Labor Day Weekend in St Charles, MO

I’ve had a hard time writing lately. Although I have been working on this story intermittently for months now, my heart just hasn’t had the time or effort to give this the attention it needed. Between starting a new job, my mother falling and breaking her hip, having surgery, spending a month in rehab, and then having another fall with a broken arm, surgery, and rehab, followed up by the stress of the holidays, I’ve felt a little less than write-y. And, I really haven’t gone anywhere worth talking about in quite some time.

Except way back over Labor Day (yes, I know that was months ago but like I said, I’ve been a little busy). I talked Robby into taking advantage of the long weekend. My old job allowed me to have (mostly) 4 days off each week so I could easily take long weekend trips. However, my new job is a Monday through Friday gig, which allows me stable hours that are much better for my family, but my long weekends are adios. So, you have to soak it up when you’re able, right?

We chose St Charles, MO because a) it’s not a far drive from home (1.5 hours) b) we had never been there before and c) it looks cutesy and quaint and I love little towns like that.

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We left on Friday evening after dropping the kiddos off at Grandma’s just before bedtime. We got to St Charles just in time to check in to our hotel and crash. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites on Main St. I would have preferred a bed and breakfast but Robby isn’t really into bed and breakfast’s and he reserved the hotel so complain, I could not.

The Katy Trail sat just behind the hotel so that provided easy access for our morning bike rides. We started Saturday morning with just that and got our workout in for the day first thing.

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Contrary to the looks of the above picture, it was actually quite crowded on the Katy this particular morning. The trail starts off in the heart of St Charles, running alongside the buildings of Main Street. Eventually, it meanders parallel to the Missouri River (which provides for those spectacular cycling views), past the ball fields, past this extremely organized junk yard, to the fields outside of town.

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Once we turned around, we had gotten quite thirsty and stopped at the Bike Stop Café for an early morning sweet tea.

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The café sits just alongside the Katy Trail access and has a small menu, area for a bike workshop, and some other cool bike gear for the enthusiasts out there. We sat on the patio and soaked up the morning sun while chatting about how the rest of our day should go.

We dropped by The Old Millstream Inn restaurant for lunch, after cleaning up back at the hotel of course. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this spectacular little restaurant. We had a table outside on the brick patio, which was seated right next to a babbling brook. Yes, you read that right. There is literally a babbling brook here. The service was great and the food was even more wonderful. I had the chicken salad sandwich and a side salad which both had flavors that I have never had the pleasure of experiencing before.

Delish!

Delish!

Once we got to the point that we just couldn’t eat anymore food no matter how delicious it was, we sat off on foot to wander the walk-friendly streets of this little city. The brick lined streets reminded me so much of my hometown, Fulton, MO, that the nostalgia made it hard to not like the area. It was fairly busy because of the holiday weekend but still easy to walk up and down the streets, dodging in and out of the stores. I love locally owned stores like the ones here on Main Street because of their uniqueness. The things on the racks here aren’t something you can find in TJ Maxx. I’m not big on spending unnecessary money so I didn’t load myself down with shopping bags but I did manage to come across a few good finds (like a beautiful $5 scarf that I caught on sale). The best part of the shopping experience is looking at the architecture of these old buildings. One store still had the ladder on the rail and the original shelving, as it used to be the town’s hardware store. Stories like these are so fascinating to me. I love old buildings and when you can get a small story with it, it just makes it so much better.

The storefronts of the buildings along Main St used to be located on the back side of the buildings, which is located closer to the river and down quite a few more feet. Because of this, these buildings flooded a lot. To keep businesses open, they rearranged things and made the previous back entrances, now the front entrance of the shops on what is now Main St. The picture below shows cellar access right along Main St (which used to be the back but is now the front of this particular building).

