A Travellerspoint blog

Gulf Shores, Alabama

17-20 February 2017

semi-overcast

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The Valentines Celebration for this year is in Gulf Shores, Alabama and the impetus for the trip was the Sea Turtle Half Marathon. Because the drive was eight hours we left Thursday night for Birmingham to divide some of the driving between two days. The trip was uneventful other than a nice stop at The Shrimp Basket in Evergreen, Alabama. They let us have Emma on the porch with us and Curt had some of the best fish and chips (well the fish part).
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It was late afternoon on Friday by the time we arrived to our Best Western on the Beach. It is within walking distance from the start of the race and packet pick up at The Hangout. This is a really cool restaurant/bar/hangout and huge. They have an amazing Bushwacker drink and show movies on their little lawn. The pasta prepared for the race leaves something to be desired but the deviled egg with crab meat appetizer was pretty interesting.
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Saturday was race day and luckily all the rain came down over night. On race day it was nice and overcast for our out and back race. The medal is adorable and we take our picture with the sea turtle near the finish. The race had boxes with a turkey wrap, apple and cookie that came with a soda and if you wanted two beers from the Big Beach Brewery. All and all a really good race for only $60. The rest of the day Curt napped and I sat on the beach! To cap off the day we had a wonderful plate of shredded chicken nachos back at the Hangout.
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I'm don't know any better way to spend a Sunday at the beach than ocean side, worshiping the sun. We did this all day after a huge breakfast at the Pancake House that is inside our hotel and has gorgeous views of the ocean. It was cool enough for Emma to spend the morning with us enjoying the breeze and warm enough for us to look like lobsters by the evening.
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We have basically been acting like senior citizens and going to dinner at 5:00 and tonight was no exception. Another runner had said Mikee's had good seafood so we checked it out. I had some very tasty shrimp alfredo and Curt had some so-so scallops.
There is nothing to do tomorrow but drive for eight hours :(

Posted by ErinDriver 17:23 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Gruene Hall

10 February 2017

sunny

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Last night in San Antonio for awhile so a group of us went to eat dinner at the Gristmill and see a show at the Gruene Dance Hall. The gristmill is right along the Guadalupe and served up a great burger with their special cheese sauce.
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After dinner we walked just about next door to Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas. Charlie Robinson was playing along with a pretty decent cover band. It's a fun experience but if you don't get their super early it means standing all night!
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Posted by ErinDriver 13:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Fredericksburg, Texas

4 February 2017

rain 50 °F

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I still have one more week in Texas so I thought I would make an hour trip north to a German town called Fredericksburg. The downtown is full of adorable shops, restaurants and wineries. After a bit of shopping I found a German restaurant called the Rathskeller which is in the basement of a building dating back to 1852. In old Germany a rathskeller was the basement of the Town Hall usually used as a restaurant or tavern. I enjoyed a delicious bratwurst sandwich before moving on to wine tasting.
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I had on good recommendation that the Grape Creek Winery had excellent wines. Instead of going to the winery I just stopped in their tasting room on main street. I guess I was spoiled with free tasting in El Paso becuase this one cost $19.50. But the wine definately was excellent and they gave a military discount on purchases.
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After a bit more shopping I took a rest in the Fredericksburg Pie Company for some warm peach and blueberry pie. This would have been even more special had it been spring with all their outdoor tables.
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Fredericksburg is certainly charming and worth the drive and I learned a new way to mark your visit! These people have marked their place for eternity in this cactus!
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Posted by ErinDriver 16:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Padre Island

