Tupelo, Honey!

Last April, my favorite travel companion (my mother) and I went on an amazing spring break road trip, and our trip developed a theme: Elvis.  Our first stop was Memphis, and our third stop was the wonderful town of Tupelo, MS. Any good Elvis fan will know, this is the “King”‘s birthplace.

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Mom and I checked into the Days Inn, which was clean, safe, and convenient to the attractions.  Since we were only there for one night, we jumped right in to the attractions.  Our first stop was the Downtown Shopping District.  The most famous site is where Elvis bought his first guitar: Tupelo Hardware.  The people working were incredibly welcoming and kind, and they walked us step-by-step through the history of the establishment.

We worked up a good appetite, and decided to try out Romie’s Grocery.

What an amazing find!  I made the judgement call of getting the BBQ Nachos, and they were so perfect that mom and I joke about popping down to Mississippi to pick up some of these regularly.  They were covered in cheese, BBQ, BBQ sauce, and jalapenos.    They had fresh baked bread, and an INCREDIBLE strawberry butter.  I ordered the Catfish Romie (which is my favorite catfish I’ve ever had), cheese grits, and fried green tomatoes.  They hit every level of what I expected from these classic foods, and went above and beyond.  The waiter suggested the “Chocolate Delight”, and it was so good, we ordered one to go!

Next, we went to Elvis’s birthplace. It took us a little while to find it, at the time there was construction going on in the area and we missed the sign.

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There were multiple displays, and a museum in the welcome center area.  We opted for the “Grand Tour” which included all of the exhibits, and we were impressed at their collections.  It was $17 well spent.

On our last day in town, we ate breakfast at the hotel, Visited the Natchez Trace Parkway,

and said goodbye to the Elvis Homecoming Statue.

Everyone we met was kind and welcoming, just what you would hope to find while traveling.

If you’re planning a trip to the history-filled town of the King, definitely reference the Tupelo tourism website.  They have excellent suggested itineraries, and give you the inside look at the places you HAVE to see.

Until next time!

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On the Boardwalk: Myrtle Beach SC

Recently, I went on a vacation alone.

That words scares a lot of travelers, especially women.

I read and researched best tactics for safety, made a very clear schedule, checked in with friends regularly, and had all of my reservations sorted before leaving.  I decided to go somewhere that I had been hundreds of times: Myrtle Beach, SC.  November is the off season on the coast, and one of my favorite times to visit.

I have to say, though it was pretty lowkey and very familiar, this trip was the best of my life.

It started off rocky, with the GPS on my phone refusing to load, and going a different way down than I was used to, I had to flounder around in the twilight, fighting frustration and the thoughts of “maybe this is a bad idea, going alone…”

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I finally found my route, after about 3 hours of driving through unwelcoming areas and big stretches of road with very few cars, and I met my darling young cousin at my favorite restaurant: The PIT, in Pawley’s Island, south of MB.

The PIT has amazing character, and thousands of other people agree with me, as you can tell from the dollar’s stapled to the walls, littered with signatures and hearts and doodles.  I suggest starting out with the Pimento cheese, and following it with a PIT burger.  It’s my favorite meal in the entire world, and the live music/people watching add to the experience.

Knowing that I was arriving at my hotel after dark, I had already called ahead, and when I arrived there was no problem at check in.  I stayed at the clean, affordable, and conveniently located Bayview at Boardwalk.  Part of my overall plan was to stay in a place where I could walk everywhere I wanted to go. My only hesitance with this hotel was its parking deck.  It was well secured and I wasn’t worried leaving my car there for several days, but it was a block away, and walking back from it at night made me nervous.  Luckily, the hotel provides a transit service to and from the deck to the hotel, and the kind and helpful security guard made sure that I unloaded my stuff, checked in, and was back safe and sound.

I had a deluxe, ocean front king room, and everything was clean and up to date. The view was priceless, and they’re constantly running specials!

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Another selling point for me: There was a Starbucks in the lobby.

Yes, predictable, I know, but when you can stay in your jammies and still get your Egg Nog Latte and eat your blueberry muffin on the beach, you know that you’re in my kinda place.  I woke up for the sunrise, got my coffee and had an amazing breakfast on the beach.  This trip was 100% for me, and I was going to do my favorite things.

After enjoying God’s amazing sunrise, I got dressed and started off down the boardwalk.  They aren’t faking it when they say that its “Bayview AT Boardwalk”.

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A slow, picture-filled 15 minute walk down the newly built (read about its history and what the upgrades have been here) boardwalk leads you right into the thick of the action.

And what’s the first thing I do?

Get coffee.

As much as I love Starbucks, there is something to be said about local ‘joe shops.  And this boardwalk gem is my absolute favorite in the world: Boardwalk Coffeehouse.

The ladies inside are incredible nice, and their coffee-making skills are absolutely next level.  I had the white “Mocha Lisa” and had to stop myself from chugging it.

When I showed up to the shops, I quickly noticed that I was mostly alone, and that was in part due to the time (9am), the season, and….the lack of power?  The electric went out on the entire block, so instead of walking back to the room and waiting around, I went exploring on the pier and surrounding areas.