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We took a break in the middle of the shopping and grabbed a cold drink at Llywelyn’s Pub. We sat on the patio drinking and people watching. The pub is right on Main St so the people watching is top notch. After we had hit all the stores that looked appealing to me, Robby convinced me to get a pre-dinner drink at Bella Vino Wine Bar. It was a busy weekend and hence it was quite busy in the wine bar. We managed to get a cozy table for two right along the front windows (once again, excellent people watching) and close enough that we could enjoy the music from the man at the piano.

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For dinner that night, we chose the highly recommended Tony’s on Top. Once again, this restaurant lies right on Main St and was an easy walk from our hotel. It was a beautifully hot weekend (my motto: the hotter the better), which we took full advantage of by choosing a rooftop, outdoor table. The food was good (although I don’t particularly remember what I had so I don’t think it blew my socks off) and the service was decent, even though it appeared the servers didn’t actually know who had which table. But we didn’t get ignored and that’s the important part.

Awe, aren't we cute at Tony's on Top?

Awe, aren’t we cute at Tony’s on Top?

After we got our bellies full and had a nice little after-dinner buzz, we headed down the street to meet up with the group for our scheduled ghost tour with St Charles Ghost Tours. Ghost tours are always my favorite. We’ve been to one in Charleston, Savannah, and a couple in Key West (Savannah’s was the best so far, by far). Dr Michael Henry is the owner and operator of St Charles Ghost Tours. He gave a nice little introduction of himself to start the tour off and lead the group of 15 or so around the local streets and alleged haunting sites of St Charles. Dr Henry is a decent story teller and he sounds like a man very well versed in St Charles history for sure. During the last stretch of the tour, he made the mistake of telling us how he purchases junky dolls from flea markets for a couple bucks, hangs them outside on his fence to weather (his poor, poor neighbors), and then sells them on Ebay for several hundred dollars with a made up ghost story! Oh my Dr Henry. See, there is this thing called credibility. And yeah, you just lost yours. He’s got a book if you’re interested….. Pssshhhhh.

We started Sunday off with a late breakfast at Bradden’s. Robby and I are really big on the atmosphere and experience of a restaurant. Bradden’s almost lost us when they mentioned  we were going to have to wait 20-30 minutes to order because the kitchen was busy. They were barely, just barely nice enough to let us sit down and all this for only a small handful of people on the patio. There was no way it was busy enough to not serve us. And we would have even been fine to wait had they offered us drinks but we had to fight to get a cup of coffee. The service was absolutely terrible but I will give credit where it is due and they served me a phenomenal French toast plate. “Thee” French toast is a deep fried concoction of delicious French toast heaven like I have never experienced before. Please, please, please if you go to Bradden’s, do yourself a favor and order the French toast. You can thank me later.

Holy. Moly. Deliciousness.

Holy. Moly. Deliciousness.

Robby arranged for us to have a tee time for my first ever golfing experience that afternoon at The Quarry at Crystal Springs. This golf course was about a 20 minute drive from downtown St Charles. Once again, it seemed pretty busy this particular holiday weekend but we had a pretty pleasurable experience. That is, after the first 9 holes when Robby kept getting so mad at me for taking an average of 8 swings for my club to make contact. Once he lightened up, we actually had a lot of fun and surprisingly I wasn’t near as bad as I thought.

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18 holes of golf takes a lot longer than I realized and after that and the hot, hot, super hot day, we were ready to get cleaned up and have a beverage or two. From our hotel, we walked just a block or two down the street to Trailhead Brewing Company. We chose the bar over a table just for the fun of it. I indulged in the Riverboat Raspberry brew and the Trailhead Nachos. Microbrewed beers are just our style and the place has a highly inviting atmosphere. I also ended the night with a margarita at the Trailhead Brewing Company which was delicious no doubt, but admittedly not the wisest decision.

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On Monday, we slept in a little later than normal (see above: margarita to end the night) and grabbed a quick breakfast in the lobby before heading back home. In parenthood, you always have the thrill of getting away but you are also always ready to come back home to those sweet-faced kiddos. St Charles was great for a quick weekend getaway and was just enough to get the reset that we needed.

