flight was cancelled. The next couple days were spent in uncertainty, until grandma found a flight down on Sunday night with a return flight on Thursday.

On Monday we went to iHop for breakfast (per grandma's request) before heading to Nashville.  Our first stop in Nash was the Opry Mills mall.  We meandered through there for awhile before going to the theater in the mall to see Beauty and the Beast.  We watched the movie in the iMax theater. It was expensive, but it was worth it! SO GOOD! We left the mall just in time for the storms to start.  It rained pretty heavily the first part of the trip home, I nearly had to pull off the road the visibility was so bad.  Once we got home we relaxed for a bit before going to Liberty Park Grill for dinner.  I ordered the fish and chips on a limb (I have NEVER ordered sea food before. EVER.)  IT WAS SO DELICIOUSLY AMAZING.  I can't think of the proper adjectives to describe my fish and the asparagus but I would highly highly highly recommend it.


On Tuesday the weather was still rainy so we decided to hang around C-ville.  I took grandma to the mall and to Old Chicago for lunch (she had never been there before and was very satisfied with her pizza).  We did a little more shopping before heading home to relax.

We headed back to Nash on Wednesday to check out Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.  I'd only been there once before, but it was in June, so the gardens looked different than they do in the Spring.  The trees weren't really in bloom but there were tulips everywhere.  We even took a little hike through the sculpture garden (during which my brand new flip flop broke...grrrr...).


After the gardens we headed back to Opry Mills to grab lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant that we had been admiring earlier in the week.  I had a chicken wrap which I personally did not think was worth the money, but I think grandma enjoyed hers.  With full tummy's we headed to Antique Archeology, the American Picker's shop in Nashville, which we followed up with desert at the newly located Soda Parlor before returning home.

Aquarium Restaurant



Antique Archeology





The Soda Parlor
Thursday morning we enjoyed a meal at our beloved Cracker Barrel before I took grandma to the airport and headed back down to Alabama before the storms returned.


Thursday afternoon and Friday were days of relaxation and grad school work before another adventure on Saturday.  Carl and I got up early Saturday morning to gear up and head to Chattanooga on the motorcycle.

After a chilly 2 hour trip, we met Hannahlea and John at the Tennessee Aquarium.  We bought our tickets and after realizing that none of us had eaten breakfast, we went to The Hair of the Dog Pub before actually visiting the aquarium.  Food was good and prices were affordable.  I had chicken strips and fries with gravy (get the chicken, DO NOT get the gravy!)

The aquarium is split into two buildings, fresh water and salt water.  The fresh water building was HUGE and took us nearly two hours to go through.  It was really neat to see all the creatures that roam the rivers.  The salt water building was kind of disappointing.  It only took about 30 minutes to get through, and didn't have as many colorful fish as I had hoped for.  I did enjoy the large assortment of jellyfish however.


After the aquarium we headed back to HL's house to hang out before dinner.  Of course we had to have tacos for dinner, so we dined at Amigos Mexican Restaurant.  I had the chicken tacos and they were very yummy!

Blurry pic, but still good food!
After stopping at Krispy Kreme's on Sunday morning, Carl and I headed home to get some yardwork done before I had to head back to TN.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Family Fun

My family (well, half of them) came down for a visit mid-March during baby brother's spring break.  They arrived on a Saturday night, just in time for tacos and margaritas prepared by Carl and myself.

Sunday
On Sunday we ventured into Nashville to take in some history.  We began at my favorite church, Crosspoint.  I've written about it before, but Crosspoint is a non-denominational church with six different campuses- I go to the one in Nashville.  I used to go pretty religiously (ha!) but now that I've been going to Huntsville every weekend that hasn't been happening.  Anyway, I took my family there, it was Carl and Luke's first time, but it wasn't quite the service I was excited to show them.  The thing I love about Crosspoint is that even if you aren't super religious, it is still very relatable and you can get a lot out of it. This particular Sunday's service however was essentially about how they are in a rough patch and are losing attendance as time passes without a new head pastor.  I talked to a friend after who said she really like the service, but to me it felt like I was sitting in a room with a friend as they were getting scolded by their parents.  Perspective, I suppose.

After church we headed to Fort Negley in Nashville.  Luke is a first year history major so he wanted to see all the historical sites in the area.  Unfortunately, Fort Negley has not been kept up very well over the years.  While it was semi-restored, it still kind of looks like it is falling apart. Plus it was chilly and windy and being that Fort Negley was on a hill made is that much worse!




After the Fort we headed down to Broadway in downtown Nashville.  It was definitely NOT prime time for visiting as there was a big basketball game taking place at Bridgestone Arena.  Driving was a pain and parking was even worse.  I have become accustomed to city life so it didn't both me too much, but I'm sure it was driving my dad crazy!  We took Luke down Broadway and down to the river from which you can see the Titans stadium across the way.  We ate lunch at Rock Bottom, one of the few "restaurant-y" places on Broadway (as opposed to bar-y).




Carl left us to head home after lunch, and we traversed over to Murfreesboro to check out Stones River National Battlefield.  It was kept up much better than the Fort and had a nice visitor's center with a museum.  At the battlefield was a large cemetery with thousands of soldiers buried in it.


After the battlefield we headed home for the night. We thought we would try out Logan's Roadhouse for dinner, of which we all decided was not as good as Texas Roadhouse.  The service was slow, the portions were small, and my burger was cold.

Monday/Tuesday
The fam headed to Memphis on Monday/Tuesday and since I couldn't get off work, I didn't get to join them.

Wednesday
On Wednesday I was able to get off and we headed up to Bowling Green, Kentucky, stopping along the way at a couple Roadside Attractions! (Why did I capitalize that? Because its the name of the app I used to find them! You have to pay like 5 bucks to download the whole country, but totally worth it in my opinion.  The app gives you tons of random roadside attractions, everything from graves to the World's Largest Underpants).



Our purpose for heading to Bowling Green was to go to the Corvette Museum and Factory.  We had been there once when my brothers and I were kids but (as I was told, I don't actually remember) I couldn't go on the tour because I didn't have closed-toed shoes with, and my youngest brothers couldn't go for some other reason I cannot remember.








I'll be the first to say I don't know anything about cars, but it was still pretty interesting.  Some fun facts I learned:
  • Corvette's are always made custom to order- they do not make a Corvette unless it has been pre-ordered
  • You can literally go to the plant and watch your car being made, or you can go and help design the engine!
  • It takes a day and a half to fully make a Corvette
  • (I thought I learned more than this but apparently I've forgotten it all already)
After the Corvette museum and factory tour, we headed to Chainey's Dairy Barn for lunch and ice cream. Lunch was mediocre, but the ice cream was delish! We visited Ollie's Bargain Hunt (Dad's favorite store in the south) to look at junk cheap stuff we don't need.


We headed back to C-ville and made it back by late afternoon with enough time to relax before heading to Logan's Roadhouse for dinner.  We were not impressed with the joint, the service was slow, my burger was cold, and the steaks were tiny. That being said, we all agreed we wouldn't say "no" to going to the place again, its highly possible it was just an off night.

Thursday morning my family left to head back north and I returned to reality.