I talked to strangers, took pictures, and wrote a few stories while sitting on the dock.  I made friends with this fisherman (though we didn’t talk, I could tell we were friends).

After the power switched back on, I decided a mid-morning snack of the best fries on the coast was 100% necessary.

Doused in vinegar, dipped in ketchup, they were incredible.  I shared them with a one legged man on a bike named Cliff.  After our snack, I walked around boardwalk for a bit, popping in and out of shops, and people watching.

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I went to the Fun Plaza Arcade and played quite a bit of Skeeball and Galaga (and not to brag, but I had the high score for the day….)

I decided to try something I could never get other people to do: Myrtle Beach Skywheel.  For $13, it didn’t disappoint.  The views were great, the cars were comfortable, and overall, it was very relaxing.

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From the skywheel, I saw the perfect next stop: Moe Moon’s.  The fish tacos were delicious, and the people watching from the outside seating was supreme!  I even saw a guy interviewing people for a TV show!

After hours and hours of exploring and people watching, I decided it was time to head back to the hotel.  It had been warm and sunny all day, and sticking to family tradition, I jumped into the ocean (in the very very very cold ocean).  I was absolutely exhausted, so I ordered out Hungry Howies later for dinner and spent the evening watching movies from the free movie rentals in the hotel.

The rest of the trip, I indulged in too much coffee, great food, and a few more adventures.  Later into it, I met up with my friend and her family, and we shopped at Broadway at the Beach, played Captain Hook mini-golf, enjoyed a great dinner at the Liberty, and I introduced the fam to Krispy Kreme.

I look forward to my next solo trip, and my next trip back to Myrtle Beach.  If you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced, and tasty trip, I would definitely suggest this getaway!

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for my next state post!

For all of your trip planning needs, I highly recommend the Go to Myrtle Beach website!  They have the best collection of information on the places to stay, play, shop, and best of all, eat!

Posts to come.

I know I’ve been slacking on my posts, but I’m going to put forth the effort to correct this, and keep up with my travels more currently.

Here are the trips that I’ve been on that I still need to write about:

Tupelo and Oxford Mississippi

Anniston Alabama

Myrtle Beach South Carolina

Santa Claus Indiana

Mount Vernon Illinois

St Louis and Boonville Missouri

Louisville Kentucky

I think that covers it, and here are my (hopefully) coming up trips…

Pennsylvania (This Spring)

West Virginia (This Spring/Summer)

Maryland (This Fall)

Who knows where I’ll end up, keep tuned in to see more of my 50 state adventure.

 

Weekend in the Big Peach

A few weeks ago, Kat (a wonderful travel agent and best friend) and I headed down to Atlanta for the weekend.  Our motivations were a stress-free weekend of good food, fun times, and……a little star-stalking. Kat had booked our accommodations, and let me tell you…they didn’t disappoint! Our first stop was Downtown for the night, where we stayed at the Marriott Marquis, on the 37th floor.  Little did I know, Kat’s terrified of heights! DCIM106GOPRO The room was clean, comfy, and very nice.  Everything you should expect from the Marriott.  We were in walking distance to all the fun too, so that was an added bonus! Before dinner, which Kat had booked specific for our trip, we ran over to the SkyView Atlanta and the World of Coca-Cola. DSC_0223DSC_0284 SkyView ATL was awesome, it was a great view and very interesting.  Kat says “I loved it, so worth the money, and the air conditioning was nice too!”. The World of Coca-Cola was one of the coolest things I didn’t know I needed to do.  At first, I wasn’t into it, but after seeing the video they play for you before you go into the museum area itself, I was in tears at the sweet moments they had captured and the message they were sending (I know, crying over a glorified Coke commercial?).  The artifacts, “factory” tour, and the vault where the Super Secret Formula is kept was definitely worth the visit.  We even got to meet the Polar Bear.  The complimentary soda sampling at the end was a taste-bud adventure, and being who I am, I had to try EVER. SINGLE. SODA.  Most were delicious and exotic, but they aren’t kidding when they say that “Beverly” is the worst thing you’ll ever drink! After our adventures around town, we came back to the hotel and got ready for our reservations at Agatha’s: A Taste of Mystery.  The dinner theatre has been around for a while, but it was by far the most fun I’ve had over a five-course meal.  The actors were extremely talented and energetic. and being able to participate added a whole level to the experience.  All the food was delicious and well made: Kat suggests the Beef Tenderloin, and I suggest the Fresh Atlantic Salmon. IMG_4685 After the show, we went back to the hotel (which was just a few steps away) and admired the night-scape of the city from our window.  The next morning, we hit Kat’s favorite place (Starbucks) downstairs, then packed up and moved on to our next destination. Kat had found out that Allegiant, the third installment of the Divergent Series, was filming in the area, and being the fans we are, we decided to snoop around a bit.  We found their “secret” location, thanks to Kat’s amazing slooth skills.  She had found out the code name of the Film is “Element”.  Following very vague (and incorrect) instructions we had found online, we stumbled in to the right area.  We made it far enough to see the extra’s tent, and catch a glimpse of what I think was the back of Theo James himself.  I can neither confirm nor deny that it was actually him.  But what an adventure! After sneaking around in the hot sun, we headed to Buckhead, were we checked in at The W.  As soon as we were out of the car, they were taking our bags, bringing us water, and making sure 100% of our needs were met.  Never have I been somewhere so hospitable.  The decor was earthy and unique, and the rooms were gorgeous. Kat loved the little details in the decoration of The W.  From the Antler Chandelier, to the “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening” mats that were changed out regularly, she was impressed. DSC_0419DSC_0537 On the 4th floor, they had an infinity pool over looking the street, and on the top floor they had a bar, called Whiskey Blue.  The views were incredible! DSC_0437 DCIM106GOPRO They had a free chauffeur that drove us to Gordon Biersch, where I had delicious Cajun pasta, and Kat enjoyed a HUGE burger.  We finished it off with a free dessert (courtesy of the hotel) and it was such a nice evening we decided to walk back.  The buildings in Buckhead, though very business oriented, are gorgeous, and the area is SO clean. The next morning, we ran across the street to Corner Bakery Cafe, and sampled a few of their baked goods.  I highly suggest their hand pies and their delicious coffee, and Kat suggests the Lemon Bottoms Up Bundt cake. DSC_0512 After breakfast, we packed up and headed home.  Sad to leave such a beautiful hotel, and such a fun city. I’m very grateful to Kat for booking our adventure, and I can’t wait for the next one!