 

 

Opryland Hotel: Things That Totally Perturbed Me About Our Stay

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Okay. I’ve told you about the majesty of the Opryland Hotel. I’ve detailed the beautiful atriums, the entertaining water shows, the comfy bed, the fancy room…..

I just don’t think I’d be doing justice to the purpose of my blog if I didn’t tell you about all the times I wanted to yell at the staff like a mad, Mid-Missouri banshee.

The resort is huge. I mean, 600,000+ square feet of huge. Huge on the inside and huge on the outside. It’s kind of like herdin’ cattle just to get your vehicle in line for the “check-in”. But wait, poor, young lad standing in the pouring down rain. What’s that? We now have to drive all the way to the other side of the property to the Delta Portico to unload our luggage? Then drive to tim-buk-two to find a parking space. THEN, haul ourselves through the madness to the check-in area, wherever it may be by that time??!? Ugh.

So, the hubbs followed the signs leading us to the Delta Portico. The wet boy out front told us there would be a bellhop there to bring our luggage to the appropriate area. There was nobody. Nobody! No luggage cart and a big fat nobody.

Guess where to now? That’s right. Back in the cattle herdin’ line. $20 to self park and $26 for valet parking. Hold up. I’ve just spent $320 to stay the night in your fancy hotel and now I’ve got to give you an extra $20 to allow MYSELF to park MY CAR. Are you kidding me?!?!?!

Mind you, we STILL have Sweet Baby O and luggage with us. After we finally find a parking spot on the back 40, we load ourselves and Olivia up and trek through the great unknown to the check-in.

That gal was friendly. I’ll give her that. We told her about the Delta Portico incident. She apologized. We were given a map and directions on how to get to our room.

We walked through the atrium to the elevator. Up to the 6th floor. Down the corridor towards the room number. And we walked and walked. Wait. We’re going the wrong way. Crap. Turnaround.

Of course we’re still packing all of our junk. I finally figured out that each atrium has themed carpeting and that made the place a little more navigable.

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Garden themed carpet for the Garden atrium. Get it?

Garden themed carpet for the Garden atrium. Get it?

We had booked a balcony suite in hopes of getting a suite. With a balcony. We got a suite with a window. Definitely not what we were wanting but the hotel was full they said that’s all they had left. Our room was completely gorgeous, and clean, and spacious. Still, I wanted to drink my morning coffee on my balcony overlooking the atrium! Oh well, maybe next time.

Even poor baby O felt trapped by the window.

Even poor baby O felt trapped by the window.

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There were so many people at the hotel that particular weekend. Prom-goers had completely permeated the premises. Now, I did enjoy seeing all the pretty dresses and everyone’s excitement but having to constantly dodge Mom’s fancy camera started to get a little annoying.

One of the big reasons we wanted to stay at the Opryland Hotel is that we knew we could show Olivia around and hopefully keep her entertained inside the resort. The paths through the atriums are NOT AT ALL stroller or handicapped friendly. Or accessible. It’s a little ridiculous. Would it kill you to put some ramps in???

Stairs, as far as the eye could see.

Stairs, as far as the eye could see. Please pardon the blurry photo. My camera was having an “off” day. 

The signs inside were about as clear as mud relaying directions. I don’t know how many people we encountered that said, “Man, it feels like you just keep walking in circles around this place!” Well, if they’d put up some better signage, maybe people wouldn’t have to spend all day deciphering “Left?” or “Right?”

For breakfast, there was only one restaurant in the whole resort open. When you book your stay, you can have an additional fee of $30 added for breakfast. We thought that was nonsense. $30 for breakfast? Well, they got us because that’s exactly what we paid. They have a buffet, which was actually very tasty and had a good selection of food. We were thankful we got in line at a good time with only a 20 minute wait. We got our number and walked around a bit. When we came back, they were telling folks the wait was up to one hour! Since they only have the one restaurant open, they sure don’t leave you much option now, do they?