27-29 January 2017

rain 47 °F

The Army gave me three weeks of temporary duty in San Antonio so I gave myself a weekend in Padre Island. A baptist church in the area was holding a Surf 'n' Turf half marathon to raise money for a trip to the Dominican Republic so I signed up. My hotel the Best Western on the Island was only a few minutes from the Padre Island National Seashore where the race is held. The weather was terrible, cold and raining but luckily it slowed down a little during the run. It was 99% along the water and I had a blast watching the sea birds try to help me run. The race had a pancake breakfast afterward which I ate in a hurry so I could get a nice hot shower.
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After a rest I went to Scuttlebutt's restaurant for lunch and got a soft shell crab sandwich. I was thinking it would look more like a crab cake and less like a crab. I had a hard time eating it with its legs dangling over the side of the bread.
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Onwards to the Texas State Aquarium which was relatively uncrowded for a Saturday. I did my best to get some photos of the fish.
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This display is an example of a megaladon jaw. It is now extinct but the great white is thought to be a descendant of this animal.
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The aquarium also has shows to include a hawk exhibit which somehow featured a little boy feeding a porcupine.
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Also a Seriema bird that demonstrates how it kills its prey by smashing the plastic snake on the rock. Hilarious!
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Next up was dolphin show which I thoroughly enjoyed before heading back to the Island.
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Last but not least for Saturday was dinner at Doc's which is a waterfront restaurant set up for gorgeous sunset viewing. My bacon wrapped shrimp and orange popsicle drink were outstanding.
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Sunday dawned much warmer and sunnier than Saturday so I took advantage and did one more run along the beach. I loved watching this seagull eat his breakfast from the shell.
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After checking out I went back to North Beach Corpus Christi to check out the USS Lexington. Otherwise known as Lady Lex and the Blue Ghost, she is now a floating museum but was previously an aircraft carrier in WWII. I definitely am not cut out for the Navy because one portion of the tour without a hint of sunlight and I was making a beeline for the upper deck.
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One of the photos in the sick call area is a good reminder that some of the older people we see at our military hospitals are not just another elderly patient but potentially a veteran of one of these horrible wars.
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Currently there are aircraft on loan to display on the top deck making it much more colorful than usual.
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After my tour I couldn't pass up one last meal of seafood and I was glad I took a seat out in the sun at Pier 99. My lunch was rice with peppers, shrimp and fish. It had calamari in also but just like yesterday I had trouble eating them.

Posted by ErinDriver 15:43 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Arizona Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon weekend

13-16 January 2017

The Rock 'n' Roll Arizona run had been on my bucket list for awhile and now that we have friends it seemed a good time to get that checked off. The icing on the cake was the gift of a four day weekend allowing us to get in to Pheonix by lunch on Friday. We celebrated our reunion with Chris and Christina at Los Dos Molinas with some of that good southwestern food I had been missing :)
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The restaurant had an interesting clock that I just had to get a picture of with all the hours marked by scorpions.
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While we were still in Pheonix we picked up our race packets and converted Christina to the Army side by getting her in an Army go cart :)
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Our Best Western was in Tempe so after making it there we camped out for the rest of the night and caught up with each other. By morning and some BW breakfast we set off to find a spot to do a little hike. A lot of places were crowded so we ended up at Popagos Park which had some trails around these interesting rock formations.
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I continuously see adds in my travel magazines for Scottsdale and wanted to see what all the hype was about. The group appeased me with a 20 minute drive over and lunch at Grimaldi's!!! The service was pretty poor but the weather was great and the pizza is my favorite on Earth.
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We spent some time walking around the streets, checking out shops and ended in Bootslingers. It is a small bar/restaurant that had the NFL playoffs on TV. The bartender gave us a sample of the apple pie moonshine and it was so good I would have bought some if not for the fact that we did carry on only for our flight. By dinnertime we really weren't hungry and Kansas City was playing a game so we had pasta in the room to prep for the run.
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Sunday morning was run morning and we used Lift to get to the run via a nice college student. It was a typical Rock n Roll race with bands spaced out along the route but other than that not particularly scenic. By the end we were chilly so went directly back to the hotel to rest and wait for Chris and Christina to finish their mountain bike ride.
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Spontaneously and due to absolute hunger we stopped at Chompie's for brunch. It was originally a New York bagel place but now has full meals and they are worth it. First free course are pickles. But then we tried the mac and cheese and latkes with applesauce. This was all before the main course which for me and Christina was a egg sandwich on a bagel.

I very much wanted to see the Cowboys lose to Green Bay in the playoffs and Curt and Chris seemed amendable so we found Devil's Advocate to while away the afternoon drinking beer and watching football. We continued watching football with leftovers at the hotel and said goodbye to our good friends after another incredible weekend.