And We’re Packing Up Again!

You read that right, we’re firing up the GPS for another road trip!

Tomorrow morning, my Mother, My Grandmother, My Great Aunt, My Sister, and I are setting course for Louisville KY! After that, we’re headed to Illinois, Missouri, back over to Indiana, and then home from Ohio.

While that is the plan, it might not always go that way, so we’ll see where we end up!

Have a great weekend folks, check out twitter/instagram for regular updates!

Helena, Arkansas: Downtown on the Mississippi

For the second stop on our Spring Break adventure, we headed down the river to Helena, Arkansas.  We stayed at the Best Western in West Helena, then drove into town the next morning.welcome to arkansas The very first thing Mom and I both noticed were how nice and welcoming everyone is!  Our first stop was the visitor’s center, were we met Gloria and Dawna (hey y’all!).  They gave me the low down on EVERYTHING that could be done in Helena.  One of my big planning mistakes, it seems, was coming on a Monday: ALMOST everything was closed.  No matter, we found a whole bunch of things to do, and we had a great time.

mainmain street garden blog malco The town itself is filled with history, from being a stop on the Underground Railroad, to being home to a major Civil War battle.  They are the only downtown on the Mississippi for 300 miles, and they are working hard on restoration/preservation of the beautiful historic buildings they have.  We drove downtown, and were lucky to find The Delta Gypsy!

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They have high-end, beautiful products, from many different suppliers.  We were greeted immediately, and after talking to the owners for a short time, found out that they are opening a bed and breakfast this summer in Helena Arkansas, the Allin House.  Mom and I drove by the building they are renovating for it, and I have to say, It’s going to be gorgeous!  I will definitely be revisiting Helena in the future, and giving them a call! After our little stop shop, we started to hit some of the important sites of the town.  From the Levee walk (with it’s beautiful mural of influential people) to the River Park (where you can watch tug-boats pushing their barges up and down the river), the impact that being on the Mississippi has had on this town is evident.

river park boards6 After spending time on the river, we drove to the Confederate Cemetery.  It was breathe-taking, and I know I speak for my mom and myself when I say that the unknown soldier’s graves broke our heart.  Cemeteries are a place where time stands still, and this beautiful hill on the edge of Helena really created that atmosphere.  The Confederate Memorial was at the very back of the plots, and up on a hill, separated.  The drive is beautiful, the stonework of the graves is amazing, and the history itself if thought-provoking.  Mom took a specific liking to two of the grand angels, in the lower section of the cemetery.

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We stopped by the Pillow-Thompson House (which, of course, was closed on a Monday), Battery C, and then Fort Curtis.

pillow thompsonfort curtis battery c Though this isnt a picture of the “actual” battery, my favorite thing about this site was the view of the town, and the Mississippi River.  Of course, mom and I took a TON of pictures up here.  It was a major site of a very important battle in the Civil War, and the victory won Eastern Arkansas for the Union.  There are a lot of different information podiums and replications on the battery itself. After visiting these sites, our last stop was to talk with the Dana Chadwich, who owns and runs the Edwardian Inn, a gorgeous bed and breakfast that has been in Helena for many years.  The house was built in 1904 by a successful business man, and has been a private family home, an apartment building, an alcoholic rehabilitation center, among other things.  It has been wonderfully preserved, and walking the halls seems to take you back in time. edwardian Helena is a small, history-rich town, filled with wonderful people and wonderful sites.  It may not be your first destination idea for Arkansas, but you wont be disappointed if you choose to visit!  This stop was Mom’s favorite, and it has definitely made it high on my list. Up next is Oxford, MS, coming to you soon!