Breakfast Buffet

The breakfast buffet was located in this area the next morning. 

There. I’ve gotten it off my chest. I do feel better, thank you.

All in all, we really did enjoy our stay. Our room was completely gorgeous and comfortable and spacious. And of course, the gardens are just so breathtaking that we’d do all this nonsense again. I do recommend this hotel. Even if you aren’t staying the night, if you’re in Nashville, it’s a great site (or sight? Hmm. Either way, I guess) to see.

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Such a beautiful room. Pre-family arrival.

I don't always wear my fake smile. Only on special occasions.

I don’t always wear my fake smile. Only on special occasions.

 

If you see that drenched boy out front, would you please pass along the word that THERE IS NOBODY AT THE DELTA PORTICO TO HELP US WITH OUR LUGGAGE!

What’s been your greatest pet peeve relating to a hotel stay?

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

Our Suite at Opryland Hotel: Nashville, TN

One weekend ago, we had just departed from our super, luxurious suite at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN.

The hubby and I had meandered through the gorgeous atriums of this high class resort several times before but we had never gotten the chance to actually be a paying customer.

We decided to go all out and get a room with an atrium view.

The view from our suite

The view from our suite

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We checked in early afternoon and were excited to get to our room so we could enjoy the balcony overlooking the greenery. We were saddened to find our room on the 6th level (the very top), which meant we had beautiful windows but no open balcony.

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Wouldn’t ya know the 6th floor is the ONLY floor that DOESN’T have a balcony?!?! Just our luck!

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We walked into our room to find this crisply made, king-size, come-hither bed. We were impressed at first sight. Wait……. What’s that?

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Holy smokes! When we reserved a suite, they really gave us a suite! We thought the high dollar price tag was simply for the enjoyment of the view. Oh no, friends. We got a room with 2, count them TWO, full bathrooms. A kitchenette, full living room, and a separated sleeping room.

Hey there handsome, what's to drink?

Hey there handsome, what’s to drink?

Cozy and clean. What more could one ask for?

Cozy and clean. What more could one ask for?

Where's Sweet Baby O? Where is she?

Where’s Sweet Baby O? Where is she?

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Both bathrooms have vanities conveniently located outside of the toilet/shower area.

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Baby O getting settled in. This pic is blurry because at 18 months, this sweet girl is ALWAYS on the move.

 

The hot shower felt so good after spending all weekend in the rain.

The hot shower felt so good after spending all weekend in the rain.

Couffered ceilings. Gorge.

Couffered ceilings. Gorge.

Of course one never spend too much time in their hotel room while traveling, still yet, we enjoyed our gorgeous views, inside and out, of our suite at Opryland.

Have you ever been to the Opryland Hotel?

Pan

 

The Atriums of The Opryland Hotel

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My dear, sweet husband is a man of routine. It’s unusual for him to stray from his everyday ordinary rituals. It made me very proud of him to suggest (Friday afternoon, none the less) that we make a quick getaway and head for the country music capital, Nashville, for the weekend.

We have a history with Nashville. It’s an “old flame” for us, of sorts. You see, Robby has an affinity for country music. A passion for writing songs. A love for performing music. So, about a year and a half after we started dating, we loaded down a Penske truck  with his guitars and my shoes and went eastbound and down.  We rented a tiny house on the east side of Nashville and called it our first home together.

Since that time, we’ve moved back to our hometown in Missouri. We hadn’t made a return trip to the city we both love so much until this weekend. I don’t know why it took us so long to be reunited, but it felt so good.

I do feel sorry for Robby. He married a gal who will forever be the rainwoman on any vacation. So of course, it poured all day on Saturday. Lucky for us, we booked our stay at The Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

The Opryland Hotel is an attraction in and of itself. The hotel is composed of 600,000+ square acres of waterfalls, restaurants, boat rides, and synchronized water fountains.