Posted by ErinDriver 05:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Titans Game

11 December 2016

overcast 42 °F

The Tennessee Titans play in Nissan Stadium about 45 minutes from our house so we figured we HAD to make it to a game. The stadium is open and we were on the very top row with our friends Andrea and Eric Jacobson. Our side of the stadium faced the city skyline which made it even prettier to look at. The rain held out and we enjoyed a 13-10 win over the Denver Broncos.
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Posted by ErinDriver 16:03 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Getting in the Holiday Spirit in Clarksville

1-3 December 2016

overcast 45 °F

Even though we were at home in Clarksville there was plenty to do to get in to the spirit of the holidays. On the 1st the 86th Combat Support Hospital had their holiday ball. The theme was Christmas in Paris and the decorators from Nashville (who did it all for free for us) came up with a beautiful Eiffel tower display that became the center for many photos. It had twinkling lights and a fountain at the bottom - it just stole the show.
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Saturday the Beachaven winery in town hosted an Ugly Sweater Run and that kind of thing is just up my alley. Luckily I could fit it in before heading to work. I made Curt and I some sweaters and they actually held up through the whole run! Our friend Staci did it with us and we met up with Ilene Baben, one of the Combat Support Hospital nurses that will soon be my company commander. What a nice little Saturday....well, the morning anyway.
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Posted by ErinDriver 09:04 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Running and Hot Chicken in Nashville

11-14 November 2016

sunny 55 °F

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Veterans Day weekend was actually a four day weekend for me so we took the rolling turd to Two Rivers RV park for the weekend. We had stayed here before last February with hardly anyone else. This weekend it was PACKED full with Green Bay Packers Fans. Apparently they took over the city for the Titans game on Sunday. After checking in and getting in to our parking spot (thanks to our neighbor) we went to pick up our half marathon race packet and eat at our favorite Thai restaurant just down the street.
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For the Nashville half marathon the start was down town so unfortunately we had the truck to find a parking space for. Many of the parking garages have too low of a clearance so we were stuck paying $30. The good side was that it was only a couple of blocks from the start. Curt was ready for the cold weather with his trash bag :) The route was pretty unremarkable other than the rude hill right at the finish. The medal was large and sparkly accompanied by pizza and beer along the water so they got bonus points for that. We did get to run around Nissan Stadium where the Titans play and get a photo across the river at the end.
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After naps the next logical thing to do after running is to eat. I had heard from multiple sources that Hattie B's hot chicken was a Nashville institution requiring a long wait but worth it without question. Our hope was that around 2:30 in the afternoon the wait wouldn't be bad and it was about one hour from parking to eating. I'm not really a fan of fried chicken but this stuff lived up to its rumors. It's famous for hot stuff but I had "southern style" which is without any heat what so ever. The macaroni and cheese was just as amazing and the fries were also quite tasty. We ended up getting the scoop on Nashville from a local lawyer who ended up sitting at the same table.
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The original idea fro the weekend was to see a Titans game but the tickets against green bay were over $200 each so we abandoned that idea and decided to see a Predators Hockey game instead. we took a gamble and showed up at the ticket office 30 minutes prior to the game and were rewarded with tickets in one of the specially selected sections. They played the Anaheim Ducks and won 5-0. Our section got the blow up noise makers and free chick fil-A sandwiches! Then because they scored more than 4 goals we got a free Big Mac. ....And then a free Frosty because they scored within a certain window of the third period! So Fun!!!
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Sunday felt like a lazy football day so we moved the TV outside to the side of the RV, pulled out the grill and enjoyed watching the game with the puppies. Sadly for all the Packers fans the Titans killed them! For dinner we picked up our free Big Macs and called it an early night.

Posted by ErinDriver 08:30 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Atlanta Halloween Half Marathon Weekend

