A Travellerspoint blog

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 :)
The restaurant had an interesting clock that I just had to get a picture of with all the hours marked by scorpions.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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.

Posted by ErinDriver 09:04 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Running and Hot Chicken in Nashville

11-14 November 2016

sunny 55 °F

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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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

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.
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.
They also reveal the safe that holds the original recipe for Coke that experimenters have tried to reproduce for years.
There is all kinds of coke art.....
and several videos, even one in 3D.
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.
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.
We saw this awesome flamingo decoration in a yard on the walk back to the car.
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!

Posted by ErinDriver 13:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

22-25 October 2016

sunny 75 °F

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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
Curt took that opportunity to pick us out a house on the water.
And of course you don't do anything if it isn't proven by a selfie.
Lynne and Woody got a boat just the week before we arrived so of course testing it out was a priority.
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.
At one point we even caught them tormenting this poor dog.
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.
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.
Last but not least the Kooky Coconut filled the dessert slot with homemade ice cream.
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.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon

9-11 September 2016


Initially I was supposed to be on a field training exercise this weekend but when it was moved to October I quickly grabbed the opportunity to run the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon. It is a Saturday race so we hauled the RV and all the kids to Townsend, Tennessee on Friday. Townsend is considered the peaceful side of the mountains, about 12 miles from Pigeon Forge and all the tourist traps.
I hurried to the race expo shortly after we pulled in to the Big Meadow campground. This race is part of a currently nine race series from Vacation Races with the National Park Service. The goal is to get people coming to the National Parks. The runs don't actually pass through but get people close enough to spend the rest of their weekend enjoying America. They are beautifully organized and are cup less. Runs either bring their own water carrying source is use the hydration pouch you are given at registration. They report producing less than one bag of trash at each aid station which is pretty significant.
I had my pasta in the RV that night so the next morning I had plenty of energy to walk 0.5 mile to the start at one of the Inn's. This was the only snag of the race because we had to be bused to the start 11 miles away. The buses were a bit late but I still had plenty of time to get ready before the gun went off.
Most of the race was on a little utilized road that ran along the river dotted with adorable cabins. At the end of race medal was huge and each finisher got a box full of replenishing snacks for running or hiking. One thing I had never seen before was fruit leather..?
While we waited in line for our free picture with the race sign we got to enjoy some banjo music.
After being replenished with eggs at the RV we went to the park and took a little hike. Not far in to the trail we came across some scat that we were hoping belonged to a bear. Curt got down to use the identification skills he learned in Yellowstone but as it turns out it was probably just from a horse.
By the end of the day I was beat so we had burgers at the RV and brought our TV outside to watch the Bristol Bowl - Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech with all the other people in the park. Mother Nature had other ideas and not long in to the game she forced us all inside. Sunday meant packing up and returning to the real world :(

Posted by ErinDriver 14:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Back to San Juan

3 September 2016

overcast 80 °F

In order to eke out my last few hours on the beach we check out of the Travelling Palms early and pick up some quesitas at the bakery. It isn’t great weather at Sandy Beach today but we enjoy our last few medallas on rented beach chairs before going for some more Red Snapper at La Cambija.
Our lunch experience at La Cambija isn’t as great. There is no more red snapper but there is still the awful shark soup. Curt orders a Johnny Walker Black because it is the daily special. However when the bill comes they explain that if you order it on the rocks it is not the same price. They got us again!!
Last thing to do was drive back to San Juan to our hotel at the airport. The best thing I reserved of the whole trip was probably this hotel which is the first one I have ever seen located right inside the terminals. The walk from the car rental place was simple and the place had a restaurant for one last snack before coming back to reality.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:01 Archived in Puerto Rico Comments (0)


2 September 2016

semi-overcast 80 °F

I discover a new favorite food called the quesita for breakfast today. The La Paz bakery a short drive from our house serves these sticks of greatness along with eggs and thick toast. A quesita is a light pastry with cream cheese inside and I could eat an entire pan full.
Next up is a quick stop at the lighthouse for photos but not too much else going on there so we quickly move on the Sandy Beach for some rest and relaxation after yesterday’s activities.
Our black cloud follows us but waits until lunch time to rain down on us. A few blocks down the road is Tamboo Restaurant and Bar which Lonely Planet names one of the best bars. I’m not that impressed but have some awesome pasta. The drinks are miniature size and Curt has to return his food to the kitchen but after that it’s a decent lunch.
A few more hours back at Sandy Beach before we clean up for one last attempt at sunset observation from Villa Cofresi. The good seats are taken this time but the weather doesn’t cooperate anyway.
We weren’t overly impressed with the food so we decide to move on to La Cambija for dinner. Now this is good food. They bring out shark soup as a free appetizer and I’m sad for the shark that was sacrificed to make this because it smells and Curts says tastes awful. The red snapper filet and fish tacos are on point though. The atmosphere is nice with alfresco dining.

Posted by ErinDriver 13:27 Archived in Puerto Rico Comments (0)

Surfing in Rincon

1 September 2016

sunny 80 °F

Clemente gave us a heads up on where the Rincon Surf School was but unfortunately he was unaware that they had moved. We end up late for our surf lesson but delve right in to the land based training. The instructors teach us how to paddle and then “pop up” on the surf board. When all five of us have that down we head to the water.
No one mentions the drive to the water is going to be 45 minutes to Surfers Beach in Aguadilla. We show up a bit aggravated at the stressful drive. The beach looks rocky at the shoreline and I’m a bit nervous but before we know it we are “popping up” with the waves. Surfing is actually a really exhausting activity because you have to paddle yourself around. Our group had two instructors and one was a bit better than the other who seemed to give us a shove in to the wave just as we were trying to stand up. It’s a challenging activity and we had just enough time to get our feet wet and find out that I would be interested in taking further classes at some point.
After class we drove back to Rincon to Steps Beach because they had a small shack for lunch. Homemade empanadillas fill our tummies before we spend some time snorkeling. The water has elkhorn corral but there is quite a current and I’m nervous because I’m tired from surfing.
We come in and go home to hang out by the pool for a few hours. For dinner the Beach House offers a mediocre Cuban sandwich and fish tacos for Curt.

Posted by ErinDriver 13:02 Archived in Puerto Rico Comments (0)

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