The view from our suite

The view from our suite

 

I’m actually thankful it was raining cats and dogs all day. If it hadn’t been, we wouldn’t have been so inclined to explore all the thousands of acres of luscious green beauty housed in giant greenhouses.

The "atrium" rooms overlook gorgeous atriums

The “atrium” rooms overlook gorgeous atriums

 

Hydrangeas! One of my favs!

Hydrangeas! One of my favs!

The light and music synchronized water show.

The light and music synchronized water show.

 

Hello! Gorgeous!

Hello! Gorgeous!

koi fish and goldfish swim about

koi fish and goldfish swim about

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Even if you’re not staying in the hotel, it’ s worth the views to just walk around inside. You can park for free in the Opry Mall hotel or pay $20 to park in hotel parking.

Anyone else soaked up the Opryland beauty?

Pan, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

 

 

Bed and Breakfast: Second Creek in Owensville, MO

I hate winter. I always have. Probably always will. However, the older I get, the more tolerant of Old Man Winter I have become. I don’t mind the snow and ice as long as I can just snuggle down in my house and enjoy the view from inside. Even though it’s rare that this happens.

But, I do enjoy that cozy feeling. You know the one. Sitting fireside just listening to the crackle and pop of the embers. Sipping on hot chocolate underneath the blanket. Fluffy socks in place. Snuggling with your honey. And really, winter is the only time we can get that cozy feeling. Have you ever had that comfy, cozy feeling while you’re sweating your butt off in the middle of summer?? I didn’t think so.

(Don’t take me wrong-I’m not trying to dis summer. Summer is by far my favorite season. It’s like I always say-The Hotter The Better!)

If you’re looking for the PERFECT place to grab “the feeling” this winter, you need to book an evening or two at Second Creek Bed and Breakfast in Owensville, MO.

Many moons ago, Robby surprised me for Christmas by taking me here. I had no idea where we were going, he just told me to pack an overnight bag and he drove me to the middle of nowhere. Which is part of the charm here. The 2 story, gorgeous log lodge is set atop a hill on a several hundred acre farm giving you more peace than the last Miss America.

Upon arrival, we walked into the check-in office to check-in. Duh-obviously. The process was short and sweet. The lady of the lodge pulled out a tray of homemade soap and let us choose which soap we wanted for our stay. A small chunk was chopped and wrapped for us to take to our room. For some reason, I just thought this was the coolest thing. Homemade soap! I’m sure most of ya’ll probably won’t be as intrigued as I was but maybe there’s another sappy soap soul out there.

We were escorted up the stairs to our room. Impressed. We were both totally impressed.

Pay no attention to the clothes and mess we made here
Real, log fireplace!

 

This place was no share-the-bathroom-with-the-folks-down-the-hall place either. In the corner of each room was an enormous jetted tub. Big enough to fit all the guests in the lodge. Well, that may be stretching it a little…..

Looking back now, I wished we had spent more time in that tub. I miss that big tub. Especially while the fire was roaring, which you can see faced the tub. How perfect is that!

The room was sizeable yet cozy. Here we are again. Back to “cozy”. There was no tv, which we both thought was awesome. Who needs tv in a bed and breakfast anyway? We played cards and checkers from the cabinet in our room. We lit the fire. Well, we did not light the fire. Robby and Robby alone lit the fire. I should give credit where credit is due, I suppose.

The bathroom is simply separated by a folding partition (as you can see in the last pic). Which doesn’t allow for much privacy but worked out just fine.

Getting ready for dinner

The evening meal was NOT included in the price of our stay. Breakfast was but dinner was an additional fee. Since it was our first time here, Robby wasn’t sure where we could get dinner when staying just east of nowhere so he arranged for us to have dinner in. The other customers had all arranged the same. There are only 4 rooms here, so it was us and 3 other couples for dinner that night. The meal was served fireside (of course!) in the gorgeous main area of the lodge.

The eating area was just beside the fire on the main level

The lodge was appropriately adorned with Christmas decor throughout. Tis the season!