28-31 October 2016

sunny 70 °F

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Sometimes being in the military can be a benefit, like when you have a spontaneous four day weekend. I was already planning to be in Atlanta but having four days to spend sure increased the enjoyment level. By Friday afternoon we were at West Stride running store to pick up our race packets and finally get a nice shirt from a race. Johnny's seemed like a local favorite for dinner near the airport and we sure enjoyed the stromboli, not so much the cinnamon knots.
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Saturday was a free day and we just so happened to be staying down the road from the original Chick Fil-A, Dwarf House. I never realized that it was actually a diner and not fast food joint. We sat at the counter and enjoyed a mix of the normal chick fil-A fast food and southern comfort food. The local walmart produced some Atlanta Falcons t-shirts for the game tomorrow. Following this we made the mistake of going to Coca-Cola world on a Saturday afternoon! Kudos to them for letting military in free though! It was pretty crowded so we skipped a few of the exhibits but tried plenty of samples from Coke products around the world. There are so many different flavors you would easily make yourself sick.
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They also reveal the safe that holds the original recipe for Coke that experimenters have tried to reproduce for years.
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There is all kinds of coke art.....
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and several videos, even one in 3D.
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After standing so long we had planned a sedentary activity and beat it to a mall with a theater. It was one with reclining cushy seats and the movie was Inferno! Awesome. It did however make us late for dinner with friends that live in midtown. They did a great salmon dinner with spaghetti squash. We got a little tour of midtown before binets at Campagni.
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Early, early the next morning we were back in Piedmont Park for the start of the Atlanta Halloween Half Marathon. Nearly everyone was turned out in some sort of costume. Curt was Harry Potter and I was Cruella De Vil. I didn't realized until it was too late the amount of hills in Atlanta but never the less we finished and got a great medal :) I also won best villain costume and a $50 gift card to the running store.
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We saw this awesome flamingo decoration in a yard on the walk back to the car.
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With the goal of snagging all opportunities on this trip we quickly showered, changed and drove to Newnan, the home of Alan Jackson. Unfortunately we didn't see him but we did have a nice lunch at the Olive Garden with Curt's Aunt Linda and Uncle Rod.

Directly after we left them we made one more trip to downtown Atlanta for the Falcon's game. Fortunately Curt had prepaid for parking and we managed to get in to our seats in record time. Somehow we ended up in a family of Packers fans and I got altitude sickness. But after some acclimatization we were able to enjoy the close game. Happily, Atlanta won the game 32-31 in the last minute of the game!
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Posted by ErinDriver 13:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

22-25 October 2016

sunny 75 °F

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Indian Rocks Beach, Florida is the new home for our recently retired ex-neighbors from Tennessee. They have downsized to a 1,000 square foot cottage on the intercoastal waterway in this adorable town sandwiched between Tampa and Clearwater. They were gracious enough to host us for a four day weekend to check out their new lifestyle.
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After collecting us from the airport and same drinks from Publix we were sitting in one of the dive bar outdoor restaurants that make this life style so appealing. Crabby Bills had live music and it was the season for snow crab legs. We all split some shrimp and snow crab legs while we caught up on life.
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Despite moving to Florida they have not given up their devotion to Alabama so we relaxed at home for the afternoon watching football. Grilling out just naturally goes with football and good weather so naturally we had steak, shrimp, chicken from the grill and stuffed baked potato. No, there was no chance I would starve while visiting :)
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To prove my point we woke up Sunday and went to breakfast buffet at a restaurant called the Pub right on the waterway. On the way a local market was spotted which Lynne and I visited but I guess maybe it was out of season because there wasn't much to see. Being a Redskins fan it was not quite as easy to find a place to watch this game but eventually we came across Aqua Prime which met our needs plus some. Sadly the team lost in the last minute of the game leaving nothing to do to brighten the spirits but go home to eat some more.
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For dinner their friends Phil and Irene came over and we gorged on crab dip, shrimp, brocolli poppers, perdido peppers stuffed with cheese and chicken.
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Woody was out getting donuts for us even before we woke up and Lynne made us breakfast while we ate donuts. Talk about being spoilt!! One of their daily activities is taking Mick and Bo, their dogs to the causeway to walk across the bridge or play in a sandy area. There is decent wild life to be seen at the same time, a falcon one day and half pink bird the next.
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Curt took that opportunity to pick us out a house on the water.
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And of course you don't do anything if it isn't proven by a selfie.
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Lynne and Woody got a boat just the week before we arrived so of course testing it out was a priority.
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First thing on the water the dolphins appeared and delighted us with their fish games. Several were throwing a fish around, fighting for it and just generally having a great time.
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At one point we even caught them tormenting this poor dog.
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The other thing our hosts wanted us to enjoy was a sunset on the gulf side of the water. It did turn out to be just spectacular and very unique. Of course several photos were in order.
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This worked up an appetite and Slyce fit the bill. It is a pizza place with the coolest pizza trays that don't take up your entire table.
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Last but not least the Kooky Coconut filled the dessert slot with homemade ice cream.
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For our last day we took a little road trip about 30-45 minutes to Clearwater. Prices start to rise and tourist sightings increase when you come in to town. Frenchys was right on the beach with crab all over the menu and an open air environment. Just perfect for our last afternoon and a chance to put our toes in that gorgeous white sand.
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Posted by ErinDriver 10:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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