I’m not sure if the owner has training in the culinaries but she knew something about cookin’. Both dinner and breakfast the next morning were amazing! Alcohol was an added fee with dinner. We did sneak in our own wine supply for the room.

There was a pool table and books on the main level. There were walking trails and a lake for fishing available to all guests. The front porch had chairs for sittin’. Had it not been so darn cold we probably would have enjoyed the views and some front porch sittin’.

View from the front porch. You can’t get much more serenity, right?

There were 2 other couples that told us they made a trip out of the lodge every year at Christmastime. It’s definitely worth the drive. You can find them online. Just google Second Creek Bed and Breakfast. But you better go get your “feeling” fast. Spring will be here before we know it. (I know, yeah right. I’m just hoping for spring to be right around the corner. It always seems like winter drags out into 8 years or something.)

As a bonus, Robby proposed to me that night. So this is a place we will never forget!

 

The Good Ole Gulf: Gulf Shores, AL

I’m sitting here at my desk. It’s January. January= Dreary in Missouri. We had the most beautiful weather yesterday. It hit 70 something degrees, sun was shining, and of course I had to work. Poo. I should be grateful for my job and blah, blah, blah but seriously…. IT WAS 70 SOMETHING DEGREES IN JANUARY!!! IN MISSOURI!!! I so badly wanted to soak it up because I know for a fact that weather like that doesn’t come back for another 4 months. Ugh.

So, since I didn’t get to enjoy the sunshine yesterday, I’m going to bring back some sunshine memories.

WARNING: I am about to talk about a trip outside of Missouri. Now remember, I never promised I was just about Missouri. I’m mostly about Missouri. But occasionally, I do get to get out of Misery. Ok, that was a cheap shot. It’s not so bad here. Most days…..

Last May, we planned my first-ever trip to Gulf Shores, AL with my sister, her husband, and their 2 kiddos. We booked a house “right on the beach”. Well, we thought it was “right on the beach” but if it sounds too good to be true, it is right? It wasn’t exactly right on the beach but it was close enough. No complaints.

 

Our view from the deck. Glorious.
Not a bad little house. Not a bad little house, at all.

Most of the homes down there seem to be vacation homes so pretty much everything is available online to rent. Robby’s mom and sister came down during the same week and rented a real nice condo. The house was nice. We had everything we needed. The deck up top was just outside of the 2 master suites and then of course the huge main deck was plenty spacious. The house came equipped with plates, silverware, and the like so we did quite a bit of cooking in.

 

Bonus: My brother-in-law is an expert griller. Mmmmm.

These were some fresh gulf shrimp my brother-in-law bought from some fresh seafood place down there. Red Lobster, eat your heart out. These were to die for!

Gulf Shores is a GREAT place for family vacations. The guys golfed one day. There looked to be quite a few cute little shops that I would have loved to browse through but I was too busy soaking up every ounce of beach time I could afford. Of course we took Olivia with us but she was 7 months old at the time, so there’s only so much time a baby will tolerate sitting on a blanket in the hot before she is DONE. She did do pretty good though and seemed to enjoy the pool more than the beach.

Apparently, the ocean waves are a bit scary for some tots.

Like I said, we went in May and I highly recommend it. The weather was gorgeous and the beach only had scattered tourists. One of the locals who owned a condo just beside us said the rest of the summer is pretty packed and that we had come at a great time.
I didn’t realize the new thing was to bring an awning large enough to fit a wedding party in! We had our little beach umbrella for Olivia but now people are seriously setting up these huge canopy-tent-thingys and are leaving them up for the duration of their stay. What this means is that when you come onto the beach in the morning, there’s people’s junk all up and down the beach because they’re too friggin’ lazy to take down and put back up. I know it doesn’t bother some people but it did me. I had never seen such before! So imagine the dog days of summer, beach packed, and people’s personal crap everywhere. Yeah, May was a good time.
We did run out to the Fort one day just to give Baby O a break from the beach. It was neat in it’s own historical way. I have been to so many forts and it’s kinda like, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. So I wasn’t real impressed but it wasn’t the Fort’s fault, I promise.

 

Very Fort-y. Don’t you agree?

 

 

There were, however, absolutely beautiful views.

 

I would have liked to take the ferry to Dauphin Island just to explore some more but Robby talked me out of it. Turd. Oh well, maybe next time…..

You definitely have to take a stroll down the public pier though. The water is so clear you can see the schools of thousands of fish and all the sting rays. It was great to watch sea life performing in their natural habitat.

You can just barely see ’em. The stingrays. See, right there?

We did make a lunch stop at Lulu’s. Lulu is Jimmy Buffett’s sister and this is her famous restaurant. It’s not ocean side but it is harbor side. Open air setting. Good food. Very tourist-y. Who cares?

Favorite Trip Pic:

Look at that sweet, sweet face!

Highlight of my trip:
          Sitting on the beach, alone, book in hand, by myself while I drank several cold ones one afternoon. One never treasures alone time until one becomes a parent. It was fabulous.

Kiddos-a-go?:
Gulf Shores is absolutely kid friendly. Family oriented. Great for small family vacays or large bring-one-bring-all types of vacays.

Pan’s Pick:
           Get up super early one morning and stroll on the beach for seashells. It’s so cliche yet it was so enjoyable for me. Robby stayed in with Baby O while I took a quick jaunt. The sunrise on the beach is nearly magical.

 

Look at ’em all! Just look at ’em!

**Helpful note: The beach crews scan the beaches multiple times each day to scoop up tar balls left from the huge oil spill. I never saw a tar ball although my sis did. Other than these few-and-far-between balls, there is no evidence that there was ever any damage. Thank God for that!

White Mule Winery

I realize I’ve already enlightened you to White Mule Winery. But…. I got to soak up a different side to the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere family owned and operated winery. Located close to the heart of Missouri wine country in Owensville, this place is worth your travel. Especially on Friday nights.

White and Red: both delicious.

About a month ago, Robby and his band Horsin’ Around played for the first time here. I mean first time playing at White Mule. Not first time playing. You know what I mean. We brought a small group of people and then got surprised when Robby’s brother and sister-in-law showed up with a small group of people too.

What’s for dinner? Beef! Duh! With homegrown cattle out back it just makes sense. Right?

The owners serve their homegrown (I think you can call it that) beef and all i could say was WOW!!! That’s right- multiple exclamation marks. That’s how WOW it was! This steak that I had was tender, juicy, and had the most amazing flavors doing the tango on my taste buds.

Robby and the band didn’t get there in time to eat but I had to give them each a taste. To not let someone experience this steak would have been a take-me-straight-to-jail penalty I’m quite certain. Now they offered lasagna as well but I’m telling you, that would have been a take-me-straight-to-hell sentencing. Wrong, folks. Just wrong.

I have dreamed about this steak since. The flavors, the smell, the juicy bits it allowed me to relish. We already have planned to return another Friday night when Robby doesn’t have to play so he can experience the food too. We were told that they don’t have the big dinners on Saturday so if you’re going to go, I really recommend hitting it up on a Friday.

There is a bed and breakfast located in the old farmhouse just next to the winery for those who have libated to the limit. (I love that word. Libate (to drink). A doc I used to work with taught me that one.) Not only is the food more than awesome, the atmosphere is a pleasant view too. A rustic barn sets the scene. Large indoor/outdoor fireplace, which was so cozy for the chilly night air. Last year they built a sizable pavilion in the back for summer use. That should be enjoyable when our spring weather rolls around (which would be so appreciated to be sooner than later).

To get more info including the address, visit WhiteMuleWinery.com. I hope you have as good of a time as we did. Let me know what you think when you go! The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

Arrow Rock

When I was little, I remember taking a daytrip to Arrow Rock with my mom and my sister. The Arrow Rock I remembered from so long ago was a cobblestone street lined with vintage shops and boutiques, people jaunting in and out with their bags, a whole day full of purusing.

At the end of the summer last year, I was fat. And by fat, I mean I was 8 months pregnant. Robby wanted to do a quick one-night getaway, just as something to do before baby came and our social lives as we knew it was over.

See? Fat.

 

After a little online searching, we came up with taking a drive up to Arrow Rock to cozy in at Bunny’s Bed and Breakfast and stroll through the town, later hitting up some sort of ice cream festival (with live folk music!) at the old schoolhouse downtown.

We packed our bags and headed that way about noon time on a Saturday. When we arrived, first thing we did was make a quick drive through the town. At first glance, it didn’t look like there was a whole heck of a lot to do but we figured we had just missed part of town.

We found Bunny’s, located at the end of a dead end street, and followed the directions (given to Robby over the phone by the husband of Bunny) to just make ourselves at home. We entered the home around back where we found our room just off the main living area. Now, Bunny’s wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill B&B. Bunny’s was also Bunny’s house. She uses the refurbished basement as her rented rooms. We easily found our room and left our stuff inside. Bunny’s room’s are also so cleverly decorated in bunnies……

photo of Bunny's Bed and Breakfast, Arrow Rock, Missouri
Here it is. Bunny’s.

The room was of a decent size for our one night stay, the bathroom, however, was nothing to write home to mom about. A little small, a little old fashioned, a little rundown.

(Please keep in mind that I really don’t like giving bad reviews, I just want to give it to ya straight. That’s what I’m here for after all, right?)

Once we took a quick bathroom break, we set off in the car for some afternoon wasting of time. We headed downtown so Robby could appease me with window shopping (and possibly buying!). Once we parked, we began walking along the streets of olden days (or what looked like) until we got to our first shop.

I can’t remember the name of the first store, probably because it was fairly forgettable. They did have local, hand-crafted items, which is totally my thing. However, they didn’t have anything that was my thing.

The next shop we found did have some neat things but nothing to set the store apart from the next. Also, there were only about 18 neat things, as there was hardly anything stocked in the store.

We kept walking in hopes of finding a shop that intrigued me, but when we got to the end of the street, we realized that was it. Except the ice cream shop. Literally, that was it. There were several stores that looked recently closed and the ice cream shop. And seriously, that was it. We had drove 2 hours for this?!?!

Well, since it didn’t look like there was much else to shop for, we thought we’d at least go to the tavern for an appetizer (and of course Robby was lucky enough to indulge in a much needed brewsky to cool off from the stickiness of the day). There were few people in the tavern and no appetizers on the menu. Luckily, they came up with a grape, cracker, and cheese tray. Hey, at that point, we would’ve taken anything.

This is the tavern. It was just ok.

This part of the day, I remember well, as I busted into a fit of laughter at the sight of my cankles, which were so swollen from the pregnancy and the walking that they looked like water balloons on the verge of busting open. I laughed for 23 minutes, atleast.

I still laugh out loud looking at these things. This picture was taken early on in my pregancy, so you can imagine how huge they were at 8 months pregnant. I’m not proud, just thought you could use a chuckle. I’m ok that it’s at my expense.

 

We did make a point to head down to the schoolhouse for the ice cream festival since that was kind of the reason we had chosen Arrow Rock in the first place. Once again, it left a lot to be desired. Although, I’m pretty sure the whole town did come down for the occasion (probably because there was nothing else to do).

So, after we built up our excitement of getting away for one last small hoorah, it’s safe to tell you that we left Arrow Rock with nothing but disappointment. I was saddened to crush my memory of that quaint town with the cobblestone streets. My only hope is that I have saved you.

(If you’re wondering, we did NOT stay at Bunny’s that night. On our way out of town, I called to tell her such, but had to leave a message, as I’m sure she was at the ice cream festival.)